Metro

Search could go on for days at Springfield property where bodies were found

SPRINGFIELD — Investigators used ground-penetrating radar Friday to continue searching for evidence at a kidnapping suspect’s home where three bodies have been discovered since Wednesday, officials said.

“The use of this technology has made this investigation very painstakingly thorough,” Hampden District Attorney Anthony D. Gulluni said during a late morning briefing.

Gulluni said investigators began using the radar early Friday and should have more information on the findings within 24 hours. Gulluni’s spokesman said the radar allows investigators to search several feet into the ground.

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Gulluni said although investigators had been hand-digging through areas of the property Friday morning, no other remains have been recovered. The search is expected to continue for the next few days, he said.

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“This investigation is very fresh,” Gulluni said.

He added that police first responded to the house on Wednesday around 9:30 p.m., three days after a resident of the home, Stewart R. Weldon, 40, was arrested on kidnapping and assault charges.

He was apprehended late Sunday after a traffic stop, and a badly injured woman with him at the time told police that he had held her captive for a month, repeatedly beating her with a hammer and raping her.

Weldon is currently being held on $1 million bail. He hasn’t been charged with any crimes related to the three bodies found at his house, though Gulluni said Friday morning that authorities weren’t aware of any “accomplices” in those deaths.

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Attempts to reach Weldon’s family for comment haven’t been successful. Reached by phone Friday afternoon, his aunt, Theresa Jenkins, 66, declined to discuss her nephew.

“My husband says I can’t talk to anybody right now until they figure out what’s going on,” Jenkins said. “I already got in trouble” for granting a prior television interview.

Also during Friday’s briefing, Gulluni said only that police initially went to Weldon’s home on Wednesday night after receiving “additional information” following Weldon’s arrest on Sunday. Gulluni didn’t elaborate.

The woman who was allegedly held captive by Weldon is “recovering” at a hospital and “not in any life-threatening condition,” Gulluni said.

Meanwhile, the state Department of Children and Families confirmed in a brief statement Friday that the agency had taken “emergency custody” of a child in Weldon’s home. The DCF is “investigating in collaboration with law enforcement,” the release said.

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The agency declined further comment, citing federal and state confidentiality laws. Court records indicate that Weldon had received permission to travel to Baystate Medical Center in December 2017 while he was on bail to attend the birth of his child. It wasn’t clear if he’s since had custody.

As the grisly search continued Friday, new details emerged about Weldon, who’s lived for several years at the home owned by his mother.

According to city police and district court records, Weldon was arrested by Springfield police three times in 2017, most recently after he was seen assaulting a woman on a city street on Oct. 14 shortly before 10 p.m. Weldon drove away and was stopped after officers were able to box him in with their cruisers.

Weldon jumped out of the car and refused to be handcuffed, despite being punched several times by one officer, and tased by two other officers, according to a police report.

Weldon, who allegedly had two knives on him, bit one of the officers in the leg, police wrote.

He pleaded not guilty and was released on $1,000 cash bail posted by his mother, Constance, records show. He was ordered to wear a GPS device, but court records indicate he cut off the tracking device earlier this year.

On Friday, a neighbor told the Globe that Weldon followed his 21-year-old daughter home from her job at a nearby Dunkin’ Donuts in May. Jerry Devalles said at the request of his daughter, he came and met her as she walked along Page Boulevard because of the attention Weldon was giving her.

“My daughter walked to work this week for the first time in a while,” he said Friday.

Devalles stood across the street and gave a hard stare at the house which had given him so much trouble in the past month. In early May, he was walking by Weldon’s house with a laptop when the man asked if he could buy it, he said.

“No, it’s my daughter’s,” he said but Weldon persisted. After another refusal, Devalles said, Weldon became angry and shouted expletives, but ultimately sat down on his porch.

It was about a week after that that Devalles’ daughter, Riza, texted her father, asking him to walk with her because Weldon was following her.

As he approached, he saw Weldon staring at the back of his daughter’s head. When he met up with his daughter, Weldon casually walked to his porch like nothing had happened. Since that incident, Devalles said he has taken his daughter to work every day.

“He was a quiet guy who looked like he was always in his own world,” said Devalles. “Except that day, he looked so focused.”

On the weekend before Weldon was arrested, Devalles said he saw the man covered in dirt, searching outside his home with a shovel in the rain.

Weldon has also been arrested multiple times in New Jersey, although details of those cases were not immediately available Friday morning.

