A 7-year-old boy was allegedly beaten by his adoptive mother in a twisted attempt to cash in on disability benefits.
Natalya Kasperskaya, from the central Ukrainian city of Dnipro, adopted the boy in 2014 and local media have reported that she beat him black and blue, that she starved him, that she pricked him with needles - all so she could leave him mentally impaired so the state would give her more money to look after him.
The boy - known only as Vlad - was left hospitalised and in intensive care with bruises to his face, legs and back.
While the investigation is ongoing he has been given an interim guardian, Elena Malyikhina.
Malyikhina was also the one who raised the alarm, saying that she first met little Vlad and Kasperskaya several years ago during a hospital visit herself.
She told local authorities that even then he was constantly hungry, in worn clothes and with bruises, which the mother explained away.
Malyikhina told police: "She tried to cause him epilepsy, schizophrenia, so that he would become disabled. It seems to me that she wanted to get more money for him."
Malyikhina also alleged to police that the suspect who has an older daughter of her own pricked him with needles.
Kasperskaya had adopted Vlad in 2014 and neighbours were quoted as backing up allegations that she treated him poorly.
Last year, Kasperskaya's mother, who has not been named, reportedly found the boy badly beaten and called an ambulance, but when later questioned she said the boy had injured himself.
Regarding the latest incident of alleged abuse, Valentina Rovna, the head of Juvenile Affairs for the Shevchenko district in Ukraine's capital Kiev, told police: "The boy said his adoptive mother beat him.
"The mum refutes everything. She says that she put him to bed and went to Kiev, and in the morning his grandmother came, and he was like that."
The Juvenile Affairs Service confirmed they immediately requested the deprivation of the woman's parental rights, which Kasperskaya is fighting.
There is still no criminal conviction for the beating and Anna Starchevskaya, spokeswoman for the national police in the Dnipropetrovsk region, told Central European News (CEN): "For our part, we have done everything possible and impossible to collect a full evidence base."
A court decision is still pending and until that happens, Kasperskaya remains free.