Swedish police drop charges against mother suspected of keeping son prisoner

Swedish police have dropped charges against a mother suspected of holding her son captive for 28 years after he admitted being able to come and go as he pleased.

The 70-year-old woman was arrested earlier this week after the man, now 41, was found inside her filthy Stockholm flat, covered in sores and with no teeth.

Officers had initially charged the woman with deprivation of liberty and abuse, but have now dropped the charges after interviewing the son in hospital.

Prosecutors said the case has been referred to social services, but is not a criminal matter because the man had not been physically restrained and his wounds were due to illness, not physical violence. 

Police in Sweden have dropped charges against a 70-year-old mother accused of keeping her 41-year-old son captive in this flat for 28 years, saying he was free to leave if he wanted

‘We haven’t found any indications that he has been locked up, tied up or physically prevented from leaving the scene,’ prosecutor Emma Olsson said.

‘The man himself has said that it was up to him if he wanted to leave the apartment. He’s an adult and could go out if he wanted.

‘He has no injuries that are consistent with violence. The sores are due to illness, sores that have become infected.

‘One can question her suitability as a mother, but this is now up to social services to look into

‘Society now needs to help this man, and this woman too. And make sure that we can prevent this kind of thing from happening again.’ 

The mother has since spoken out about the ‘abuse’, insisting that she was the real victim at the hands of her ex-husband – and kept her son at home to ‘protect’ him.

Recalling the abuse she suffered, she told Expressen: ‘It started when the children were small. I was severely beaten by my then husband and the children saw it.

‘He did not hurt the children, but he did beat me.’

Recalling one episode of abuse, the woman says her husband threw furniture out of the apartment and then burned it in a nearby forest.

The woman’s daughter, who was the one who discovered her malnourished brother in the flat, confirmed the abuse was genuine.

She also recalled the woman trying to shield her children from it and protect her youngest son, who she called ‘her favourite child’.

The boy was named after an elder son, who had died some time in the 1970s.

Asked whether she had taken the boy out of school aged 12, the woman denied it, saying he refused to attend because he was suffering from mental illness himself.

Asked whether she had ever abused the boy, she added: ‘No absolutely not. I have tried in every way to help him.

‘We need help, both me and my son have needed it for a long time.’ 

The case came to light after the man's sister broke into the Stockholm flat (pictured) on Sunday and found him inside, covered in sores and with no teeth

The case came to light after the man’s sister broke into the Stockholm flat (pictured) on Sunday and found him inside, covered in sores and with no teeth

The case first came to light on Sunday, when a suspicious relative – thought to be the man’s sister – broke into the flat while their mother was in hospital and found him.

The man was severely malnourished, had sores and open wounds covering his legs, almost no teeth, and was struggling to walk and talk.

It is thought the mother had kept him a virtual prisoner in the apartment since pulling him out of school aged just 12 in 1991.  

Neighbours said the mother kept her apartment in a dilapidated state, with an advent candle standing in one window for around 30 years.

But they added that she often stopped to chat with them in public, usually about banal subjects such as the weather.

Whenever she was asked about her son, they said, she would respond that he was ‘fine’ and change the subject.

One neighbour reported seeing the son while out shopping over the summer, and said he approached and told her: ‘I know who you are, you’re my neighbour.’

But most claimed never to have seen the man, or to have realised he was living in their apartment building until after officers arrived.

The discovery was made by the man’s sister, who had long held suspicions that their mother was controlling the boy’s life – but was unaware to what extent.

In early November, it is thought the mother went to hospital where she was kept for two weeks while receiving treatment for an unknown condition. 

On Sunday, the sister managed to get into her flat, and discovered her brother lying on a blanket on the floor of the kitchen.

The relative described the flat as filthy, saying it had not been cleaned in many years and stank of rotting food and urine.

There was so much rubbish piled up in the hallways that it was difficult to walk through, the person said.

The son was found with sores covering his legs, barely able to speak, and with pus leaking from open wounds. 

He was severely malnourished, having been left with just a cheese sandwich, a can of mackerel and a bowl of chips to survive on. 

An old TV had also been left on in the flat, which was otherwise completely silent.

The relative said she had not seen the man for over 20 years, but he recognised her and kept whispering her name over and over.  

The woman said at the time: ‘I’m in shock, brokenhearted, but at the same time relieved. 

‘I’ve been waiting for this day for 20 years because I figured out that she was totally controlling his life, but I never imagined the extent of it.

‘I’m just thankful that he got help and is going to survive.’  

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