Elisabeth Fritzl

Amstetten, Niederösterreich – Austria.

2008

In 2008, the world paused in horror as the news broke. A man in Austria was discovered to have kept an incestuous family in a dungeon beneath his home. The Fritzl case would be one of the worst cases of abuse the world had ever witnessed, and become the most famous instance of humans held captive.

Lead up to Crime

Arrested, Josef Fritzl

Arrested, Josef Fritzl

Josef Fritzl grew up in poverty. His father constantly cheated on his mother, and she threw him out of the house when Josef was four-years-old, thereafter raising the boy on her own. She only gave birth to the child to prove to her husband that she was not infertile. Josef grew up in the Nazi era where ruling parties demanded strictness, as did his mother, who ignored him except when she often beat him. He attended school in Amstetten, two years older than his classmates, he proved to be highly intelligent.

As a teenager Fritzl would indulge in sexual fantasies about his mother, and considered himself her husband. He met Rosemarie in 1956, and married her a year later.

As Rosemarie gave birth to their first child in 1957, Fritzl rode his bike around town, peering in people’s windows, but claimed he was working late at the steel factory to support his family.

Rosemary and Josef Fritzl as grandparents to an incestuous family

Rosemary and Josef Fritzl as grandparents to an incestuous family

Elisabeth was born on April 6, 1966; she was the fourth of seven children. She was a painfully shy child, timid to approach adults. Fritzl often beat his daughter, and Rosemarie claimed he didn’t like Elisabeth.

On October 6, 1967, he was arrested for raping a woman in her apartment at knifepoint in Linz, and served 12 months of an 18-month sentence. He had also committed other attacks on local women. When released from prison, Rosemarie forgave him.

In 1973, having established himself as a successful businessman, Fritzl bought the Seesteern Guesthouse at Mondsee, in the lakes district of Upper Austria. During this time he imprisoned his elderly mother in the attic of the family home, until she died in 1980.

Fritzl began sexually abusing Elisabeth at the age of 11. In 1981/82 (when Elisabeth was around 15 years old) Fritzl began making plans for the cellar beneath their family home at Ybbstrasse Number 40, Amstetten, Lower Austria. He planned to transform it into a homemade prison.


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The guesthouse was destroyed by fire in 1982. Police arrested Fritzl on suspicion of arson and held him for 14 days, but the charges were dropped due to insufficient evidence. Fritzl collected the insurance money.

As Elisabeth matured, she became more assertive, much to her father’s displeasure. In 1983 she ran away from home with a friend, fleeing to Vienna. The pair was caught by police after three weeks and returned to Josef Fritzl.

In the same year, planning permits were approved for Fritzl to commence additional work on his cellar, and he enlisted the help of his brother-in-law to carry out the works. He had very specific plans; including that the ceiling should be only 1.7 metres (5.5 feet) high. Only Fritzl himself knew the true purpose of his plans.

Held Captive

On August 28, 1984, when Elisabeth was 18, Fritzl lured her downstairs by asking her to help carry the door that would seal the dungeon. He drugged her with ether, and held her captive. Fritzl chained his daughter to a wall, unlocking her only to rape her. He wrote fake letters, claiming Elisabeth had joined a cult. Cults had gained a negative reputation during the 1970/80s, with mass media portraying them as groups that isolated and brainwashed their members. Fritzl’s story seemed plausible, especially when it came to the troublesome and wayward girl Fritzl made his daughter out to be.

What lurks below?

What lurks below?

Fritzl warned Elisabeth that if anyone touched the cellar door they would be electrocuted. Inside the cell, measuring four-and-a-half metres squared (15 x 15 feet), was Elisabeth’s world for nine years. Josef Fritzl visited the dungeon every few days, using a remote control to open the heavy door, providing supplies and raping his daughter. She was raped over 3,000 times, violently inserted her with objects that caused permanent physical injuries, and forced her to re-enact scenes from pornographic films.

Fritzl was suspected of the unsolved murder of Martina Posch, 17, who was found wrapped in plastic near the guesthouse in 1986. He continued running the guesthouse until 1996.

Elisabeth gave birth in isolation to seven children. Kerstin was born in 1988. Three unfortunate children — Kerstin, the eldest, Stefan and Felix — grew up in the dungeon.

On April 28, 1996, Elisabeth gave birth to twin boys, Michael and Alexander. Michael died three days later, Fritzl cremated his body in the furnace and scattered his ashes throughout the garden.

