Brazilian kept wife in cellar for 16 years: police

RIO DE JANEIRO Thu Jan 27, 2011 4:21pm EST

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RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - A Brazilian man has been arrested on suspicion of keeping his wife locked in a squalid basement for 16 years while he lived with another woman in the same house.

Acting on a tip, police on Wednesday found Sebastiana Aparecida Groppo, 64, in the cellar of the house in the city of Sorocaba in Sao Paulo state.

The floor of the roughly 130-square-foot (12-square-meter) cellar was littered with feces and dead cockroaches, Sorocaba police inspector Ana Luiza Salomone told Reuters on Thursday.

"She was found without clothes wrapped up in a blanket," said Salomone, adding that the windows had been shuttered and were covered in mold.

Joao Batista Groppo and the woman who had been living with him both were arrested on charges of illegal imprisonment. The husband, also 64, told police that he had locked up his wife of 42 years because she was mentally ill and aggressive.

Salomone said Groppo had apparently kept his wife imprisoned for two periods totaling 16 years, the second coming after 2003 when their son died in an accident.

The wife showed signs of mental problems that could have been caused by her captivity, Salomone said, but showed no signs of being aggressive and had no serious health problems.

Groppo and his companion could face up to eight years in prison, she said.

(Reporting by Stuart Grudgings; Editing by Xavier Briand)

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