Police: Men Held Against Their Will in ‘Deplorable’ Home

Dale Lezon, Chron, July 19, 2013

Viewed in its best light, the modest brick house on Whitecastle Lane could be described as one more shabby group home, an unregulated or lightly monitored residence where a handful of people received shelter in exchange for government benefit checks or whatever money they had.

But some of those who stayed there have a different description of it–dungeon. It was less refuge than prison, they said, a place where they were slowly starving behind locked doors.

Houston police officers who went to the home after a 911 call Friday said at least four men apparently were kept there against their will. Three were found in a renovated garage, which did not have a bathroom, and one was in the house in front. They were not shackled or tied up, police said, but an elaborate series of locks kept them from getting out.

“Deplorable” was the adjective police Sgt. Steve Murdock used in describing conditions at the house in the 8600 block of Whitecastle, where the men were lured by the promise of food, beer and cigarettes. The three in the garage slept on a linoleum floor and were fed scraps, they told police. {snip}

Murdock said the men told investigators their government benefit checks were being taken from them by those who controlled the home. Some of the men appear to be military veterans and were possibly homeless. They were not allowed to leave.

“They clearly stated to us they were being held against their will,” said HPD spokeswoman Jodi Silva.

{snip} They had no access to a bathroom–a bucket or portable toilet may have been provided, police said – and there was only one chair in the room. She said the three men found in the garage appeared malnourished. They were taken to LBJ General Hospital. The fourth man appeared to be in better condition and was being interviewed by police.

Police said the men’s ages are 80, 74 and 65. The fourth man was said to be in his 50s. {snip}


Since December 2008, the address has been the registered location of a nonprofit corporation called Regina’sFaith Ministries Inc., directed by 57-year-old Regina Jones, who is also known in public records as Regina K. Nelson.

Efforts to contact the home, its owner or people associated with the address according to public records were unsuccessful on Friday.

Police detained one man for questioning. He was at the home when police arrived, but whether he lived there or was involved in the recruitment of potential residents was unclear.

Four women also were found in the home. One appeared to be a caretaker for the other three, who appeared to be mentally disabled. They did not appear to have been held captive.



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