Three children — Lisa, Monika and Alexander — would live seemingly normal lives upstairs. Everyone was led to believe Elisabeth, unable to care for her children while she lived her cultish lifestyle, had dropped them off on the doorstep in the dark of night.

As Fritzl’s underground family grew, so did the dungeon as he covertly constructed additional rooms. The small confines of the cell were filled with stale air, leaving the captives listless, barely able to move. A rancid, sick smell engulfed the cavern. Condensation dripped from the tiled walls. The two-bedroom dungeon was soundproofed and included a bathroom, toilet, and kitchen. The lack of natural light would leave the children weak, sickly, and pale. The moisture provided a perfect environment for mould to grow, causing fungal infections for the captives. They suffered malnutrition, vitamin D deficiencies, and severe dental problems. Stefan suffered from motor neurone problems. The children’s only understanding of the outside world came from what they watched on an old television, and from what their mother taught them.

In 1998 Fritzl went on a four-week holiday to Thailand, leaving Elisabeth and her three children behind in the cellar. He bought her dresses, claiming they were for his girlfriend. Rosemarie was unaware of the secret family her husband hid beneath her feet.

Rescue

Kerstin, now 19, became desperately ill, suffering from uncontrollable screaming fits and lapsing into unconsciousness. On April 19, 2008, she was taken to hospital by ambulance, along with a letter Fritzl made Elisabeth write, begging the hospital to take care of her daughter. With no medical records or personal documentation, the hospital became suspicious of Kerstin’s identity.

The young woman presented to doctors was suffering from multiple organ failure and placed in an induced coma as doctors worked to help her recover. Doctors made a public appeal over Austrian television on April 21, asking for Elisabeth to contact authorities. Elisabeth watched the story ignite, and begged her father to take her to the hospital.

On April 26, Fritzl decided to release his captive family from their underground prison. Elisabeth, Stefan, and Felix made their way upstairs, where Fritzl told Rosemarie their prodigal daughter had returned home. Elisabeth Fritzl had been missing for 8,516 days. After nearly 24 years she was finally free.

Once in the hospital grounds, Josef and Elisabeth were detained. Elisabeth refused to provide information on her circumstance until she was promised she would never have to see her father again. In the early hours of the morning, on April 27, 2008, Josef Fritzl was arrested. By nightfall, Rosemarie and all the children were taken into state care.

Trial

Three hundred officers initially worked on the Fritzl case. On March 16, 2009, the trial against Austria’s incest dungeon master began.

Josef Fritzl, 73, pleaded guilty to false imprisonment, incest, and rape; but pleaded not guilty to enslavement and murder by neglect.

Elisabeth testified via an 11-hour pre-recorded video presented to the court. Josef Fritzl sat in the courtroom in St Pölten and listened to his daughter’s testimony. Neither Rosemarie nor Elisabeth’s children testified. Jurors found the case especially difficult, and extra jurors were kept on standby in case any original jurors could not continue.

During the four-day trial, Elisabeth dressed in a wig and entered the courtroom to watch the proceedings. Her father turned around and saw her. He began to weep.

After watching Elisabeth’s testimony, Fritzl changed his plea to “guilty” on all charges. On March 19, 2009, he was sentenced to life imprisonment, to be detained in a psychiatric hospital.

Fritzl must serve 15 years before he is first eligible for parole in 2024. He will be 89 years old. He is currently held in a secure ward for the criminally insane at Garsten Abbey in Upper Austria; a former Benedictine abbey, with a near millennia long history, converted to a high security prison. He is prisoner number 4546765. Fritzl is permanently isolated because of his risk of being attacked by other prisoners.  He suffers from dementia.

Aftermath

Elisabeth Fritzl and her basement children spent months in a secure psychiatric hospital while they recovered from their torturous ordeal. Elisabeth had aged far beyond her years. She attempted to re-establish a relationship with her mother, but her anger boiled over when she questioned why Rosemarie never tried to help. Elisabeth threw her mother out of their villa nestled in the grounds of the psychiatric hospital.

The captives took on new names, and were moved to a secure location only known as “Village X,” a short distance from Amstetten. Security personnel and CCTV guard her home. Local villagers are only too willing to contact police if sightseers are spotted.

The upstairs and downstairs family has reunited, and all have undergone psychological therapy and schooling. Elisabeth decided to discontinue with psychiatric care. She now understands that her mother was also a victim and the pair has mended their relationship. Rosemarie lives in a small flat in Linz, sells homemade bags to supplement her pension, and visits her family each week.

