Police in Houston find ‘prison room,’ 8 held captive

Posted at 2:27 PM, Jul 19, 2013
(CNN) — Eight people have been held captive at a north Houston house, with some perhaps dwelling in what’s described as a “prison room” and one man possibly kept against his will for a decade, police said.

Four are men between the ages of 50 and 80 and the others are women who police characterized as suffering from mental illness. A man has been detained for questioning. No charges have been filed.

Police got a report that several men were being held against their will and went to the scene for a welfare check, police spokesman Kese Smith said.

Officers broke down a nailed-shut front door to get into the house, CNN affiliate KTRK said. Police said they saw trash strewn everywhere and found what they called a “prison room” with no beds and chairs, the affiliate said.

After officers arrived, they found three men — all apparently malnourished and living in a converted garage.

Emergency crews took the people to a hospital. A fourth man was also held at the residence, but was not transported to a hospital.

The women also lived at that location, but it isn’t clear whether they lived in the converted garage.

The four men told the officers that they had been held at the house over varying lengths of time. One said he was held as long as 10 years. Police were investigating whether they had been forced to turn over their veterans’ checks.

Police say they believe that the men could have been homeless and enticed there with the promise of cigarettes and beer.