Elderly men freed from US 'dungeon'
FOUR men have been freed after living for up to a decade as prisoners in a squalid converted garage in Houston, Texas.
The men, aged between 50 and 80, were apparently held captive and forced to hand over their benefit cheques. One claimed to have lived in this way for 10 years.
They inhabited a bare room with no furniture except for a single chair, said Kese Smith, a spokesman for Houston Police Department.
"They were enticed to that location with the promise of beer and cigarettes and not allowed to leave, and forced to turn over cheques," he said.
Three of the men, aged 80, 74 and about 50, were so close to starvation that they were taken to hospital after being rescued. The fourth, named as Steven Davis, 65, did not need hospital treatment.
He told a local television station that he was a Vietnam veteran, explaining that he lived inside the house adjoining the garage, and so had not suffered in the same way as the other three men.
Three women, who are believed to have learning difficulties, were also found living in the house. It was not clear whether they had also been held against their will and forced to surrender their benefit cheques.
One man, who is not the owner of the property, was taken into police custody, but yesterday had not yet been charged with any offence.
Sgt Steven Murdock described the space where the men had lived as a "dungeon".