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Plot thickens in Philadelphia kidnapping case

by Jorge Hernandez on October 18, 2011

A missing Florida girl who has been found in Philadelphia is believed to have been yet another victim in the growing case of a scheme to steal Social Security benefits from mentally disabled adults. Three people have been arrested in the case that police believe spanned four states and involved at least 50 people, ABC News reports.

Authorities have accused Linda Ann Weston, 51, of keeping four mentally disabled adults locked in a basement room amid squalid conditions. The victims, all between the ages of 29 and 41, were kept in the closet that was not high enough for an adult to stand in. At least one was chained to the boiler. Weston, along with Thomas Gregory and Eddie Wright are facing a slew of charges, with more likely to come.

"Criminal conspiracy, aggravated assault, trespassing, kidnapping, simple assault, reckless endangerment of persons, unlawful restraint, false imprisonment," Philadelphia Police Department spokeswoman Officer Tanya Little told the news channel. "As the investigation goes on, there may be more charges added."

The scope of the scheme operated by Weston has yet to be fully realized, investigators warn. According to The Associated Press, she may have been taking Social Security and disability checks in Texas, Virginia and Florida as authorities found dozens of other documents and forms of identification in the apartment of other potential victims.

Police believe that the victims were likely kept there since early October and had only water to drink in the poorly-ventilated room.

“For someone to do that to another human being, it’s very, very disturbing," Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey told CBS affiliate KYW.

Perhaps most troubling is that this is nothing new for Weston. In 1981, the Philadelphia resident was convicted of murder for letting a man starve to death in her closet. It's unclear how much time she served for the crime.

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