After their release, Elisabeth would shower several times a day, and became compulsive about cleaning. Closed doors distressed the children, and doors were fixed to remain open or removed from the hinges altogether. Treatment is expected to be on going with all the children.

Elisabeth has worked to gain her drivers licence. Despite her shying away from media attention, paparazzi have photographed her shopping, something which she enjoys doing. She was reported to have fallen in love with Thomas Wagner, a bodyguard 14 years her junior. A fulltime carer resides at their house, looking after Elisabeth and the children, especially when moments of panic overwhelm them.

Josef Fritzl wrote a series of letters to Elisabeth, requesting she send him money so he could defend himself by studying law. She no longer accepts his communications. In 2012, he divorced Rosemarie because she never visited him in prison.

As a means of reaching out, fellow Austrian and former captive, Natascha Kampusch, gave Elisabeth Fritzl 25,000 euros from funds publically donated to assist kidnap victims.

By David Phoebe.

Read more stories like the Elisabeth Fritzl’s case . . .

Kevin Davies

 BREAM, GLOUCESTERSHIRE – ENGLAND.

2006

Kevin Davies as a lad, aged 15 years.

Kevin Davies as a lad, aged 15 years.

When a young boy kicked a football over a neighbour’s garden fence, he could not have comprehended what was occurring on the other side. As he peered over to search for his ball, he was slammed with a barrage of swearing and screaming. He had no idea what secret his aggressive neighbours were protecting. On the other side, Kevin Davies was in desperate need of help that was unlikely to arrive.

Lead up to Crime

Kevin Davies, a 29-year-old epileptic handyman, moved into a house with Amanda Baggus, 26, a former care assistant, David Lehane, 36, and their nine-year-old son. The house is located on a well-kept estate on Badgers Way in the township of Bream, Gloucestershire, in southwest England, near the River Severn, with a population of just 2,600.

Baggus, Lehane and Andrews police mugshots

Baggus, Lehane and Andrews police mugshots

The Badgers Way house is positioned in a cul-de-sac, nestled along the winding roads that cut through the rolling hills in the Forest of Dean. Double story brick homes line the roads, all similar in style, not standing out from their neighbours. On long summer nights the local lads play football on the road, far from the dangers of traffic. The quiet hilltop setting awards views of a rich green valley and farmland. However, the idyllic country way of life was already deteriorating as unemployment, drugs, and daytime drinking took root throughout the English countryside.


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Within the township of Bream, Baggus and Lehane were known for their wayward behaviour, “hillbillies” they were called, and many people avoided them.

Kevin Davies had previously moved to Bream from a nearby town after the council re-housed him, and having no friends he took to Baggus and Lehane. The trio began drinking together. Kevin worked at David Lehane’s illegal backyard mechanic operation, and as a handyman who also cleaned the yards of the elderly.

Kevin’s father died in March 2006. During this period, Baggus, and those in her company, were putting pressure on the intellectually impaired Davies in order to take advantage of his social security benefits.

Kevin announced to his mother that he was giving up his council flat — he was now technically homeless. She sensed at this time something was wrong, but she knew her son was a free spirit who would roam the country hills, and did not think she should intervene.

Due to his father’s death just two months earlier, and encouraged by his new circle of friends, Kevin began drinking heavily. He needed a placed to stay. He was offered the shed down the side of the Badgers Way house.

The friendship then took a dangerous turn. When Baggus was driving her Reliant Robin three-wheeled vehicle, the car became unbalanced and suffered damage. Baggus blamed Davies, claiming he had opened the door too early, causing the car to overturn. Even though Davies had already handed over his benefits to Baggus and was working for Lehane, he was also expected to pay for the damage by working around the house.

From May 27, 2006, Kevin Davies was effectively taken as a slave.

Held Captive

Kevin Davies was confined to a homemade shed, constructed from old building materials and positioned against a fence. Along with being forced to complete daily chores, Kevin had to endure extreme humiliation, daily beatings, and was treated like a dog. On one occasion, a cross was branded into Kevin’s buttocks with a knife, on another occasion he was forced to drink weed killer.

Scott Andrews, 27, moved into the Badgers Way residence in July 2006. He became aware Kevin was being held captive in the shed. Rather than helping Kevin, Andrews participated in the attacks. He moved out of the house on September 7, 2006.

