PHILADELPHIA -- 4724 Longshore Avenue seems fairly nondescript. The apartment building blends in with row homes and businesses in the Tacony neighborhood. At least, it did until October, 2011.
'The poor people cannot walk even,' said property owner Turgut Gozleveli. 'One guy's all chained up with the padlock, everything. He cannot come out even, and he's crying.'
Inside a tiny boiler room, Gozleveli found four people and a dog. Someone essentially locked them in the space by tying a chain from a fire door around a handle. The light bulb had been removed.
'Urinating, the pooping, and it stinks. Smell was terrible,' Gozleveli described.
Philadelphia police said the four people being held were mentally challenged. Among them was Herbert Knowles who'd been missing from Norfolk for three years. Knowles was the person chained Gozleveli found chained to pipes.
'They said that Linda brought us here,' recalled Gozleveli, referring to Linda Weston.
Officers charged Weston, her daughter, Jean McIntosh, her boyfriend, Gregory Thomas, and Eddie Ray Wright in connection with the kidnappings and abuse of the four people. Investigators said Weston headed an operation that targeted mentally challenged people in order to steal their government benefits, leaving dozens of victims in several states.
Weston, who served time for killing her sister's boyfriend decades ago, also has been accused of forcing her siblings and others into sexual relationships.
'People drive past here and call it 'The House of Horror Block,' you know, 'Get those people out of the basement,' and we looking, like, 'Oh, my God,'' block captain Danyell Tisdale told 13News. 'The day they came out of that building, we were just too fit to be tied. We wanted to get her. Believe me when I tell you, we wanted her ass on a plate, served up.'
'They looked like little kids in, like, grown-up bodies, and they were all dirty, and you could see how their faces were all sunk in. It brought tears to my eyes,' Ed Madison shared.
He and Tisdale said the group moved into the building in the middle of the night, a crowd of children with them, too. At least some of those children, police believe, also were victims.
Tisdale said Weston had been very short during conversations, indicating she didn't plan to be in the building long.
Gozleveli told 13News at least one alleged victim said Weston beat them with a pool stick. He added a teenager had been locked in the bathroom closet of the apartment for days.
'How the Hell can you live here?' asked Gozleveli, looking around the filthy apartment which has remained untouched since the arrests. 'You can see the rooms. I mean, you cannot sleep in these things.'
'You been holding these people hostage in the basement, not feeding, no water, no bathroom, no bathing themselves,' said Tisdale. 'Mmm. It hurts me to know that she could do something like that to those people.'
'I was 13 years in the Navy. I was in Guantanamo Bay, sir. Virginia. I'm in Norfolk, and I travel all over the United States. Europe. I'm originally from Istanbul, Turkey. Never had I witnessed such a crime. Never. Never,' offered Gozleveli.
Herbert Knowles' family told 13News he still is in Philadelphia and doing fine.
Because of what supposedly happened in Tacony, the Norfolk Police Department took another looked at the death of Maxine Lee who lived with Weston while she was in Norfolk. Officer Chris Amos told 13News that investigators thoroughly reviewed the case and 'they did not discover anything that wouldgive rise to criminal charges.'