Published October 19, 2011
Police investigating the Philadelphia basement dungeon where four mentally disabled adults were found locked up over the weekend described Wednesday the poor physical condition of one of the victims.
Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said that wounds found on Beatrice Weston -- the 19-year-old niece of the alleged ringleader of the operation, Linda Ann Weston -- were the worst he had ever seen on a person who was still alive.
"I've never seen anything like this in a living person," Ramsey said. "It's remarkable that she is still alive. There is no penalty that is too harsh for the people that did this."
Beatrice Weston, who had been reported missing in 2009, suffered wounds that included healed-over fractures, pellet gun wounds, and burns from heated spoons. Beatrice was also malnourished.
"The word horrific is not sufficient," Ramsey said.
Ten children and teens were taken into protective custody Tuesday night, ranging in age from 2 to 19, reportedly near the apartment building in Philadelphia's Tacony neighborhood, where the four original victims were discovered Saturday morning.
"At least we were able to locate several children that we were concerned about," Ramsey added. "That's the good news. Bad news is some of them were not treated very well. In fact, one has some pretty serious injuries."
The dungeon operation's alleged ringleader, 51-year-old Weston, her 47-year-old boyfriend Thomas Gregory, and 49-year-old Eddie Wright, were arrested Sunday and charged with criminal conspiracy, aggravated assault, kidnapping and other related charges.
All three were arraigned and bond set Monday at $2.5 million for each.
Officers are investigating claims that the gang was part of an interstate conspiracy to imprison vulnerable people and steal their government support checks.
The ten young people all have ties to the case. Two of the children were born to Tamara Breeden, who is one of the four original victims. Breeden was a missing woman from Philadelphia whose case was marked "closed" last year.
Police did not want to divulge exactly where the young people were found, including whether they were at one or more houses across Philadelphia. The ten are being cared for by the city's Department of Human Services, while DNA tests are carried out.
Investigators said there could be as many as 50 additional victims in the case. On Monday, Ramsey said that Weston had Social Security documents and other personal information for "almost 50 people" in her possession when she was arrested.
Weston previously served eight years in prison for starving Bernardo Ramos, 25, to death after he refused to support her sister's unborn child.
A special task force has been created to investigate the case.
Newscore contributed to this report.