PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The suspects have now been identified in the horrific discovery of four malnourished, mentally incapacitated adults being held captive in a basement in Northeast Philadelphia.
The suspects are Linda Ann Weston, 51, from the 2500 block of North 29th Street; Gregory Thomas, 47, from the 2500 block of North 29th Street; and Eddie Wright, a 50-year-old homeless man.
Weston, Thomas, and Wright were arrested Saturday night for their involvement in the kidnapping and are facing charges of criminal conspiracy, aggravated assault, kidnapping, criminal trespass, unlawful restraint, false imprisonment and related offenses.
Four adults were found locked in a room, suffering from malnutrition in a Tacony home Saturday afternoon, according to Philadelphia police.
Officials say the unidentified adults, all between the ages of 29 and 41, were found locked inside a room in the basement of a home in the 4700 block of Longshore Avenue, in the Tacony section of Northeast Philadelphia.
The victims were there for a little over a week, but their ordeal started several years ago. Police say that over the last two years the victims were transported from Texas to Florida and then finally confined to a basement in Philadelphia.
“It’s very unsettling. It’s not even a basement, it’s a sub-basement. It’s a closet, 15 by 15, with a heater. Very disturbing,” said Philadelphia police captain Frank Bachmayer.
The victims, three men and one woman, all said to have the mental capacities of 10-year-olds, were taken to Aria Health’s Frankford campus and are listed in stable condition.
“The 41-year-old male was chained to the boiler,” said Philadelphia police lieutenant Ray Evers.
“What we believe is that the female suspect was taking the mentally challenged adults that have learning disabilities and physical disabilities, we believe she was using their SSI checks and basically taking their money.”
“It’s just really baffling that another human being could treat people this way,” said Philadelphia Police Deputy Commissioner Richard Ross. “When you look at the conditions they were kept in, it was something like a dungeon.”
Police say it appears Weston was the mastermind behind the entire operation. According to court documents, Weston was found guilty a few decades ago for allegedly murdering her sister’s boyfriend by locking him in a closet and refusing to feed him.
Rob Hoey has lived in the building for seven months and is in disbelief. “It’s just crazy that somebody in real life could do something like this. This is something you only see in movies.”
Wright and Thomas are being held on $500,000 bail. Weston has not been arraigned at this time.
The Special Victims Unit continues to investigate this case.
Reported By Stasia DeMarco, Crystal Cranmore, CBSPhilly.com; Oren Leibermann, Jericka Duncan, CBS 3; Dan Wing, KYW Newsradio
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