SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (TCD) -- A 44-year-old man pleaded guilty to 39 charges in court Tuesday, including the murder of three women in 2018.
Stewart Weldon’s allegations included three counts of first-degree murder, aggravated kidnapping, rape, and indecent assault, WWLP-TV reports. The rape charge is reportedly a downgrade from the original, which was aggravated rape.
Weldon’s trial was scheduled for April 2020 but was postponed due to the pandemic. The Associated Press reports his trial was due to start October 12.
Weldon originally pleaded not guilty to an initial 52 charges, WWLP reports.
According to WWLP, Weldon told the court, "I just want to close this case."
WWLP reports that in May 2018, police officers attempted to pull Weldon over for a broken taillight. As police tried to stop him, however, it allegedly escalated into a car chase. Officers reportedly stopped Weldon’s vehicle by force, took him into custody, and discovered a woman inside the car. The woman reportedly said Weldon had been holding her captive for a month in his Page Boulevard home, adding that he sexually assaulted her and beat her with a hammer and other objects.
The woman was brought to a hospital with what police described as "grotesque and violent" injuries. According to The Associated Press, the woman suffered abdomen trauma from being stabbed, signs of being hit with a blunt object, and a leg infection.
According to the Hampden District Attorney’s Office, officers responded to Weldon’s Page Boulevard home and searched the premises on May 30, 2018. Investigators reportedly found remains of three women in and around the residence. They were identified by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner as 47-year-old Ernestine Ryans, 34-year-old America Lyden, and 27-year-old Kayla Escalante.
On August 16, 2018, the Hampden District Attorney’s Office announced Weldon was indicted for the initial 52 counts including three counts of murder, eight counts of strangulation, nine counts of aggravated rape, and five counts of aggravated kidnapping. The District Attorney’s Office added that the charges involved 11 total victims.
Weldon reportedly had been diagnosed with bipolar, dyslexia, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and had a first-grade education, according to WWLP.
WBBG-TV reports Weldon’s sentencing is set for Thursday, September 30. He faces life in prison without the possibility of parole.