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Austrian man kept mummified corpse of mother in basement for a year to receive benefits

A man kept the mummified corpse of his mother in a basement in Tyrol for over a year while continuing to receive her pension payments. 

A police car in the city of Vienna, Austria
A police car in Austria. Photo: JOE KLAMAR / AFP

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.

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LIVING IN AUSTRIA

‘Decomposing smell’: Austrian police called due to smelly shoes

Austria's police department said they were called to an apartment complex in Vienna after a person was concerned about a "smell of decomposition".

'Decomposing smell': Austrian police called due to smelly shoes

This week, the Viennese police department started a weekly ‘series’ of sharing interesting stories on their social media accounts

Calling the series ‘Misunderstanding Wednesday’ (Missverständnismittwoch), the very first post is about a call they received to an apartment complex after a concerned citizen complained to emergency services about a “smell of decomposition in the staircase”.

READ ALSO: Stephansdom: Vienna woken up after hacker sets church bells to ring at 2am

The alleged corpse, it turns out, was just the neighbour’s smelly shoes which were left in the building corridor, in front of their apartment.

The police didn’t say when exactly the incident took place.

“When our colleagues are called because of the ‘smell of decomposition in the staircase’… and notice that the stunk is from the neighbour’s shoes which were left in front of the apartment door”, the official Twitter account of the Vienna police department reads.

‘When in doubt it is an emergency’

The authorities were light-hearted about the misunderstanding, even sharing a “meme-like” picture on their social media accounts, saying “some missions turn out to be different than initially assumed”.

READ ALSO: Austrian police warn public about new ‘fake cops’ scam

However, they reiterated that the misunderstandings should not deter people from calling 133, the emergency police number. They added that in case of emergencies and even if you are not sure, the authorities should be called and they will assist you.

“Note: in case of doubt, it is an emergency”, the Vienna police department says. “Never be afraid to dial the emergency number.”

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