Missing Girl Linked to Philly Basement Dungeon

PHOTO: Benita Rodriguez, who had gone missing in July, is linked to the basement dungeon in Philadelphia.
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A Florida teenager who ran away to be with her boyfriend in Philadelphia was found by police investigating a basement dungeon in which four mentally handicapped adults were being imprisoned, according to police.

Benita Rodriguez, 15, was reported missing in July from her West Palm Beach home. She traveled to Philadelphia to be with her boyfriend, Gregory Thomas Jr., whom she met when they were neighbors in Florida, police said.

Police said they are not certain yet whether Rodriguez knew about the alleged kidnapping and imprisonment operation in the Thomas home, but suspect that she may have just been "hanging out."

The teenager was located by police Monday night and her mother was notified, according to ABC News affiliate WPVI.

"I just want to hold her and love her," Juana Rodriguez, the girl's mother, told WPVI. "I can breathe, I can breathe. She's doing good, she's okay."

The age of her boyfriend was not immediately available.

The boyfriend's father, Gregory Thomas, Sr., 47, is accused of having helped to traffick the imprisoned individuals from Florida to Philadephia with his girlfriend, Linda Weston, 51, the suspected ring-leader in the case.

Police have said that Weston and Thomas, with the help of a third man, Eddie Wright, may have stolen the identities and social security checks of at least 50 people whose documents they found inside the home where Weston and Thomas were living.

Possible victims include individuals from Virginia, Texas, Arizona, Kansas, and Florida, they said.

Police say that Weston, who was previously sentenced to eight years in prison for locking a man in a closet until he died of starvation, may have begun trafficking and stealing identification documents shortly after being released from prison, police said. Authorities expect the investigation to uncover many more victims and a widespread fraud scheme.

The victims that were discovered in the Philadelphia basement have been identified as Herbet Knowles, 40, Tamara Breeden, 29, and Derwin McLemire , 41. A fourth man's name has not been released.

The victims are being treated at Philadelphia hospitals while their families are notified that they have been found, police said.

Former neighbors of Weston and Thomas in West Palm Beach told ABC affiliate WPBF that the four victims as well as seven children were living in a run-down house on 52nd Street.

"They didn't care at all," said a neighbor who identified herself only as Mary. "They fight all through the night. You hear banging all through the night."

Ronald Bass said he heard screams and gunshots coming from the house and saw residents with injuries.

Sadie Polland, who was a friend of some of the victims, said she saw bruised faces and battered hands.

The house now has broken and boarded windows, feces and urine smeared on the walls inside, and a dirty syringe lies in the front yard, according to WPBF.

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