A Massachusetts man has been indicted on 52 charges and is accused of raping, kidnapping and killing three women, whose bodies were found in his home in May.
The charges against Stewart Weldon include three counts of first-degree murder, eight counts of strangulation, nine counts of aggravated rape, two counts of rape, five counts of aggravated kidnapping and four counts of kidnapping.
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"We have begun a thorough investigation into the allegations against Mr. Weldon and intend to provide a vigorous and zealous defense," Weldon's attorney, Brian Murphy, said in a statement Friday.
According to the indictment from the Hampden County Grand Jury, Weldon is accused of assaulting and beating the three women "with intent to murder" leading to their deaths, according to the indictment.
The three women were identified as Ernestine Ryans, 47, of Springfield; America Lyden, 34, of Springfield; and Kayla Escalante, 27, of Ludlow. Two had been reported as missing in the distant past, and Lyden had been reported missing in December, according to a Springfield police Facebook post, that had asked for information on her whereabouts. According to the indictment, they were killed sometime between August 2017 to May 30.
The indictment also lists at least seven additional victims by their initials, who were allegedly raped, kidnapped, strangled or assaulted.
"With these fifty-two indictments in hand, we will now begin a vigorous prosecution with an eye towards justice for the victims and their families," said Hampden County District Attorney Anthony Gulluni in a statement.
Traffic stop led to discovering bodies
The case began when police attempted to pull over Weldon for a broken taillight on May 27. Weldon led them on a chase, police said, and he eventually crashed into a police cruiser and fought officers who tried to arrest him.
An injured woman who was in the car with Weldon thanked police for saving her life, telling officers through tears, "He's going to kill me," according to the police report.
The woman told the officers that he held her captive in his home for the last month and raped her several times. Police recovered two knives from Weldon's pockets, according to court records.
She suffered several stab wounds, marks from being hit with a blunt object and a possible fractured jaw, court records said. The woman told police Weldon hit her with a hammer. The woman was an acquaintance of Weldon's, Gulluni said in June.
The investigation led police to search Weldon's house, which is registered to his mother, according to property records. And there, police found three bodies on the property, Gulluni said.
During his arraignment in June, Weldon had pleaded not guilty to initial charges of kidnapping, threat to commit a crime, carrying a dangerous weapon and resisting arrest.
Weldon had three active warrants and a revoked driver's license at the time of his arrest, according to court records. Weldon has previously been charged with crimes in Massachusetts and New Jersey.