Readers like you keep news free for everyone.

More than 5,000 readers have already pitched in to keep free access to The Journal.

For the price of one cup of coffee each week you can help keep paywalls away.

Support us today
Not now

Swedish mother no longer suspected of holding son captive for decades

Reports said the man could barely walk, had almost no teeth and limited speech ability.

Police at the scene of the apartment in Stockholm.
Police at the scene of the apartment in Stockholm.
Image: AP/PA Images

Updated Dec 3rd 2020, 6:51 PM

SWEDISH PROSECUTORS NO longer suspect a woman of holding her son captive in their apartment for decades, saying he had not been held against his will.

Police had arrested the 70-year-old mother earlier this week, initially saying the 41-year-old man had been “locked up for a very long time” in their apartment in a southern Stockholm suburb.

Media reports quoted the man’s sister, who hadn’t seen her brother in 20 years, as saying that the mother had pulled her son out of school when he was 12 and isolated him from the outside world for 28 years. 

The sister explained she had gone to the apartment on Sunday after learning the mother had been admitted to hospital.

She found her brother undernourished with infected sores on his legs, almost no teeth and laboured speech.

He was taken to hospital where he underwent surgery. Doctors alerted police to the man’s condition.

The mother was initially detained on suspicion of illegal deprivation of liberty and causing grievous bodily harm, but was released on Wednesday.

Prosecutor Emma Olsson told AFP the woman was no longer a suspect, after the investigation determined that the man had not been physically restrained from leaving the apartment.

“We haven’t found any indications that he has been locked up, tied up or physically prevented from leaving the scene. There are no indications that there have been locked spaces,” Olsson said.

“The man himself has said that it was up to him if he wanted to leave the apartment,” she added.

“He’s an adult and could go out if he wanted,” she said, adding that witnesses had seen him outside on occasion.

She said a medical examination had also shown no signs of violence.

Making a difference

A mix of advertising and supporting contributions helps keep paywalls away from valuable information like this article.

Over 5,000 readers like you have already stepped up and support us with a monthly payment or a once-off donation.

For the price of one cup of coffee each week you can make sure we can keep reliable, meaningful news open to everyone regardless of their ability to pay.

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

Olsson said social services were investigating the case, in particular the reports about him being removed from school at a young age and isolated at home.

Asked if that could be considered a crime, Olsson said that “in such a case the statute of limitations would have expired long ago”.

“One can question her suitability as a mother, but this is now up to social services to look into,” she said.

“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.”

About the author:


Read next:


This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a commentcancel