HOUSTON - Several people were held captive in a north Houston home, possibly for weeks.
Houston police say the call came in at around 8:30 a.m. Friday at a residence in the 8600 block of Whitecastle near Diplomat Way.
At a press conference Friday, police officials say they were called Friday to the residence for a welfare check on information that men were being held against their will in a converted garage area.
According to police, four men were forced to live in less than standard living conditions; they had no beds, no bathrooms and minimal furniture. Officials said there were locks on the doors and they could not leave on their own free will.
"There were locks. They were apparently given scraps to eat. Very little food was provided to them. They didn't have access to a restroom," said HPD Spokesperson Jodi Silva.
CNN reported they were between the ages of 50 and 80.
The men told investigators that they were forced to hand over their social security checks and/or VA checks.
"They were just people, laying there," said Stephen Davis, one of the four men held captive.
Davis said the other three men were weak.
"They weren't good," he said.
He told Local 2 he's been at the home for six months, but it's unclear how long the others had been there.
Police say four women were also living in the home, however not in the same conditions as the men. One was a caretaker while the other three had some type of mental disabilities. They were talking with police and were described as "witnesses."
Officials say three of the men were transported to a local hospital. No word on their condition, but they did appear to be malnourished and were unable to walk on their own.
Monica Booker's family has lived in the neighborhood for more than 30 years. She said she'd seen homeless people come and go from the home for years, but she just thought they were getting help from the family who lives there.
"It's terrible. We see them people over here but we just thought they needed a place to stay. We didn't know they were keeping them, locking them in and not letting them out," said Monica Booker.
A woman in the neighborhood told Local 2 that another neighbor saw a man in the window of home motioning with his hands that he was hungry.
Police say one suspect is in custody and investigators are now trying to determine whether there are other houses involved.
It's unclear how long the victims were living in the house. Initial reports claimed 10 years, but police say that is inaccurate.
Police are still talking to those men and trying to get more information.
No charges have been filed.
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