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Three charged over alleged imprisonment of four people in Philadelphia basement

The four adults aged between 29 and 41 were found locked in a basement boiler room on Saturday.

The basement room where four people were found locked inside last weekend.
The basement room where four people were found locked inside last weekend.
Image: AP Photo/Ron Cortes/PA Images

THE WOMAN facing charges of kidnapping and falsely imprisoning four people with intellectual disabilities in a social welfare scam was convicted of murdering a man by starvation almost 20 years ago.

Linda Ann Weston was accused in 1983 of beating her sister’s boyfriend and locking him a closet. The man died weeks later from starvation. Weston was convicted of his murder.

Weston was one of three people charged on Monday after four adults with intellectual disabilities were discovered locked in the boiler room basement of a building by its landlord on Saturday. The three men and one woman were malnourished and weak and one was chained to the boiler.

They also shared their cramped space with three dogs, according to investigators.

The two other people charged in connection with the discovery are Eddie ‘the Rev Ed’ Wright and Gregory Thomas. All three were staying in an apartment above the boiler room.

The landlord investigated after noticing an unusual amount of rubbish being generated at the premises. He initially thought the four people in the basement were squatters and called the police.

The FBI is also involved in the investigation, after three of those rescued from the locked basement said they had been moved by their alleged captors from Texas to Florida and then to Philadelphia.

Police say that the four people found in the boiler room have received hospital treatment and are being assisted by social services.

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ABC News reports that police suspect that the Weston, Wright and Gregory were involved in a widespread fraud scheme and could have targeted other people in their alleged social security scam. Someone can get control of a person’s social security payments in the US by visiting a social security office with that person and being designated by them to receive their cheques.

- Additional reporting by the AP

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