Amanda Baggus decided to keep a diary and video recordings of the events while Kevin was held in the garden shed for over four months. In her diary she recorded how he would plead for help, and described him with disdain as she detailed how he was tortured. The shocking video captured a weak and frightened Davies appearing in what can only be described as a “hostage-style video,” with a black curtain used to block out distinguishing features of the house.

Kevin Davies crying as he is tortured.

Kevin Davies videotaped, crying while he is tortured.

 

Baggus’s diary revealed more of her sadistic nature . . .

By David Phoebe.

Read more about Kevin Davies’ story . . .the DISCOVERY,  the TRIAL , and AFTERMATH.

Natasha Ryan

ROCKHAMPTON, QUEENSLAND – AUSTRALIA.

2003

Females began disappearing around Rockhampton, Queensland, in August 1998. In less than a year “The Rockhampton Rapist” had struck fear into the quiet community as five local females were abducted, raped and murdered. Leonard John Fraser was charged and brought to trial, but as evidence played out in court, the case took a startling twist.

The Rockhampton Rapist

Leonard Frasier mugshot

Leonard Fraser’s mugshot

Leonard John Fraser spent much of his adult life behind bars. Illiterate, Fraser left school at 14, and within a year was court ordered to live at Gosford Boys’ Home in New South Wales, after he was caught stealing. Once released, he graduated to robbery, assault, car theft, and rape. He lived off the proceeds earned by prostitutes, and had numerous homosexual affairs. In 1974, he was found guilty of a string of rapes across Sydney, after attacking at least four women, and was sentenced to 22 years in prison. He was released after seven years, and immediately fell back into crime. He committed more rapes and sexual offences, and served at least another two stays in prison. Each time he was released, he set out to commit similar crimes. He was also known to have sex with dogs.

On August 31, 1998, Natasha Ryan, 14, went missing after her mother dropped her off in front of her high school. She had previously run away and had been experimenting with drugs. Fraser confessed to murdering Ryan on a farm where he later buried her body beneath a mango tree.

On December 28, 1998, Julie Dawn Turner, 39, disappeared after leaving Rockhampton’s Airport Liberties nightclub. She was in an abusive relationship and was planning on leaving her boyfriend. She had briefly worked with Fraser at a local abattoir.

On March 1, 1999, Beverley Doreen Leggo, 36, was doing her banking in Rockhampton when she vanished. She was reported missing by her landlord, and her handbag was found on the banks of the Fitzroy River. She too was in a volatile relationship.

On April 18, 1999, Sylvia Maria Benedetti, 19, a drug user and a “street wanderer” was last seen sitting beside Leonard Fraser on a bench in Rockhampton Mall.

keyra Stienhardt

Keyra Steinhardt

On April 22, 1999, Keyra Steinhardt, 9, was abducted, raped and murdered in broad daylight as she walked home from school. Her parents had only recently allowed the girl to walk home alone.

Given the name of “The Rockhampton Rapist,” Leonard Fraser appeared at his first trial for his crimes against Keyra Steinhardt. He received an indefinite life sentence on November 9, 2000. Besides being previously been imprisoned for other rape offences, he  also confessed to killing a series of women in other unsolved cases. Collections of ponytails were found at Fraser’s apartment from women that could not be identified. He confessed to multiple crimes and murders spanning over 30 years. If all the confessions were true, he would be one of the worst serial killers in Australia’s history.

Fraser was further charged with the murders of the other four females who had gone missing since 1988. Three of the victim’s remains had been found, and he was suspected in another three disappearances. His second murder trial began at the start of April 2003.

Lead Up to Crime

Young Natasha Ryan

A young Natasha Ryan

Natasha Ryan had a history of being a troubled teen, experimenting with drugs, suspended from school, and slashing her wrists for which she received counselling. She had tried to run away twice before, though the reasons why are not clear. Before her disappearance, Ryan hinted to a friend that she was planning on going into hiding, but had concerns she would get her boyfriend into trouble. On both previous occasions she stayed with her 22-year-old boyfriend, milk deliveryman, Scott Angus Black. Black had previously dated Ryan’s older sister.

In 2002, convicted child killer, Leonard John Fraser, was charged with her murder. The Rockhampton community held a memorial service in her honour.

 

Read more . . .about the Natasha Ryans’s ordeal, the DISCOVERY, the TRIAL, and the AFTERMATH

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