A 19-year-old girl who has been missing for 10 years has been found with open wounds, burn marks, scars, and broken bones by police investigating the allegedbasement dungeon and kidnapping ring in Philadelphia.
Beatrice Weston, who was taken at the age of 8 by accused dungeon ring-leader Linda Weston, is now in a Philadelphia hospital recovering from the ongoing cruelty and torture by her captors, according to Philadelphia police spokesman Lt. Ray Evers. Linda Weston is the girl's aunt, and police said she took her niece after a family feud with her sister, Vicki Weston.
The girl was found two days after police uncovered a basement dungeon in which four mentally handicapped adults were held against their will. Police have arrested and charged Linda Weston, 51, her daughter Jean McIntosh, 32, Weston's boyfriend Thomas Gregory, 47, and Eddie Wright, 49, with kidnapping, false imprisonment, and other related charges.
Police pleaded with media to let the girl heal in privacy at the hospital.
"This girl was beaten, tortured, absolutely the worst thing you can see one person do to another," said Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey.
Evers said Wednesday after finding the girl that he would be happy to see the four prosecuted wherever the punishments would be the harshest.
"We're going to prepare to prosecute this here or, without hyperbole, wherever the prisons are going to be the worst. Federal prisons might be too nice," he said. "I've never seen anything like this before on a living person, that kind of cruelty over and over again. No penalty is too harsh to the people that did this, absolutely no penalty," Evers said.
The lieutenant said the girl's torture in the "house of horrors" included signs of a spoon being heated and then burned into her skin. She had fractured bones that healed over incorrectly, and bones in her ankles showed the effects of being shot repeatedly with something like a pellet gun, he said. There are open wounds on her head, which she had covered with a hood when police found her. She had scars over her face, arms, and legs, he said.
Police found Beatrice Weston among a group of 10 children and teens who were located Tuesday after Florida police tipped off Philadelphia cops that there may be more victims and that Weston had been living with at least seven children in her last home in West Palm Beach, Fla..
One of the individuals found was Weston, and another was McIntosh, whom police arrested. Two other adult males were initially taken into custody and then released.
Police also took six children into protective custody, two of whom were the children of a mentally handicapped couple who were held captive by Weston for years, police said. The children, ages 2 and 5, were severely malnourished. Evers noted that the 2-year-old girl looked like a 6-month-old baby when she was found.
Police are trying to identify the rest of the group, including three other young adults and four other children. Weston and Gregory's son, Thomas Gregory, Jr., was not among those taken into custody and has not been arrested in connection with the crimes.
Benita Rodriguez, a 15-year-old girl from Florida who traveled to Philadelphia to be with Thomas Gregory, Jr., was also found by police on Monday. The girl told her mother during a phone call that once she arrived in Philadelphia, Weston would not let her contact anyone back home, according to ABC News affiliate WPBF.
"Once (the victims) were out there in Philadelphia, she was not allowed to be outside," Rodriguez's mother, Juana Rodriguez, told WPBF.
A task force is working around the clock to try and locate as many as 50 possible victims of the alleged fraud and kidnapping ring that is said to have spanned a number of states including Texas, Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, and now Pennsylvania.
Police identified the four Philadelphia victims as Derwin McLemire, 41, of North Carolina; Herbert Knowles, 40 of Virginia; and Tamara Breeden, 29, and Edwin Sanabria, 31, both of Philadelphia.
Detectives also found dozens of identification cards, power-of-attorney forms and other documents. Philadelphia police formed a task force to investigate the case as authorities try to find as many as 50 more possible fraud victims, Officer Jillian Russell said.
The four defendants are believed to have moved from Texas to Florida to Philadelphia with the kidnapped individuals, fleeing each place when authorities began to close in on them, according to Florida authorities.
A spokesman for West Palm Beach said that the city had shut off the water supply to the group's home multiple times, but Weston or other individuals in the home had stolen water meters and illegally turned their water back on. The group was eventually evicted from their home in West Palm Beach, Fla.., according to WPBF.
Gregory Thomas was also arrested twice while living in West Palm Beach, once for burglary and once for grand larceny. He was convicted only of the burglary.