UPDATE: (KHOU) HOUSTON – Several men who were being held captive in a northwest Houston home were living in horrid conditions, all while being forced to hand over their monthly fixed incomes, according to Houston police.
A resident called police to report that something was not quite right at a home in the 8600 block of White Castle Friday around 8:30 a.m. The caller thought that people possibly were being held against their will at the home.
When police arrived to conduct a welfare check, they were shocked by what they found inside the small duplex.
Four men were being held in a garage room that had burglar bars and locked doors. No furnishings were inside the room, with the exception of one chair.
Three of the men who appeared to be suffering from malnutrition were immediately taken to LBJ Hospital for treatment. Their exact conditions were not known.
One of them began cooperating with police.
Police were told the men were lured to the home with the promise of food and cigarettes. They were also allegedly being forced to turn over their social security and/or veteran's benefits checks to their captors.
One man who says he lived inside the house did not want to answer many questions asked by KHOU 11 News.
"People were just back there laying down," he explained.
Neighbors came outside to see what all the police activity was about and said they couldn't believe their eyes.
"Oh my God, it just touched my heart," a woman said. "I mean, I just feel for them. I don't know, it just really got me hurt."
It was not known how long the men were being held captive.
Four are men between the ages of 50 and 80 and the others are women who police characterized as suffering from mental illness. A man has been detained for questioning. No charges have been filed.
Police got a report that several men were being held against their will and went to the scene for a welfare check, police spokesman Kese Smith said.
Officers broke down a nailed-shut front door to get into the house, CNN affiliate KTRK said. Police said they saw trash strewn everywhere and found what they called a "prison room" with no beds and chairs, the affiliate said.
After officers arrived, they found three men -- all apparently malnourished and living in a converted garage.
Emergency crews took the people to a hospital. A fourth man was also held at the residence, but was not transported to a hospital.
The women also lived at that location, but it isn't clear whether they lived in the converted garage.
The four men told the officers that they had been held at the house over varying lengths of time. One said he was held as long as 10 years. Police were investigating whether they had been forced to turn over their veterans' checks.
Police say they believe that the men could have been homeless and enticed there with the promise of cigarettes and beer.
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