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'I Was Going To Die': Survivor Speaks Out After Spending Decade In 'Basement Of Horrors'

Tamara Breeden was held captive, along with other victims with developmental disabilities, in a scheme to bilk them of their Social Security benefits.

By Gina Tron

A woman who spent a decade in captivity before being rescued from Philadelphia's "basement of horrors" thought she was "going to die there."

Tamara Breeden, now 36, was one of four mentally disabled people rescued in 2011 from what amounted to a dungeon. She was the victim of a scheme masterminded by Linda Ann Weston that involved stealing the identities of vulnerable people and reaping their Social Security benefits. Weston conned her victims into naming her as their legal representative before she would, along with co-conspirators Eddie Wright, Nicklaus Woodward and Jean McIntosh, lock them away and bilk them for cash. 

Over the course of a decade, the group's multiple victims were moved from Texas to Virginia to Philadelphia, according to the Associated Press. It's unclear how many victims there were in all as authorities believe some died and some cannot be traced. Prosecutors believe there were at least dozen.

Breeden now tells WCAU in Philadelphia that while being held captive she was forced to urinate in a bucket and was pistol-whipped across her head more times than she could count.

Breeden said she met Weston on the street and Weston asked Breeden if she would do a babysitting job in exchange for a place to live.

“She was nice before, but then she turned on me,” Breeden said. “She kept on whooping me with bats and sticks.”

The ordeal went on for 10 years until Breeden and the other victims were rescued when a landlord found them in the basement, one of them chained to a boiler, the Associated Press reported at the time. Breeden even gave birth while being held captive, according to WCAU.

“I kept on praying to Jesus … hoping to get back home,” Breeden said.

Weston was convicted in federal court and sentenced to life. Woodward and McIntosh each received 40 years; Wright was given 27 years. 

Weston maintains her innocence from prison and told WCAU by phone, “I was lied on.”

[Photo: Associated Press]

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