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Lawyer: Police contacted in 2003 about chief suspect in Philly captives case

From Ross Levitt and Susan Candiotti, CNN
updated 9:16 PM EDT, Sun October 23, 2011
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Four mentally disabled adults were found earlier this month locked in a boiler room
  • A lawyer says the mother of one of the four went to police in 2003
  • The mother had been told her daughter was kidnapped by a suspect in the current case, the lawyer says
  • Philadelphia police did not respond Sunday to the lawyer's claim

(CNN) -- Philadelphia police were told nearly eight years ago about a possible kidnapping involving the alleged ringleader of a group charged last week with imprisoning four mentally disabled adults, according to a lawyer for the family of one of the captives.

The mother of Tamara Breeden -- one of the four found locked in the boiler room of a Philadelphia apartment building -- went to police in 2003 after she was told that her missing daughter might be a captive of Linda Ann Weston, according to attorney Steven Wigrizer.

Weston, 51, along with three others, now faces charges including criminal conspiracy, aggravated assault, kidnapping, criminal trespass, unlawful restraint and false imprisonment after the landlord of an apartment building discovered four malnourished people locked in a 15-foot-by-6-foot room with no food and only a bucket for a toilet, according to Philadelphia police.

Wigrizer, who represents Breeden's family, told CNN in an exclusive interview that Breeden's mother contacted police in 2003. He would not elaborate on whether anything happened as a result of that contact.

Philadelphia police did not immediately respond Sunday when contacted by CNN about Wigrizer's statement.

The attorney said Breeden's mother was told in 2003 by a neighbor -- Vicky Weston, sister of suspect Linda Ann Weston -- that she believed Linda Weston had kidnapped both Breeden and Breeden's boyfriend, Edwin Sanabria. Sanabria is another of the four captives found in the Philadelphia basement.

That prompted the police contact, the attorney said.

Breeden has told police that she had two children while she was held captive, according to Philadelphia police. Police believe two of six children placed in protective custody last week -- a 2-year-old and a 5-year-old -- are Breeden's.

Breeden's parents, Peggy and Wilbert Wannamaker, are hoping to get custody of Breeden's two children and police are doing DNA testing on the two children to determine their parents, according to Wigrizer and police.

The Wannamakers were reunited with their daughter shortly after she was rescued, but Wigrizer said they have not yet seen their grandchildren.

Wigrizer said when Breeden, who was an adult and living with her godmother, and Sanabria disappeared in 2003, "The presumption was she (Breeden) ran off with her boyfriend."

Authorities are looking into whether Weston was attempting to steal her alleged victims' Social Security checks.

Wigrizer said he believes Breeden's checks were being sent to an "out of state" address, but he would not elaborate.

Meanwhile, CNN is learning new details about Weston's history.

After serving time in the 1980s in the killing of her sister's boyfriend, Weston violated her parole and was never caught.

Weston was found guilty in 1983 of voluntary manslaughter and conspiracy for the 1981 death of 25-year-old Bernardo Ramos.

Court documents show Ramos was fed only four times while locked in a closet over a two-month period and died weighing just 75 pounds. His body was discovered in an abandoned building after being wheeled there in a baby carriage, according to the documents.

According to Leo Dunn of the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole, in 1987, when Weston reached her minimum sentence, she was paroled after having served four years.

As part of the release, the parole board wrote that Weston was required to receive psychiatric treatment, according to Dunn.

Later that year, Dunn says the probation documents show Weston violated one of her conditions of release. Dunn says he's "not sure" which condition she violated.

Weston was sent back to prison, but the decision was made to put her back out on parole with what Dunn calls a "highly structured plan for psychiatric care."

In 1988, Dunn says she stopped reporting to her parole officer and her case was first put in "absconder" status. She was declared a "delinquent" later that year.

In 1993, 10 years after her initial conviction, when she reached her maximum sentence date, the board canceled the delinquency and closed the case, as per its policy.

"Sometimes (parole violators) get out there and go underground, and as long as they behave themselves and don't do anything that comes to the attention of authorities, we have a hard time finding them," Dunn said.

Police initially said Weston served an eight-year sentence for Ramos' death, but the state records show her serving four years.

Weston and two of the people arrested with her are due in court in Philadelphia on Monday.

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