When police first discovered the basement of Linda Ann Weston in the Tacony neighborhood of Philadelphia in 2011, they were horrified. They found a mentally disabled person chained to a furnace, three other adults hiding under filthy blankets and rags, and found no food or water. Signs of abuse were everywhere, and when police went to the apartment upstairs, they found starved and neglected children who begged not to be taken away for fear of punishment. It was so bad some officers became sick to their stomachs. As the story of what Linda Weston did to these individuals slowly came out, many more people would start to feel sickened too.
Weston kidnapped several people and held them against their will for financial gain in the 2000s. The Linda Ann Weston abuse case also became known as the "Philadelphia Dungeon Kidnapping" and the "Basement of Horrors." While some kidnapping cases are similar to this incident, the details of this particular Tacony torture dungeon paint Linda Ann Weston as nothing short of a monster. Be warned, this article contains details of neglect, incest, and violence. It will leave you wondering how someone could do this to other human beings.
The Weston "Family" Stole Over $200,000 From Their Captives
Weston may have been the ringleader and most vicious party in this case, but she certainly did not act alone. Her group of scammers and torturers consisted of at least three people, and they worked together in order to cash the government checks meant for their victims. She even used her own daughter, Jean McIntosh, in order to make the scheme work. In August 2018, the court sentenced McIntosh to 40 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to her involvement with the scheme.
First they would subjugate the victims, sometimes luring them in through an online dating service, then they would trick - or more often force - the mentally disabled victims to designate Weston as their caretaker, which allowed her to cash their checks. Investigators found the family has been able to collect $212,000 in Social Security checks over the course of a decade.
The Victims Were Starved And Forced To Drink Urine In A Basement
Weston was living in the Tacony neighborhood of Philadelphia when she began terrorizing people in her basement. She would abduct or trick people into coming to her home, where she would hold them against their will. In fact, she colluded with her family members to detain her victims.
When this "Basement of Tortures" was first discovered in 2011, there were four adult victims. Two were found hiding under a blanket, one was found in an old sleeping bag, and one was chained to a radiator; all of them showing signs of abuse and neglect. Some of them seemed to have been there for months. More details quickly came out, as victims told horror stories of being beaten, shot with pellet guns, starved, and even being forced to drink their own urine in order to stay alive.
They did this all while being kept in a small basement of an apartment building, and would have likely remained there if it was not for the apartment manager. He noticed bowls of water, and assumed someone was keeping a pet in the no-pets-allowed complex. But when he unlocked the basement door, he found not only two small dogs, but four very frightened adults in a cramped basement barely big enough for them to lie down. As more details emerged, things just got worse.
She Targeted Mentally Disabled People
One of the more distressing parts of this case is that her victims tended to be mentally disabled. The Weston family did this for several reasons. First, disabled people were easier to control and more trusting. They could be lured in off street corners with promises of friendship or romantic involvement. Once captive, they were less likely to escape or get the help they so desperately needed.
The main reason, however, was they got funding from the government. This meant the more people they held captive, the more checks they could cash in place of the disabled victims. The four initial victims found in the basement of the apartment building all had various disabilities, and their checks were being used as Weston's income.
Eight Children Were Held Captive
After the four were released from the horrible basement conditions, more victims were discovered in the actual apartment building, many of them much younger. Police eventually took eight children and teens into custody, all of them showing signs of abuse and neglect at the hands of Weston and her family.
The youngest of these children was two years old, but was so emaciated it looked like an infant. Some of these children were kidnapped, and had been missing for weeks or even years.