PHILADELPHIA – Three people have been charged following the discovery of four malnourished, mentally disabled adults chained to a boiler in a locked northeast Philadelphia basement room that was too small for an adult to stand up straight and reeked of waste from the buckets they used as toilets, police said Sunday.

Officers were probing a report of squatters Saturday when they found three men, ages 31, 35, and 41, and a 29-year-old woman in a 15- by 15-foot room.

The subbasement room they were in called to mind a Cold War-era bomb shelter and contained a makeshift bed, mattress and sheets, said Officer Tanya Little, a police spokeswoman.

“It was horrible,” she said Sunday. “The space was very tiny and confined.”

Charges of criminal conspiracy, aggravated assault, kidnapping, criminal trespass, unlawful restraint, false imprisonment and related offenses were filed Sunday against Linda Ann Weston, 51, and Thomas Gregory, 47, both of Philadelphia, as well as Eddie Wright, 49, officially listed as homeless but originally from Texas. Listed numbers for the defendants could not be found Sunday, and it was unclear whether they had attorneys.

Federal charges could also be added, Lt. Raymond Evers said.

“We’re going to find every crime possible in the crime code to put on these individuals,” he told The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Police are investigating the possibility that the suspects were trying to make money through access to the victims’ Social Security or disability checks, Little said.

The four victims have the mental capacity of 10-year-olds, police said. They were taken to a hospital for treatment. Little said the victims, whose names were not released, appeared to have no physical problems other than malnourishment.


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