SPRINGFIELD — It’s a case that made national headlines. The man charged in connection to what’s come to be called the ‘body house’ in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Monday was an emotional day inside Courtroom 1 at the Hampden County Hall of Justice. The family of the victims saw their loved ones alleged killer for the first time.
“Court, all rise,” called the clerk. Cameras snapped with a flurry as the man who hid in plain sight at his Page Boulevard home — couldn’t hide any longer. “Sir how do you wish to plead to this indictment, guilty or not guilty,” asked the clerk.
“Not guilty,” replied Weldon. He repeated that plea two more times. Stewart Weldon plead not guilty to all three counts of 1st degree murder in the deaths of Ernestine Ryans, who has family in Hartford. America Lyden, who used to live in Bristol, and Kayla Escalante. Three of his total 11 victims. 8 remain alive.
Their testimony will play a pivotal role in the prosecution’s case. “That was a very laborious task. Finding them, making contact with them and getting them on board to pursue a prosecution against someone who harmed them in a very awful way,” remarked Hampden County District Attorney Anthony Gulluni.
Gulluni said they’ll seek justice by aggressively pursuing the maximum sentence of life in prison without parole. “We hope that through this process there is some sense of justice for them. There is never really closure when you lose a loved one, especially in such a tragic and horrific way,” said Gulluni.
It’s the beginning of a long legal road ahead. On this day, victims family sat in court wearing their emotions on the sleeve. The judge warning not to turn court into a circus. “I’m not going to tolerate any yelling or improper conduct while we are here in court,” said the judge.
A grand jury indicted Stewart Weldon on 52 counts including rape, assault, strangulation and other violent charges stemming from the gruesome discovery of bodies in and around his home on Page Boulevard. Police led there following a routine traffic stop days earlier where a woman in Weldon’s car claimed she was being beaten and held captive. “We were able to really piece together a lengthy and complicated investigation,” said Gulluni. One that won’t end any time soon. Weldon will be back in court January 16 for a pre trail hearing.
The case is expected to conclude sometime in August of 2019.
Neither the family of the victims or the defense attorney were willing to do an interview.
On May 30, police said they responded to 1333 Page Boulevard and conducted a search of the property. During the search of the residence, authorities discovered the remains of three women in and around the Page Boulevard home.
The bodies were identified by Hampden District Attorney as Ernestine Ryans, 47, and America Lyden, 34, both of Springfield, and Kayla Escalante, 27, of Ludlow, a neighboring town.