Linda Weston, a convicted felon, allegedly held her niece captive for ten years in a dungeon-like basement and tortured her after being given custody of the girl. When Linda was arrested, four mentally disabled adults were also found chained in her basement. Photo via Prosecutors Office
20-year-old Beatrice Weston is suing the city of Philadelphia, claiming that city officials failed to act appropriately and properly train workers which could have prevented the nightmare she endured.
In October 2011, Turgut Gozleveli, a Philadelphia apartment building’s landlord, found two dog bowls in the apartment block. Pets were not allowed, and Gozleveli questioned the tenants to see if any of them had animals. The tenants told him no, but Gozleveli decided to search their basement to make sure.
Instead of animals, Gozleveli discovered four mentally disabled adults and Beatrice, starving and chained to the basement walls and hiding under filthy quilts. The 13 by 7 foot area they were being held captive reeked of urine and feces. The prisoners had to share a bucket as a toilet and use the same bucket to bathe themselves.
The four other adults were allegedly being held by 51-year-old Linda Ann Weston, Beatrice’s aunt, so she could steal their Social Security checks.
According to the civil suit filed Monday, Beatrice alleges that a social worker and a member of the city solicitor’s office arranged for custody of Beatrice to be given to Linda, in sprite of Weston’s 1983 conviction for starving her sister’s boyfriend to death in a closet. Linda had served 8 years behind bars for the 1981 murder.
According to the lawsuit, Linda was given custody of 10-year-old Beatrice in August 2002, after the girl’s mother said she could not care for her. The city allegedly never visited Linda’s home before recommending she receive custody of Beatrice. The city also allegedly never performed any background checks on Linda – which would have disqualified her.
According to the Family Court judge who oversaw Beatrice’s case, he was not advised of or aware of Linda’s criminal record and background.
The lawsuit alleges that the city of Philadelphia also failed to conduct home investigations or arrange for health evaluations of Beatrice and ignored warnings that could have resulted in Beatrice’s rescue.
“During that time, Beatrice Weston was forcibly prostituted by Linda Ann Weston and was regularly beaten, starved, and denied medical and dental care, as well as schooling,” according to the lawsuit filed by Beatrice. “During these 10 years, the City of Philadelphia received numerous complaints that Linda Ann Weston was holding children captive in her basement.”
According to Beatrice’s attorney, Shanin Specter, Beatrice was beaten with a baseball bat, prostituted, forced to drink her own urine and even kept at times in a cramped closet.
“This would have been avoided if the city hadn’t recommended that a convicted felon be given custody of a vulnerable, innocent child,” Specter said.
In a statement by Specter, Beatrice has alleged that the city failed to “properly train Department of Human Services workers in child placements,” which resulted in her being put in the custody of her aunt, Linda Weston, a convicted felon. Additionally, the complaint alleges that the city failed to release information about Linda’s criminal history.
According to testimony by Beatrice, her body is now covered with scars from burns, cuts, pellet guns, and other weapons.
Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey said he had never seen such severe injuries on a victim, “at least not a living victim.”
Upon reflection of her ordeal, Beatrice said, “I knew it was morning because light came through the window and the crack under the door.” She said she was only allowed out once a day, and said, “Sometimes I got food, I think once a day.”
Beatrice said that her cousin would taunt her and say through the door: “Don’t you wish that you was out of that closet taking a hot shower like me?”
Beatrice is seeking damages for pain and suffering, payment for her extensive medical and therapy expenses, and compensation for loss of past and future earnings.
“Jurors are going to have to fix a value on every day, every month, every year that she was imprisoned,” Specter said. “There’s no amount of money that’s fair.”
Named in the lawsuit are former social worker with the Department of Human Services, Nefertiti Savoy, for allegedly recommending Beatrice be placed in Linda’s care, as well as Richard Ames, a member of the City of Philadelphia’s Solicitor’s Office, and Linda.
Linda’s trial is scheduled for January 2013. She has been charged with kidnapping, assault, conspiracy, false imprisonment and other related counts for holding the four adults captive.
Also set for trial in January are Beatrice’s cousin Jean McIntosh, 32, Linda’s boyfriend, Gregory Thomas, 47, and Eddie Wright, 50.
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