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Austria in shock as details emerge of girl's eight-year kidnap ordeal

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Austria in shock as details emerge of girl's eight-year kidnap ordeal


How could it have happened? That is the question being asked in Austria as police scramble to fill in the blanks behind one of the nation’s most baffling crime mysteries. Television pictures have been broadcast of the small, windowless cell where 10-year-old Natascha Kampusch was kept as a prisoner after being kidnapped on her way to school.

For the eight years that followed, she spent most of her time in the dungeon, initially, according to newspaper reports, having to call her captor “master.” But this week, Natascha, now 18, managed to escape. Police say she was vacuuming her abductor’s car when he took a phone call – giving her the chance to flee.

It was March 1998 when she was seized, sparking a massive search. A classmate has said she saw another man with the kidnapper – raising questions about a possible accomplice. But for now, Wolfgang Priklopil is the focus of police enquiries. It was underneath a garage at his home near Vienna that Natascha’s ordeal took place.

“He was a reserved person and did not come out very often,” said a neighbour. “Most of the time, he was at home or at work.” Shortly after the escape, Priklopil killed himself. It is still unclear whether there was any sexual abuse during the captivity of the teenager who DNA tests confirm is Natascha Kampusch.

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