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4 disabled adults found shackled in Philadelphia basement

October 17, 2011 |  7:08 am

A police vehicle is parked in front of a Philadelphia apartment building after authorities said they found four mentally disabled adults chained in the sub-basement
Four adults with the mental capacity of 10-year-olds were found chained to a water heater Sunday in a locked basement in northeast Philadelphia, according to news reports.

Philadelphia police have arrested three suspects in connection with what a spokesman described as inhuman treatment of the mentally disabled adults. When police discovered the three men and a woman in the apartment house sub-basement, they were malnourished, dirty and crammed into a 10-by-15 foot room with a makeshift bed and buckets filled with urine and feces that they had used to relieve themselves, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Authorities said they believe that the four had been held -- and fed but once a day -- since around Oct. 3 as part of scheme to steal their Social Security or disability checks.

"What went on was pure evil," Lt. Ray Evers, a police spokesman, told the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Among those arrested was Linda Ann Weston, 51, who had served eight years in prison for the starvation death of a man she held in a closet in a North Philadelphia apartment. Also arrested was Weston's boyfriend, Thomas Gregory, 47, of North Philadelphia, and Eddie Wright, 49, a homeless man who neighbors said called himself a reverend. The three were charged with criminal conspiracy, aggravated assault, kidnapping, criminal trespass, unlawful restraint, false imprisonment and related offenses.

"We're going to find every crime possible in the crime code to put on these individuals,” Evers said in  an earlier report.

Officials said they were working with the FBI and expected to file more charges in connection with criminal activities that stretch back at least a year and across several states. One of the victims is apparently from Texas and may have been held in captivity for as long as year, police told the Inquirer.

Neighbors reported that the suspects arrived earlier this month with the alleged victims in the back of an SUV; apparently Weston's daughter lives in the apartment building where the four were held but was unaware they were there.

The landlord called the police this weekend after a neighbor complained about suspicious people coming and going from the basement, officials said.

The victims, who range in age from 29 to 41, were being treated at a hospital and were in stable condition, according to the Associated Press.

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-- Geraldine Baum in New York

Photo: A police vehicle is parked in front of a Philadelphia apartment building Monday after authorities said they found four mentally disabled adults chained in the sub-basement of the building. Credit: Matt Rourke / Associated Press

 

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