SPRINGFIELD — Fearful families waited in dread for answers Saturday, wondering how an allegedly violent kidnapper with a lengthy criminal record had been allowed to walk this city’s streets, as investigators continued to search the man’s home where three unidentified bodies have been found.
Springfield City Councilor Adam Gomez said a constituent called him concerned about a daughter who recently went missing.
“In the last few months into a year, there have been a bunch of missing cases,” he said in a telephone interview.
Gomez said he hopes the bodies found at the home of 40-year-old Stewart R. Weldon Jr. will not turn out to be missing city residents, but if they are, the information could help “give a family closure.”
On Saturday, investigators combed through the garage of the home at 1333 Page Blvd. and dragged suitcases out into the yard as they searched for any additional human remains. Officials have been using ground-penetrating radar at the home since Friday.
Weldon was arrested Sunday night on kidnapping and assault charges, and officials have been at his property since Wednesday.
Weldon drew the attention of Springfield police on Sunday when he was stopped for a broken taillight. He fought furiously with officers, and, after he was handcuffed, they found a large knife with a rubber handle inside his hooded sweat shirt.
Police then discovered a woman in the car with visible severe injuries. She told police Weldon had held her captive for a month, repeatedly beating her with a hammer and raping her.
“Thank you, guys, for saving my life, I didn’t think I was ever going to get away,” the woman is quoted as having told police.
Authorities have not said why they did not begin their search on Sunday following Weldon’s arrest and have declined to say specifically where the bodies were found, how long the people had been dead, or their gender. The causes of their deaths have not been determined.
Weldon is being held on $1 million bail. He hasn’t been charged with any crimes related to the three bodies found at the house, though Hampden District Attorney Anthony D. Gulluni said Friday that authorities weren’t aware of any “accomplices” in those deaths.
The woman who was allegedly held captive by Weldon is “recovering” at a hospital and “not in any life-threatening condition,” Gulluni said.
Gulluni’s spokesman, Jim Leydon, said Saturday that there were no updates on the search.
Weldon’s family members have not responded to requests for comment. A man who identified himself as Weldon’s cousin posted on Facebook about the arrest and discovery of the bodies, saying, “My cuz Stewart Weldon is officially A serial Killer.” He did not respond to a request for comment.
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.
The agency declined to comment further, 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.
Springfield Mayor Domenic J. Sarno visited Page Boulevard and observed the investigators’ search Saturday morning, he said in a phone interview.
“I was just up there a little while ago, and there’s a full-court press, and they’re following up any and all leads,” he said.
Sarno praised Gulluni and Springfield Police Commissioner John Barbieri for their diligence in the investigation, as well as the officers who pulled over Weldon in the traffic stop and discovered the woman with him.
“I’m glad that he’s off the streets now, so that he can’t continue his pursuit of this path of mayhem,” he said. “This is not a reflection upon that good, diverse working-class neighborhood. There are good, good people there.”
Sarno said Weldon’s neighbors are now asking, “What the hell was this guy doing out on the street to begin with?”
For Gomez, the city councilor, the shocking case has a personal resonance.
“My sister lives across the street from this gentleman . . . with her husband and two daughters,” he said. “That’s the scary part in my life, realizing that this could be your next-door neighbor. That’s how it hit home for me.”
Springfield City Council President Orlando Ramos, whose ward includes 1333 Page Blvd. and who lives nearby, said Weldon was not well-known in the area.
“I’ve never heard his name before, never seen his face before,” Ramos said.
He said the boulevard is a busy artery where traffic noise could have helped cover up activity at Weldon’s home. Neighbors there are reeling from reports of what investigators have found, he said.
“The residents that I’ve reached out to have just expressed shock, and they’re horrified with the details that are coming out, as I am,” Ramos said.
Gomez said the case brought to mind one 20 years earlier, in which Springfield handyman Alfred Gaynor eventually admitted killing at least eight women in the city between 1995 and 1998.
Ramos, the father of a 14-year-old daughter, said, “This is the type of thing that, as a parent, it’s very scary.”
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.
Neighbors have described Weldon as strange and sometimes menacing. One man said Weldon had followed his 21-year-old daughter home from work, spurring the father to begin taking his daughter to work instead of letting her go alone.
On the weekend before Weldon was arrested, neighbors said they saw him covered in dirt, searching outside his home with a shovel in the rain.Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @jeremycfox. Jerome Campbell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JeromeRCampbell. Evan Allen can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @EvanMAllen.