Brazilian Locked Wife in Cellar for 8 Years
Husband, girlfriend arrested; son may face charges
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 28, 2011 4:39 PM CST
In this photo released by Diario de Sorocaba, Joao Batista Groppo talks to the press as he sits handcuffed in the Sorocaba municipality in Sao Paulo state, Brazil, Thursday Jan. 27, 2011.   (AP Photo/Pedro Henrique Negrao, Diario de Sorocaba)

(Newser) – Does Brazil have its own version of Josef Fritzl? Police arrested Joao Batista Groppo, 64, after it was discovered he had kept his wife, Sebastiana, locked in a cellar for 8 years. Actually, the period of time is in dispute—Groppo initially told police it had been 16 years, but he later said it was 8, which was confirmed by his son. The latter may face charges as well, because he knew of the imprisonment and did not report it. Police described the locked basement where Sebastiana was detained as "filthy, dark."

Groppo and his wife had been married 40 years, a relationship that disintegrated, according to Groppo, as she descended into mental illness. After an anonymous tip alerted police to Groppo's abuse, he said that "locking her up was the only way he could think of to prevent her from wandering off and getting lost." Police also arrested Groppo's girlfriend as an accomplice. Sebastiana was examined in a hospital and released to her son. "She appears to be in good physical condition, but to be on the safe side we asked the son to make sure she gets a full checkup and continued psychiatric help," police said.