December 24, 2015
The 56-year-old Philadelphia woman dubbed by the press as the 'Tacony dungeon' woman claims she was forced by her lawyers to plead guilty to her involvement in a brutal criminal enterprise, according to Philly.com.
Linda Weston was sentenced Nov. 5 to life in prison plus 80 years for her role in a decade-long scheme that held adults captive in locked closets, basements and attics – all while stealing their government benefits. She entered a guilty plea in U.S. District Court on Sept. 15.
She since has sent a hand-written letter to U.S. District Judge Cynthia M. Rufe claiming she did not understand the court proceedings and that her attorney made her take the plea. In the letter, filed Thursday, she asked the judge to withdraw her plea and declare her insane.
"I am not the person they called me in the courtroom," the letter read, according to Philly.com. "I am God's child. I'm not evil, and, no, I am not a monster."
Her attorneys, Paul M. George and Patricia McKinney, could not be reached by PhillyVoice for comment Thursday afternoon.
Weston and her co-conspirators allegedly targeted individuals with mental disabilities who were estranged from their families, victimizing six adults and four children during a 10-year stretch. Two victims died during captivity.
Weston pleaded guilty to a lengthy list of charges that included murder in aid of racketeering, forced human labor, sex trafficking, kidnapping, theft of government funds and racketeering conspiracy.
Weston and her co-conspirators allegedly locked their victims in basements, closets, attics and apartments. They often were left isolated in the dark and sedated with drugs placed in their food and drink. Some victims endured the abuse for years.
If the victims attempted to escape, steal food or protest their treatment, they were punched, kicked, stabbed, burned and slapped, prosecutors said. They also were struck with belts, sticks, bats, hammers and other objects.
Two of Weston's victims died:
Donna Spadea was found dead in the basement of a Northeast Philadelphia home on June 26, 2005, after being fed a substandard diet and not allowed to use the bathroom. Weston ordered other members of the household to move Spadea's body to a different location before alerting law enforcement.
Maxine Lee died of bacterial meningitis and starvation in November 2008 after allegedly being confined inside a kitchen cabinet and an attic for several months in Virginia. Again, Western ordered members of the household to move the body and stage the death before contacting police. The family left for Philadelphia the next day.
Police rescued the remaining victims from the sub-basement of an apartment building in Tacony on Oct. 15, 2011.
Weston's daughter, Jean McIntosh, and co-defendant Eddie Wright also pleaded guilty. Co-defendants Gregory Thomas Sr. and Nicklaus Woodard are awaiting trial.