Woman held disabled people captive in basement, sentenced to life imprisonment
A Philadelphia woman who held disabled people captive in her basement and abused them while collecting their disability cheques, was today sentenced to life imprisonment, the Associated Press reported.
Linda Weston, 55, pleaded guilty in September to all 196 counts against her. The charges include kidnapping, racketeering conspiracy and murder in aid of racketeering, hate crimes, sex trafficking and fraud.
Two women she held captive have also died.
Her lawyers claimed she pleaded guilty in the interest of her children.
Weston was taken into custody in 2011 when a landlord found four unkempt adults locked in a squalid room at her home.
One man was found chained to a boiler. The police were summoned to the house.
Authorities claim the victims, who eventually totalled six disabled adults and four children, were often sedated with drugs in their food and drink, sometimes deprived of food and medical care and forced to use buckets for bathrooms.
"When the individuals tried to escape, stole food, or otherwise protested their treatment, Weston and others punished them by slapping, punching, kicking, stabbing, burning and hitting them with closed hands, belts, sticks, bats and hammers or other objects, including the butt of a pistol," prosecutors alleged.
Authorities claim Weston tricked the disabled people into designating her as their caretaker so she could unlawfully collect some $212,000 on their behalf in Social Security payments.
Two other defendants have pleaded guilty in the case and two others are awaiting trial, the Associated Press reported.