A 66-year-old confessed to keeping his mother's body in the basement so that he could continue to claim her social security, the police said. The incident happened in the Innsbruck-Land region of western Austria.
On arrival at the property, the Austrian police found the body of a woman who, claiming that she was mummified by her son. The 89-year-old woman is believed to have died in June 2020 but the son kept the body to receive her pension and care allowance.
As per media reports, police said the 66-year-old collected around €50,000 ($59,000) during the time he kept his mother's mummified body in the basement.
An autopsy ruled out foul play as no signs pointed toward a suspicious death. The man is accused of benefit fraud and hiding a dead body.
As per news agency AFP's report, the accused froze his mother's body using ice packs to prevent odour. He also said that the body was wrapped in bandages to soak up any bodily fluids.
"He covered his mother with cat litter and finally the corpse was mummified," Helmut Gufler, head of the police's social security fraud unit, said.
The news agency said that the incident only began to unravel when a new postman asked the accused to see the recipient of the benefits he was delivering. However, whenever his brother came to see their mother, the 66-year-old maintained that she was in the hospital and was not worth visiting her as she would not recognise him, keeping in mind her illness.
It was only when the man refused to let the postman in to see the recipient, authorities arrived at the property to conduct an investigation.
Gufler said that the man had no other income and was told that the payments would have stopped rolling in had he reported his mother's death. Unable to pay for his mother's funeral or to keep the house, the 66-year-old took this drastic step.