PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – On Monday night, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey gave reporters a first-hand look at the dungeon-like sub-basement in which police say four mentally challenged adults were held captive.
It was dirty, dark and cramped.
It is said to be a small boiler room about 6 feet tall and 15 feet wide.
Police say the four victims were forced to live in it without ventilation or sunlight. The victims slept on make-shift beds, had only water to drink and they may have been kept there since early October.
Ramsey told reporters, “For someone to do that to another human being, it’s very, very disturbing.”
Three suspects have been identified in the horrific discovery of the 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 — three men and one woman — were found locked in a room, suffering from malnutrition in a Tacony home Saturday afternoon.
Officials say the adults, three of whom were identified as Tamara Breeden, Derwin McLemire, and Herbert Knowles, 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 (pictured below).
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 the basement in Northeast 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, whose ages range between 29 and 41 and are said to have the mental capacities of 10-year-olds, were taken to Aria Health’s Frankford campus for treatment.
“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 and the scheme may date back over a decade. According to court documents, Weston was found guilty in 1984 for murdering her sister’s boyfriend by locking him in a closet and refusing to feed him for two months.
Investigators say when they arrested Weston, she had at least 50 different identifications on her.
Investigators are still working to determine how Weston met all of the victims, but Ramsey said McLemire told them he met her online.
“The victim says he actually met her on an online dating service,” Ramsey said.
Ramsey said one of the victims had been missing since 2005.
Three of the victims have since been released from the hospital and are staying at a personal care facility.
All three suspects remain behind bars.
Investigators initially identified Gregory Thomas as Thomas Gregory, but police later released an update with the suspect’s correct name.
The FBI has joined the Philadelphia Police Department in the investigation.
‘Basement Of Horror’ Coverage
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- READ: Police Commissioner Creating Task Force To Probe Philadelphia Captivity Case
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- READ: 3 Charged After 4 Disabled Adults Found Locked In Tacony ‘Dungeon’