Niece of alleged dungeon ringleader sues city

The Ta­cony home where four men­tally ill in­di­vidu­als were held cap­tive.


The 20-year-old niece of al­leged Ta­cony Dun­geon ringlead­er Linda Ann We­st­on has sued the City of Phil­adelphia and two of its em­ploy­ees, seek­ing com­pens­a­tion for a dec­ade of child­hood ab­use that she al­legedly suffered while in her aunt’s leg­al cus­tody.

Plaintiff Be­atrice We­st­on also named her aunt as a de­fend­ant in the Aug. 20 Com­mon Pleas Court fil­ing. Linda Ann We­st­on, 51, is a pris­on­er at the city’s River­side Cor­rec­tion­al Fa­cil­ity while await­ing tri­al on crim­in­al charges of kid­nap­ping, as­sault, false im­pris­on­ment, con­spir­acy and re­lated of­fenses.

In the civil law­suit, Be­atrice We­st­on al­leges that she was “for­cibly pros­ti­tuted” by her aunt and “was reg­u­larly beaten, starved and denied med­ic­al and dent­al care, as well as form­al school­ing.”

The suit blames the city, along with De­part­ment of Hu­man Ser­vices case­work­er Ne­fer­titi Sa­voy and As­sist­ant City So­li­cit­or Richard Ames, with re­com­mend­ing that the young Be­atrice We­st­on be placed in her aunt’s cus­tody des­pite the older wo­man’s third-de­gree murder con­vic­tion.

In 1981, the suit states, Linda Ann We­st­on im­prisoned, tor­tured and beat her sis­ter’s boy­friend with a ham­mer, then starved him to death. Linda Ann We­st­on was con­victed of the killing in 1983 and served pris­on time.

Yet, in 2002, the suit states, the de­fend­ants failed to in­vest­ig­ate Linda Ann We­st­on’s crim­in­al past and failed to no­ti­fy a Fam­ily Court judge of the murder con­vic­tion dur­ing a cus­tody hear­ing in­volving Be­atrice We­st­on, then 10. In­stead, Sa­voy and Ames re­com­men­ded that the court place Be­atrice with her aunt.

Pennsylvania’s Child Pro­tect­ive Ser­vices Law pro­hib­its a con­victed mur­der­er from tak­ing cus­tody of a child, ac­cord­ing to the law­suit.

After the court awar­ded con­di­tion­al “tem­por­ary” cus­tody to Linda Ann We­st­on, the de­fend­ants failed to con­duct “ap­pro­pri­ate be­ha­vi­or and health eval­u­ations” of Be­atrice and “ar­range for ap­pro­pri­ate in­ter­ven­tions as needed,” the law­suit states.

The city’s Law De­part­ment is aware of Be­atrice We­st­on’s leg­al ac­tion, but has not been served with the suit and has de­clined to dis­cuss it, said Deputy City So­li­cit­or Craig Straw. The suit does not seek spe­cif­ic mon­et­ary dam­ages.

Dur­ing a pre­lim­in­ary hear­ing last Decem­ber in Linda Ann We­st­on’s crim­in­al case, a men­tally chal­lenged man test­i­fied that Linda Ann We­st­on or­ches­trated a scheme to steal his So­cial Se­cur­ity be­ne­fits and those of oth­er dis­abled people by hold­ing them cap­tive, tak­ing them from state to state, ab­us­ing them phys­ic­ally and for­cing them to name her as their leg­al care-pro­vider.

Linda Ann We­st­on’s boy­friend, Gregory Thomas; her adult daugh­ter, Jean McIn­tosh; and a self-de­scribed “street preach­er” named Ed­die Wright are co-de­fend­ants in the case.

Po­lice un­covered the al­leged ab­use last Oc­to­ber when, re­spond­ing to com­plaints about a bark­ing dog, they found four men­tally chal­lenged and mal­nour­ished adults locked in the util­ity base­ment of a Ta­cony apart­ment build­ing. They res­cued Be­atrice We­st­on from a locked closet in one of the apart­ments.

Linda Ann We­st­on and the co-de­fend­ants are sched­uled to stand tri­al in Janu­ary. ••End­Frag­ment 

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