A social security scheme fit for a made-for-TV movie was uncovered this week when gruesome details came to light of a kidnapping plot in which mentally challenged people were held for their social security benefits.
According to police, the captives were found in the basement of an old movie theater turned apartment building when the building’s landlord said he saw dog bowls in the basement of his no-pets allowed apartment building.
The man told Reuters that he asked neighbors if anyone had a pet, and they said no. He came back a few days later and saw that the bowls were still there and did some more investigating.
Once he got inside, he found two barking dogs and four people lying on a dirt floor including one person chained to a rusty furnace.
“They were kind of beat up, walking like they were drunk, unsteady,” he said.
Two women, Linda Ann Weston and her daughter, Jean McIntosh, have been charged in the case. In total, eight children and four adults linked to Weston and McIntosh have been taken in for observation by authorities. Alicia Taylor, a spokeswoman for the Philadelphia Department of Human Services said that the children have been placed in foster care and will receive treatment.
“We will make sure that they all receive medical treatment and that they get psychological evaluations as well,” Taylor told the Associated Press.
One of the victims was Weston’s niece, Beatrice Weston, and had been abused to such a degree that Philadelphia Police Chief Charles Ramsey said that he’d never seen such abuse on a living person. Ramsey told The Philadelphia Inquirer that Beatrice Weston had signs of pellet gun wounds and burns from a hot spoon.
Weston has had a long history with the law according to the AP. She was convicted of murder in the early 1980’s after she and her sister locked her boyfriend in a closet and he starved to death. In this case, in order to stay ahead of police, she moved from Texas to Florida to Philadelphia throughout this year.
Also charged are Gregory Thomas, 47, of North Philadelphia, and 50-year-old Eddie Wright.