A reward of $75,000 has been raised for information leading to the arrests and convictions of the people who kidnapped a five-year-old girl from her elementary school earlier this month.
State Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams, who helped raise $30,000 of the money, said he hopes the substantial reward will help the police get the information they need to arrest the man and woman responsible.
“It’s not money from my personal checking account, it’s money I helped to raise from different private individuals who wanted to contribute,” Williams said. “The purpose was to make this one of the largest bounties in the history of the city for the apprehension of criminals. Will it draw attention to this case? Yes. Will it help put on the pressure? Yes. Will it turn a heart? That’s a question I can’t answer, I don’t know, I hope so.”
On Jan. 14 at 8:50 a.m., the 5-year-old female victim, whose name is being withheld, was abducted from Bryant Elementary school at 6001 Cedar Avenue. Investigators say that the girl was taken out of the Hazel Street exit of the school, and taken to a house in the area by the female abductor whose face was hidden by female Muslim attire. At the house, the female was joined by a male accomplice.
Somehow, victim managed to escape and she was found early the next morning just after 4 a.m. by a pedestrian on his way to work. The passerby, identified as Nelson Mandela Myers, found the victim underneath a jungle gym inside a playground near 69th Street and Marshal Road in Upper Darby. She was wearing only a T-shirt and no shoes.
The female suspect is described as a dark-skinned, African-American woman in her late twenties. She is between 5 feet 5 inches and 5 feet 8 inches tall. She has a thin build and may be pregnant. She said her name was Rashida. The male suspect has a light complexion and may even be a white male. He is in his mid-thirties and has short brown hair. He was wearing sweat pants and a blue long-sleeved shirt. Anyone with information should call 215-686-TIPS, or send a text message to PPD TIP (773847) or send a tip to phillypolice.com.
DA drops local charges in 'Basement of Horrors' case
District Attorney Seth Williams said that his office has dropped the local charges in the “Basement of Horrors” case, in which six mentally disabled adults and four children were held captive in deplorable conditions. The announcement followed the leveling of federal charges against the defendants in the case.
“This morning the Commonwealth formally withdrew charges against Linda Weston, Gregory Thomas, Eddie Wright and Jean McIntosh for the kidnapping and abuse of several children and adults over the course of years,” Williams said. “Now that the U.S. Attorney’s Office has filed federal charges, which include two murder charges for Linda Weston, the Commonwealth need not continue with the local case. It is our hope all of these defendants get the maximum punishment for the years of torture they inflicted on their victims, and the best place for that to happen is in Federal Court.
Linda Weston, her daughter and three co-defendants are charged in a 196-count indictment that included racketeering conspiracy, murder in aid of racketeering, hate crimes, sex trafficking, kidnapping, forced human labor and related offenses. The indictment alleges that Weston and her associates carried out a racketeering enterprise that targeted victims with mental disabilities and as part of a scheme to steal disability payments from the victims and the Social Security system. According to the indictment, some of the victims endured this abuse for years, until October 15, 2011, when Philadelphia Police officers rescued them from the sub-basement of an apartment building in the city’s Tacony section.
Federal prosecutors may seek the death penalty against Weston in the case.