Cops: Special needs woman held captive

YONG KIM / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Police say a woman with special needs was bound to a bed in the basement of this home on Linton Street near 2nd in Olney.
YONG KIM / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Police say a woman with special needs was bound to a bed in the basement of this home on Linton Street near 2nd in Olney.
Posted: August 20, 2013

AN OLNEY WOMAN described by a neighbor as "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" has been charged with holding a woman with special needs captive in her basement.

Police arrested Regina Bennett, 46, of Linton Street near 2nd, shortly after midnight Saturday following a verbal dispute with a neighbor.

Authorities said that after taking Bennett into custody, neighbors informed them there was a small child living in the house, although police did not see signs of a child.

Police said officers and a supervisor conducted a walk-through of the home and discovered a 36-year-old woman in the basement bound to a bed in "unsuitable conditions." She was cut free and taken to Albert Einstein Medical Center, where she was evaluated.

Authorities said the victim was extremely thin, with sores on her body. She appears to be mentally disabled with a limited vocabulary.

Investigators have been unable to determine Bennett's relationship to the victim, according to Officer Tanya Little, a police spokeswoman.

"I haven't seen anything that stated what their relationship was or whether she was the caretaker," Little said.

Bennett is facing a dozen charges, including aggravated assault, kidnapping for ransom and neglect of care.

Yolanda Cropper, who lives across the street from Bennett, said her neighbor showed two very different sides.

"When you see her, she's like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. If she's not drinking, she's quiet, very withdrawn," Cropper said. She added that Bennett had expressed prejudice against those who are not African-American like she is.

Despite only living on the block a few months, Bennett had numerous run-ins with neighbors, according to Cropper. She said that three weeks ago, Bennett cursed out a neighbor after the woman said hello to her. During this weekend's altercation with the neighbor, Bennett was visibly intoxicated, Cropper said.

"[Those] people don't bother nobody," she said of the other neighbor in the dispute.

Cropper said Bennett, known on the block as "Queen," has a grandson who visits on the weekends and plays outside. She said she had never seen the unidentified woman discovered in the basement.

"She was small . . . she did not look like a 36-year-old woman," Cropper said of the woman.

A woman identified as Phyllis, who claimed to be Bennett's cousin, told reporters Saturday that Bennett cared for the woman who police discovered in the house.

"When she was in her care, she took care of her like she was her own flesh-and-blood child. Her room was neat and clean; she went to her programs and fed her. That's all I know," she told 6ABC.

The case is similar to a case last September in which police said a disabled man was held captive for months in Southwest Philadelphia for his Social Security checks. Dwayne Young is awaiting trial in that case. It also sparks memories of the Tacony dungeon case, in which Linda Ann Weston, her daughter Jean McIntosh and three others were charged with an elaborate scheme to imprison four people in a boiler room for their Social Security benefits.

No attorney for Bennett could be located.


On Twitter: @ChroniclesofSol

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