He once again drew the attention of Springfield police on Sunday when he was stopped by police for a broken taillight and for driving a car similar to one last seen being operated by a murder suspect, records show.

Weldon once again allegedly fought furiously with police. Once handcuffed, police found a large knife with a rubber handle inside his hooded sweatshirt.

After Weldon was subdued, police encountered a female passenger in the car who was visibly suffering from severe physical harm.

“Thank you guys for saving my life, I didn’t think I was ever going to get away,” the woman is quoted as telling police.

Weldon has pleaded not guilty and is being held on $1 million cash bail, and is not currently facing charges in connection with the ongoing death investigation, officials said.

Investigators descended on Weldon’s home on Wednesday evening, and early Thursday afternoon announced they had discovered two bodies “in and around” the home. The third body was found around 2 p.m., authorities said.

Authorities would not say why they did not begin their search following Weldon’s arrest on Sunday.

Gulluni declined Thursday to say specifically where the bodies were found, how long the people had been dead, or their gender. The cause of their deaths has not been determined.

Asked if the same person was responsible for the deaths, Gulluni said, “I’m not in a position to confirm that. We’re considering this an active investigation. We’re not declaring any suspects.”

According to the Springfield police report filed in court Tuesday, the woman with Weldon when he was arrested Sunday was “crying uncontrollably.” Her right leg was “very infected” and there was severe swelling.

A doctor at an area hospital later noted additional injuries including a possible fractured jaw, large scrapes, scratches, old and new bruises, stab wounds to the abdomen, and “marks from being hit with a blunt object,” the report said.

“I believe that due to the grotesque and violent nature of [the woman’s] statements” and Weldon’s defaults on prior cases, “that he is a high flight risk, and an extreme danger to the public,” Springfield Officer Daniel Moynahan wrote in the report.

Gulluni said Thursday the search began after “more information came in, which led police to the home.”

Residents said Thursday they were stunned by the discovery of three bodies in their neighborhood.

“If they had never stopped him for the taillight, then no one would have known,” said Brenda Quinones, 23. “It’s just too creepy. People would still be walking by his house, and who knows if he would have gone after more women.”

Quinones and another neighbor, Scott Griffin, said Weldon moved onto Page Boulevard about two years ago. They described Weldon as antisocial.

“A simple wave. A smile. Nothing from him. He wouldn’t even look your way,” Quinones said. “Sure, it takes a while to get to know a new neighbor, but he couldn’t even do the basics.”

When investigators arrived at the home, the smell from the property was overwhelming, neighbors said.

Weldon had lived at the house with a young woman and a teen, according to the two neighbors. Loud arguments were often heard inside. It is not known if authorities have located the woman and the teen.

Another neighbor, Stefan Davis, said that on Sunday he saw Weldon frantically searching in his front yard in the rain.

“It was odd. He had his front door and windows wide open,” Davis said. “And he was searching through the dirt like a madman.”

Davis did not find out what happened until Wednesday, when police opened Weldon’s garage and pulled out a body in a sheet of plastic, he said.

“The stench was so foul,” he said.

As crime investigators donned white suits, Davis thought about the young woman he saw at the house.

She never spoke and was rarely seen, outside of scurrying between a car and the house.

“She didn’t look much older than my students,” said Davis, a high school teacher.

Springfield city records show that the Housing Inspection Division notified the owner of the house, Constance White, on Aug. 22, 2017, that she was in violation of the city’s litter ordinance and that she faced fines of up to $100 a day if she did not do a better job of maintaining the property.

The violation was issued after a city inspector visited the property, according to a record posted on the city’s website, although it is not clear if the inspector entered the house or the free-standing garage, or acted based on what the inspector saw from the sidewalk.

“Overgrowth of grass/weeds all around property and tree belt,’’ the citation reads.

An exterior reinspection was set for last Sept. 12, but it’s not clear from the online file if the reinspection was done.

In addition to the kidnapping charge, Weldon is being held on charges including threatening to commit a crime; resisting arrest; driving with a revoked license; and failing to stop for police, records show.

Weldon is unemployed and was previously shot, according to his booking sheet, which listed “bullet wound” under a section for marks, scars, and tattoos.

A booking sheet described his general appearance as “rough” when police took him into custody. He is 5-foot-11 and weighs 150 pounds, according to court records.

John R. Ellement can be reached at ellement@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe.