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Captive daughter exonerates mother

Elisabeth Fritzl, who spent 24 years at her father's mercy in a basement hideout, told investigators that her mother was not aware of the situation, according to German weekly Der Spiegel. (Story: V.Giebel, E.Irvine)

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The following is latest information on the case of Josef Fritzl, who police say has admitted keeping his daughter as a sex slave in his cramped cellar for 24 years while he fathered seven children by her.



POLICE EVIDENCE

- Elisabeth Fritzl was officially reported missing by her parents in August 1984.  Her father Josef said she had joined a sect. In fact he held her prisoner and regularly raped her in his cellar. Seven children were born, one of which died shortly after birth in 1996.

- the case became public on April 26, 2008. Elisabeth and her father were taken into custody at a local hospital where their eldest daughter Kerstin, 19, was in a coma.

- Elisabeth gave birth to seven children during her captivity between 1988 and 2003. Fritzl's paternity was confirmed by DNA tests.

- in May 1993 a nine-month old baby was left outside the family home with a letter written by its mother Elisabeth requesting that the "grandparents" adopt it. Two other babies were left in 1994 and 1997. The Amstetten authorities accorded rights of guardian rights to the "grandparents" who themselves had raised seven children, including Elisabeth. The authorities entertained no suspicions.

The three other children remained in captivity with their mother.

- their hiding place was an underground bunker with thick walls gradually extended by Fritzl until it measured 60 square metres (645 squ feet) and 1.70 metres (five feet seven inches) in height; it contained a toilet, a washing machine, a kitchenette, refrigerator and deep-freeze. The two access doors were fitted with electronic locks operated by an infra-red remote control system.

- Kerstin showed no signs of having been raped.

- Fritzl had no police record in 1994 when an application was made for adoption.

- Fritzl a "pleasant grandfather and neighbour," did not appear to have had any accomplices, according to the present state of investigations.

- Fritzl provided complete confessions on April 28 to illegal confinement, incest and the children being born in the cellar. He is now in custody at Sankt Poeten and refuses to make any further statements.



EVIDENCE REPORTED IN THE MEDIA BUT NOT OFFICIALLY CONFIRMED

- the rape by the father began when Elisabeth was 11. She is said to have fled the home several times before being illegally confined.

- Fritzl spent 18 months in prison for rape and attempted rape of young women in 1967. In acordance with law, the conviction was removed from records after 10 years.

- According to a German friend who filmed one of their trips he travelled regularly on vacation to Thailand, leaving his daughter and the children locked in the cellar.

- as the owner he firmly forbade tenants access to the cellar and the garden.

- his sister-in-law said he would spend entire nights in the cellar apparently engaged in DIY.

- Fritzl was an electrician who worked for a company called Voestalpine then retired on a pension at the end of the 1970s. He is a home-owner with assets estimated at two million euros (three million dollars) but his property is heavily mortgaged.



UNANSWERED QUESTIONS

- was his wife aware of his double life? Police said she knew nothing.

- a former tenant who lived in the house for 12 years remembered that Fritzl carried food around in barrowloads and that his wife often helped him.

- how was the cellar ventilated? Did it have equipment to spray gas, as he warned his victims? Could the door be opened only by the remote control system?

- did Fritzl have sexual contact with his other children?

- was he implicated in the unsolved murder of a girl near his boarding house in 1986?
  

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