Five people were charged on Wednesday with imprisoning disabled adults in a Philadelphia "dungeon" as part of a brutal scam to collect the victims' disability and social security checks. Two victims died during the horrific crime, which went on for over a decade.
The victims were discovered in October 2011 by the building's landlord. Based on the description by US Attorney Zane David Memeger, the scene was gruesome.
"Shocking does not begin to describe the criminal allegations in this case where the victims were tied up and confined like zoo animals and treated like property akin to slaves," Memeger said in a statement.
Alleged ringleader Linda Weston found the victims in different ways; one was her niece and another was taken from a street corner near a mental health facility. All of the victims were malnourished and some had been trapped in the basement for as long as 11 years; the two deaths were the result of starvation and bacterial meningitis. Several of the victims, who Memeger said had the mental capacity of an average 10-year-old child, were also forced into prostitution. All told, the scam netted the alleged abductors $212,000 over ten years.
The five defendants all face life in prison. Weston, the ringleader, was charged with two counts of murder in aid of racketeering could receive the death penalty.
[Image via AP]