Three women found dead at Massachusetts home are identified

The man who lived at the home, Stewart Weldon, faces new charges of kidnapping and assault.
Image: Stewart Weldon is led into Springfield District Court for arraignment on a new charge of kidnapping
Stewart Weldon is led into Springfield District Court for arraignment on new charges of kidnapping and assault on Monday in Springfield, Massachusetts.Don Treeger / The Republican via AP

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By Daniella Silva

Police have identified the three women whose bodies were found at the Massachusetts home of a man after his arrest on kidnapping charges following a traffic stop.

Hampden County District Attorney Anthony Gulluni said the women found at the Springfield home were identified as Ernestine Ryans, 47, and America Lyden, 34, both of Springfield, and Kayla Escalante, 27, of Ludlow, Massachusetts.

Ryans and Lyden had been reported missing in Springfield, he said during a news conference Monday afternoon.

Gulluni said the county medical examiner had not reported a cause of death for the women. The deaths remain under investigation.

“We are investigating the deaths as suspicious at the very least,” he said.

The bodies were found at the home of Stewart Weldon, 40. Weldon is a suspect in two separate kidnapping and sexual assault cases, but he has not yet been charged in connection with the bodies found at his home.

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A post on the Springfield Police Department's Facebook page on Dec. 26 asked for help locating America Lyden, who was reported missing in December but had not been in contact with her family since the previous June. The post said Lyden also goes by the name America Canales. Missing-persons reports have been filed about her in the past, according to a post on the department's Facebook page published after Monday's news conference.

Ernestine Ryans was reporting missing on March 18 and had not been seen by family since March 8, according to the post. The person who reported her missing said she had gone missing before, but never for this long, police added.

Gulluni declined to provide any additional information about the women.

Earlier Monday, Weldon was arraigned on new charges of kidnapping and assault with intent to commit rape. The new charges involve an unidentified woman who came forward sometime after the traffic stop arrest.

Stewart WeldonSpringfield Police via AP

On May 27, Weldon had been stopped by police for a broken taillight when he bolted and led police on a chase, crashing into a patrol car, NBC10 Boston reported.

After he was arrested, a woman in the passenger seat of his car told police that she had been kidnapped, sexually assaulted and beaten with a hammer during the course of a few weeks, according to the arrest report.

She was hospitalized with a fractured jaw, stab wounds to her abdomen, bruises and a leg infection. Gulluni said she was still recovering in the hospital on Monday.

Last week, Weldon pleaded not guilty to charges of kidnapping, sexual assault and torture stemming from the May 27 arrest. He is being held on $1 million bail in both cases.

Gulluni said police had thoroughly searched for Lyden and Ryans, but could not find them.

America Lyden, also known as America Canales.Springfield Police Department

Gulluni added that police had been in touch with each victim's family.

“Needless to say, they are distraught and heartbroken,” he said.