Oct 25, 2011

Son 'shocked' parents accused of holding captives, calls it a 'misunderstanding'

The son of two of four people charged with imprisoning four mentally disabled adults in the basement boiler room of a Philadelphia apartment building called his parents "loving and caring" on Monday, adding he is "shocked" by their arrest.

Three of the suspects -- Linda Ann Weston, 51; Gregory Thomas, 47, and Eddie Wright, 49 -- had status hearings Monday, but none were in court. Afterward, Weston's attorney George S. Yacoubian Jr. said their next court date, a preliminary hearing, is set for December 19.

They face several charges including criminal conspiracy, aggravated assault, kidnapping, criminal trespass, unlawful restraint and false imprisonment after the landlord of the apartment building found the four people locked in the 15-foot-by-6-foot room with no food and only a bucket for a toilet, police said. Weston is the accused ringleader of the group, according to police.

A fourth suspect -- Jean McIntosh, Weston's daughter -- faces similar counts, but was charged a few days after the first three. A hearing in McIntosh's case is scheduled for Wednesday, according to court records.

Gregory Thomas Jr., who several months ago moved back to Philadelphia from Florida, son of Weston and Thomas, conceded to CNN on Monday that he "felt a little out of the loop."

That said, the 18-year-old aspiring boxer insisted the case against his parents was "a real big misunderstanding."

"I don't think they're guilty," the younger Thomas said. "I just hope they get the facts straight, before they make a decision in court."

Police have said the suspects may have been holding seven other people, including Weston's 19-year-old niece and six children. Police believe two of the children, ages 2 and 5, may belong to Tamara Breeden, one of the four adults rescued from the sub-basement.

Gregory Thomas Jr. said that he considered some of the mentally disabled adults living with his parents as "family," adding that he believed they were fed and not locked in their rooms. He claimed, for example, that he had gone to the movies with one of the mentally disabled men, and said his mother would give them Christmas presents and treat them to holiday dinners.

"Everything seemed normal," the younger Thomas said. "No one had to ask for anything."

Weston, according to her son, "tried to do a lot to help -- sometimes, I think, she did too much, that she cannot handle." He also said he felt she "had the wrong people around," but called it "shocking" that she and his father were arrested.