Horror deepens in Tacony basement case

Posted: October 20, 2011

AS JANE McIntosh, daughter of Linda Ann Weston, moved from state to state, her mother usually would follow.

McIntosh lived in Texas with her husband, who was in the military. She moved to Norfolk, Va., where her husband was to be stationed, said a man named Cameron - Weston's boyfriend in Norfolk and in Killeen, Texas.

Weston, 51, the alleged mastermind behind a plot to defraud mentally disabled people of their Social Security benefits, recently ended up back in Philadelphia, where her daughter was living in a Tacony apartment building with a dank, dirty sub-basement.

"The mom goes wherever the daughter goes," said another source who knows both women and who requested anonymity.

"When it comes to torture, [it's] Weston," this person said. "When it comes to logistics, it's her daughter."

McIntosh, 32, was arrested and charged yesterday by city police in the ever-darkening case of four mentally disabled adults found Saturday locked and malnourished in her building's basement boiler room.

She faces the same charges of kidnapping, conspiracy and related offenses as her mother, as do her mother's boyfriend, Gregory Thomas, 47, and Eddie Wright, 50, who were arrested Saturday.

There may be more victims, including juveniles. Yesterday, police also took into custody McIntosh's two kids, ages 7 and 10.

(Police and the District Attorney's Office list McIntosh's first name as Jean, but she is identified as Jane by the landlord of her Tacony apartment, a public database, her cellphone voicemail and sources who know her.)

McIntosh appeared via video last night for her arraignment. She burst into tears and shook her head while Magistrate Timothy O'Brien read her charges.

"I'm not a criminal, I'm not a criminal," she sobbed as she rocked in a chair. O'Brien said Weston instructed McIntosh to check on the Tacony sub-basement to make sure that the four victims were still locked inside.

O'Brien said that McIntosh could be considered a flight risk because she left Philadelphia for Killeen in July to visit her husband. McIntosh told O'Brien that her husband is in the military and is stationed in Killeen. She returned to Philadelphia in late August after her birthday, she said.

Her bail was set at $1 million.

The landlord of the Tacony building said that McIntosh had told him that she had been an Army nurse in Texas.

Court records show that McIntosh was arrested in Philadelphia in 2005 for a theft two years earlier. She was accused of unlawfully depositing a $3,200 check, then withdrawing the money while knowing that the check would not be honored. She entered a program for first-time offenders and was ordered to serve probation and community service.

Meanwhile, authorities yesterday said that they were looking into possible further charges and motives for the four defendants.

One angle being probed is whether they compelled the victims to have children so that they could obtain more Social Security benefits. Two of the juveniles taken into custody are believed to be children of Tamara Breeden, 29, the sole woman in the sub-basement, and of one of the male victims. Another possibility is whether this amounts to a federal hate crime, a standard that has expanded to protect victims with disabilities.

And there's a question of whether this is human trafficking. Luis CdeBaca, ambassador-at-large for the U.S. Department of State's Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, said yesterday that although he couldn't comment on the Philadelphia case, he has prosecuted similar cases of human trafficking around the world.

Separately yesterday, the sister of a Philadelphia woman who was found dead in a Norfolk, Va., house said she wishes that police there would look into whether Weston was involved in the death.

Tracey Lee said she doesn't know how her sister Maxine Lee ended up under Weston's care in a Norfolk house in 2008. Maxine, 39, was found dead Nov. 13, 2008. Authorities there ruled her death natural, listing the cause as acute bacterial meningitis, with malnutrition a contributing factor.

Norfolk Police Officer Chris Amos said yesterday that there were no plans to reopen the case because there was "nothing suspicious" about the death.

Tracey, 39, said her sister graduated from Bok High School, in Philadelphia, and worked, but "drifted in the wrong crowd." Then, in 2006, her family reported her missing, she said.

- Staff writer Mensah M. Dean contributed to this report.

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