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Austrian Natascha Kampusch relives moment she escaped Wolfgang Priklopil's cellar

  • She fled on August 23 2006 while Wolfgang Priklopil was distracted
  • Natascha saw a woman in a garden house and knocked on her window
  • The 28-year-old now lives part-time in the house that she was trapped in 

By Allan Hall for MailOnline

Published: 02:20 EST, 23 August 2016 | Updated: 04:51 EST, 23 August 2016

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Girl-in-the-cellar Natascha Kampusch has given her first detailed account of the moment she decided a decade ago to flee the monster who kidnapped her to make her love him.

She revealed that after escaping she attracted the attention of a woman in a nearby house who called the police - but that she has never spoken to her since.

Kampusch said she knocked on her window and whispered 'please help me'. 

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Girl in the cellar Natascha Kampusch has given her first detailed account of the moment she decided a decade ago to flee the monster who kidnapped her to make her love him

Girl in the cellar Natascha Kampusch has given her first detailed account of the moment she decided a decade ago to flee the monster who kidnapped her to make her love him

Natascha, now 28, now lives part-time in the lair outside Vienna in Austria where warped loner Wolfgang Priklopil caged her in a purpose-built cellar jail beneath the home left to him by his family.

After being his captive for eight and-a-half years - a time in which she was beaten, starved and turned into his s-x slave - Kampusch decided to flee on August 23 2006.

On that day Natascha recalled in an interview with Germany's Bild newspaper: 'I was told to clean his car.

'He wanted to sell it and had told me to clean it really thoroughly and completely. I remember that I felt like I could eat a horse because I had to make him jam sandwiches for breakfast but got nothing myself.'

At 12.56pm Priklopil, 44, took a call on his mobile phone and was momentarily distracted.

Natascha went on: 'Previously he has observed me all the time. But because of the vacuum cleaner whirring in my hand he had to walk a few steps away to better understand his caller.'

Natascha, who received his house in his estate - he died beneath the wheels of a train later that night - said: 'I crept to the gate which was usually closed or blocked by heavy objects, but not on this day.

Natascha, now 28, now lives part-time in the lair outside Vienna in Austria where warped loner Wolfgang Priklopil caged her in a purpose-built cellar jail beneath the home left to him by his family

Natascha, now 28, now lives part-time in the lair outside Vienna in Austria where warped loner Wolfgang Priklopil caged her in a purpose-built cellar jail beneath the home left to him by his family

'I could hardly breathe. I felt solidified, as if my arms and legs were paralyzed. Jumbled images shot through me.'

At 12.58pm she opened the gate and ran to freedom, bringing an end to the ordeal that had begun in March 1998 when Priklopil snatched her as she walked to school.

'I looked to the right and left without knowing which way to go,' she said. 'Then I ran.'

Natascha walked past two family homes where she could have asked for help but didn't. explaining: 'I was afraid he would follow me here so I wanted to get further away and hide.'

She decided to run to a local allotment. 

She said: 'There I met two men who were traveling with a boy. I asked them to make a call with their mobile phone but they ignored me and simply went further along.

'Then I saw a woman in a garden house and knocked on her window and whispered 'Please help me!'

'She asked what I was doing in her garden and then called the police.' 

Natascha has had no contact with the woman who saved her since.

Natascha has written a new book about her life called Ten Years of Freedom but her ordeal goes on.

A new probe is underway concerning the alleged suicide of Priklopil. Two coroners who examined the case files determined that he might have been murdered and that is now being investigated. 

Their report is documented in a new book by Dr Johann Rzeszut, former President of the Supreme Court in Vienna and a member of the Evaluation Commission which had been asked by the Austrian Interior Ministry to detect possible discrepancies in the Kampusch case.

The original coroner failed to differentiate between suicide and murder [of Priklopil]
Coroners Johann Missliwetz and Martin Grassberger, who examined the Kampusch case files

The coroners behind the new report, Johann Missliwetz and Martin Grassberger, are of the opinion that the original coroner 'failed to differentiate between suicide and murder'. And they concluded that the suicide death of Wolfgang Priklopil was highly questionable, and believe the possibility exists that he was killed before the train hit his body.

