WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Earlier this year Linda Ann Weston is believed to have taken care of several children and mentally disabled adults at a West Palm Beach house off 52nd Street and Manning Avenue.
After being evicted in June, Weston moved to Philadelphia. Now she and two others face several charges after Philadelphia police have accused them of chaining up and locking four mentally disabled adults in a basement.
"What we found kind of amazing after extensive searching of our databases and other databases that are available to us that there was no sign of them anywhere on the radar," said Mark Riordan of the Florida Department of Children and Families.
Riordan said the agency has been working with Philadelphia's Department of Public Welfare trying to track down how and if the suspects had access to the benefits of the mentally handicapped adults. These benefits are ones vulnerable adults have to apply for, he said.
"They clearly did not come through our process," Riordan said. "They may have done that in Pennsylvania. They may have done it in another place. That's one of those things we're going to work backwards on to find out."
Philadelphia authorities say that's difficult because investigators have found 50 other IDs with personal information inside of the Philadelphia residence.
"That you'd have to ask them," Riordan replied when asked why they had that many IDs. "They clearly had something to hide and they had become quite good at hiding it."
But they didn't hide it from neighbors because many neighbors including Ronald Bass said they heard screams nightly, but didn't report it.
Riordan says neighbors staying quiet kept DCF in the dark.
"Sometimes people don't want to get involved," Riordan said. "But if you have not come to us to ask for our help then we may not know about (the abused)."
Both agencies in Philadelphia and here in South Florida say new findings by investigators also create challenges. They say until law enforcement finishes their investigation, DCF and other protection agencies can't thoroughly perform their investigation.
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