Three women were found dead at the home of a kidnapping suspect after police attempted to pull him over while driving a car with a broken tail light.
Two of the women, whose bodies were found at Stewart Weldon’s home in Springfield, Massachusetts, US, had been reported as missing, authorities said on Monday.
The incident unfolded when Weldon allegedly crashed into a police car following a brief pursuit by officers, who attempted to pull him over for a broken tail light, according to charging documents.
He allegedly struggled with police as they handcuffed him.
A woman who was in the car at the time, said she was being held against her will by Weldon, who had allegedly sexually assaulted and beaten her.
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The victims were identified by Hampden District Attorney Anthony Gulluni as Ernestine Ryans, 47, and America Lyden, 34, both of Springfield, and Kayla Escalante, 27, of Ludlow, a neighboring town.
The names were announced on the day Weldon was arraigned on kidnapping and assault to rape charges unrelated to the kidnapping charges he faces in connection with his May 27 arrest.
The victims’ families “are distraught and heartbroken,” Gulluni said.
Gulluni would not call the deaths homicides, saying the medical examiner was still trying to determine the cause and manner of death, but he said they are “suspicious at the very least”.
He did not say how long the bodies had been at the home, but he said two of the women had been the subjects of missing-person reports that police had investigated thoroughly. Ms Lyden was reported missing December 1 last year, and Ms Ryans was reported missing on March 18.
Investigators remained at the home, which belongs to Weldon’s mother, on Monday. No one has been charged in connection with the discovery of the bodies.
Weldon pleaded not guilty last week to related charges and was held on $1.3 million (US$1 million) bail.
After that arraignment, a second woman came forward and said Weldon had kidnapped her in February, prosecutors said.
Weldon did not speak at Monday’s arraignment but stood expressionless and nodded slightly when a not guilty plea was entered on his behalf. Bail was set at $1.3 million (US$1 million) on the new charges.
Weldon’s public defender waived a reading of the complaint, and the new case was impounded at the request of the prosecution and defence, citing the ongoing investigation.
“Mr Weldon has entered his plea of not guilty and looks forward to addressing these charges in the future in court as well as addressing bail at a later date,” public defender Matthew Fleischner said.
Weldon is scheduled back in court on both cases on June 29.