The Amstetten House of Horror: Josef Fritzl imprisoned his daughter Elisabeth in the basement of this home for 24 years.Foto: REUTERS
For the first nine years she was held captive by her father, Austrian kidnapping victim Elisabeth Fritzl was confined to a single room in the basement, according to information obtained by SPIEGEL. From 1984 to 1993, her father held her captive in the room. Only afterwards did he start to expand the cellar with additional rooms.
It has also become clear that until the expansion happened, the children born to Elisbeth Fritzl in the basement were also initially exposed to multiple incidents of her father, Josef Fritzl, committing rape against his daughter.
Elisabeth Fritzl has said that her years in the cellar began when her father locked her in the basement after he asked her to help him carry a door downstairs. For the first two days, he handcuffed her to a post and for the next six to nine months, he put her on a leash that kept her captive but allowed her to go to the toilet. According to sources, perpetrator Josef Fritzl admitted this in his first interrogations with investigators.
In her first interrogation after being released, Elisabeth Fritzl reportedly told investigators her mother knew nothing of the kidnapping and that her father had acted alone in providing food and clothing for his prisoners.
Documents from the local municipal office responsible for child welfare, also note that the agency tracked the family for years without ever coming across any suspicious activities or behavior. Workers at the agency noted that Mr. and Mrs. Fritzl have recovered from the initial shock, after Josef Fritzl for the first time brought one of the children he had sired with his daughter upstairs to the front door. He told his wife his daughter had run away to join a cult and that she had asked for help in raising the child. This happened several times, and each time the Fritzl's registered the children allegedly abandoned by their mother with the local authorities. The Fritzls, the documents state, were very loving with their children.
More and more acquaintances are stepping forward claiming to have information about Josef Fritzl. A person who once rented a room from Fritzl has told different media outlets that he learned that his landlord had abused his young daughter. Elisabeth was raped repeatedly by her father, Josef L. told the Austrian TV station ATV. She couldn't take it at home any more and thats why she ran away. Josef L. said he never went to the police out of fear of Josef Fritzl, and he claimed he still had nightmares about it today. After attempts to run away, Josef Fritzl eventually locked his daughter in the basement.
This weekend, Austrian Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer warned the international media against issuing any blanket condemnation of the country because of the terrible kidnapping, which saw Josef Fritzl lock his daughter in a basement for 24 years and sire seven children with her. There is no specific problem with Austria, he told Germanys mass circulation Bild newspaper. He said he would defend his country against efforts by a few foreign media outlets to try to portray the Fritzl crime as a specifically Austrian problem. The Fritzl horror is the second massive kidnapping case to be discovered in the scope of a few short years. In 2006, Natascha Kampusch escaped from her kidnapper after being held more than eight years in a sunlight-free dungeon.
Gusenbauer said his country would seek to present itself during the upcoming European Championship football tournament, which Austria is hosting with Switzerland, as it really is: a nation with the highest social standards, quality of life and economic growth.