(Photo: Screen Grab via YouTube/HennesPaynterComm)
Michelle Knight, the woman officials say was abused the most and held the longest of Cleveland kidnapper Ariel Castro's three victims, thanked the Cleveland Police for their ongoing support in a touching handwritten note that melted their hearts and they shared it with the world on Wednesday.
"This is a special thank you note from a strong and resilient woman who will forever be held dearly in the hearts of the police officers and residents of the 2nd district," wrote the Cleveland Police above a copy of Knight's letter which they shared on their facebook page.
In the note, Knight, 32, tells the officers and related staff: "You don't know how much I appreciate all your time + work collecting cards and gifts from people for me and the other girls. I am overwhelmed by the amount of thoughts love + prayers expressed by complete strangers. Life is tough, but, I'm tougher! Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, she became a butterfly. Thanks! God bless you."
Since the heartfelt note was posted the public has reacted with and outpouring of praise for the plucky woman.
"What a sweet, sweet young lady. It's not often that someone takes the time to write a handwritten note. I think of those girls all the time. I am so happy that they are finally free," wrote Alison Abdul-Kareem of Knight's note.
Another commenter, Katie Harkness-Hough, said: "What a treasure. I know this really means a lot to you and your officers. Amazing how something as small as a thank you note can make such an impact. I know this is something you will have forever!"
"Seeing these women flourish makes dealing with the story possible - thanks Michelle and Second District," added Kimberly Palmer.
In a recent evaluation of Knight and the other kidnapping survivors Amanda Berry, 27, and Gina DeJesus, 23, renowned psychiatrist Frank Ochberg, seen as a pioneer in trauma science painted Knight who was the first to be kidnapped as a hero who stood up for the other girls even though she suffered "the longest and most severely."
"It was Michelle who served as doctor, nurse, midwife and pediatrician during the birth (of Berry's child). She breathed life into that infant when she wasn't breathing," he noted in the evaluation.
"At other times, she interceded when Castro sought to abuse Gina, interposing herself and absorbing physical and sexual trauma. But each survivor had a will to prevail and used that will to live through the ordeal," he added.
Barbara Johnson, the Cleveland police officer who was the first responder to arrive at Ariel Castro's home, recounted on Thursday how she found Michelle Knight and Georgina DeJesus "after hearing the pitter-patter of footsteps in a dark room," according to CNN.
Knight "literally launched herself" into another officer's arms," Johnson said, "legs, arms, just choking him. She just kept repeating, 'You saved us! You saved us!'"