01:08 - Source: KHOU
Police: Individuals held captive in home

Story highlights

NEW: Three of the four men were carried out, unable to walk, a neighbor says

Three of the four women are physically and mentally disabled, police say

The fourth woman found in the house acted as a caretaker, they say

The men were lured with "cigarettes and food"

CNN —  

The grandson of the owner of a Houston house where four malnourished men were found has been charged with two felony counts in the case, police said Saturday.

Police were investigating whether the men had been forced to hand over their government aid, including disability, Social Security and veterans’ checks.

Investigators also are looking into whether four women found at the home were captives, she said.

Authorities are still trying to determine the ages and identities of the women, three of whom police characterized as suffering from a combination of physical disabilities and mental illness. The fourth was identified as a caregiver, Silva said.

Three of the four men – ages 80, 74, 65 and 50 – were found in the garage and taken to an area hospital where they were in stable condition on Saturday; the fourth man, who was found inside the house, was taken to the police station to make a statement, she said.

Authorities have not released the identity of the man investigators detained.

Authorities said at least some of the men were believed to have been homeless. “What the men initially told us was they were lured there with the promise of cigarettes and food,” Silva said.

“What the men initially told us was they were lured there with the promise of cigarettes and food,” Silva said.

But once inside the tan brick house with purple trim, they were not allowed to leave, she said. “They were apparently given scraps to eat,” Silva said. “Very little food was being provided to them.”

“They were apparently given scraps to eat. Very little food was being provided to them,” Silva said.

The men told the officers that they had been held for varying lengths of time. One man said it felt like 10 years, but Silva said, “Whether it goes into years or not is unknown.”

One man told authorities that it felt like 10 years, Silva said. “Whether it goes into years or not is unknown,” she said.

Police were investigating whether the men and women had been forced to hand over their government aid, including disability, Social Security and veterans’ checks.

The case came to light after a caller to 911 told police on Friday morning that three or four people were being held there against their will.

Soon after, officers entered by breaking through burglar bars on the front door, Silva said.

Inside, police said they saw trash strewn about and found a garage that had been turned into a prison – with no beds, no chairs and no bathroom.

The women were living in the house, not in the converted garage, Silva said.

It was unclear whether any of the women were related to one another or to the man police have detained for questioning.

It also was not immediately clear whether the female caretaker was a potential suspect.

Word of the allegations spread quickly on Whitecastle Lane as police cordoned off the home with police tape and began questioning neighbors.

Alberta Ewing said she was visiting her brother when she saw police swarm the house next door.

Minutes later, she saw three men, whom she described as skinny, sickly and in need of medical care, leaving the building.

“What I saw this morning, oh my God,” she said. “No one walked out. They all came out on a stretcher.”

CNN’s Ed Lavandera and John Murgatroyd contributed to this report.