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4 Adults With Disabilities Chained Up In Social Security Scam

4 Adults With Disabilities Chained Up In Social Security Scam

Horrific news out of Philadelphia: On Sunday, four developmentally disabled adults were found chained in the boiler room of an apartment house. The room was only 10 by 15 feet and they were lying in their own excrement. There were buckets in the room and a container of orange juice.

The four, described as “severely mentally challenged” and having the “mental capacity of 10-year-olds” are from 29 to 41 years old and have been treated for malnutrition; they are now in the care of mental health officials who are trying to interview them. They had been in Philadelphia since October 3. One man seems to be from Texas and to have been held against his will for over a year. According to police, the four had been chained in the boiler room since coming to Philadelphia and had only been fed once a day.

Charged in the case are Linda Ann Weston, who had already served eight years in prison for the starvation death of Bernardo Ramos. Also charged are Weston’s boyfriend, Thomas Gregory, and ahomeless man named Eddie Wright. The earlier charges against Weston are also horrific. After Ramos refused to support Weston’s sister’s unborn child, Weston and her sister beat Ramos, tied him up in a closet and only fed him three times for a period of months.

Turgut Gozleveli, the landlord of the apartment house, discovered the four adults on Sunday after a neighbor complained of “suspicious people” coming and going. On finding them, Gozleveli says that “they did not know what world they were living [in]” and that it was “something I never expected to see in my life.”

Weston, Gregory and Wright have all been arrested and charged with criminal conspiracy, aggravated assault, kidnapping and related charges. More charges will most likely be filed as the the three seem to be participants in a “criminal scheme that stretched back at least a year and reached to Florida and Texas.” Police are investigating whether the three were using the identities of the four individuals with disabilities to claim social security and disability benefits.

Hearing about individuals with disabilities abducted and held in such circumstances, and so cruelly treated, is beyond shocking. Just as worrisome is this question: Given the extent of the four individuals’ disabilities, who was not caring for them, that someone could have abducted them and subjected them to such inhumane treatment? Might someone have claimed to be a relative or guardian and taken them? There are reports from China about people offering individuals with disabilities jobs with good pay, food and the like and then forcing them to work as slaves in brick factories. But similar atrocities can and do occur in the US.


The Philadelphia case is a harsh and terrible reminder of why we need to ensure that services and supports — a place to live, a place to work, caretakers — are set up for individuals with developmental and other disabilities like myteenage autistic son Charlie. What happened in a Philadelphia basement should not, should never, have happened.

Related Care2 Coverage

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9:40AM PST on Jan 28, 2013

I remember when this broke. It is so horrific and unbelievable that human beings could do this! I worked with the developmentally challenged adults and will never understand how anyone could want to hurt them or any human at all. These people should be kept locked up in the same conditions that they kept these people in.

4:18AM PDT on Oct 26, 2011

How could someone do this?

12:03PM PDT on Oct 21, 2011

Absolutely appalling. The vermin who subjected the four to such horrific treatment deserve to be kept in jail for life.

10:08AM PDT on Oct 21, 2011

Sue G. "Why did this woman get only 8 years for the starvation death of Bernardo Ramos?"

Had she starved Bernardo Ramos to death AND withheld $5.00 on her income tax return, she would have got life imprisonment.....

3:23PM PDT on Oct 20, 2011

Where was Weston's probation officer? Amazing to only get 8 years for basically murdering someone. Her probation should have included extensive psychotherapy and routine home inspections to ensure she wasn't abusing other people.

9:26PM PDT on Oct 19, 2011

What has happened to people that they could do anything like this to another human being, how greedy and uncaring these scums are. Throw the book at them, I'm sure they were hoping these people would die. Maybe give them a dose of there own medicine.

8:14PM PDT on Oct 19, 2011

The justice system is flawed. I would bet if those held prisoner were from a wealthy family. They would get life.

7:11PM PDT on Oct 19, 2011

I sincerely hope they do not get out of jail. Why did this woman get only 8 years for the starvation death of Bernardo Ramos? Someone lost their life after she starved them, and she gets only 8 years? Unbelievable.

12:50PM PDT on Oct 19, 2011

The world just ain't right. These people need to be locked up in a small room living in their own crap and feed once a day for the rest of their days.

10:44AM PDT on Oct 19, 2011

give them life imprisonment.

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