National News

Massachusetts Man Faces New Kidnapping Charges as Bodies of 3 Women Are Identified

Posted June 4, 2018 8:04 p.m. EDT

A Massachusetts man charged last week with kidnapping a woman found in his car was arraigned Monday on new charges of holding another woman captive, as authorities identified three women whose bodies were found on the property of the Springfield house where he lived.

The man, Stewart Weldon, 40, has not been charged in connection with the discovery of the bodies. Authorities are treating the deaths as suspicious but have not declared a homicide investigation, pending final reports from the medical examiner on the cause and manner of death, the Hampden County district attorney, Anthony D. Gulluni, said at a news conference Monday.

The women were identified by the district attorney’s office as Ernestine Ryans, 47, of Springfield; America Lyden, 34, of Springfield; and Kayla Escalante, 27, of Ludlow.

Gulluni said that the women’s families were “distraught and heartbroken” and that two of the women had in the “distant past” been reported missing. He did not give further details or say whether they had ties to Weldon.

“It’s tragic, it’s awful,” he said. While the authorities are “not declaring any suspects,” he added, there is “no reason to believe that there is any heightened threat.”

Weldon pleaded not guilty during his appearance in Springfield District Court, video of which was posted by The Republican. Matthew Jacques Fleischner, Weldon’s lawyer, could not be reached for comment. Weldon’s total bail has now reached $2 million.

The case began on May 27, when officers saw Weldon’s vehicle had a broken taillight and tried to pull him over. The police chased him for about 10 minutes until they blocked him and he stopped, backing into one of the cruisers.

Officers discovered an injured woman in the vehicle, and she told them the man had held her captive for about a month, raping her and beating her with a hammer and other objects, according to a police report.

She was taken to the hospital with stab wounds to the abdomen and other injuries, the report said, and a search of the house where Weldon lived in Springfield led to the discovery of the three bodies.

Gulluni said Monday that the new charges were “kidnapping and assault to rape” of an additional woman, while those last week were “kidnapping and serious bodily injury” of the woman found in the car.

The charges Weldon was arrested on last week included outstanding warrants for assault and traffic violations. He pleaded not guilty to the charges in that complaint.