The London couple suspected of holding three women against their will for 30 years were ... Marxist slaveholders? The two suspects, Aravindan Balakrishnan, 73, and his 67-year-old wife Chanda, had been Marxist activists in the 1970s, the BBC reports. Records from the Communist Party of England show that Balakrishnan was kicked out in 1974; he then set up his own splinter group called The Workers' Institute of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought, housed in a building that doubled as bookstore and political commune.
People were "just sort of gathering inside and outside; I was fascinated, I went there three times," said a local shopkeeper who liked visiting the place. "I was at work when the police came and raided it." Later, as apparent slaveholders, the couple created a "kind of political cult" or "enforced commune" that kept the victims "almost in a psychological cage," according to a criminal psychologist. Other details are trickling out, including hundreds of letters written by one alleged victim to a neighbor, reports the Daily Mail. She was like a "fly trapped in a spider's web," she wrote, and experienced "unspeakable torment."