Josef Fritzl

Mother and six children held in underground room for 24 years see outside world for first time- the Fritzl case

Josef Fritzl was born on April 9, 1934 in Amstetten, Austria, a small town of 14,000 located halfway between Vienna and Salzburg. At the age of 21, he married 17-year-old Rosemarie and together they had seven children: two sons and five daughters. Elisabeth Fritzl was born in 1966 when Josef was 31 years old. When Elisabeth turned 11 years old, Josef began sexually abusing her.

When Elisabeth was 15 years old, she began training to be a waitress at the Rosenberger highway rest stop on the A1 autobahn near Strengberg. She and other girls in the program slept in a dormitory below the kitchen. For the first time in her life, Elisabeth felt safe.

In January 1983, she ran away from home to escape her father’s abuse. She hid in Vienna, in the city’s 20th district, with a friend. Police found her within three weeks and returned her to her parents. Her failed attempt to escape his abuse had just given her father the story he would present to authorities when Elisabeth “went missing”.

Elisabeth finished her waitress training and found a job in nearby Linz in northern Austria. With the means to support herself in hand, she planned to move from the home and leave her childhood tormenter behind.