A woman in Sweden who is suspected of having kept her son captive in her apartment for decades has been arrested, police said on Tuesday, with reports claiming that the man was found malnourished with infected wounds in the body and almost no teeth.
Stockholm police spokesman Ola Osterling told AFP that the man had been “locked for a very long time” in the apartment in a southern Stockholm suburb but refused to comment on local reports that he had been kept for 28 years.
Neighbors said they had not seen the son, now 41, in several years – or ever.
Tove Boman, a 24-year-old who lives in the building next door, told AFP that she had only seen her mother. “I grew up here so I have always known who she is and recognized her. She’s a little weird, she said.
The newspapers Expressen and Aftonbladet reported that the woman had taken her son out of school when he was 12 and kept him locked inside the apartment ever since.
An unnamed relative found the man on Sunday after the mother had been taken to hospital, Expressen reported.
The man had infected wounds on his legs, could barely walk and had almost no teeth, which limited his ability to speak, the reports say.
Osterling did not want to comment on these details and only said: “The man is in hospital. His injuries are not life-threatening. ”
The woman is suspected of illegal deprivation of liberty and causes bodily harm – accusations that she denies.
‘Urine, dirt and dust’
Media reports suggested that the mother was too protective after losing her firstborn son when he was 3 years old.
The relative said that the mother had convinced the boy that everyone was looking to get them and that she was the only one who could protect them.
The relative also told Dagens Nyheter that she had contacted the social services several times over the years but was told that no crime had been committed because the man was not physically locked.
Police tapes were taped over the apartment door on Tuesday, and police were seen leaving the scene at noon, says an AFP photographer.
The relative said that the apartment, in a non-descriptive gray and yellow low-rise building in the working-class suburb of Handen, looked as if it had not been cleaned in several years.
“There was urine, dirt and dust. It smelled rotten, she told Expressen and added that she had to wade through piles of rubbish to get through the corridors.
“I am in shock, crushed, but at the same time relieved. I have been waiting for this day for 20 years. ”
The police will interrogate the man and his mother in the coming days to determine what happened.
“How could no one have noticed it?”
Neighbors contacted by AFP expressed shock that the man could have been hidden for so long.
Kenth Svedberg said that he had noticed an “unpleasant smell” coming from the apartment but it was “nothing I thought about very much”.
“What is so scary is that it has been going on for so many, many years,” he told AFP.
Many neighbors wondered why neither the social services, the school nor any other authority ever checked in on the boy over the years.
A woman told Aftonbladet that she thought it was strange that their window was never open and that the same candlestick 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 all so awful you can not believe it’s true, she said.