Revelations of unfathomable cruelty that have emerged since Linda Ann Weston was charged with chaining four mentally challenged adults in a Tacony boiler room while collecting their Social Security checks have left even hardened investigators at a loss for words.
But her family is not surprised.
"We knew what she was capable of," said her brother, Troy Weston, one of five of Ms. Weston's relatives interviewed by the Inquirer. Three of her siblings told of years of childhood abuse at the hands of Ms. Weston, 51, and another sister, including allegations of physical and sexual torture, incest and drugging.
Some of these same allegations were raised during a 1984 murder trial at which Ms. Weston was convicted of starving a man to death in the coat closet of her North Philadelphia apartment.
The family members said Ms. Weston locked her own children in closets and basements, but that she had began hurting family as a teenager. Sometimes it was for money; others times for no reason at all, they said.
"Linda Ann is evil," said Vicky Weston, a younger sister. "She doesn't care about no one. She has treated people bad her whole life."
Vicky Weston, 50, said Linda Ann Weston kidnapped her daughter, Beatrice Weston, about 10 years ago, so she could receive the child's Social Security checks.
Police placed Beatrice Weston in protective custody Tuesday, saying the badly bruised and scarred 19-year-old had endured years of terror while in Linda Weston's care, including being starved, burned with a heated spoon and shot with a pellet gun.
Linda Weston was in her late teens when her mother, Alice Weston, died in the 1970s, her family said.
Some of the 13 children went to live with grandparents. Others stayed with Linda and an older sister.
Troy Weston remembered older sisters burning him with an iron on his forearm for not completing his homework -- he displayed the scar -- drugging him, and forcing him to eat cockroaches for misbehaving.
The siblings said that Ms. Weston sometimes forced some of her sisters to have sex with their brothers and cousins so they could become pregnant with children who would bring in more benefit checks.
"She would say it got her income up," said a brother who, like others, asked not to be identified as they're still trying to put their pasts behind them.
That same sibling was 11 years old in 1981 when Linda Weston and another of his sisters, Venus Weston, beat Venus' boyfriend, Bernando Ramos, 25, with a hammer and starved him to death in the closet after he had questioned whether he was the father of Venus' unborn child.
"I remember him beating on the doors, scratching and stomping," said the sibling, who testified at the Westons' 1983 murder trial, after which Linda was sentenced to 12 years in prison. She eventually served about four years in prison.
Linda Ann Weston broke his toes with a hammer when he tried to bring Mr. Ramos food, he said, and eventually had him dispose of the body by wheeling it to a vacant house.
The new details came as investigators in six states -- Pennsylvania, Florida, Virginia, and Texas -- were trying to piece together the path and alleged crimes of Ms. Weston and two accomplices.
So far, four people have been arrested in the case.
. Investigators are pouring over paperwork and identification documents for about 50 people found in Weston's possession, trying to determine the scope of the scheme.