New Details About The Man Caught With A Kidnapped Woman In His Car And Three Dead Bodies In His Backyard.
Stewart Weldon’s crimes were first uncovered after an attempted routine traffic stop for a broken taillight on May 27, 2018 — but that was only the beginning.
Weldon, of Massachusetts, tried to flee from the police, leading them on a chase that ended when the 40-year-old crashed into a patrol car. A woman who was in his vehicle at the time told police that her life was in danger. It turned out that Weldon had held her prisoner in his home for over a month, raping her regularly. She also had several serious injuries at the time of the chase, including stab wounds.
Unfortunately, this was only an indication of everything that the police would find soon after. When Weldon’s mother reported a foul smell coming from his home three days later, an investigation was warranted. Upon arrival at his home in Springfield, Massachusetts, police found the bodies of three women: Kayla Escalante, 27, America Lyden, 34, and Ernestine Ryans, 47.
The presence of multiple bodies along with the endangered woman in Weldon’s company at the time of his arrest indicated that he was a serial predator. On Thursday, August 16, he was ultimately indicted on a whopping 52 charges. Here are several key details about the case:
1. The three women whose bodies were found were beaten to death.
Kayla Escalante, America Lyden, and Ernestine Ryans were not victims of stabbings or shotgun wounds by Weldon. Rather, their bodies showed signs of severe beating.
For their deaths, Weldon received three charges of first-degree murder having assaulted them with the intent to kill. Both Ryans and Lyden had been reported missingwith searches spanning across months. There was never a missing person’s report filed for Escalante.
Although these are the only deaths found from Weldon’s crimes thus far, the 52 charges stem from crimes against a total of 11 victims.
2. Weldon had an extensive criminal history spanning back to 1997.
In 1997, Stewart Weldon was charged with kidnapping, sexual assault and unlawful possession of a weapon. While he was convicted of the weapons charge, the results of the other two charges are unclear.
He was arrested twice for resisting arrest and disorderly conduct in 2002 and 2003, and for assaulting an officer in 2008 (among several other less serious charges between incidents). His extensive record continued in 2010 when his charges included breaking and entering, assault with a dangerous weapon, officer assault and threat of murder, all of which resulted in an 18-month jail sentence.
In 2015, he allegedly assaulted an officer with a weapon again, and yet again in 2017. The past two decades of his history were riddled with glaring warning signs of his horrific crimes to come. The total number of incidents on his record between 2002 and his May 27th arrest is 68.
3. In addition to the murder charges, Weldon’s current convictions include rape and strangulation.
‘Aggravated rape’ indicates the presence of a weapon (or, in other cases, a blood relationship between the victim and the perpetrator or multiple perpetrators) as opposed to forcible rape. Additionally, Weldon was charged with four counts of kidnapping and five counts of aggravated kidnapping. The ‘aggravated’ term, in this case, indicates the presence of an inflicted injury during the incident.
4. In sentencing, Stewart Weldon faces the possibility of life without parole for each murder charge.
A conviction for any one of the murder charges would result in life in prison without the possibility of parole at maximum. The state of Massachusetts has not imposed the death penaltysince 1984, so life without parole is the highest punishment possible by the state (given that Weldon’s crimes were not federal crimes).
Hampden County District Attorney Anthony Gulluni made a statement about the case, saying that the county will begin a “vigorous prosecution with an eye towards justice for the victims and their families.”
With so many indictments, it is likely that Weldon will face the highest penalty allowed by the state.