DEENEY: Abusing The Disabled For Fun And Profit


DAILY BEAST: A shocking discovery on a weathered but quiet stretch of Longshore Avenue in the working-class Tacony neighborhood shook Philadelphia on Saturday afternoon: four cognitively impaired disabled adults were found malnourished, chained to a water heater, and locked behind a steel door in a filthy 15-by-15-foot closet in the basement of an apartment complex. The details of the story are still taking shape. The four adults and their “caretakers”—charged with kidnapping, aggravated assault, and various other crimes—arrived in the city by way of Florida just a few weeks ago, but lived in Texas prior to that. What brought them to Philadelphia is still unclear, but one of them, 50-year-old Linda Westen, is a convicted murderer. They are suspected of financially exploiting their captors for the meager $674 per month they received in government benefits. MORE

INQUIRER: On Sunday, Gozleveli said he had checked the basement three times last week after a neighbor complained of suspicious people coming and going. He said that on Thursday, he noticed some furniture in the dank cellar had been moved. On Friday, he found a dog dish. On Saturday, the ceiling lights wouldn’t turn on because the bulbs were missing. He followed the sound of a barking dog down three steps to an old coal room, where he unwrapped a rusted chain from around the door handle and shined his flashlight into the tiny dirt-floor space. “There were two little dogs and blankets,” Gozleveli said. “And from the blankets, people’s faces just started coming up.” The malnourished adults – lying in their own filth in the 10-by-15-foot room – could not answer him, Gozleveli said. One man’s left ankle was chained to a boiler pipe, he said. There were bathroom buckets, but no food except a container of orange juice. MORE

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