A Russian woman is accused of starving her 11-year-old foster son to "skin and bones" in a bid to collect illness benefits (Warning: The photos below are graphic.).
Lyubov Korotkova allegedly starved and drugged her 11-year-old foster son, Valery Kondourov, the Daily Mirror reported. She is accused of subjecting the child to "extra cruelty, humiliation and torture" and tricking doctors into believing he had a rare disease.
The abuse was so extreme that Valery weighed less than 28 pounds at one point. He was also just 3 feet, 5 inches tall, which is considered a reasonable height for a 5-year-old.
Koprotkova, who is reportedly in her late 40s, has since been arrested by state investigators. She is currently in police custody as she awaits a criminal trial for deliberately creating a sham to collect benefits by intentionally under-feeding her child so that he may appear seriously ill.
Law enforcement officials said Korotkova made her son "take medical drugs to build up a clinical manifestation of a stomach disease."
"Having cheated the doctors, she managed to register her child as handicapped ... and started receiving financial assistance, compensation and other allowances," officials added.
Korotkova is also accused of stealing more than $26,000 in state benefits. Authorities said she received additional money from charities, and used those funds to buy "luxuries," according to arrest reports.
The foster mother is now facing charges of fraud and causing "deliberate health damage" to the child. Korotkova could be facing up to 10 years in prison if convicted. Authorities were made aware of Korotkova's actions in May and launched a criminal investigation.
Korotkova fooled several people, including local officials, into viewing her as a hero for helping the sick child. Even city mayor Yury Grishan reportedly demanded that Valery be returned to Korotkova.
Attempts to have Valery returned to Korotkova were foiled by Kremlin children's ombudsman Anna Kuznetsova. The child reportedly has no medical condition aside from the abuse he suffered at the hands of his foster mother. He is currently recovering.
Korotkova hid her plan from her own husband, Andrei, according to reports. Under her care, Valery was reportedly terrified of eating, as his foster mom would feed him small quantities of porridge and fish before giving him drugs to make him sick.
The child had such an extreme lack of growth that the clothes he wore when he was 3 still fit him well at age 11. Korotkova homeschooled the boy, so he was not seen by any teachers, The Sun reported.