It’s a story out of Highlands, New York — not a war zone, but that doesn’t make it any easier to read. Police allege that 86-year-old Marine veteran David McClellan had been held captive for four years in a squalid motel room, being fed only one bowl of cereal a day at times, just so his captor could allegedly cash McClellan’s Social Security and pension checks, as well as collect his food stamps.
According to reports, McClellan’s alleged captor, 35-year-old Perry Coniglio, lived in the motel room next door. Neighbors stated that Coniglio would bring a stick with him when he fed McClellan, and use that stick to poke him back into the room. McClellan was said to have walked around naked and filthy. According to police, it was all allegedly because McClellan was getting a substantial amount of money from the various income sources. As McClellan had no known friends or relatives, there was nobody to notice that he was missing. The elderly veteran was also reportedly in an advanced stage of dementia. When police asked McClellan how long he thought he’d been in that room, he reportedly told them just four days, as opposed to four years. McClellan, seen in this photo in a blue shirt and knit cap, was taken to a local hospital to be checked out, and will be put in a new home by New York State’s Adult Protective Services.
Coniglio was arrested and charged with menacing, grand larceny, criminal possession of a weapon, unlawful imprisonment, endangering an incompetent person, and unlawful possession of marijuana. He reportedly remains in the custody of the Orange County Jail on $25,000 bond. His first court appearance is currently scheduled for Tuesday, July 26.
WABC brings us this exclusive report, including video of police arriving to arrest Coniglio and free McClellan:
Main photo: WABC