Oct 16, 2011

Janitor finds mentally disabled people chained in basement

Janitor finds mentally disabled people chained in basement; 3 arrestedBy the CNN Wire Staff
updated 11:28 AM EST, Sun October 16, 2011

Philadelphia (CNN) -- Three suspects accused of chaining mentally disabled people and stealing their Social Security checks were arrested in Philadelphia.

They were arrested Friday after a janitor doing checks at a building found four victims -- a 29-year-old woman, and three men, ages 31, 35 and 31 -- locked up in a basement boiler room at a Philadelphia residence, said Lt. Ray Evers, a police spokesman. The janitor released the four and called police.

Authorities believe the victims had been trapped in the tiny room for up to a week. Evers said they suffered from bed sores and "injuries that are very, very hard to describe."

Evers said the group had moved a year ago from Texas to Florida, before traveling to Philadelphia around October 4.

Police have not named the suspects -- two men, ages 51 and 41, and a 50-year-old woman who is believed to have orchestrated the check-stealing scheme.

"They'll be charged with pretty much everything we can find in the crimes code ... from aggravated assault to kidnapping to false imprisonment," Evers said. "You name it, we're going to stick it on them."

The suspects are also accused of human trafficking -- an allegation the FBI is investigating.