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Father confesses to keeping daughter as sex slave in dungeon

Tue, Apr 29, 2008

International, Weird

An Austrian man has confessed to imprisoning his daughter for 24 years in a windowless basement cell and fathering seven children with her, three of whom “never saw sunlight” until they were freed over the weekend, police said.

Josef Fritzl, now 73, also told investigators that he tossed the body of one of the children in an incinerator when the infant died shortly after birth, said Franz Polzer, head of the Lower Austrian Bureau of Criminal Affairs.

“We are being confronted with an unfathomable crime,” Interior Minister Guenther Platter said.

Authorities said three of the surviving children – aged 19, 18 and five – were confined during their entire lives to the darkness of their cell by the suspect, whom Polzer said “managed to deceive everyone” until he allegedly confessed in police custody on Monday.

Police released Fritzl’s full name and photograph at a news conference, after his identity was already widely reported by media.

He was an authoritarian who took care never to allow anyone near the cellar, Polzer told reporters.

The daughter, who is now 42, had been missing since 1984 and was found by police in the town of Amstetten, about 120 kilometres west of Vienna, on Saturday evening after police received a tip.

Police released several photos showing parts of the cramped basement cell, with a small bathroom and a narrow passageway leading to a tiny bedroom. Investigators said an electronic keyless entry system apparently kept the daughter from escaping from the cell, which was made of solid reinforced concrete.

Fritzl appeared briefly in court on Monday in the city of St Poelten, where he was to be held in pre-trial detention. He faces up to 15 years in prison if charged, tried and convicted on rape charges, the most grave of his alleged offences under Austrian law.

“He admitted that he locked his daughter, who was 18 at the time, in the cellar, that he repeatedly had sex with her, and that he is the father of her seven children,” Polzer said.

Three of the surviving children lived with the grandparents and were registered with authorities. The other three apparently were held captive in the cellar with their mother, Polzer told reporters.

Hans-Heinz Lenze, a senior local official, said Fritzl’s wife apparently had “no idea” of what went on and was devastated.

“You have to imagine that this woman’s world fell apart,” he said.

Authorities said the victims and Fritzl’s wife were under psychiatric care in an undisclosed location.

The case unfolded after a gravely ill teenager was found unconscious on April 19 in the building where her grandparents live, and taken to a hospital. Authorities appealed publicly for the mother to come forward to help diagnose the young woman’s condition.

After receiving a tip, police picked up the 42-year-old woman – identified as Elisabeth – and her father close to the hospital on Saturday.

Police said Elisabeth appeared “greatly disturbed” during questioning. She agreed to talk only after authorities assured her she would no longer have to have contact with her father and that her children would be cared for.

On Sunday evening, investigatorsĀ found the area where Elisabeth and three of the children were held captive. Investigators said the rooms were at most 1.7 metres high. The area had a TV and small hot plates for cooking.

In a chronology of events outlined in a police statement, authorities said Elisabeth told them her father began sexually abusing her when she was 11. She told police that some years later in 1984, he sedated her, handcuffed her and locked her in the cellar.

A letter written by Elisabeth had apparently surfaced a month after her disappearance, asking her parents not to search for her.

Monday’s developments recalled another case that shocked Austrians in 2006, when a young woman escaped after being largely confined to a tiny underground dungeon in a quiet Vienna suburb for more than eight years.

Natascha Kampusch was 10 years old when she was kidnapped in Vienna on her way to school in March 1998. Her abductor, Wolfgang Priklopil, threw himself in front of a train just hours after her dramatic escape.

Kampusch, now 20, issued a statement saying she wanted to contact Elisabeth to offer emotional and financial help.

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4 Comments For This Post

  1. Adrienne Says:

    OMG! Thanks for coming by let me read your blog discussion. Ok I will admit this story is doezy. What is the world coming to. I like the blog, but today’s post threw me for a loop.

  2. Mayank Says:

    Ya it really is. Makes you wonder :shock:
    World is evil and full of perverts :oops:

  3. Joel Says:

    Shockin…
    Crazy guy… he mus b a maniac :shock:

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