Mother in Sweden no longer suspected of confining her son to an apartment for 28 years


Swedish prosecutors are dropping a case against a 70-year-old woman accused of locking her son in their apartment for nearly three decades, saying investigators have found no evidence he was being held against his will.

The mother, who has denied imprisoning her now 41-year-old son, was released Thursday after being detained on suspicion of unlawful deprivation of liberty and grievous bodily harm.


Prosecutor Emma Olsson, who led the preliminary investigation, told Swedish daily Aftonbladet that investigators “have not really found any evidence proving the existence of a crime”.

There was no indication the man had been locked up or tied up, and there was no locked space inside the apartment, Olsson said.

Police at the scene of an apartment where a woman was suspected of having locked up her son, in Haninge, south of Stockholm, on Tuesday. Investigators have since dropped the case against the woman after finding no evidence the man was held against his will. (Claudio Bresciani / TT via AP)

“He says himself that he was able to leave the apartment when he wanted and felt it,” Olsson said.

Olsson said doctors determined the man’s injuries were the result of illness and infection, not violence.

The man was discovered on Sunday after his sister visited the apartment after hearing that their mother had been hospitalized. The sister told local media that the door was unlocked and the interior reeked of urine, dirt and dust. She said she found her brother sitting in a dark corner amidst misery, missing teeth and sores covering his legs.

His brother’s speech was cloudy, but he was not afraid of her, the sister said.

The man’s sister found him inside the unlocked apartment living in the grime. (Claudio Bresciani / TT via AP)

She called for help and the man was taken to the hospital. The doctors then alerted the police and the mother was subsequently arrested.

In an interview with Swedish daily Expressen, the mother said she misses her son and hopes they can both get help. She also spoke of the physical abuse she suffered at the hands of her then-husband when her children were young.

“It started when the kids were little,” she says. “I was severely beaten by my then husband and the children saw him. He did not give in to the children but it was me he beat.

Social services will now investigate the case, prosecutors said.  (Claudio Bresciani / TT via AP)
Social services will now investigate the case, prosecutors said. (Claudio Bresciani / TT via AP)

The woman’s daughter confirmed the abuse to the newspaper.

“I know my mother was also the victim of a crime, but there is no excuse for her to keep my brother prisoner here,” she told the newspaper.

The sister told state broadcaster SVT that she moved when she was a teenager and had not seen her brother since. She said she had previously tried to alert authorities to her brother’s situation.

She said their mother became “overprotective” after losing another child at a young age, giving her son the same name as the deceased child, and that he was taken out of school around age. 12 years old.


Olsson told reporters that social services are now investigating the case.

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