Prosecutors in Sweden are dropping a case against a 70-year-old woman accused of locking up her son inside 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 from custody Thursday after being held on suspicion of unlawful deprivation of liberty and grievous bodily harm.
Prosecutor Emma Olsson, who headed the preliminary investigation, told Swedish daily Aftonbladet that investigators “have not really found any evidence that proves that there is any crime.”
There were no indications the man had been locked or tied up, and there were no locked spaces inside the apartment, Olsson said.
“He says himself that he was able to leave the apartment when he wanted and felt for it,” Olsson said.
Olsson said doctors determined the man’s injuries were a result of illness and infection, not violence.
The man was discovered Sunday after his sister visited the apartment upon hearing their mother was hospitalized. The sister told local media that the door was unlocked and inside reeked of urine, dirt and dust. She said she found her brother sitting in a dark corner among the squalor, missing teeth and with sores covering his legs.
Her brother’s speech was slurred, but he was not afraid of her, the sister said.
She called for help and the man was taken to a hospital. Doctors then alerted 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 previous physical abuse she suffered from her then-husband when her children were young.
“It started when the children were small,” she said. “I was severely beaten by my then-husband and the children saw it. He did not give in to the children but it was me he beat.”
The woman’s daughter confirmed the abuse to the paper.
“I know that my mother has also been a victim of crime, but there is no excuse for her holding my brother as a prisoner here,” she told the paper.
The sister told state broadcaster SVT that she had moved out when she was a teenager and had not seen her brother since. She said she has previously tried to warn authorities about her brother's situation.
She said their mother had become “overprotective” after losing another child at a young age, giving her son the same name as the child who died, and that he had been taken out of school around age 12.
Olsson told reporters that social services was now investigating the case.