Police captain: Alleged captor may have victimized someone earlier

William Richardson (right), 63, was allegedly held against his will in a Southwest Philadelphia home. He is pictured here with his brother Robert.
William Richardson (right), 63, was allegedly held against his will in a Southwest Philadelphia home. He is pictured here with his brother Robert. (DAVID M WARREN / STAFF PHOTOGRPAHER)
Posted: September 07, 2012

A JUDGE found Dwayne "Chico" Young - arrested Sunday for allegedly holding a deaf-mute man hostage for months to steal his disability checks - so despicable that he set bail at $1 million.

And it might not have been the first time Young preyed on a vulnerable elderly person for financial gain, police said Thursday.

Young, 56, of West Philadelphia, for years lived with a woman who used a wheelchair after losing her legs to diabetes, said Capt. Larry Nodiff, commander of South Detectives. That woman, who Nodiff described as Young's common-law wife, died five months ago.

"The [medical examiner's] office says she died of natural causes in March, and there's no evidence of any kind of foul play," Nodiff said. "But it is coincidental that shortly after her death, the defendant abducts the victim in this case, locks him in the basement, holds in him in captivity against his will and threatens and uses force to collect his Social Security checks."

City detectives are working with Social Security investigators to "follow the financial trail," Nodiff said. "Was SSI properly notified of her death, and have the payment checks been terminated? We're looking into all that."

William "Willie" Richardson, 63, came out of the harrowing ordeal a thinner man but with no other visible trauma, his family said.

"He went back to work today," family friend Edwina Green said Thursday of Richardson, who works as a handyman at a plumbing company on 18th Street near Washington Avenue. That's where Richardson was last seen before his rescue Sunday. Green said he disappeared in December and relatives reported him missing in February, but Nodiff said they made the missing-persons report in May.

Richardson was held in a cramped basement with just a bed, a chair and a hospital-style commode in Young's house on Wheeler Street near 56th, Nodiff said. A board across the lone window blocked sunlight - and the view of any curious passersby, he added.

Young had "disconnected all the phones in the house, because Willie does know how to call 9-1-1," Green said.

When officers, responding to a tip, knocked on Young's door Sunday, no one answered. Armed with a warrant, the officers forcibly entered and found Richardson locked in the basement, police said.

"When they talked to him through the interpreter, they asked if he had any physical injuries or was in any pain," Nodiff said. "He declined, but told them his stomach hurt because he was so hungry. So our officers went out and bought him some beverages and dinner."

Nodiff added: "I couldn't even imagine the mental anguish and the psychological trauma he's going to suffer from this."

Richardson is now staying with his brother in North Philly, Green said. Police asked the District Attorney's Office's victim advocates to oversee his care, Nodiff added.

"That man Chico is a lunatic," Green said. He's "walking around with no soul. They say God takes care of the mild and meek. When you mess with old people, babies and the mild and the meek, you're a minion of Satan."

This wasn't the first time Young had been accused of a horrific crime.

In December 2008, he was arrested on sexual assault, false imprisonment and related offenses after a 13-year-old girl told police that Young had stripped and sexually assaulted her when she was 4, according to court records. Young, at the time, was the live-in boyfriend of the girl's grandmother.

Young agreed to plead guilty to endangering the welfare of a child if the D.A.'s office dropped all other charges, according to court records. He was sentenced to four years' probation.

Richardson's rescue comes less than a year after the notorious Tacony dungeon case. In that case, convicted killer Linda Weston allegedly imprisoned four mentally disabled adults in her basement so she could steal their disability checks, occasionally moving around the country to elude authorities. Police later found that Weston also allegedly had held her niece captive and tortured her for 10 years.

Contact Dana DiFilippo at difilid@phillynews.com or 215-854-5934. Follow her on Twitter @DanaDiFilippo. Read her blog at phillyconfidential.com.

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