Austrian man ‘kept mummified remains of his mother in basement to claim her benefits’

The mummified body of an 89-year-old Austrian woman who died over a year ago has been discovered in a cellar after she was allegedly stored there by her son because he wanted to continue receiving her benefits.

Austrian police said in a statement on Thursday that the mother, who is believed to have suffered from dementia, had died in June last year. An autopsy ruled out that the son had killed her.

But the 66-year-old male suspect, who is accused of benefit fraud and hiding a corpse, admitted to Austrian police that instead of report her death, he froze her body with icepacks in the basement to guard against the smell and then wrapped her in bandages to absorb any bodily fluids.

"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.

The suspect lived with his mum near Innsbruck in the Tyrol region. 

When his brother came round asking about their mother, he said she was in hospital.

The suspect continued to get his mother’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, eventually leading to the body being discovered last Saturday.

"The 66-year-old man kept her body in order to continue receiving benefits," police said in a statement.

The man pocketed 50,000 euros (£42,700) since June 2020 from the payments.

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