If neighbors' accounts were true and the police really heard screaming and simply knocked on the door and left when no one answered, then "law enforcement clearly dropped the ball," attorney Lisa Bloom told CNN.
"It was almost like a Keystone Cops situation," prominent attorney Mark Geragos added. "There's got to be much more to this story."
Cleveland officials denied claims that they had called police to report suspicious activity at the home.
"Media reports of multiple calls to the Cleveland Police reporting suspicious activity and the mistreatment of women at 2207 Seymour are false," spokeswoman Maureen Harper said in an e-mailed statement.
Other officials said call records contained no evidence that neighbors had called police to report unusual activity at the home.
Police say they went to the address once in 2000, before the abductions, when Castro reported a fight outside his home, and in 2004, after two of the three women had disappeared.
The latter visit was to investigate a complaint that Castro had left a child alone on the bus he was to have been driving. No one answered the door at the home, and investigators later interviewed him elsewhere, police say.
Are there more victims?
Police have used at least one cadaver dog to search for human remains; they said they have so far found none. They also have said they want to know whether there could be any additional victims in the case.
Investigators had speculated that the disappearances of Berry, DeJesus and another girl, Ashley Summers, may have been connected. Summers' family last saw her in July 2007, when she was 14.
Now the Summers family is hoping that the Cleveland investigation will yield information about Ashley, her aunt, Debra Summers, said.
"We're hoping for a miracle," she said.
An FBI spokeswoman said investigators will question the women found Monday in hopes of learning something about Summers' disappearance.
Tonia Adkins said she was hoping that her sister Christina was among the women who were freed Monday. Then 18 and five months pregnant, Christina Adkins disappeared in 1995 while walking toward her boyfriend's house on the same block where one of the Castro brothers lived and a few streets away from where the other women were last seen, she said.
"She was going home for the night and she disappeared," she said. "We just really want to find out where she is and is she OK."
Most missing person cases of such duration end badly, according to authorities.
According to court documents, Ariel Castro's former wife accused him of repeatedly abusing her, including breaking her nose twice, breaking two ribs, dislocating her shoulder twice and knocking out a tooth.
Grimilda Figueroa also accused Castro of causing a blood clot on her brain, according to the 2005 documents.
A judge granted a protection order but lifted it three months later after court delays and hearings Castro did not attend, according to the documents.
Ishmael Figueroa, Grimilda's father, told CNN that when Ariel Castro and his daughter moved into the house on Seymour Avenue, Ariel Castro would not let let any other family members enter the home.
After the couple broke up, his daughter moved back with her parents and said she never wanted to talk about Castro, Figueroa said. She died last year at age 48, according to Social Security records.
Ariel Castro's uncle Julio also recalled his nephew's messy breakup.
Castro seemed to live alone after that, except for occasional visits by, among others, his two brothers.
He also had grandchildren -- at least five, he'd recently noted on Facebook.
Some news outlets have reported that at least one of the three women gave birth more than once during their years in captivity. Those news outlets cited unnamed sources. Investigators have not publicly confirmed or denied those assertions, saying it will take time to piece together a complete picture of what happened inside the house.