Linda Weston handwritten Western Union Form

Linda Weston handwritten Western Union Form


On October 17, 2011, a basement in a seven unit apartment building in Tacony in Northeast Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was found to contain four people, being held against their will, in conditions of deprivation. The owner of the building discovered their presence after investigating suspicious activity in the basement area. Three people were arrested as initial suspects in the Philadelphia basement kidnapping: Linda Weston, Gregory Thomas and Eddie Wright. A fourth person, Jean McIntosh, the daughter of Weston, was arrested on October 19. Ten people, including six children, were taken into custody on October 18 in connection with the discovery. A niece of Weston's, Beatrice Weston, 19, was among them, and was found to be malnourished and suffering from multiple wounds. She had been reported missing in 2009. A Police investigator stated he had never seen such signs of abuse on a living person. An investigation by the FBI and the Philadelphia Police Department is currently underway to determine if the suspects were part of a larger multi-state kidnapping scheme, as identifying papers of at least 50 other people were found in the initial search. Evidence so far suggests that people had been held for collection of their Social Security Disability benefits, as the four people initially found were mentally disabled. The case has been referred to as the "Basement of Horrors".

The kidnapping received national and international attention, and raised awareness of the issue of the potential abuse of mentally disabled people for their benefits through the representative payee process.

In January 2013, the four original defendants, and a fifth, Nicklaus Woodard, of West Palm Beach, Florida, were charged by a federal grand jury with a total of 196 criminal counts, including hate crime charges. All five were charged with four counts of a hate crime, conspiracy, racketeering, and kidnapping. Weston, Mcintosh, and Thomas were charged with involuntary servitude. Weston was charged with two counts of murder, with confinement and abuse allegedly causing the deaths of two victims. She was sentenced in September 2015 to life plus 80 years, admitting to all 196 federal counts against her, including murder, kidnapping, sex trafficking, hate crimes, forced labor, and benefits fraud. 

Jean McIntosh pled guilty in December 2014 to charges including conspiracy to commit racketeering, hate crimes against the disabled, and kidnapping resulting in death.

The form is signed has been filled out by Weston.

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