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The shocking cases of women held captive for years that shocked world

Austrian Josef Fritzl held his daughter Elizabeth captive for 24 years in a specially constructed, elaborate basement under their home in the town of Amstetten. She was physically and sexually assaulted during that time, resulting in the birth of seven children, one of whom died shortly after birth.

Fritzl, who was born in 1935, married Rosemarie when he was 21 and they had seven children.

In 1984, he tricked Elizabeth into helping him fit the final door in the basement, then drugged her and imprisoned her. His wife reported Elizabeth missing the next day and Fritzl later forced the girl to write letters saying she had left home.

Elizabeth finally ended her ordeal when her father allowed her to accompany him to hospital where one of her children had been admitted. Suspicious staff tipped off the police and the couple was arrested. It was only then that the girl was able to reveal her years of imprisonment and abuse.

Fritzl was sentenced to life imprisonment in March 2009, just days before his 74th birthday, after pleading guilty to murder by negligence of his infant son with Elizabeth, enslavement, incest, rape, coercion and false imprisonment.

Ariel Castro held three young women prisoner in his home in the Tremont neighbourhood of Cleveland, Ohio, between 2002 and 2013. He kidnapped them at different times after offering them lifts in his car.

Michelle Knight disappeared in August 2002 when she was 21; Amanda Berry went missing in April 2003 just one day before her 17th birthday and Georgina DeJesus, who was a friend of Castro's daughter, was taken prisoner in April 2004 at the age of 14.

The girls were physically and sexually abused during their captivity - locked in upstairs bedrooms - and were only rescued when Amanda was able to alert neighbours when Castro left an inside door unlocked. They kicked a hole in the outside door of the house through which the girl and a daughter - DNA tests showed Castro was the father - crawled to freedom. Police were alerted and Castro was later arrested.

He pleaded guilty to 937 charges including rape, kidnap and aggravated murder (for his part in the termination of one girl's pregnancies) and was sentenced to life imprisonment plus 1,000 years without the possibility of parole.

One month into his sentence Castro took his own life in his cell.

Natascha Maria Kampusch was kidnapped at the age of ten on her way to school in Vienna. Another schoolgirl reported that she had been dragged into a van by two men, although police later determined that only one person was involved. That person was Wolfgang Priklopil who held Natascha in a cellar beneath his garage for more than eight years during which she was raped and psychologically abused.

Although she was kept in the cellar almost full time initially, she was later allowed to spend increasingly longer periods in the main house, even being spotted in the garden and taken on a brief skiing trip by her captor. In August 2006, she was outside vacuuming Priklopil's car when he left her alone to answer a telephone call. She ran away and raised the alarm.

Priklopil, knowing police were hunting himself, took his own life by jumping in front of a train in Vienna. Natascha became distraught when told of his death. Psychologists later suggested that Natascha had suffered from Stockholm Syndrome - an attempt to explain her complex feelings for her captor - but she denied that. She later became a spokesperson for an animal rights group and even became the owner of the house where she was held.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph