A call placed to Houston police Friday morning expressing concern that individuals were being held against their will resulted in the discovery of eight people in a house, but it was unclear how long they had been in the home.
Four older men, three of them malnourished, and four females — three adults and one minor — were found in the north Houston house, Kese Smith, a Houston police spokeswoman, said. The females appear to be mentally disabled, Smith said, although she said adult protective services was still investigating.
The men, ages 80, 74, 65, and one in his 50s, were found living in a converted garage, according to Smith. They reportedly told authorities they were lured to the residence with the promise of beer and cigarettes, then weren't allowed to leave, and had been forced to turn in their veterans' checks and social security checks, another spokeswoman, Jodi Silva, told reporters.
The call to Houston police came in at 8:25 a.m. local time, but it's unclear who placed it. The three men who appeared malnourished were able to talk and were transported to Houston's LBJ Hospital. NBC affiliate KPRC reported the men were not able to walk on their own.
It wasn't immediately known whether the women, who were found in a different part of the house, had been held against their will or not. Three of them are believed to be related: A grandmother, her daughter, and her granddaughter, Smith said.
A male who does not live at the residence has been detained for questioning, but no charges had been filed as of Friday afternoon.
Initial reports indicated one of the men told police he may have been held for up to ten years, but Silva told reporters that was "definitely" not the case. The exact length of time that he and the others had been held was still to be determined, she said, but it was "longer than days."
"They could not leave on their own free will," Silva said, adding there were locks on the doors that prevented them from getting out.