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2 more teens under protection in US basement case2 more teens under protection in US basement case; related '08 death probed
PHILADELPHIA (AP) ' Police in Philadelphia took two more children into protective custody Wednesday, the latest step in an intense investigation of four people accused of locking disabled adults in a dank basement as part of a Social Security fraud scheme.
Meanwhile, police in Virginia confirmed they investigated the 2008 death of a woman living with the alleged ringleader, Linda Ann Weston, who cleared out of the Norfolk home hours after calling police about the death.
A Virginia death certificate said 39-year-old Maxine Lee died of meningitis but also suffered from a wasting disease.
In Philadelphia, police told reporters that a malnourished niece living with Weston had burn marks suggesting the 19-year-old was burned with a hot spoon and had pellet gun wounds.
"I've never seen anything like this before in a living person. It is just remarkable that she is alive," Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said of Beatrice Weston.
"There is no penalty, and I repeat, no penalty that is too harsh for the people who did this," he said.
In all, eight juveniles and four young adults between the ages 2 to 19 linked to the case have been taken into protective custody.
Police spokesman Lt. Raymond Evers said they are conducting DNA tests and obtaining birth certificates to try to determine the nature of the various relationships.
Earlier Wednesday a fourth suspect, Jean McIntosh, 32, the daughter of alleged ringleader Linda Weston, was arrested by police.
She, along with Weston, Gregory Thomas, 47 ' whom Weston described as her boyfriend ' and Eddie "the Rev. Ed" Wright, 50, have been charged with kidnapping, false imprisonment and other charges.
None of the four could be reached for comment, and efforts to contact Weston's lawyer were not successful.
The case could be among the first of its kind prosecuted as a federal hate crime, an FBI official who was not authorized to discuss the case publicly told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
Landlord Turgut Gozleveli discovered the victims after he heard dogs barking in the basement. The door to the basement room was chained shut, but Gozleveli got inside and lifted a pile of blankets to find several sets of eyes staring back at him. One man was chained to the boiler.
Police identified the victims as Derwin McLemire, 41, of North Carolina; Herbert Knowles, 40, of Virginia; and Tamara Breeden, 29, and Edwin Sanabria, 31, both of Philadelphia.
Ramsey said the case has multiple threads in multiple jurisdictions.
"This is unfolding," he said. "These are folks who have gone through an awful lot."
Associated Press writers Zinie Chen Sampson in Richmond, Virginia, and Matt Sedensky in West Palm Beach, Florida, contributed to this report.
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