Weston held runaway teen captive, Florida woman says

Posted: October 26, 2011

The mother of a 13-year-old runaway in West Palm Beach, Fla., has identified her daughter as yet another captive of Linda Ann Weston.

In a telephone interview Tuesday, Barbara Dameus said Weston held and brutalized her daughter for nearly two months in a home she rented in West Palm Beach.

"She was allowed to eat once a week," Dameus said of her daughter. "She was allowed to bathe once a week.

"She told me there were so many kids there. They burned her with cigarette burns when she didn't do what she was told. I am so angry with Linda."

When Dameus' daughter returned home in early February, Dameus said, the family barely recognized her.

Her clothes were "really nasty" and smelled, Dameus said. She had cigarette burns all over her body. She had lost roughly 35 pounds off her small frame. And she was bald.

"We had to rush her to the hospital," Dameus said.

Dameus said that her daughter had attended school with Weston's daughters Shania and Sophia Thomas, and that the three had become friends.

Dameus, who works as a nurse, said she and her husband, a landscaper, were strict with their daughter. While the Thomas girls were allowed to hang out and have boyfriends, Dameus said, her daughter was not. "They made it seem like their house was a haven," Dameus said. "If she ever got into trouble with me . . . that was the place for her."

Two days before last Christmas, Dameus said, she and her daughter got into an argument and the teen fled to Weston's home.

A few days later, Dameus came with police.

"I asked her [Weston], mother to mother, where is my daughter?" Dameus said.

Weston told her the teen had been there but had left, Dameus said. "And I knew it was a lie."

Officers had no reason to question Weston's word at the time, a West Palm Beach police spokesman said Tuesday.

Dameus' daughter eventually escaped and made her way home. She is now staying in a private facility, Dameus said, dealing with emotional scars.

"I hope they put her [Weston] somewhere and throw away the key," Dameus said. "For someone to hurt a child like that - it's just a nightmare for us."

Contact staff writer Kia Gregory at 215-854-2601, kgregory@phillynews.com, or @kiagregory on Twitter.

Inquirer staff writer Mark Fazlollah contributed to this article.


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