The Girl Who Spent 24 Years in Her Father’s Prison

Imprisoned and became a sex slave, gave birth to 7 children

Amstetten Hospital, where 19-year-old Kerstin Fritzl arrived ill. Photo source.

Elisabeth Daughter Fell Ill

Until one day in 2008, one child in the basement fell ill. Elisabeth begged her father to allow her 19-year-old daughter, Kerstin, to get medical care. As Kerstin fell ill and became critical, reluctantly, Josef agreed to take her to the hospital. He picked Kerstin from the basement and called an ambulance, claiming that he had a note from Kerstin?s mother explaining her condition.

During the week, the police questioned Kerstin and asked for information about her family. But she revealed nothing. The police eventually became suspicious of Josef and reopened an investigation about the disappearance of Elisabeth Fritzl. They read the letters that Josef claimed Elisabeth had written, which she had left for her family. But the police saw inconsistencies in it.


On April 26, 2008, Elisabeth escaped from the basement for the first time after nearly a quarter-century Josef had locked her up.

Elisabeth immediately went to the hospital to see her daughter, where the hospital staff alerted police to her suspicious arrival. That night, Elisabeth was detained and questioned about her daughter?s illness and her father?s story. Elisabeth Fritzl finally told the story of her 24-year imprisonment.

She explained that her father kept her in the basement, and she gave birth to seven children. Elisabeth explained that Josef was the father of her seven children. She said that Josef would meet her at night, forced her to watch pornographic films, and then rape her. She also explained that Josef had been abusing her since she was 11 years old.

Arrest and trial

The police arrested Josef Fritzl that night. After the arrest, Elisabeth?s children in the basement were released. Rosemarie allegedly knew nothing of what happened right under her feet. The tenants who lived in the apartment on the first floor also never knew what was happening directly below them, as Josef had explained all the sounds were coming from the noisy plumbing and heating. Josef Fritzl trialed in the Austrian city court of Sankt Plten and found him guilty over mass rape, incest, detention of persons, coercion, and murder.

Dr. Adelheid Kstner, a psychiatrist who interviewed Josef, concluded that Josef?s horrific childhood life experiences as a child raised by a brutal and unloving mother had driven him to ?control someone completely.? The ?someone? turned out to be her daughter Elisabeth, who had been kept in the basement, and Josef started raping her when she was 18, although the abuse started when she was only 11 years old.

Journalists during the Fritzl trial Source:

Josef Fritzl Confession

In an interview with Josef, he insisted that the original purpose of the confinement was to ?save? his daughter. Josef said,

?Since her puberty, Elisabeth stopped doing what she was told. She didn?t follow my rules anymore. She would spend all night at the bar and come home smelling of alcohol and smoking,?

?I tried to save her. I gave her a job as a waitress, but sometimes she skipped work.?

Josef also said his daughter had tried to run away from home twice and hang out with ?people with questionable moral standards.?

?That?s why I had to create a place where I gave her the opportunity to get away from the evil influences of the outside world.?

Josef started building the basement around 1981 or 1982, and he would use it as his daughter?s prison. Josef constructed the premises with concrete and steel, electrically operated doors with remote control and combination lock. He also said it also provided a washbasin and a small toilet, a bed, a fridge, electricity, and a lamp.

Fritzl said his desire to have sex with his daughter had increased to where he can no longer control himself. He claimed that he raped her for the first time about eight months after her detention but denied that he ever handcuffed her or tied her with ropes, as reported. ?I don?t have to do that. My daughter doesn?t escape, anyway,? he said.

In 1993, Josef said he extended the bunker, installed a television, video recorder, and radio in the basement. ?I even gave Elisabeth a washing machine in 2002, so she doesn?t have to wash all the clothes by hand.?

?We celebrate birthdays and Christmas there too. I even smuggled a Christmas tree down to the basement with cakes and gifts.?

Fritzl also admits that decades without sunshine, or medical and dental care, had caused a profound effect on her daughter?s health. ?Elisabeth remains strong. She never complains, even as her teeth slowly rot and come out of her mouth one by one. She suffers day and night with unbearable pain and can?t sleep,? he said.

Handling his cellar family’s sickness, such as flu, cough, and a strange illness suffered by Kerstin and her five-year-old brother, Felix, Fritzl gave them aspirin. But both children seem to have inherited an allergy to drugs from their grandmother. Felix trembled violently, and Kerstin screamed out of control. According to Josef’s confession, Fritzl said his daughter finally arranged a plan with him and wrote a letter designed to accompany Kerstin, who was in a coma and desperately needed medical treatment.

However, Fritzl stated that his intention was so far to free his cellar prisoners and ?bring them back home.? As he said, ?I?m getting old, and I know that I can no longer care for my second family in the basement. The plan was, Elisabeth and the kids will explain that they were being kept in a secret place by a sect. They betrayed me sooner than I expected because of the trouble with Kerstin.?

Fritzl said in his interview that he understood the ?anger? felt by the community about his crimes and told that inmates in prison in the Austrian city of St Plten once banged the walls of his cell and shouted, ?Satan, we will kill you.? ?I only want one thing now, and that is paying for what I did,? he added.

The court sentenced Fritzl to life in prison.

Elisabeth Fritz?s life after her freedom

Meanwhile, Elisabeth found her everyday life in late 2008 after she and her children recovered enough and were given a new house in ?Village X.? They also gave Elisabeth a new identity to protect her actual identity. She was hidden from the media and lived her new life usually.

Not only does she live with a new identity, but Elisabeth also lives in an anonymous village in Austria known only as ?Village X.? Nobody else calls her Ms. Fritzl. She was reportedly living in a two-story house under CCTV surveillance and police patrols on every corner. The family did not allow interviews anywhere and refused to be interviewed.

Child from Josef?s relationship with Elisabeth, Source: Alchetron

Family Relationship

The relationship between the three ?upstairs? children (Krestin, Stefan, and Felix) and their ?downstairs? brothers and sisters (Lisa, Monika, and Alexander) also gradually improved.

The three children in the basement slowly knew the brothers and sisters they had never met. At first, they found it challenging to call Elisabeth ?Mutti? (Mum). But what was more problematic was Elisabeth?s relationship with her mother, Rosemarie. She couldn?t believe that her mother didn?t know the truth, thinking her father, Josef, might ally with her mother.

Final Thoughts

Elisabeth may not have imagined the end of this happy ordeal when she escaped from her dungeon for the first time. Her skin was pale from being trapped without sunlight, and she only ate cheap supermarket food. Even during that confinement, Elisabeth lost all of her teeth after over two decades without dental work.

However, her recovery was gradually bringing results. Perhaps most remarkable is that Elisabeth has returned to a good relationship with her mother. Elisabeth Fritzl?s struggle to return to a relatively everyday life must be considered a miracle. Her initial struggle was not when she ran away but when Elisabeth persuaded Josef to take her daughter Kerstin, who had collapsed because of kidney failure, to a hospital.