The coroners said the incident was not investigated to the 'acceptable forensic standards and common procedures'. The medico-legal reports on the death of Wolfgang Priklopil in 2006 is, they declare, 'worthless'. They added: 'There was a considerable risk significant findings were destroyed and thus the awareness towards crime specifically forever foiled.'

Hours later, in the dead of night, the kidnapper's best friend and business-partner Ernst Holzapfel was then free to enter the property and remove items, which he claimed were his own personal property 'loaned' to his friend.

Claiming that he went there to pick up tools, he has since been suspected of having removed computers and electronic equipment, possibly containing images of Natascha that would have implicated him in her captivity.

Holzapfel had been Priklopil's friend since they trained together and was his only business partner. Yet he has always denied having any knowledge of the kidnapping of Natascha, although she spent up to five hours telephoning him on an incredible 100 occasions after her getaway.

Natascha acquired the house and car of her captor as palpable links to a past that psychiatrists say she should move on from.

She spends weekends at the house where her childhood was stolen, living in the rooms where the days often passed as slowly as weeks and she felt as if she were drowning in quicksand.

Natascha seems incapable of rebooting her life. 

Despite garnering a fortune estimated at five million pounds from TV interviews, her books and movie collaboration, she remains the little girl lost she was during her captivity.

Still confused and awkward in social situations, two years ago she announced she had cut herself off from people and social media sites - and even stopped driving lessons - because she felt uncomfortable being in a car that could 'take me away'.

Natascha claims to have an advertising and graphics company called Consolea but it is not entirely clear what it does. 

She quit high school because the appearance of fellow students was a 'horror' she said, the result of having just her captor for company during her formative years.

She once said: 'Although people may still be discreet and sympathetic, for me it is very un-relaxing to be in a room with many of them.' 

'Optimal' weather for her is to go out when it is raining and stormy and people have their umbrellas pressed to their faces and so are not on the lookout for her. 'That's ideal,' she said.

She quit Facebook because she was branded a fake and doesn't bother with Twitter 'because I will not burden people with my visions of the future.'

Shortly after her release she said she had dreamed of having children, but no longer. Psychiatrists believe she has a mental block in letting go of the past. 

THE BOOK THAT CLAIMS WOLFGANG PRIKLOPIL DID NOT ACT ALONE IN THE KIDNAPPING OF NATASCHA KAMPUSCH 

A new book has been published this month on the 10th anniversary of the escape of Natascha Kampusch that offers fresh evidence that the abduction was not the action of a single loan kidnapper.

The book is by Dr Johann Rzeszut, former President of the Supreme Court in Vienna and a member of the Evaluation Commission which had been asked by the Austrian Interior Ministry to detect possible discrepancies in the Kampusch case.

Based on evidence he gathered while he was on the commission, the book also includes a new coroner's report which claims that the decision to label the death of kidnapper Wolfgang Priklopil as suicide was not based on any factual evidence.

The decapitated body of the then 44-year-old - the man who forced Natascha to call him 'master' - was found on a rail line in Vienna on August 23, 2006, 10 years ago today and hours after Natascha had escaped from his clutches after eight and-a-half years in his control.

Rescue workers recovered Priklopil's body near the Praterstern station in the Austrian capital and detectives quickly concluded he had taken his own life after Natascha had vanished from his life.

The book notes that rather than treating the location as a crime scene, detectives had been content to accept that it was reported as a suicide, and they crucially failed to secure any of the evidence or follow up leads that would have proven otherwise.

Instead, with a general election looming and massive errors already made by police that would have embarrassed the governing coalition, they closed the case.

The media were told he had acted alone and killed himself, and at the kidnapper's house detectives were ordered to leave the crime scene.

Hours later, in the dead of night, the kidnapper's best friend and business-partner Ernst Holzapfel was then free to enter the property and remove items, which he claimed were his own personal property 'loaned' to his friend.

The kidnapper's best friend and business-partner Ernst Holzapfel (pictured). He has  been suspected of having removed computers and electronic equipment from the house Kampusch was held in - possibly that contained images that implicated him in the crime

The kidnapper's best friend and business-partner Ernst Holzapfel (pictured). He has been suspected of having removed computers and electronic equipment from the house Kampusch was held in - possibly that contained images that implicated him in the crime

Claiming that he went there to pick up tools, he has since been suspected of having removed computers and electronic equipment, possibly that contained images of Natascha that would have implicated him in her captivity.

