CHICAGO, Illinois: Four elderly men were held captive for possibly as long as a decade in a Texas home where they were forced to hand over their benefit checks, United States police said Friday.
Three of the men were so badly malnourished that they were taken to hospital.
Authorities are still trying to determine whether three mentally challenged women—who lived in much better conditions in the home were also coerced.
One man, who did not live in the Houston home, has been taken into custody for questioning but has not yet been charged.
The men were living in a converted garage where they were forced to sleep on a linoleum floor and had no access to a bathroom, Houston police spokesman Kese Smith told Agence France-Presse.
“They were enticed to that location with the promise of beer and cigarettes and not allowed to leave and forced to turn over checks,” Smith said.
While the men tried to keep their home tidy, the conditions were nonetheless deplorable, he added. The only furniture was a single chair.
One of the men told police he’d been there for 10 years, though Smith cautioned they have not yet been able to verify the allegation. The others had been there for a shorter period.
Police have determined that the three men taken to hospital are 80, 74, and somewhere in his 50s.
The men were freed after police got a call about several people being held against their will.
The fourth, who was in better shape and is 65 years old, sat calmly on the stoop of the brick bungalow with purple trim as news crews gathered nearby.