SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – The three dead people found at the home of a kidnapping suspect were women, and two of them had been reported missing, authorities said on Monday.
The women whose bodies were found at Stewart Weldon's Springfield home were identified by Hampden District Attorney Anthony Gulluni as Ernestine Ryans, 47, and America Lyden, 34, both of Springfield, and Kayla Escalante, 27, of Ludlow, a neighboring town.
The names were announced on the day Weldon was arraigned on kidnapping and assault to rape charges unrelated to the kidnapping charges he faces in connection with his May 27 arrest.
Gulluni would not call the deaths homicides, saying the medical examiner was still trying to determine the cause and manner of death, but he said they are "suspicious at the very least."
The victims' families "are distraught and heartbroken," Gulluni said.
He did not say how long the bodies had been at the home, but he said two of the women had been the subjects of missing-person reports that police had investigated thoroughly. Lyden was reported missing Dec. 1, and Ryans was reported missing March 18.
Investigators remained at the home, which belongs to Weldon's mother, on Monday. No one has been charged in connection with the discovery of the bodies.
The investigation at Weldon's home began days after he was arrested for fleeing a traffic stop in his car. A woman in the car said she was being held against her will by Weldon, who had sexually assaulted and beaten her.
Weldon pleaded not guilty last week to related charges and was held on $1 million bail.
After that arraignment, a second woman came forward and said Weldon had kidnapped her in February, prosecutors said.
Weldon did not speak at Monday's arraignment but stood expressionless and nodded slightly when a not guilty plea was entered on his behalf. Bail was set at $1 million on the new charges.
Weldon's public defender waived a reading of the complaint, and the new case was impounded at the request of the prosecution and defense, citing the ongoing investigation.
"Mr. Weldon has entered his plea of not guilty and looks forward to addressing these charges in the future in court as well as addressing bail at a later date," public defender Matthew Fleischner said.
Weldon is scheduled back in court on both cases on June 29.