Linda Weston has been sentenced to life in prison plus 80 years for holding multiple mentally disabled people captive in a ‘basement of horrors’ and claiming their disability welfare.
The 55-year-old from Philadelphia has been in custody since October 2011, after a landlord found four adults in a basement room of Weston’s flat, one of whom was chained to a boiler.
She used “cunning, trickery, force and coercion” to convince a number of mentally disabled people to appoint her as their caretaker, collecting £140,900 ($212,000) in welfare checks over 10 years.
Weston along with four other people – one of whom is her daughter – kept six adults and four children in locations in Philadelphia, Texas, Virginia and Florida. Sedated with drugs in their food, the captives had their basest of human needs catered for, though they were found malnourished and in need of medical care. Two of the adults later died.
Weston pleaded guilty to 196 counts against her in September including racketeering, kidnapping, sex trafficking, hate crimes, fraud and murder in aid of racketeering.
At her hearing, Weston said: “I believe in God and God knows what happened”, to which US District Judge Cynthia Rufe replied: “There are a lot of people in this courtroom who know what happened too.” Two of the other defendants have pleaded guilty, while two still await trail.