Police in Philadelphia have arrested a fourth person accused of locking four mentally disabled adults in an apartment basement, including one Norfolk, Virginia man. In addition, two more children with connections to the suspects have been placed in protective custody.
Jean McIntosh, 32, the daughter of alleged ringleader Linda Weston, was arrested in Philadelphia Wednesday. She along with Weston, 47-year-old Gregory Thomas and 50-year-old Eddie Wright have been charged with kidnapping, false imprisonment and several other charges.
Herbert Knowles, 40, was reported missing by a social worker 3 years ago. Police drove by the Philadelphia address where his social security checks were being mailed, but gave up pursuit after neighbors told them that Knowles did not live there, the AP reported.
They are accused of locking four mentally disabled adults in a dank, squalid basement as part of a fraud scheme to steal the victims Social Security checks. Last week, a landlord discovered the four weak and malnourished victims locked behind a steel door in the basement of a northeast Philadelphia apartment.
Police have also taken two more children into protective custody as part of the investigation. One is reported by the AP to be the niece of Linda Weston who had been living with her and was also found malnourished and with mark suggesting she was burned with a hot spoon and shot by a pellet gun. In all, eight juveniles and four your adults ages 2 to 19 linked to the case have been taken into protective custody.
This could also be one of the first cases of its kind to be prosecuted as a federal hate crime, according to a law enforcement official who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity. The 2009 Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act broadens previous hate crime laws to include criminal acts against sexual orientation or disability.