Twelve years in captivity: neglected woman found in priest's apartment

Lugano, Switzerland - There was nothing Christian about the scene that Swiss police stumbled onto when they entered the apartment of a well-known local priest. The obviously neglected woman that they found there had been held captive for over a decade.

In Switzerland, a neglected woman was held captive in the apartment of a priest (stock image).
In Switzerland, a neglected woman was held captive in the apartment of a priest (stock image).  ©

The 80-year-old Catholic priest, who was identified only as Don Armando C., hid the woman in his home in the city of Lugano. The building is owned by the Catholic Church and several other retired priests live there.

The 48-year-old woman, who is originally from Finland, had no valid documents with her and it seems that she was essentially a prisoner.

According to the Swiss newspaper Blick, the shocking case came to light on November 20 when the priest suddenly started behaving strangely. The electrical system in the house had to be replaced and when the technicians showed up, no one would answer the door.

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After several attempts, the power supply to the residence had to be switched off for safety reasons. The electricians informed the authorities of the odd circumstances and police ended up taking a closer look at the premises.

In the process, the Finnish woman was discovered. The apartment was in complete chaos and the woman was living in squalid conditions.

Catholic Church was not aware of anything

The priest was arrested and taken into custody for questioning. The allegations are serious and include deprivation of liberty, as well as bodily harm.

According to initial investigations, Don Armando and the woman met during an online course and she came to live with him as a housekeeper.

It's unclear what the nature of their relationship was, nor are there any details as to why the victim was in such a pitiful state. On the rare occasions when the woman was spotted by others, the priest always said that she was just his niece visiting.

The Catholic Church has not commented on the matter as yet.

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