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Authorities ID 3 women found dead in Mass. kidnap suspect's home

3 bodies found in Mass. house of horrors

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- Authorities have identified three bodies found at the Massachusetts home of a kidnapping suspect. Hampden District Attorney Anthony Gulluni said Monday all three were women, and two had been reported missing.

He identified them as 47-year-old Ernestine Ryans and 34-year-old America Lyden, both of Springfield; and 27-year-old Layla Escalante, of Ludlow. Gulluni said those cases were the subjects of "significant investigation" and public outreach, but the missing women hadn't been found.

According to Springfield Police, Lyden was reported missing in December 2017, but she not been in contact with her family since June 2017. She was also the subject of previous missing person reports, police said.

Police in Springfield, Mass., identified 3 women whose bodies were found  at the home of kidnapping suspect Stewart Weldon. Left to right : Kayla Escalante, Ernestine Ryans, and America Lyden.

Ryans was reported missing March 18, 2018, police said. The person who reported her missing said she hadn't been seen since March 8. The person who filed the report said Ryans had gone missing before, according to police, but never for such an extended period of time. reports that Lyden had a previous address in Bristol, Connecticut, and Ryans had ties to Hartford.

Gulluni, the district attorney, would not comment on any possible connections between the victims or their backgrounds. He said their families are "needless to say distraught and heartbroken." He said the medical examiner has yet to determine the cause of the deaths but called them "suspicious."

"It's tragic, it's awful, it's unlike anything I've ever seen," Gulluni said. "The police officers with whom I'm working are in the same position. I think the original reaction was a bit of shock."

The bodies were found at the Springfield home of 40-year-old Stewart Weldon.

This photo provided by the Springfield Police Department shows Stewart Weldon.
This photo provided by the Springfield Police Department shows Stewart Weldon. Springfield Police Department via AP

Weldon was arrested May 27 after a car chase that ended when he crashed into a police cruiser and wrestled with officers. A woman in Weldon's car said he held her captive for a month, sexually assaulted her and beat her with a hammer and other objects, police said.

"Thank you for saving my life," the woman told officers, according to a police report. "I never thought I would get away."

The woman was taken to a hospital with what police called "grotesque and violent" injuries, including a possible fractured jaw, stab wounds to her abdomen, marks from being hit with a blunt object and a leg infection. She was still in the hospital on Monday, Gulluni said.

Three bodies found in Massachusetts home of suspected kidnapper

Weldon was arraigned Monday on kidnapping and assault to rape charges pertaining to a second alleged victim. Gulluni wouldn't release details in the second case Monday to protect the woman's privacy.

Weldon hasn't been charged in connection with the bodies. He was ordered held on $1 million bond in each kidnapping case and bond was revoked on previous charges, Gulluni said. The Boston Globe reported last week that Weldon was arrested three times in 2017 before the May 27 traffic stop. Most recently, according to the newspaper, he was seen assaulting a woman on the street, and when officers tried to arrest him he allegedly bit one's leg. Police reportedly found two knives on him. Court records reportedly indicate that he was released on $1,000 bail posted by his mother and fitted with a GPS device that he allegedly cut off.

Gulluni said that his office recognized Weldon to be violent before his most recent arrest and made efforts to request high bail and object to changes in his pre-trial conditions.

"We did everything we could to keep him behind bars, and that wasn't the outcome," Gulluni said.

CBS Boston reports that the Department of Children and Families took custody of a child from the home, which is owned by Weldon's mother. Authorities were using ground penetrating radar in a continued search of the property which Gulluni said extended throughout the weekend and would likely continue for the next several days.

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