Homeless man forcibly confined in house for nearly 25 years

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A homeless man was imprisoned by an Ontario couple for almost 25 years. His captors are facing multiple charges, including forcible confinement, assault, theft, and abduction of a child under 14.

The Toronto Star reports that the imprisonment began in the late 1980s. At that time, Tim Goldrick and his then-partner, Barbara Bennett, were homeless. They were searching for food in the trash behind an apartment building in downtown Toronto, where Gary Willett, Sr. worked.

The Willetts, who were newlyweds, offered Goldrick and Bennett food and a shelter, arranging them a basement apartment located in their building, according to Goldrick. Reports say Goldrick and Bennett have unspecified intellectual disabilities.

In 1989, Bennett gave birth to Goldrick’s baby. According to authorities, the birth certificate listed Gary Willett, Sr. and Maria Willett as the parents. Allegedly, Maria Willett gave Bennett her health card to use. The Willett’s also allegedly filled out the hospital paperwork, according to the Daily Mail, and named the baby boy Gary Willett Jr.

Bennett says the Willetts acted as her son’s parents. According to Willett Sr., Goldrick and Bennett asked he and his wife to take the baby.

They two couples reportedly moved as a group into two different houses in North York, Ontario, before the relationship between the couples turned violent.

From the Daily Mail: Bennett testified that she was slapped and hit if she didn’t clean the house property or if the Willetts’ children made a mess.

“I would get hit and get told to do it again. Clean it up. Clean up the mess,” she said. “I would get slapped. In the face… Three or four (slaps) depending on how mad she was.”

Maria Willett’s sister-in-law testified that Bennett was treated like “a slave.”

Bennett became pregnant again in 1993, a brother of Willett Sr.’s named as the father of that baby. The girl she gave birth to was named Billie-Jean, and Bennett “kept her as her own,” according to the Star. Bennett decided to leave the house when Billie-Jean was still an infant. With her mother’s help, Bennett was able to leave, but her toddler Willett Jr. and Goldrick continued to live with the Wilettt’s.

Willett Jr. testified that his biological father was treated as a “slave-type maid.”

According to the Star: Following the departure of Bennett and Billie-Jean, the Willetts moved again.

For the next 12 years, Goldrick lived in a tiny space in the basement of the home: a hallway between rooms with a single box spring mattress. A police officer testifying at the trial described the entire house as “very cluttered and dirty.”

The Willett’s are facing multiple charges. Willett Sr. is charged with forcible confinement and assault Goldsmith, as well as theft over $5,000 and abduction of a child under the age of 14.

Maria Willett is facing similar charges, and is also accused of the assault of some children in her care. The Willetts had as many as eight children living with them at points during the last two decades, the Star reports.

The couple is not being tried together.

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