Just over a week ago, a horrific discovery was made by a Philadelphia landlord. He searched the basement of one of his tenant’s apartments to find four malnourished, mentally-disabled adults locked in a dungeon style room. One of the captives was found chained to a boiler; another, Herbert Knowles, was reported missing by his family back in 2009.
The four arrested suspects are Linda Ann Weston, her daughter Jean McIntosh, Gregory Thomas and Eddie Wright; Weston is the assumed ringleader of what is believed to be a long-running scheme of stealing social security checks from vulnerable victims. Within the apartment, law enforcement investigators found over 50 different social security cards. Since the Saturday, October 15th discovery, eight children and four teens have been removed from the home into protective custody, including Weston’s 19-year old niece who showed signs of physical abuse.
Earlier today, Weston’s attorney George Yacoubian stated he will probably seek a hearing to see if his client is mentally competent to stand trial. He described her as “lethargic and fatigued” when he spoke with her over the weekend. He also said he does not think she realizes how serious the charges are against her.
One of Weston’s brothers, who wished to remain anonymous, reported that years ago, his sister seemed to snap after their parents died and she was left to take care of her younger siblings. He described being physically beaten and tied up for days.
Weston has already spent time in prison. Back in the 1980s, she was found guilty for hitting her sister’s boyfriend over the head with a hammer, locking him in a closet and starving him to death. Her apparent motive was to convince the man to pay for child support – her sister was two months pregnant at the time. In the 1984 trial, Weston was declared to be “mentally retarded” and “schizophrenic” by an expert witness.
When Weston was released on parole in 1988, she was supposed to be under intense supervision and seek regular treatment from a psychologist and psychiatrist, but she quickly fell off the radar.
If a hearing takes place to discuss Weston’s mental state, testimony from a forensic psychologist will be required. Such an expert will need to determine Weston’s mind during the time she allegedly kidnapped and assaulted the victims and also if she is legally competent to stand trial. If you are interested in how the mind and mental health play a role in criminal activity, perhaps a career involving a cross between psychology and criminal justice may be the perfect fit. To become such a professional, complete a forensic psychology degree.