New kidnapping charges in Philadelphia basement captives case

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 28, 2011 1:03 PM
New kidnapping charges in Philadelphia basement captives case

By Dave Warner

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - New charges of kidnapping and assault have been filed against three people accused of holding captives in a Philadelphia basement, this time for a bruised and scarred 19-year-old woman kept in a locked closet, authorities said on Friday.

When police found her at an undisclosed location in Philadelphia, the woman had hand fractures, a healing leg fracture, bruising around her left eye, and several scars on her body, according to a statement from the district attorney's office.

"The victim was only let out of the closet twice a day to eat and occasionally use the bathroom," the statement said.

She was identified only as a relative of one of the suspects, who include Linda Ann Weston, 51, her daughter Jean McIntosh, 32, and Eddie Wright, 50, whom police have described as homeless.

Her age and condition, however, are consistent with that of Beatrice Weston, who is Linda Weston's niece. Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said last week Beatrice Weston was in such poor condition when police found her that, "It is remarkable that she is alive."

Police believe Linda Weston was the ringleader in a scheme to steal Social Security benefits.

In that scheme, the suspects and a fourth person, Gregory Thomas, 47, are charged with keeping four mentally challenged adults locked in a dank, dirty furnace room beneath an apartment house in the city's Tacony section.

Bail in the new kidnapping case was set at $2 million for Wright and Linda Weston, and $1 million for McIntosh. That bail is in addition to bail set in the Tacony kidnapping case, which was $2.5 million for Wright and Linda Weston and $1 million for McIntosh.

Thomas was being held on $2.5 million bail in the Tacony case.

Police were still working to unravel the multi-state travels of Linda Weston, and the discovery at the Philadelphia apartment of about 50 Social Security numbers and other documents, suggesting there may be dozens of other victims.

(Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Jerry Norton)