SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Three years after a discovery that shook the Springfield community, Stewart Weldon admitted in court Tuesday to killing three women, less than a month before he was scheduled to go on trial.
During a hearing at Hampden County Superior Court in Springfield Tuesday afternoon, the 44-year-old serial killer tearfully pleaded guilty to 39 charges linked to the murders including multiple counts of kidnapping, aggravated kidnapping, rape, indecent assault and battery, which is a downgrade from his original aggravated rape charges. He will be sentenced on Thursday, September 30.
Weldon initially pleaded not guilty to 52 charges. While changing his plea, he wiped tears from his eyes and said, “I just want to close this case.” The prosecution recommended he serve his life sentence in an out-of-state facility.
Weldon was first arrested back in May 2018 when Springfield police officers attempted to pull him over for a broken tail light. After a brief wrong-way chase, his vehicle was forcefully stopped on Wilbraham Road. The officers took him into custody and found a woman in his car who told them she had been held against her will at a Page Boulevard home for a month.
A judge ordered Weldon held on a $1 million bail during his arraignment the following day at Springfield District Court. His charges then included armed kidnapping with serious bodily injury, threat to commit a crime, resisting arrest, reckless operation of a motor vehicle, carrying a dangerous weapon, and failing to stop for police.
On the night of May 30, 22News first reported a large police presence on Page Boulevard after receiving a tip that came into our newsroom. About 10 police cruisers were at 1333 Page Boulevard in Springfield, along with Hampden County District Attorney Anthony Gulluni, Mayor Domenic Sarno, and then-police commissioner John Barbieri.
The following day, DA Gulluni announced the discovery of two human remains “in and around” the Page Boulevard residence. Investigators continued their work that day and a third body was found. Authorities remained at the Page Boulevard home for days, combing through the property and even used ground-penetrating radar technology.
Investigators also searched Weldon’s former Westfield apartment located at 112 Main Street. “Nothing of note” was found there, Gulluni said.
The three human remains found on the property were later identified as three women; 47-year-old Ernestine Ryans, 34-year-old America Lyden, and 27-year-old Kayla Escalante.
The 22News I-Team looked into Weldon’s criminal history and discovered he was arrested twice in Westfield in 2015 and 2016, and at least a dozen times in Springfield since 2002. During his plea change on Tuesday, 22News also learned that Weldon only has a first-grade education and is diagnosed with bipolar, dyslexia, and Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Investigations continued at the Page Boulevard home for several days and no suspects were named in the three murders. Police put up temporary walls to block the side and backyard, as they continued their search.
In June 2018, Weldon was arraigned on new kidnapping and assault charges in Hampden County District Court. An additional $1 million bail was set, in addition to his original bail in the kidnapping case. Another news conference by DA Gulluni announced new charges against Weldon in a separate incident involving a different victim.
In August 2018, more than two months after his arrest, Weldon was indicted on 52 charges, which was downgraded to 39 charges Tuesday afternoon. The defense and the prosecution agreed upon 39 of those charges in a plea deal, including the three murder charges.
Those carry sentences of life in prison served consecutively.
Weldon was originally set to go on trial in 2020, but that was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with a trial date set for October 12, 2021.