Stewart Weldon is accused of rape and kidnapping charges, and now authorities in Springfield, Massachusetts say they have unearthed three bodies on the property where he was living.
Weldon was not yet being called a suspect in the deaths, authorities said, but he was living at the residence where they were found at the time of his arrest. The home is located in what authorities described in a normally quiet and safe neighborhood. The bodies were discovered on May 31, 2018. It’s not yet clear who the people are or how they died.
Asked if they were dealing with a serial killer, Hampden District Attorney Anthony Gulluni said in a press conference that he was not in a position to confirm that, saying, “Right now we are focusing on the piece-by-piece investigation, and it’s early…Much work is to be done.”
The victims have been identified as Kayla Escalante, America Lyden, and Ernestine Ryans.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Three Bodies Were Found at the Address, the District Attorney Says
In an initial press conference, Gulluni stressed that it was very early in the investigation, so the authorities can’t release many details.
“Two bodies were recovered at this address in the last 18 hours or so by the Springfield Police Department,” Gulluni said early on, adding that the bodies were “in and around the house.” No further details were given about the bodies. Later in the evening, Gulluni revealed that there was a third body found.
“I am now confirming that a third body was recovered on the property at 1333 Page Boulevard,” Gulluni said in the later news conference. “This investigation is very much active and ongoing.” Bodies were found in the garage and basement, MassLive reported.
Weldon was arrested on May 27, and Gulluni said that he lives at the address but that’s as far as authorities were willing to go at that point. Weldon was arrested after a “dangerous pursuit,” Gulluni said. Weldon is in custody and represented by counsel, Gullini said. “He put forward a very violent struggle before his arrest,” the DA alleged.
Asked if authorities were looking for more bodies, Gulluni said the investigation was still ongoing.
After the women were identified, family members and friends spoke out about them. Loved ones of America created a GoFundMe page in her name. “America Canales (America Lyden) was a loving mother, sister and friend. She was also unfortunately a victim of a heinous crime which ended her life way too soon. A horrible tragedy which made national headlines,” it reads. “However, her loved ones choose to remember America in a different light; as a young, vibrant, caring human being who loved life. She leaves behind two young daughters, Taje and Niagia. Including three older sisters; Wanda, Mardeli and myself.”
Loved ones of Kayla also created a page. “She was a mother. A daughter. A friend. Just last week, this beautiful young mother turned 27 year old,” it reads. “The news shocked many people. No-one ever assumed they would hear of Kay’s passing this way. Our human nature tends to assume everyone we love and cherish will live until the old age. So no-one dared to think the last time they will hear about Kay will be through national radio or TV.”
2. Weldon Was Arrested After Police Pulled Him Over for a Broken Taillight
A quality of life traffic stop led to Weldon’s arrest. After police stopped Weldon on a Sunday night for a broken taillight, they found a woman in his car, according to Mass Live.
The woman told police that Weldon “had been holding her against her will for a month, raping and beating her,” and he was arrested, reported the Massachusetts newspaper. Weldon is being held on $1 million bail and has pleaded not guilty to the charge emanating from the woman’s case. The woman alleges that Weldon beat her with a hammer, CBS News reports.
3. The Woman Had ‘Grotesque’ & ‘Violent’ Injuries
“Thank you for saving my life,” the woman told officers, according to CBS News. “I never thought I would get away.”
The network added that police described her injuries as “grotesque and violent” and reported that they included a “possible fractured jaw, stab wounds to her abdomen, marks from being hit with a blunt object and a leg infection.” The woman was taken to a hospital.
“He’s going to kill me,” the woman told officers, according to CNN, which reported that Weldon had two knives in his possession when he was arrested and fought with the officers.
The DA said that the woman was an acquaintance of Weldon’s.
4. Weldon’s Mother Owns the Home & Reported a ‘Foul Odor’
According to property records, the home where the bodies were found is listed in the name of Weldon’s mother. The District Attorney indicated that other people were also living in the residence, but he hasn’t provided further details of that. “There were residents in the home,” the DA said. He would not be more specific.
Weldon’s mother called police to report a “foul odor” at the home, Mass Live reports.
“Suffice it to say that three bodies were recovered on the property,” the DA said. He did not reveal how long the people had been deceased. The third body was found around 2 p.m. on May 31. Neighbors described Weldon as antisocial.
5. Weldon Has a Criminal History
Weldon has had past brushes with the law. “Weldon had three active warrants and a revoked driver’s license at the time of his arrest,” CNN reported. Weldon was born in Jamaica Queens, New York. He has a criminal history in New Jersey and Massachusetts.
Previous charges against him include burglary, weapons offenses, and assault. Online records show Weldon living at different addresses in Springfield dating back to 2005. Prior addresses also come up for him in Westfield, Massachusetts.
In a 2017 arrest, “multiple officers had to use their fists, a stun gun, and batons to arrest Weldon, after they pulled him over in connection to an assault,” reported WLPM.com.