Four elderly men, and possibly four more women, have been found living in a converted garage in Houston, Texas, in what police are saying looks like a "prison room".
CNN reports that the Houston Police Department received an anonymous 911 call about men being held against their will at a home in North Houston. When the police arrived at the duplex to do a welfare check, they found 4 elderly men held captive in a garage that had been modified to keep them in. There were burglar bars on the windows, the door was locked, and there were no furnishings in the room except for a single chair.
Houston Police Department spokesperson Jodi Silva said that three of the four men -- who are ages 80, 74, 65 and 50 -- were found in the garage and were severely malnourished. Police described the three men as suffering from a combination of physical disabilities and mental illness. Those three were taken to the hospital for treatment. The fourth has been called a caregiver, and was detained at the police station to give a statement about what was happening at the home.
"What the men initially told us was they were lured there with the promise of cigarettes and food," Silva said.
Once the men got there, they were not allowed to leave.
"They were apparently given scraps to eat. Very little food was being provided to them," Silva said.
Authorities suspect that the men may have been being held there for the purpose of receiving and cashing their welfare checks. They have not released the names of the men found there. And they are still investigating whether women found in the home, not the garage, were also being held there for the same reason.
Officers say they do not know how long the men had been held there. One man told police that it "felt like ten years", though police do not yet know if it was anywhere near that long.