Disabled adults found captive in Philadelphia basement

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 16, 2011 9:23 AM
Disabled adults found captive in Philadelphia basement

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - Four mentally handicapped adults were found locked in a "very unsanitary" basement in Philadelphia, officials said.

The three men and one woman were likely victims of Social Security fraud, Philadelphia Police Sergeant Joseph Green said late on Saturday.

"They were abused physically and emotionally," he said. "This is just a horror story."

Police arrested a woman and her boyfriend allegedly responsible but said the investigation was still ongoing and no charges had been handed down.

Local officials were working with the FBI to hammer out specifics.

"They could face false imprisonment, abduction, coercion, theft. It runs the gamut," Green said.

Green said the suspect held two of the victims captive for perhaps a year or more and moved at least two of them from city to city.

"We believe she has been taking some of them with her, and there may be others we don't know about yet," Green said.

Police said the four middle-aged people were found confined in a small basement room where the building's boiler was housed. The room contained a mattress with some bedding and a flat board with a pillow.

"There were a couple water bottles but no food or anything," Green said. "There was a bucket they used to urinate in."

After they were discovered, the victims were taken for "much needed medical attention" at area hospitals, he said. They were put in the care of city health professionals who are giving them temporary residence and counseling, Green said.

(Reporting by Dave Warner, additional reporting by Eric Johnson in Chicago; Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst)