Four mentally disabled adults, with the estimated mental capacity of 10-year-olds, were found chained to a boiler in a Philadelphia apartment house basement, reeking of excrement from the bucket they were forced to use, police said today.
Linda Ann Weston, 51, and Thomas Gregory, 47, both of Philadelphia, and Eddie Wright, 49, a homeless man from Texas, all face multiple charges in a case that is also being investigated by police in Texas and Florida.
"Criminal conspiracy, aggravated assault, trespassing, kidnapping, simple assault, reckless endangerment of persons, unlawful restraint, false imprisonment," are the initial charges, Philadelphia Police Department spokeswoman Officer Tanya Little said. "As the investigation goes on, there may be more charges added."
Investigators believe the four disabled adults, aged 29, 31, 35 and 41, were transported from Texas, through Florida and then to Philadelphia, Little said.
The four, who appeared to be malnourished while locked in the basement, were examined at Frankford South Hospital for and listed in stable condition.
"They were able to communicate that they do know all parties that were withholding them from the outside world," Little said. "One -- the 31-year-old -- may have been with them for a while. It may be Linda's child. She may just be a caregiver. But he said, 'My mom brought us from Florida to Philadelphia.'"
The investigation is ongoing and a city agency serving the disabled has taken the four adults into its care.
The four, who were believed to have been brought to Philadelphia roughly 10 days ago, were discovered by the owner of the two-story, multi-unit apartment house on Longshore Avenue in northeast Philadelphia.
As the man cleared what he said was an unusual amount of trash from his rental property, he also noticed light bulbs and other basic supplies missing from one of the apartments and the locked basement door, the police spokeswoman said.
"He heard dogs barking and took it upon himself to look further and, to his surprise," Little said, "this is the outcome."
Two adult children of Weston's who lived in the house were not arrested.
"They weren't aware of what was going on," Little said.