Holzapfel had been Priklopil's friend since they trained together and was his only business partner. Yet he has always denied having any knowledge of the kidnapping of Natascha, although she spent up to five hours telephoning him on an incredible 100 occasions after her getaway.

The coroners behind the new report, Johann Missliwetz and Martin Grassberger, are of the opinion that the original coroner 'failed to differentiate between suicide and murder'. And they concluded that the suicide death of Wolfgang Priklopil was highly questionable, and believe the possibility exists that he was killed before the train hit his body.

The coroners said the incident was not investigated to the 'acceptable forensic standards and common procedures'. The medico-legal reports on the death of Wolfgang Priklopil in 2006 is, they declare, 'worthless'. They added: 'There was a considerable risk significant findings were destroyed and thus the awareness towards crime specifically forever foiled.'

Natascha was kidnapped as a 10-year-old on her way to school in March 1998 and locked in an underground dungeon built secretly beneath loner Priklopil's home in the Viennese suburb of Strasshof.

Natascha was kidnapped as a 10-year-old on her way to school in March 1998 by Wolfgang Priklopil (pictured)

Natascha was kidnapped as a 10-year-old on her way to school in March 1998 by Wolfgang Priklopil (pictured)

Among the incredible blunders that politicians were desperate to keep hidden before the election was the fact that only a few weeks after the kidnapping that resulted on one of the biggest police missing person investigations in Austrian history, police officers had even interviewed her kidnapper Priklopil after tracking him down based on eyewitness description of the van he had used for the kidnapping.

Had they done more than ask a few questions they might have realised that she was hidden on his property in her underground dungeon as they spoke to him.

The information that led police offices to his door came from a police-colleague, a dog handler, whose mother was living in Priklopil's neighbourhood and who had told her son that she thought Priklopil matched the profile of the kidnapper.

She told him that he even had a white van in line with the description offered by a 12-year-old schoolgirl who witnessed the abduction.

Mysterious suicide 

As well as evidence Dr Rzeszut gathered as a member of the Evaluation Commission he also had information supplied to him by the brother of a senior police officer that was also working on the case, and who continued secretly to investigate despite being told by his superiors to drop the matter.

In June 2010 Colonel Franz Kröll was found dead on the balcony of his apartment, with a gunshot wound to the head and his service revolver lying between his feet. Alongside was a suicide note in which he allegedly wrote about unspecified problems as the reason for his decision to take his life.

His brother Karl believes he was murdered because he knew too much and had compiled files on others allegedly linked to the case.

This refers to long-standing rumours that, rather than acting alone, Priklopil was part of a paedophile network and had links to this underworld, reputedly used by the rich and powerful in Austrian society.

Karl says that the suicide note his brother left was not his handwriting, echoing similar criticism of the supposed suicide note left by Priklopil and handed to Holzapfel.

Handwriting experts have even suggested that the alleged Priklopil's suicide note bore more similarities to Holzapfel's writing than the dead man's. It consisted only of one word, namely 'Mama', which according to Holzapfel was Priklopil's farewell note to his mother.

Karl has even filed a criminal complaint against unknown persons addressed to the Oberstaatsanwaltschaft Wien (senior public prosecutor). He highlights the fact that much of the documentation about the case that his brother had gathered vanished from his flat.

However, before his death Franz he had secretly hidden some of the files and these had not been removed and were found by Karl. When police demanded he hand them over and he refused, he was arrested and briefly jailed. He remains the only person to have spent time in jail so far as a result of the kidnapping of Natascha.

Although the retired judge cogently had dropped the case when the commission was disbanded, he was prompted to pursue the matter based on the fresh information and the suspicious circumstances around the death of Franz Kröll who he had worked with and in particular whom he had respected.

What followed was a campaign of harassment in which he was prosecuted and interviewed three times before being taken to court on claims that he had tried to instigate a police officer to gather further evidence in the case, something which was eventually rejected by the court as a strategy to weaken his personal reputation.

