Incest Dad: We Had 'Completely Normal Family Life'

Austrian who locked daughter in cellar says it was to stop her bad attitude.

March 02, 2009, 9:26 AM

PASSAU, Germany, March 2, 2009— -- The dark side of Josef Fritzl, the Austrian man who kept his daughter imprisoned in a cellar for 24 years, is making headlines again.

Excerpts of the psychological examinations, which were leaked to Austrian magazine News this week, suggest that the 73-year-old Fritzl knew exactly what he was doing when he locked up his daughter Elisabeth at age 18.

"It was in the summer of 1984 when I found my Elisabeth lying totally apathetic on her bed," he told Austrian court psychologist Dr. Adelheid Kastner.

"She had been sniffing cleaning stuff and I decided I should talk with her in my cellar," he said of the day his daughter vanished.

"So I did that but she reacted to my accusations with a I-couldn't-care-less attitude and I got so mad at her. It was out of that anger that I decided to lock her up. I wanted to stop her from sniffing glue and abusing solvents."

"And as she showed no improvement in the coming days, I then decided to keep her locked up."

During the next 24 years Fritzl raped his daughter repeatedly and fathered her seven children; one infant died three days after he was born in the windowless dungeon Fritzl had built. Fritzl has admitted that he then burned the dead body in the wood-burning furnace of his house.

Of the six surviving children, three were allowed to live upstairs with him and his wife, Rosemarie, after he pretended that his "runaway daughter" had left the "foundlings" on their doorstep.

The three other children lived with their mother, Elisabeth, in the soundproof cellar under Fritzl's house in Amstetten, Austria, until the case was exposed in April 2008.

It was then that the children saw daylight for the first time in their life.

The profile excerpts also indicate how Fritzl provided food to his second family in the cellar and how he cared for them.

He told the psychologists: "I brought them furniture, iron cabinets and even a TV and we celebrated may occasions together, like Christmas, Easter and birthdays."

"The little ones had lots of books, and they also had a fish tank."

Fritzl Accounts Normal Family Life

"They did not really miss anything. I really tried to make their life in captivity as pleasant as possible. We chatted, we laughed, we actually led a completely normal family life," he said.

His account, however, is completely at odds with the grim reality painted by his daughter Elisabeth in her witness statements, which were recorded on videotape.

She is said to have described him as a horrible man who repeatedly raped her in front of her children and who forced her and her children to live in slavelike conditions, beating the children if they dared not to agree with him.

Fritzl's trial is scheduled to begin March 16 in St. Poelten, Austria. He's accused of murder of the infant baby, rape, slavery, incest, imprisonment and abuse and if convicted he is likely to spend the rest of his days behind bars. A verdict is expected March 20.

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