Gregory V. Boulware
Captain Willice Samuel stood looking over the edge of the cliff, peering down onto the East river Drive. The screaming sirens of emergency vehicles filled the normally quiet environment of park life. Speeding past the stopped traffic below, the EMR vehicles made their way up the hill to the spot where the kids were playing. The Strawberry Mansion Bridge was at a stand-still as was the East River Drive traffic. Nothing and no one was being allowed to move through the area. Traffic backed up all over. Ridge Avenue was being over-run with the over flow of rush hour traffic. Both river drives, East and West, were backed up in the East Falls area of Midvale Avenue into Henry Avenue. The downtown out bound traffic was a mess. The local news on automobile radios reported the traffic mess as an accident in the park.
They were not aware of the trouble that was amiss. Emergency vehicles were parked at the spot where the body of Lindsey Irvin lay at the bottom of the twelve hundred ft. drop from the cliff of the Strawberry Mansion roadway and bridge surface.
A young twenty-seven year old Black man described “The Dungeon of Horror” re-telling the story of what his momma did to him and many others during her hours of business and pleasure.
They titled him the “Son of a Witch.” Madam Weston’s son tried in vain to tell folks about the “Dungeon of Death – The Dungeon of Hell.”
The Department of Human Services knew who and what she was when they released all of them into her custody.
The story was told to reporters by a boy who was experiencing his first taste of freedom and joy. He told of his escape from a dank, dark, and musty basement in Frankford. Frankford is located northeast of center city Philadelphia.
Linda Ann Watson kept him and others chained for months at a time over a period of years. On many hungry occasions, the boy and his fellow prisoners survived on nothing but “Kool-Aid laced with drugs and Ramen noodles.” The drugs kept them groggy and controlled. The system failed them. The Family Court Judge, his department of human services caseworker, teachers, and school administrators, mental health professionals, and police repeatedly failed him and his siblings. They failed them all. The boy’s momma made him and his siblings scrounge for food. She forced them to steal from grocery stores. She imprisoned them for a whole year, down in that basement. The oppressive behavior caused the children to miss a whole year of schooling, and nothing was done about it. She gave them drinks blended with medications to keep them groggy in order to maintain the reception of Welfare Checks. They’d wake up hours later knowing the drinks were laced. But they were thirsty. They had no other choice but to drink the stuff. They were constantly confused and disoriented. How were they to testify to anything? Who were they able to reach out to?
The young man described his mom as smart, manipulative, and conniving. She was able to pull the wool over the eyes and elude the authorities in at least four different states for a period not less than thirty years.
Gregory Thomas, Eddie Wright, Jean McIntosh, and the brains of the gang, Linda Ann Weston were finally arrested. They were charged with kidnapping and related offenses. The charges stemmed from the discovery of four mentally disabled adults in a dirty, urine-reeking sub-basement dungeon inside a ‘Tacony’ apartment building.
Jason was Malcolm’s best friend and classmate. They lived on the same small block in North Philly near 30th and Lehigh Avenue. Lindsey was Malcolm’s cousin. He lived on the block too. Leon was another member of this band of merry fellows. They were usually inseparable. Leon had to go with his uncle to get new shoes. He was not able to make the traditional Saturday morning trek. He complained to his uncle. He even attempted to trick his uncle into letting him go out with the guys. “Uncle Rue, we can go to the shoe store this afternoon just before dinner time. That way, you can make your stop at the barber shop and the liquor store on the way back.” His uncle looked at him with a curious eye and replied, “No. We been putting off this thing for a couple of weeks now. It’s time to get you some new shoes for school…No need in waiting til the last minute!”