3 people have been charged following the discovery of four malnourished mentally disabled adults chained to a boiler in a locked Philadelphia basement that reeked of waste from the buckets they used to relieve themselves, police said Sunday.
Officers were investigating a report of squatters in a building yesterday when they found three men and a woman in a 15-by-15-foot room behind a steel door that was chained shut.
Thomas Gregory, 47, Eddie Wright, 49, and Linda Ann Weston, 51, the alleged ringleader, were arrested in connection to the horrific discovery as it emerged that the victims may have been kidnapped for their Social Security checks.
Officers were investigating a report of squatters in a building on the 4700 block of Longshore Avenue Saturday when they found three men and a woman in a 15-by-15-foot room behind a steel door that was chained shut.
The sub-basement room they were in called to mind a Cold War-era bomb shelter and contained a makeshift bed, mattress and sheets, said Officer Tanya Little, a police spokeswoman.
Weston, Gregory and Wright were charged with aggravated assault, kidnapping, conspiracy, false imprisonment, reckless endangerment and related charges, cops said.
Police are investigating the possibility that the suspects were trying to make money through access to the victims’ Social Security or disability checks, Little said. It wasn’t clear how they knew the victims.
The 29-year-old woman and the men, who are 31, 35, and 41, have the mental capacity of 10-year-olds, police said. They were taken to a hospital for treatment and listed in stable condition. Little said the victims appeared to have no physical problems other than malnourishment.
Getting information from the victims was difficult due to their disability, police said. But the victims apparently were brought to Philadelphia about 10 days before they were found. They had apparently been in West Palm Beach, Fla., and before that in Texas, she said.
“It’s heartbreaking that people can do such horrifying things to other people,” Little said.
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