TODAY   |  May 07, 2013

Neighbor of captive women: ‘I never saw anything’

Juan Perez, who lives in the Ohio neighborhood where three women were held captive for a decade, tells TODAY’s Savannah Guthrie, “I don’t really know how to feel,” and says he wishes he could have helped the women earlier.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> another neighbor, juan perez who lives near the home where all of this unfolded. mr. perez, good morning to you. good to have you with us.

>> good morning to you.

>> sir, how long have you lived in this home? as i understand you're right next door, and did you ever see anything that would have raised suspicions?

>> i've been in the neighborhood for 22 years, since i was 5, and, no, i can't lie. i've never seen anything that raised any suspicion. i've never seen anything that, you know, made me feel uncomfortable enough to call the police. i just saw someone who was very nice, charismatic, helped with the community, on the street, and he even helped fix my tire once, you know. i never thought nothing of it. i've known him since i was a kid.

>> you're talking about the man who lives there who we now understand is under arrest along with a couple of other men. what do you remember about him, and is it somebody that you know well, someone you interacted with frequently?

>> i've known him since i was a child. he was someone that would always see me, say hi, start conversati conversation. i just talked to him like a neighbor, like nothing too extreme. we weren't, you know, friends, like best friends . we didn't, you know, have our own personal time, but it was always just, hey, how are you? do you need help with this? do you need help with that kind of a relationship? but i knew him very well.

>> i'm sorry to interrupt. did you ever see any women coming and going from that home?

>> i've never seen anybody come in and out of that home. i thought that the home was vacant. i thought that he probably had another property and that he would just come and check to see if everything is okay. i didn't even know anybody lived there, to tell you the truth.

>> one of our producers when i think you spoke to before we came on the air said that you did recall one incident i guess a couple of years ago where you heard a scream coming from that general area. can you tell me about that?

>> yeah. we heard a scream, but we -- we didn't know where exactly the scream was coming from because we were inside the house. this was a few years ago. there was a difference between, you know, a playful joking around scream with friends and this kind of scream, this kind of scream, you know, had my sister call the police and make a report, and that was a few years ago. i don't remember exactly when, i'm sorry.

>> were you familiar with the cases of these three missing women as we understand they all went missing separately, but this happened in your general area. you're a longtime resident. had you heard of these young women who had been missing, and had a was your reaction to find out that they had been living next door?

>> i was aware of guyana dejesus and amanda berry. i wasn't too familiar with the third lady that they found. i have a lot of mutual friends that know the ladies very well, and when i found out, you know, i know -- i was excited and happy that they found them, but to tell you the truth, i felt, like a tug at my heart. i was a little drunk with emotion because to know that they were two houses from me ten years, i never saw anything, nobody really saw anything, just made me feel like we could have helped earlier, so i don't really know how to feel to tell you the truth.

>> well, juan perez , i think everyone can relate to that emotion, and we really appreciate you coming on and shedding some light on what's been going on. thank you so much.