Philadelphia suspects may have held 7 others, police say

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Story highlights

  • Young woman had been hidden in an upstairs apartment, police say
  • Police took the woman and 6 children into protective custody
  • Four others were found locked in a filthy basement on Saturday
  • Philadelphia's mayor calls the case "sheer madness"
The suspects charged with imprisoning four mentally disabled people in a Philadelphia boiler room may have been holding seven other people, including the accused ringleader's 19-year-old niece and six children, police said Wednesday.
The niece, Beatrice Weston, had been kept in a closet in an upstairs apartment in the same building where the first four were found Saturday afternoon, police said. She was being treated for "horrific" injuries after being found beaten, malnourished and covered with scars Tuesday afternoon, Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey told reporters.
"I've been a police officer for more than 40 years, and I've never seen injuries like this," Ramsey said.
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter added, "I'm not sure horrific covers it. This is sheer madness."
The owner of the northeast Philadelphia apartment building found the original four victims locked in a dank sub-basement chamber that reeked of urine and excrement. Authorities are investigating whether Beatrice Weston's aunt, 51-year-old Linda Weston, and three others now charged in the case had been stealing the victims' Social Security checks.
The 19-year-old was being held in the apartment rented by Linda Weston's daughter, Jean McIntosh, who became the fourth person charged in the case Wednesday afternoon, Philadelphia police spokesman Lt. Ray Evers told CNN.
"Jean was a cooperating witness. We didn't know she was a defendant," Evers said. "But after talking with the captives and others, we discovered Jean was lying."
When police returned to the building Tuesday with a warrant to search McIntosh's apartment, Beatrice Weston had been moved. But they found evidence she had been there, and convinced McIntosh to produce her, Evers said. Beatrice Weston had burn marks on her body and marks on her ankles as though she'd been struck by pellets, Ramsey said -- injuries that clearly had been inflicted over some length of time.
"This girl was beaten and tortured. It makes you want to cry when you see her," Ramsey said.
Beatrice Weston, who had been reported missing in 2009, and the six children were taken into protective custody at various locations around Philadelphia as the investigation spread, Evers said. In addition, McIntosh's 8- and 10-year-old children were also placed in protective custody, he said.
McIntosh, 32, was charged with kidnapping, conspiracy, unlawful restraint, false imprisonment, aggravated assault, simple assault, burglary and trespass, the Philadelphia district attorney's office said in a statement. A judge set her bail at $1 million Wednesday, office spokeswoman Tasha Jameson said. Bail has been set at $2.5 million apiece for Weston and the two men charged in the case, 47-year-old Gregory Thomas and 49-year-old Eddie Wright.
"I'm feeling sick to my stomach," Danyell Tisdale, a neighborhood block captain who alerted landlord Turgut Gozleveli to suspicious activity, told CNN on Wednesday. "I was speaking so highly for her. She was a nice neighbor and didn't bother anybody. It's shocking to me that she had anything to do with it. My sister's children played with her two children."
Police believe two of the six children placed in protective custody Wednesday -- ages 2 and 5 -- are the children of Tamara Breeden, one of the four people found in the boiler room. Authorities did not divulge how Breeden became pregnant.
Investigators took DNA samples from Breeden and the three men held with her to determine whether any of them are fathers of the children, Evers said.
Breeden, Edwin Sanabria and Herbert Knowles were found locked in the pitch-black, 15-by-6-foot room with no food and only a bucket for a toilet. A fourth man, identified as Derwin McLemire, had been chained to the boiler, police said.
McLemire, Breeden and a Knowles, told CNN affiliate KYW that their Social Security information was taken from them, that they had been beaten and that they lived in fear of their alleged captors.
"That was real dirty of you. That was wrong," a tearful McLemire told KYW. He said he is from North Carolina, that he met Weston on an online dating site and had once he attempted to escape, only to be recaptured.
The FBI joined the probe after detectives discovered one of the accused had traveled to at least two other states with the people found in the boiler room.
Weston served eight years in prison for killing her sister's boyfriend in the early 1980s, Ramsey said earlier. In that case, the victim "was held captive for an extended period of time, locked in a closet and he literally starved to death," he said.
"You would think that someone who's committed a crime that horrific would still be in jail," he said Tuesday. "But she wasn't, and obviously she wasn't fully rehabilitated, either."