Men held captive
HOUSTON – Charges have been filed against a man accused of holding four men against their will at a northwest Houston home, police said.
Walter Renard Jones, 31, is charged with two counts of injury to the elderly - serious bodily injury in the 263rd state District Court.
Investigators with the Houston Police Department said the four men were living in “deplorable conditions” while being forced to hand over their monthly incomes.
The victims told officers they were given only scraps to eat inside the residence in the 8600 block of Whitecastle Lane.
Three of the men, who appeared to be suffering from malnutrition, were taken to LBJ Hospital.
The victims were discovered after a resident called police Friday morning after seeing a man at the window rubbing his stomach as if he was hungry.
When officers arrived at the duplex on White Castle, they were shocked. They described the living conditions as like a “dungeon.”
There was no bathroom and a chair was the only piece of furniture. The garage had burglar bars and locked doors.
Police were told the men were lured to the home with the promise of food, alcohol and cigarettes. Investigators are looking into whether they were homeless before.
They were also allegedly forced to turn over their Social Security and Veteran’s benefits checks to their captor.
Steven Davis said he’d been inside the house for about six months. Neighbors were heartbroken to learn what they men had been through.
“Oh my God, it just touched my heart,” Alberta Ewing said. “I mean, I just feel for them. I don’t know, it just really got me hurt.”
She said that one of them had approached her asking for help just weeks earlier while she was cooking outside, but that she didn’t take him seriously because he wasn’t crying and she couldn’t get him to explain further.
“He said, ‘Could you help me?”’ Ewing recalled. “I said, ‘What’s the problem?”
Neighbors said they occasionally saw the men sitting outside.
Virginia Rogers, who lives five houses away, said she greeted them with a wave when she drove by.
“I’m shocked,” Rogers said. “I’m baffled. I didn’t have a clue.”
Investigators said that Jones apparently did not live in the house.
Four women live in the other side of the duplex, three of whom appeared to have mental disabilities, police said. The fourth was a caretaker. Unlike the garage, the living conditions inside their home were relatively normal.
Harris County Adult Protective Services is also looking into this case. The agency will be checking into the mental capacities of the men held captive and the official residents, including the homeowner.
Court records showed Jones had previous charges beginning in 2002 for theft, marijuana possession and failing to register as a sex offender.
Police said the investigation into the case is ongoing.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.