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Charges filed in Houston captivity case

July 20, 2013|By Devin Kelly and Molly Hennessy-Fiske
  • Walter Renard Jones, 31, is being charged with two counts of injury to the elderly in connection to the discovery of four men in a Houston home on Friday.
Walter Renard Jones, 31, is being charged with two counts of injury to the… (Houston Police Department )

Houston police have charged a 31-year-old man in connection with the discovery of four homeless men who said they had been held captive in a garage, at least one of them for as long as a decade.

Walter Renard Jones is accused of luring the men into a one-story Houston home for beer, cigarettes and shelter and then holding them captive "without any level of care,” police said. Jones is also accused of forcing the men to hand over checks, including veterans benefits checks.  

The home is owned by Jones' grandmother, Essie Mae Scranton, and Jones did not live there, police spokeswoman Jodi Silva told the Los Angeles Times.

Jones, who was taken into custody Friday night, faces felony charges of injury to the elderly. 

The four men were discovered Friday during a “welfare check” by police who had been alerted by a 911 call.

Police found the front door of the house blocked by burglar bars. In the garage where the men had been living, they found a single chair, a bare linoleum floor and no beds or other amenities, police said.

Of the four, three appeared to be malnourished and were treated by Houston Fire Department paramedics and taken to a hospital, police spokesman Kese Smith told the Los Angeles Times on Friday.  

The fourth man, who is about 65, was not malnourished and was not hospitalized, Smith said.

“The four individuals told us they had been enticed to that location with beer and cigarettes, not allowed to leave and then forced to sign over checks,” Smith said.

Jones was detained by investigators for questioning Friday morning and arrested later in the day. 

Residents in the Acres Homes neighborhood told a local CNN affiliate that they never suspected anything unusual was going on at the house.

Monica Booker said a mother, son, daughter and granddaughter live at the house, and that she has seen elderly men living there for years, possibly paying for their rooms with Social Security checks. Booker said the men appeared to be in good health and never asked for help or complained about being held against their will.

Police are trying to determine the amount of money taken from the men and where it went, Silva said.

“It’s still just the tip of the investigation,” she said. 

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devin.kelly@latimes.com

Twitter: @devckelly


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