(CBS/KYW/AP) PHILADELPHIA - Three people have been charged after police found four mentally disabled adults chained to a boiler in a locked northeast Philadelphia basement room that contained only a container of orange juice.
Officers were investigating a report of squatters in a building Saturday when they found three men and a woman in a 15-by-15 foot room behind a steel door that was chained shut.
The subbasement room they were in called to mind a Cold War-era bomb shelter. It contained a makeshift bed, mattress and sheets, Officer Tanya Little, a police spokeswoman, said Sunday. It was too small for an adult to stand up straight and also smelled of waste from the buckets they used to relieve themselves, police said.
"It was horrible," Little said. "The space was very tiny and confined."
The suspects include 51-year-old Linda Ann Weston, 47-year-old Thomas Gregory and 49-year-old homeless man Eddie Wright. It wasn't clear how they know the victims.
Police are investigating the possibility that the suspects were trying to make money through access to the victims' social welfare benefits, Little said.
The three face charges of criminal conspiracy, aggravated assault, kidnapping, criminal trespass, unlawful restraint, false imprisonment and related offenses.
The victims were in the confined to the basement for a little over a week but their ordeal started several years ago. Police say over the last two years, the victims were transported from Texas to Florida and then finally to the basement in Philadelphia, reports CBS affiliate KYW .
The victims, three men and one woman, all said to have the mental capacities of children, were taken to Aria Health's Frankford Campus and are now listed in stable condition.
Police say it appears Weston was the mastermind behind the entire operation. According to court documents, Weston was found guilty a few decades ago for allegedly murdering her sister's boyfriend by locking him in a closet and refusing to feed him, reports the station.
Wright and Gregory are being held on $500,000 bail. Weston has not been arraigned at this time. The Special Victims Unit continues to investigate this case.