Police Niederoesterreich/AP
Josef Fritzl

Austrian Man Accused of Incest Receives Murder Charge

November 13, 2008 05:14 PM
by Lindsey Chapman
Josef Fritzl, the Austrian man who held his daughter and some of her children captive in a cellar under his home for years, has been charged with murder.
During the 24 years Josef Fritzl imprisoned his daughter Elisabeth in a cellar under his home in Amstetten, Austria, he fathered seven children with her. One of them died shortly after birth.

Police say Fritzl brought Elisabeth into the house’s basement, drugged her, and locked her up in 1984, according to Reuters. He told his wife Rosemarie that Elisabeth had run away to join a sect.

Three of Elisabeth’s children were brought upstairs to live with Rosemarie and Josef, who claimed his daughter had left them on the doorstep because she couldn’t care for them herself. The other three remained in the basement with Elisabeth.

Elisabeth was able to escape after her daughter Kerstin became ill in April of this year and required hospital care. She convinced Fritzl to take Kerstin to the hospital. After doctors issued a nationwide plea for the girl’s mother to step forward, Josef released Elisabeth from the cellar and she told police what had happened.

On Nov. 13 prosecutors announced that they had charged Fritzl with the murder of the dead child in addition to charges of rape, enslavement, incest, coercion and deprivation of liberty, Reuters reported.

Fritzl has two weeks to appeal the murder charge. He has been declared mentally fit to stand trial, which could begin later this year or early in 2009, according to The Guardian.

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