15 years after the escape of Natascha Kampusch: the story of the girl who was held captive for 8 years in a basement

Natascha Kampusch is a young Austrian who 15 years ago was kidnapped for eight years in a basement under a garage on the outskirts of Vienna. She, only 10 years old at the time of the events, had to address her abductor as “my lord and master” in all those days.

This case happened in Austria but it was known throughout the world, because it was one of the most shocking stories that has been seen to date.

Natascha was the victim of a criminal; however, it received and still continues to receive attacks through social media. In December 2019, the 32-year-old girl was interviewed by the newspaper Bild, there she said that there are people who cyberbullying her. “Just die!” or “Why don’t you go back to the basement and stay there”, are some of the phrases he receives.

A former co-worker of the alleged kidnapper, Wolfgang Priklopil, has stated in Vienna that the man was “very strange, tight-fisted and violent”, and that his work environment commented “that he had to be admitted”.

Natascha was kidnapped a day after returning with her father from vacation. It was March 2, 1998, she was 10 years old and on her way to school in Vienna. For eight years nothing was heard from the girl.

Witnesses claimed to have seen her get into a white van, which is why the police questioned more than 700 owners of similar vehicles in the area.

For years, the Austrian authorities tried to find the young woman and carried out the aforementioned inspection, among the investigations they reviewed a vehicle belonging to Priklopil, who was questioned about a month after the minor’s disappearance.

Finding no evidence to reinforce the suspicion, the authorities gave up inspecting the captor’s home.

At first, Natascha could only be in the basement, 2.5 meters deep by 2.78 long and 1.81 wide, but then her captor began to grant her some “benefits”.

He let her go up to the house to bathe and allowed her to be in the garden. Sometimes, she slept in her captor’s bed, tied with ropes.

As she grew older and began to gather courage, he reinforced his methods of harassment through torture and beatings, withdrew her food, locked her up, left her abandoned until she panicked and starved to death in that hole.

In the basement she lived two whole years without going out, locked up. Without seeing the sun. “There was only one person who could save me from overwhelming loneliness: the same person who had imposed that loneliness on me,” he said in an interview.

During the eight years that the kidnapping lasted, Priklopil gave Natascha books and textbooks for her to educate herself, celebrated her birthdays and even gave her a radio so that the young woman could find out the news.

The suspect committed suicide when the girl escaped, throwing herself onto the tracks of a commuter train north of Vienna. He worked since 1989 in a telecommunications company that installed analog telephone lines throughout the country, before being fired in 1991.

“They will never catch me alive,” Priklopil used to tell his victim, local police reported.

According to a former co-worker, the man worked at the express wish of his late father who made the payment of a millionaire inheritance conditional on having a stable job for three years.

The inheritance would explain how he was able to live for so many years without working in a large house on the outskirts of Vienna and driving a luxury car.

“As far as I know, he never had a girlfriend. In fact, he always spoke very badly of women, “said the former co-worker days after his suicide.

15 years ago, on August 23, 2006, when the young woman was in the garden of the house cleaning the kidnapper’s car, she took advantage of a moment of distraction from Priklopil to escape.

The young woman managed to get out of her confinement in the morning and hid in the garden of a house in the town of Strasshof, north of Vienna, near the house that became her prison.

There she was found by a woman who notified the police after Natascha told her that she had lived the last few years locked in a basement.

In her first contact with the authorities, the young woman only said: “I am Natascha Kampusch”; and he further revealed that his abductor had departed for Vienna in a red BMW 850i vehicle.

The victim’s father, Ludwig Koch, said in an interview published by the Kurier newspaper that his daughter was “very thin, with very white skin and spots all over her body” when he found her.

The victim’s parents recognized her at a meeting that made Natascha cry.

Police searched the house in question, where they found a hiding place three meters long, 1.6 meters wide and two meters deep.

The pit, dug from a garage pit and accessible through a fifty-by-fifty-centimeter gap, was closed with a safe door and an electronic system.

There was a bed and a small shelf with children’s and adult books, a radio receiver, and a television. In that small space Natascha lived for eight years.

Natascha was offered a change of identity. And he refused. “I had faced all the psychic garbage and the dark fantasies of Priklopil, I had not let myself be defeated. And they only wanted to see that in me, a broken person who will never raise his head again, who will always depend on the help of others. When I refused to carry that stigma, the rest of my life things changed, “he confessed in an interview.

The relationship between the abducted woman and her captor led experts to make many speculations, because according to leaked police reports, Natascha admitted that she “voluntarily” had sexual relations with Priklopil which indicated that she suffered Stockholm syndrome. However, he always declared to the media that Priklopil was a bad person. “There is no doubt that he was a criminal and he was not a good person,” he said.

“I look back at my past and see that hostile behavior was probably one of the worst things,” he said. “I filed many complaints, but nothing ever happened, because they consider it to be a gray area. For example, if someone says to me: ‘Just die’, the Police see it as a kind of suggestion, not as an acute threat. It got to a point where it got me tired ”, he confessed.

Natascha is currently 32 years old and he has tried to embark on different projects, but always with difficulties. She wanted to study to be a jeweler, and she also had a short television talk show. “I find it difficult to trust people,” he admitted.

A few years ago, he decided to recount his traumatic experience in a memoir, his autobiography entitled 3,096 days, the entire duration of his abduction. In addition, he published another book, Ten Years of Freedom, where he describes, among other things, what he felt when visiting the tomb of Priklopil.

“For many, many years, I only had one person close by, and my survival depended on them. It is impossible to erase from your memory someone with whom you have spent eight and a half years of your life, “he said.

With information from EFE