When police first arrived at Linda Ann Weston’s Basement of Horrors, they discovered a mentally ill man chained to a furnace, as well as three other adults hiding under filthy blankets and rags.
All of them were held against their will – in the condition of deprivation. Linda Weston kidnapped a number of people and held them against their will in order to make money. Linda’s abuse was dubbed “the basement of Horrors” and “the Philadelphia basement kidnapping.”
Linda and her associates were charged with a total of 196 criminal counts, including hate crime charges, by a federal grand jury in 2013. The group’s initial charges were dropped so that federal prosecutors could pursue additional counts of hate crime and human trafficking against them.
Tamara Breeden Body Still Bears Scars
Breeden was kidnapped by Linda Weston and her accomplices in 2001 after Linda said she was going to hire Breeden as a babysitter. Breeden was rescued in 2011, but her time in the basement of horrors haunts her, and her body still bears the scars after ten years. Breeden has been Linda’s prisoner for the longest time.
On November 13, 2018, Breeden, spoke about her time locked up in Weston’s basement:
“I kept praying to Jesus and praying to God that I could get back home to my family. I thought I was going to die there, she kept on whooping me with bars and sticks[…] I see my scars every time, but I say to God, I am still beautiful, and I am still alive.”
Over the years, she routinely beat Breeden with bats, and she was forced into prostitution.
The Stole $225,000 from their Captives
Weston was not acting alone; she had a ring of con artists and abusers around her, including Eddie Wright, Gregor Thomas, and even her own daughter, Jean McIntosh. The con artists banded together to cash government checks intended for their victims.
Weston and her group scammed the victim by pretending to be their friend. U.S. Attorney Faithe Taylor said, “If you were a man, she would be your girlfriend, if you needed a mother, she would be your mother.”
Weston’s plan was straightforward: she persuaded the victims to name her as their legal representative payee. She would claim social security benefits intended to cover their daily expenses, but she would use them for herself and her family instead. From 2001 to 2011, Weston and her group stole $225,000 in Social Security checks from the taxpayers.
Victims were forced to drink urine in the basement
There were four adults in captivity when the authorities first discovered the basement of horrors: Tamara Breeden, Derwin McLemire, Hebert Knowles, and Edwin Sanabaris, all in their late 20s to early 40s.
Until the property manager checked the complex, Weston kept the victims in a small basement of an apartment. The property owner noticed water bowls and assumed someone in the no-pets-allowed complex was keeping a pet. When he unlocked the basement door, he was taken aback.
Not only two small dogs but also two terrified adults were trapped in a cramped basement with barely enough room to lie down. Two of the victims were huddled under a blanket, one was stuffed into a sleeping bag, and the final victim was tethered to a radiator.
The victims described how they were beaten, shot with pellet guns, starved, and even forced to drink their own urine in order to stay alive in the basement.
The group targeted the Mentally Disabled and Children
Weston honed in on mentally ill people, revealing that they were easier to control and more trusting. They could be easily enticed inside the house with promises of friendship or romantic involvement from the street. However, once inside, they were less likely to flee or seek assistance.
Investigators discovered eight children in Weston’s apartment in addition to the adults. They were eventually apprehended by police, with all of them displaying signs of abuse and neglect at the hands of Weston and her associates.
Weston had forced her female captives to become pregnant and give birth, then snatched their infants from their mothers. The youngest child rescued was two years old. Beatrice Weston, Weston’s niece, was also held captive by Weston.
The four initial victims discovered in the apartment building’s basement each had a different disability, and their checks were being used as Weston’s source of income.
She forced her siblings to have sex
Weston’s brother and sister moved in with her after their mother passed. Her family members said she locked her own children in closets and basements. She began hurting her family as a teenager, sometimes it was for money and other times for no reason at all.
Beatrice Weston, then ten years old, was placed in the care of her aunt by Human Services in 2002. Linda mistreated Beatrice in the same way she mistreated others, depriving her of food and education. Beatrice, a 19-year-old woman, had been burned with a heated spoon and shot with a pellet gun when she was rescued.
In 2011, Philadelphia Inquirer interviewed Weston’s siblings. Troy, Weston’s brother, claimed that his sister injected him with drugs and forced him to eat cockroaches. Weston’s siblings are all happy that their father and male cousins were forced to have sex with their sisters by their guardians. Weston’s motivation for doing so was to make her sisters pregnant in order for them to receive more benefits.
She went on to do the same thing with mentally ill captives, and when the cops found out, she was charged with sex trafficking.
Weston Starved A Man To Death
Weston was found guilty in 1984 of the murder of Bernardo Ramos, a 25-year-old man who was dating her sister, Venus, at the time of his disappearance. Because he doubted whether or not he was the father of Venus’ unborn child, Weston beat him and locked him in a closet, then tortured him with a hammer before starving him to death.
In the 1993 trial, Weston’s sibling testified that “I remember him beating on the doors, scratching and stomping.” Roman only weighed 75 pounds (ca. 34 kg) when he died, shockingly Weston only served 4 of a 12-year sentence for the crime.
Some Of The Victims Were Held For Years
While some of her victims were family members, it was easy for her to keep them captives for long periods of time. Tamara Breeden was one of the longest-held victims. According to her testimony, she was held captive for a decade.
Weston told them that they would be severely punished if they made an attempt to escape. Weigh the victims got too rambunctious, she put drugs in bean and ramen and feed it to them, the same treatment was given to her brother.
A Girl Is Still Missing
Authorities believe that one of the children in Weston’s care still hasn’t been found. Former neighbors reported tales of a little baby girl, “Little L.”
According to the neighbors, Weston claimed Little L as her own child. Weston initially agreed to the transfer of custody. But in 2007, her neighbor never saw the child again. Search for Little L is still going on and investigators speculate that Weston had kidnapped the infant who was born from one of Weston’s captive.
Weston Is Serving Life In Prison
In January 2013, the four original defendants, along with one more, Nicklaus Woodard were charged with a federal grand jury with a total of 196 criminal accounts, including hate crime charges. All five of them were charged with four counts of a hate crime, conspiracy, racketeering, and kidnapping.
Weston was charged with two counts of murder, confinement, and abuse allegedly causing the death of two victims. Weston was sentenced in September 2015 to life plus 80 years, admitting to all 196 federal counts against her.
Although only four people were retrieved from the basement along with a handful of children and teens were removed from the apartment, authorities believe that there might be more victims.
Paperwork and identification documents for a dozen of potential victims unearthed when the police search Weston and McIntosh’s residence. Investigators reviewed these documents and determine that the Weston family stole identities and benefits from at least 50 people.