Friday, August 25, 2006

Since We've Been Speaking of God, Might as Well Meet the Devil

This falls under "bad things happening to good people" and "the efficacy (or lack thereof) of prayer".

In my social circle, I'm regarded as being very laid back, quite mellow.* Over the years a couple of people have even said that I'm the calmest person that they've ever met.
However, this causes to arise within me a killing rage.

Austrian kidnap girl kept a diary

From Michael Leidig in Vienna
The Times

The Austrian girl who was snatched off the street and held captive in a cellar for eight years in Vienna kept a detailed diary of her ordeal, her family said today.

Natascha Kampusch was 10 when she was dragged into a white van as she walked to school on Rennbahnweg in Vienna, in March 1998 and was kept hidden by Wolfgang Priklopil underneath his house.

Rupert Leutgeb, a spokesman for the family, confirmed the diary was "hundreds of pages long" but said no details would be revealed until Natasha decided what she wanted to do with it.

Officers revealed today that Natascha managed to escape when Priklopil made her vacuum his car which was parked in the garden. He received a phone-call, but the vacuum-cleaner was too loud to have the conversation, so he walked away from the car, giving her the opportunity to flee.

She ran to a next-door neighbour and told her she had been held captive for eight years. [...]

Priklopil killed himself by jumping in front of a train soon after Natascha escaped. [...]

Natascha’s mother told a local newspaper that her daughter weighed only 42kg (6st 9lb) after her escape - less than she did before her disappearance, despite growing an extra 15cm (6ins) to 1.60 metres (5ft 3ins) in height.

From the dungeon into dad's arms

By Michael Leidig and Sean O'Neill
The Australian

EIGHT harrowing years had passed, but there was instant recognition between father and the daughter who had been held captive in an underground dungeon since they last saw each other. [...]

[Ludwig Koch, the father of Natascha Kampusch], said later that at their reunion his daughter simply said: "Dad, I love you."
"And the next question was: 'Is my toy car still there?' It was Natascha's favourite toy, I never gave it away in all those years," he told the Austrian daily Kurier. "I always put out of my mind the thought that she was dead."
On Thursday, Natascha was also reunited with her mother, Brigitte Sirny, for the first time since the morning in 1998 when she was snatched off a Vienna street as she walked to school. Police have taken the family to a "secure location" to allow them some privacy, but also to give detectives the chance to piece together the story of the most astonishing crime in Austria's post-war history. [...]

On Wednesday night, when he realised that she had escaped after eight years living in an underground room in his house, [Wolfgang Priklopil], 44, threw himself under a train. Austrian media reports say Natascha received the news of his suicide calmly. Natascha, who has reportedly told police that Priklopil sexually abused her, said he had warned her that he would never be captured alive.

She was held in a purpose-built 1.8mx3m cell beneath the garage of Priklopil's house in Heinestrasse in the village of Strasshof, near Gaenserndorf, 24km northeast of Vienna. The room was equipped with a bed, a cupboard and a few children's books. The only visible clue to its existence was a 50cm-wide hole in the cellar floor.
Priklopil forced Natascha to call him Gebieter, an old-fashioned term for "master" usually only found in fairy stories. Adolf Brenner, chief of police in the Deutsch-Wagram district, said: "He seems to have made great efforts to keep her away from the outside world. She was allowed limited access to the television and radio, and sometimes she was given videos." [...]
For more than seven years, Natascha never left her cell. But a few months ago Priklopil began to allow her to spend short periods in his garden and even took her on shopping trips. He warned her, however, that any attempt to escape or shout for help would not be a good idea.

At lunchtime on Wednesday, Natascha was allowed into the garden on her own and seized her chance. [...]
Aware that she had finally escaped, Priklopil climbed into his red BMW and sped away from his home. Details of his car were circulated to police patrols around Vienna and a chase ensued. Priklopil shook off the pursuing cars and abandoned his car in a shopping centre car park. Police say he called a friend and told him he needed help because he was being chased for a drink-driving offence. The friend took Priklopil away from the area.
At about 9pm, officers received a report that a man had jumped under a train at the Praterstern Vienna North station. A spokesman said: "We found BMW keys in the pocket and he was wearing the correct clothes. We have not yet performed a DNA test but we can say with certainty that this suicide was Wolfgang Priklopil." [...]

[On March 2, 1998, the day of her disappearance], [w]itnesses saw her being bundled into a white mini-van. The vehicle had the letter G on its registration plate, indicating that it was from Gaenserndorf, the area where she was found. The owners of all such vans, including Priklopil, were traced and interviewed. He was released after officers decided that he "seemed completely respectable". As the years passed without news, the scale of the police hunt was reduced. Mr Koch, however, never gave up hope and never stopped searching. [...]
Mr Koch said: "Natascha is emaciated, with a very, very white skin and bruises over her entire body. I cannot bear to think where they came from." [...]

Austria has also been soul-searching since Natascha's escape. Priklopil's neighbours have become a particular focus of attention. They described the self-employed communications technician as "a very calm and low-key" man who never seemed to miss a day's work. He lived in a house built by his father, and next door to his uncle, but seemed to never have guests, apart from an occasional visit from his elderly mother who would come around to make him lunch. Priklopil's house was bristling with security cameras and alarms and was known locally as "Fort Knox". One local resident said he told neighbours never to pop around unannounced because he had "built a number of surprises into my house and we don't want somebody innocent to get fried". Josef Jantschek said: "I know it sounds awful now, but we had a good relationship with Wolfgang." [...]

Max Edelbaucher, who led the investigation into Natascha's disappearance until his retirement last month, said he had received "the best retirement gift I could ever have imagined". Mr Edelbaucher added: "Nobody, not me nor any other policeman, believed that she could still be alive. This is a sensation. However, it is horrible that a girl could be held in our area for eight years while being unsuccessfully searched for by thousands of policemen..."

* Rather like how the monster's neighbors describe Wolfgang Priklopil, actually.


Blogger Harry Eagar said...

These stories pop up from time to time. Makes you wonder how many are in progress right now.

August 26, 2006 10:55 AM  
Blogger Oroborous said...

Unfortunately, there must be some.

These folks just can't be predicted and identified before they commit their crimes.
At least, not yet. Almost certainly someday.

August 26, 2006 12:50 PM  

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