By Tony Hanson
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The so-called “Basement of Horrors” case — the discovery of four disabled adults held captive in the basement of a Tacony home in 2011 — led to federal charges in early 2013 (see related story).
Alleged ringleader Linda Weston and four others are charged in the 196-count indictment.
Weston allegedly targeted mentally and physically disabled adults and disadvantaged children specifically, holding them in horrid conditions for their government benefits.
US attorney Zane Memeger says the victims were held like zoo animals, akin to slaves.
“Weston fed them low-energy diets, and drugged them to keep them calm. She forced two of the female victims into prostitution in order to obtain additional money,” Memeger said.
Authorities allege that victims were further controlled by threats, beatings, and privation, sometimes with deadly results.
“Two women identified in the indictment as D.S. and M.L. died while warehoused by Weston,” Memeger said.
Trial is set for 2014. All five defendants, currently in custody, have pleaded not guilty.