Safety expert: Knowing your neighbors adds safety

Neighbors in Cleveland didn't know three women were in home

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Neighbors in Cleveland told police the home where Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight, were being held seemed normal. Once police started interviewing neighbors in the area, they learned that there were many abnormalities.

One neighbor told police that a few years ago they called 911saying that had seen a naked woman. Another neighbor told police that the man who is accused of holding these women captive often steered him away from his home while they were talking.

As Channel 4 crews walked through a number of Jacksonville neighborhoods Tuesday night with crime analyst and safety expert Ken Jefferson, it was quickly apparent that a number of people don't know a lot about their neighbors.

"How long have you lived here?" asked Channel 4's Scott Johnson.

"Two years," said the resident.

"Do you know your neighbors?" asked Johnson.

"That guy because I work with him," said the resident.

"How about beyond that?" asked Johnson.

"Nope," said the resident.

"That's why you have neighborhood watch programs and national night out so all the people in the area can meet each other," said Ken Jefferson.

Jefferson said getting to know your neighbors is important to staying safe and he recommends when people are getting to know their neighbors, they want to look in all four directions.

"Not only next door to you, but across from you and behind you as well ," said Jefferson.

Local families who have missing loved ones have been watching the news in Cleveland know how important it is to know your neighbors.

Channel 4 spoke with Bryan Hayes, Mark Degner and Haleigh Cummings families on Tuesday, who have been watching what they are calling one of the most inspiring stories they've seen in a long time. The story, they say gives them hope that someday their missing loved ones will be found alive.

"The fact that they were found after so many years of being missing gives me hope. There's just as good a chance that she's somewhere," said Annette Sykes, Haleigh Cummings' great-grandmother.

Sykes, like all the other families in our area can relate to all the pain the families in Cleveland went through all those years waiting and hoping their loved one would come home a live.

"Everywhere you go you're always looking for them. If you see someone that even remotely resembles them you're staring," said Bryan Hayes mother, Alene Hayes.

"You second thought think yourself. You think well they're still alive and then sometimes you think they've turned, if they're runaways they'd have come home by now," said Mark Degner's mother, Linda Alligood.

Copyright 2013 by All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.