When police first discovered the Basement of Horrors of Linda Ann Weston, they were horrified, they found a mentally disabled man chained to a furnace and three other adults hiding under filthy blankets and rags.
All of them were held against heir will – in the condition of deprivation on October 17, 2011, in the basement of Linda Ann Weston in the Tacony neighborhood of Philadelphia.
Linda Weston kidnapped several people and kept them against their will for financial gains. Linda’s case of abuse was also known as the Philadelphia basement kidnapping, and “the basement of Horrors.”
In 2013, Linda and her accomplices were charged by a federal grand jury with a total of 196 criminal counts, including hate crime charges. Initial charges against them were dropped so that federal prosecutors could get the group on additional counts of hate crime and human trafficking.
Tamara Breeden Body Still Bears Scars
Linda Weston and her accomplices kidnapped Breeden in 2001, after Linda said she was going to hire Breeden as a babysitter. Luckily, Breeden was rescued in 2011, but her time in the basement of horrors still haunts her, and even after 10 years her body still bears the scars. Breeden is Linda’s longest-held captive.
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 did not act alone, she had a group of scammers and abusers which included Eddie Wright, Gregor Thomas, and her own daughter Jean McIntosh. The group of scammers worked together to cash the government checks meant 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 scheme was simple, she talked the victims into naming her their legal representative payee. She would claim social security benefits intended to fund their daily care, but she used it for herself and for her family. Weston and her group stole $225,000 taxpayers dollars in Social security checks from 2001 to 2011.
Victims were forced to drink urine in the basement
When the authorities first discovered the basement of the horrors, there were four adults in the captivity – Tamara Breeden, Derwin McLemire, Hebert Knowles, and Edwin Sanabaris, aged from the late 20s to early 40s.
Weston kept the victims in a small basement of an apartment until the property manager checked the complex. The property owner noticed bowls of water and assumed someone was keeping a pet in the no-pets-allowed complex. He came to a shock when he unlocked the basement door.
Not only two small dogs, but very frightened adults in a cramped basement, which was barely big enough for them to lie down. Two of the victims were hiding under a blanket, one was in a sleeping bag, and the last one was chained to a radiator.
The victims told what happened to them in the basement, they were beaten, shot with pellet guns, starved, and were even forced to drink their own urine in order to stay alive.
The group targeted the Mentally Disabled and Children
Weston targeted mentally disabled individuals, she revealed that they were easier to control and more trusting. They could be easily lured inside the house from street corners with promises of friendship or romantic involvement. But after they were in, they were less likely to escape or get some help.
Along with the adults, investigators also found eight children in Weston’s apartment. Police eventually took them into custody, all of them showing signs of abuse and neglect at the hands of Weston and her accomplices.
The youngest child rescued was 2 years old, Weston had forced her female captives to get pregnant and gave birth and then snatched their infants from the mothers. Weston also held her niece, Beatrice Weston captive.
The four initial victims found in the basement of the apartment building all had various disabilities, and their checks were being used as Weston’s 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.
In 2002, Human Services placed 10-year-old, Beatrice Weston in the care of her aunt. Linda treated her no differently than others, and harmed Beatrice, withheld food, and access to education. When the authorities rescued 19-year-old, Beatrice showed signs including burned with a heated spoon and shot with a pellet gun.
In 2011, Philadelphia Inquirer interviewed Weston’s sibling’s. Weston’s brother, Troy, said that his sister drugged him and forced him to eat cockroaches. Weston’s siblings collectively content that their guardian forced the brothers and male cousins to have sex with their sisters. The reason behind Weston doing so was to get her sisters pregnant so that they could bring in more benefit checks.
She continued doing the same with mentally disabled captives and when police found out, she was charged with sex trafficking.
Weston Starved A Man To Death
In 1984, courts convicted Weston for the death of 25-year-old Bernardo Ramos, who was dating her sister, Venus, before his disappearance. Weston beat him and locked him in a closet then tortured him with a hammer before letting him die of starvation because he questioned whether or not he was the father of Venus’ unborn child.
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.