The experience left him realising that officials simply did not want to hear what he had to say, but in order to document it he has decided to write a book which has now gone on sale on Amazon in Germany entitled: 'Der Tod des Kampusch - Kidnappers: Wahrheitsfindung im Würgegriff' which in English means 'The death of the Kampusch Kidnapper - fact finding in a stranglehold.'

In his one interview on the subject Dr Rzeszut said: 'I owed this to Franz Kröll in order to document for the future what happened.'

'One day am sure the truth will come out, and I hope that this book will be a part of making that happen. I wrote it for the future.'

The book which is in German is currently number 21 on the Amazon Germany bestseller list for the category of criminality in the politics and history section.

He added: 'I know that there is little chance much will happen now, there was almost no mention of my book for example in Austrian media, and on the few occasions when it is mentioned, there are neither any of the essential details nor any of the substantial arguments.'

Official version rejected

In fact, the book is packed with references that reject the official version of events including the detailed coroner's report.

The book looks at the statements of the eyewitness of the kidnapping, the former schoolgirl who was 12 at the time, and who (it is now known) saw Natascha being bundled into a van by one man, while another man remained sitting in the driving seat. The vehicle then pulled away.

She said: 'I know there were two men. The second man remained in the driving seat the whole time. I am afraid they saw me, too. They knew I was a witness. In all those years she was gone I feared they would come back for me.'

Though she gave a statement to police at the time, her claims were ignored. She even later reported how police had tried to dictate the wording of her statements: 'Police told me: 'You made a mistake, didn't you?'; 'You couldn't possibly have seen a second man from where you were standing, could you?'; 'You saw a second van nearby with two men and mixed it up, didn't you?'

The book further underlines the fact that even when the schoolgirl witness who had been rejected as unreliable was proven to have told the truth, the public prosecutor still refused to reinterview her.

It meant the only eyewitness without any personal involvement was never questioned officially by detectives, not even about her allegation that there were two men involved in the kidnapping. The public prosecutor limited his activity on the case by hearing only the kidnapping victim Natascha Kampusch.

The book points out that it is one of the basic principles of good police work to hear all relevant witnesses before deciding a certain case, yet the evidence of the schoolgirl was rejected as unreliable before it had even been reported.

This may come down to the fact that in Austria, unlike many other EU countries, the prosecutors are answerable directly to politicians, and all cases regarded as sensitive have to be passed up the line to the political masters who can therefore influence and control the police and prosecution work.

The new publication reveals for example details of previously neglected evidence over phone conversations Ernst Holzapfel, a senior Austrian military officer and the female manager of a s-x-shop offering among other things an escort-service.

The phone-data taken 6 months prior to Kampusch's escape showed that all three would be in contact often at the same time raising the suspicion of commercial activities with a s-xual background.

This was never investigated, nor was Holzapfel himself ever formally questioned on a judicial level, either by any judge or public prosecutor. On the other side ironically Dr Rzeszut himself was questioned three times as prosecutors attempted to see him convicted for attempting to instigate a police officer to commit an offence.

Ernst Holzapfel was questioned by police informally although not under caution, where he said he knew nothing about what had happened and added: 'It was only when I was questioned by the police that they showed me a photo and I realised it was her.'

However he later admitted that this was a lie, and that his friend had told him he had kidnapped and imprisoned Natascha — an admission allegedly made in the car shortly before Priklopil was found dead on a rail line. He had then handed over the suicide note as proof.

He said: 'I want to admit I deliberately, with regard to what happened on August 23, 2006 [the day Natascha escaped], did not say the truth because I feared the investigators would wrongly link me with the kidnapping. I was travelling in my Kombi-car Kia. He said to me: 'You are going to hate me, I am a rapist and a kidnapper.

'He was really stressed. He seemed to be beside himself. He then explained he had kidnapped Natascha Kampusch.

'The name didn't mean anything to me. He then told me that I knew her — I had seen her in the hall [of his own home].'

There have also been questions about why his first words when police arrived, just hours after Natascha escaped and before the story had become news, were 'has he killed her?' — suggesting that he knew she was being held.

 

 

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