Austrian police said Thursday they had discovered the body of an 89-year-old woman who died over a year ago and was mummified in the cellar by her son who wanted to continue receiving her benefits.
In a statement, police said the mother, who is believed to have suffered from dementia, had died in June last year.
“The 66-year-old man kept her body in order to continue receiving benefits,” they added. The suspect lived with his mum near Innsbruck in the Tyrol region.
He admitted in questioning that he froze her body with icepacks in the basement after she died, to guard against the smell.
He then wrapped her in bandages to absorb any corporal fluid. “He covered his mother with cat litter and finally the corpse was mummified,” Helmut Gufler, in charge of the police’s social security fraud unit, told public broadcaster ORF.
When his brother came round asking about their mother, he said she was in hospital.
The suspect would get his mum’s benefits by post every month, but a new postman had recently asked to see the beneficiary.
When the son refused, he reported it to the authorities, and the body was discovered on Saturday.
The man pocketed 50,000 euros ($59,000) since June 2020 from the payments.
An autopsy ruled out that he had killed his mother. The suspect is accused of benefit fraud and hiding a corpse.