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    Philadelphia captives seen as part of vast scheme

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    kenny

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    Philadelphia captives seen as part of vast scheme

    Post  kenny on Otrdiena Oktobris 18, 2011 12:57 am



    The landlord of the apartment building at first thought a circuit breaker had tripped when he went to the basement Saturday and found all the lights were out. Then he realized all six bulbs had been removed, and he heard dogs barking inside a boiler room, its door chained shut.

    He removed the chain, stepped into the dank, foul-smelling room and lifted a pile of blankets. Several sets of human eyes stared back at him.

    Turgut Gozleveli had stUGG Cardy Boot
    UGG Cardyumbled upon four mentally disabled adults, weak and malnourished, with one chained to the boiler.

    He may have also stumbled upon a vast scheme - stretching from Philadelphia to Norfolk, Va.; West Palm Beach, Fla.; and Texas - to steal the Social Security disability checks of defenseless and vulnerable people, authorities said.

    On Saturday, Philadelphia police arrested three adults staying in an apartment upstairs, including the alleged ringleader, Linda Ann Weston, 51, who had been convicted of murder in a 1981 starvation death.
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    Detectives also found dozens of ID cards, power-of-attorney forms and other documents in the apartment, suggesting the alleged theft scheme involved more than just the four captives.

    "Without a doubt, this is just the beginning of this investigation, " Lt. Ray Evers said Monday. "We think she's been doing this for quite some time. "

    Weston was charged with kidnapping, false imprisonment and other offenses, with bail set at $2. 5 million. Also arrested and jailed were the man she described as her boyfriend, Eddie "the Rev. Ed" Wright, 50, and 47-year-old Gregory Thomas.
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    "Talk about preying on the weak and weary, " Evers said. "You can't get any lower than this person. "

    As of Monday, the defendants did not appear to have lawyers.

    The victims, a woman and three men, were found in a crawl space that reeked of urine and was too shallow for an adult to stand up. There were mattresses and blankets, but the only food found was a container of orange juice. The adults shared their space with three dogs.

    Gozleveli called police, suspecting they were squatters, then watched as they were helped up the steps to the street in a working-class section of the city.

    The victims, ages 29 to 41, had the mental capacity of 10-year-olds, along with some physical disabilities, authorities said. One could barely see.
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    All four were treated at hospitals and placed with social service agencies. Their relatives were contacted, but police were having trouble finding family members for one of the victims, 40-year-old Herbert Knowles.

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