Josef Fritzl, the Austrian who imprisoned his daughter in a windowless cellar for a quarter of a century and fathered her seven children, has admitted locking his own mother in a bricked-up room for years until her death, in order to punish her for grossly mistreating him as a child.
The self-confessed rapist made his confession to Dr Adelheid Kastner, an Austrian prison psychiatrist who is assessing the 73-year-old's mental state prior to his trial on charges that are expected to include multiple rape, sexual abuse and possibly murder.
"I locked my mother up in a room at the top of the house," the retired engineer told Dr Kastner, whose report was leaked to the Austrian media yesterday. "I then bricked up the window so that she never saw daylight again."
Fritzl said he decided to incarcerate his mother to punish her for the misery she inflicted upon him as a child: "She never showed me any love, she beat me and kicked me until I was on the floor and bleeding," he recounted. "I felt so weak and humiliated. I never got a kiss from her or even a hug although I tried very hard to please her. The only thing she did with me was go to church."
The suspect revealed that, after he married his wife Rosemarie, he moved into the house in the Austrian provincial town of Amstetten where he was later to construct the cellar prison that held his daughter Elisabeth until her release at the age of 42 last year. His mother moved into the house with them and Fritzl apparently revealed to Dr Kastner how their roles gradually reversed and his mother came to fear her son. According to statements by members of his family, Fritzl "hurled abuse" at his mother and treated her as a "prisoner".
The psychiatrist's report did not specify how long he held his mother in the bricked-up room but there was speculation in the Austrian media yesterday that it could have been for up to 20 years. The Fritzls moved into the house in 1959 and his mother died in 1980.
When his daughter reached the age of 18, Fritzl kidnapped her and locked her in an underground prison he had specially constructed for the purpose. He is estimated to have raped his daughter 3,000 times during her captivity.
Dr Kastner reportedly asked him whether locking up his mother inspired him to imprison his daughter. Fritzl replied: "At the time, I never thought about her as my daughter, I saw her as my wife and partner. I always told her that I couldn't release her because then I would lose her."
During Elisabeth's captivity, Fritzl fathered a total of seven children. One died shortly after birth and Fritzl disposed of the corpse by throwing it into a boiler. Three children were sent upstairs shortly after birth and allowed to live "normal" lives. The rest were kept underground and raised without ever being allowed to see daylight.
When his oldest daughter became seriously ill earlier this year, Fritzl relented and agreed to take her to hospital for treatment. Doctors learnt of her predicament and alerted police who arrested her father and freed the remaining children.