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Disabled adults held captive for SSD checks

Three people have been charged with kidnapping, assault, and several other crimes for allegedly holding four mentally disabled adults captive in a dirty basement for several years. Federal investigators believe that the imprisonment was part of a larger scheme to collect and cash in on the victims' Social Security Disability checks.

According to FBI reports, the three men and one woman were found last weekend, confined in a small basement boiler room that held a mattress, some bedding, a couple of water bottles, and little more. One of the four was reportedly chained to a radiator. It is not yet known whether they suffered physical abuse or whether they have lasting health consequences from the imprisonment.

The alleged ringleader of the scheme is a 50-year-old woman who has previously been convicted of murder. The other two captors are both men, ages 48 and 51.

Investigators believe that two of the four victims had been with the ringleader for a staggering 11 years, and moved with her from city to city as she ran the scheme and worked to evade police detection. They referred to her as "Mom." The other two have been with her since February.

The three perpetrators now face federal charges of kidnapping, aggravated assault, false imprisonment, and various other charges. They are being held on $2.5 million bond each.

The ringleader is believed to have posed as the victims' caregiver in order to cash their Social Security Disability checks. This case points out the ease with which SSD recipients and other disabled people can fall through the cracks. Hopefully, the Social Security Administration will take some action to ensure that something like this cannot happen again in the future.

Source: Reuters, "Bond at $2.5 million for disabled adults' accused captors," Eric Johnson, Oct. 17, 2011

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