In April 2008, the world was shocked to hear the story of a woman who had been held as a prisoner for over two decades in her father’s basement, where he reportedly raped her upwards of 3,000 times. Over the course of her 24-year imprisonment, Elisabeth Fritzl gave birth to seven children by her own father. How did all of this happen and what was life like in the dark for so long? Keep reading to uncover the harrowing details of the Fritzl case.
An Unassuming Life
The year is 1956 in the small town of Amstetten, Austria, when 21-year-old Josef Fritzl married his 17-year-old bride, Rosemarie. Growing up an only child without a father, Josef was raised by the fist of his hard-working mother. Well into his adulthood, Josef and Rosemarie went on to have an unassuming life with two sons and five daughters. It has been reported that Josef was feared by his children, who were forced to remain silent when he entered a room and who were severely punished for misbehaving. One of their daughters, Elisabeth, was singled out in particular.
Fritzl Picks His Victim
Elisabeth Fritzl was born in 1966, just a year before her father Josef was sentenced to 18 months in prison for breaking into a woman’s home and raping her. He served 12 months of the sentence and the incident was eventually expunged from his record after 15 years, in accordance with Austrian law. But that didn’t stop Josef from preying on 11-year-old Elisabeth in 1977 when he reportedly raped her for the first time. Josef would continue to inflict sexual abuse on his daughter for many years to come. After finishing her primary education, Elisabeth enrolled in a waitressing program with false hopes of escaping her life at home in Amstetten.