STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN – A mother in Sweden has been arrested on suspicion of locking her son in their apartment for 28 years, leaving him malnourished and almost toothless, police and media said on Tuesday.
“The mother is suspected of unlawful deprivation of liberty and bodily harm,” Stockholm police spokesman Ola Osterling told AFP.
He said the man had been “locked up for a very long time” in the apartment in the southern suburbs of Stockholm, but would not comment on reports from the Expressen and Aftonbladet dailies that he had been held for 28 years.
Reports say the mother withdrew her son from school at the age of 12 and has kept him locked inside the apartment since then.
An anonymous relative was found the now 41-year-old man on Sunday after his 70-year-old mother was taken to hospital, Expressen reported.
The man had infected wounds on his legs, could barely walk, had almost no teeth and limited speech ability, according to reports.
Osterling would not comment on these details, saying only, “The man is in the hospital. His injuries are not life threatening. ”
The mother denied the crimes, the Swedish prosecutor’s office said.
‘URINE, DIRT AND DUST’
Doctors at the hospital alerted the police to the case.
Police tape was hung over the apartment door on Tuesday, and crime scene technicians were seen leaving the scene around noon, an AFP photographer said.
The apartment is located in a low-rise gray and yellow non-descript building in the working-class suburb of Handen in the municipality of Haninge.
The unidentified relative who found the man said the apartment did not appear to have been cleaned in years.
“There was urine, dirt and dust. It smelled of rot, ”she told Expressen, adding that she had to wade through piles of trash to get through the hallways.
“No one could have cleaned this house for many years. ”
“I am in shock, heartbroken, but at the same time relieved. I’ve been waiting for this day for 20 years because I understood that she was totally in control of her life, but I never imagined the extent of it, ”she told me.
“I knew he was there and he must have been afraid because his mother was his only sense of security and now she was gone,” she added.
There was no immediate explanation for the mother’s alleged actions.
“She stole her life from him and manipulated the people around her to keep her secret,” the parent said.
“I’m just thankful that he got help and is going to survive. ”
An unidentified neighbor, who lived in the same building, told Aftonbladet that she came across the man at a nearby grocery store a few months ago.
“I know who you are, you are my neighbor,” the man had told her, recognizing her after seeing her through the window, she said.
“HOW COULD NOBODY KNOW?” “
But most of the other residents in the neighborhood told local media that they had not seen the man in years.
“They hardly ever went out, never even opened the windows to get some fresh air. He was locked up, ”another woman from the building told Aftonbladet.
Many neighbors wondered why social services, school, or any other authority had never checked on the boy over the years.
“And when renovations were done in the building, how could no one notice it? Workers have come here, ”a woman told Aftonbladet.
Another woman said that she sometimes met the mother.
“We talked about little things, like you do. Sometimes I asked about the boy, and she just said he was fine, she never really talked about him, ”she said.
She added, however, that she found it strange that their window was never opened and that the same chandelier had been in the window for 30 years.
“But what can you do? How do you know what’s going on behind closed doors? It’s so horrible, you can’t believe it’s true, ”she said.