< Back to Files

Josef Fritzl

More

Fritzl's evil is finally exposed

“I knew that with every passing day, what I had done would be more severely judged.”
Extract from Josef Fritzl’s statement released shortly after his arrest in April 2008

Fritzl starts to make plans to free Elisabeth at the end of 2008.
But in the middle of March that year, 19-year-old Kerstin becomes seriously ill:

“The only medication at their disposal was aspirin, so she had been given aspirin for weeks, but obviously that didn’t help. Elisabeth managed to convince Fritzl to take Kerstin to the hospital, and this was probably the first time in those 24 years that she really put her foot down. She was adamant that she would just not go on if he were to allow Kerstin to die.”
Bojan Panchevski, European Correspondent

On 19 April 2008, Elisabeth helped her father carry 19-year-old Kerstin upstairs before returning to join Stefan and Felix.
Fritzl tells Dr Reiter at the hospital that Elisabeth is unwilling to care for the sick and severely malnourished Kerstin. But Dr Reiter needs more medical information; information only her mother could provide.
The police put out a television appeal for Elisabeth.
She sees it on her underground television.
She persuades Fritzl that she has to go to the hospital to explain what’s been happening to Kerstin.

8516 days after first entering, Elisabeth leaves her dungeon.

Fritzl takes Elisabeth to the hospital:

“Dr Reiter interviews Elisabeth, tries to get as much information as possible, and once that interview is finished, the police arrest Elisabeth, take her into a room and begin to interrogate her. And it’s only when they threaten to take away her children that Elisabeth reveals for the first time what Josef Fritzl has been doing to her. And the police arrest Josef Fritzl. And the game is, in effect, up.”
Professor David Wilson, Criminologist

Fritzl’s other children, Stefan and Felix are exposed to the world for the first time;

“...they were in an extremely bad condition... Their skin was all pale. They had all sorts of infections, because of the filth, of the humidity of the place where they lived. It was infested with bacteria, with insects.”

Forensic experts enter the cellar of 40 Ybbstrasse in Amstetten. Police find the conditions so difficult they organise limited shift patterns. They also have to drill extra air-holes;

“What I will never forget is the smell, the smell of the cellar.”
Dr. Hans-Heinz Lenze, District Commissioner

On Sunday, 27 April 2008, police in Amstetten hold a press conference. The name of Josef Fritzl is soon known around the world.

The first journalist to break the story worldwide was British born Mark Perry working for a Vienna based newspaper;

“Josef Fritzl was the most horrific story I’ve ever reported in thirty years of journalism. And it was the most touching story; especially when the little children were coming out, and they saw the daylight for the first time in their lives.”