Police in the Brazilian city of Guarulhos say they have discovered a man who may have been kept captive by his family for at least 15 years.
Police in the city, which is in the greater Sao Paulo area, were on a drug raid Sunday evening when they entered a family home in error and discovered 36-year-old Armando Bezerra de Andrade in a filthy, stinking basement. Images of the room show a soiled mattress, padlocked windows and no light source. The door had no handle on the inside.
His father, Amancio Bezerra de Andrade, said he kept his son in the basement because he was a drug user, and contradicted neighbors who said that the man had been there since he was 16.
The police say they were investigating whether he had been locked up for 15 years, while neighbors claim he had been imprisoned in the family home for as long as 20 years.
The elder Bezerra de Andrade said that his son had recently returned home and had asked for a place to sleep.
According to the police chief in charge of the investigation, Celso Marchiori, the father told him, "'This is my son, that house is mine, and I was the one who locked him in there, as he had asked me to.
"'He is a drug user and he showed up at home after being gone for many years, he showed up at home and asked me to lock him up so he wouldn't buy drugs,'" Marchiori quoted the father as saying.
"My conscience is clear," the alleged captive's father reportedly said.
Marchiori said police found Bezerra de Andrade in inhumane conditions.
"He was very debilitated. He got up with a lot of difficulty and walked to the door with difficulty. He didn't speak. And so we didn't know if he didn't speak because he had been doped up."
Marchiori said the odor in the room was horrible since the victim had been urinating and defecating in the room.
Before the younger Bezerra de Andrade went missing as a teen, neighbors say he was a bright young man, smart and funny, and denied that he was a drug user. Neighbor and friend Rafael Cunha Sousa, said the man's father always skirted questions about his son.
"When people would ask him how he was, he would always say he was traveling, or in the countryside, or at a relative's house, but he would never provide us with an address or say where he was," Sousa said.
Several neighbors volunteered to give statements, and have spray-painted the wall outside of the house demanding justice.