A Canadian couple is on trial for kidnapping and forcible assault amid allegations they imprisoned a homeless couple for decades and stole their newborn baby, passing it off as their own.
According to the Toronto Star, Gary Willet Sr. and his wife Maria Willett are accused of inviting Tim Goldrick and Barbara Bennett to stay in their home in the late 1980s after they found the homeless couple rummaging through the trash for food behind their Toronto apartment building. At the time, Willett Sr. was the building manager, and he offered the couple a basement apartment in the building.
But what ostensibly began as friendly people helping others out turned into a horrifying and sinister tale of imprisonment. When Bennett gave birth to her and Goldrick’s baby, the Willetts allegedly claimed to be the parents of the child when they somehow convinced the couple to let them fill out the paperwork. According to the Toronto Star report, Bennett and Goldrick both have intellectual disabilities.
The suspects named the baby Gary Willet Jr. He is now 28 years old, and began to suspect as an adolescent that Goldrick was his biological father. He ran away from the home in 2012.
In court, Goldrick said that the Willets threatened him against trying to leave, and he feared that if he did not comply with their orders, he would be sent a psychiatric institution.
‘They threatened me to be there,’ Goldrick reportedly said.
‘”They said, if you ever try to leave, that we’d put you in a mental institution. And I didn’t want that so I didn’t leave.”
— TorontoStar (@TorontoStar) October 29, 2017
After Bennett gave birth to a second child, a girl that she was able to treat as her own child, she managed to escape the situation, taking her daughter with her. The details of how she left are unclear. The Willets and Goldrick then moved to another home, where Willet Sr. admitted in court that he placed cameras around the home to monitor Goldrick’s movements. The alleged victim has claimed that he was forced into slave-like conditions, and made to live in a tiny space in the basement, given only a thin mattress to sleep on.
Goldrick testified that Willett Sr. would often beat him, sometimes as punishment for trying to take food out of the refrigerator.
“Sometimes, while I was sleeping, Gary (Sr.) would come in and hit me for no reason, and I’d wake up and I wondered why he did this. But I never found out why,” Goldrick told the court.
Because Goldrick feared the beatings, he said in court that he often ate dog food in desperation. Thought he was reportedly collecting $900 a month in disability benefits, the Willets demanded he give the money to them to cover rent and living costs, and pocketed the rest.
Goldrick eventually left the home with the help of Gary, Jr. He is now living with his biological son, who is 28.
The Willets’ defense lawyer has argued that the Goldrick chose to stay with the couple voluntarily and had the freedom to leave. The trial will continue this week.