Girl Held Hostage For 8 Years Escapes

In this photo made available by the Austrian police, a view of the door to the hiding place of Natascha Kampusch is seen in the house of her kidnapper in Strasshof, northeast of Vienna, Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2006. The 44-year old technician Wolfgang Priklopil committed suicide Wednesday after the girl he allegedly held in captivity for more than eight years managed to escape earlier. Natascha Kampusch, then aged 10, had vanished in Vienna on her way to school on March 2, 1998. CBS/AP

In the quiet, small-town street where a kidnapped Austrian girl is believed to have been held for more than eight years, police searched on Thursday for clues about her captivity, her dramatic escape and the man who allegedly imprisoned her and has now killed himself.

Investigators questioning the young woman who was found in a nearby yard on Wednesday, awaited DNA verification of her claim that she is Natascha Kampusch. But the parents have met with her and said they are sure she is the daughter who disappeared on her way to school in Vienna on March 2, 1998.

Police have not revealed the name of the man accused of imprisoning her, but said he killed himself on Wednesday, throwing himself in front of train in Vienna.

They have cordoned off the street in Strasshof, less than 10 miles northeast of Vienna, where Wolfgang Priklopil lived, and released photos of the hiding place in his house where she is alleged to have been held.

One photograph appeared to show the small, cluttered interior of the cellar where she was kept and the narrow cement stairs that led down to it. Another photo showed a metal hatch that sealed the underground room. The entrance is so small that one would have to crawl to get through the opening.

Federal police spokesman Armin Halm said there was a bed and a toilet in the cramped space. Images on Austrian television showed that there was also a small television in the room, which had no windows.

He said police found Kampusch's passport in the house.

Few details of Wednesday's events have been made public. But state broadcaster ORF carried remarks by Erich Zwettler of the Austrian federal police saying that the girl escaped from her captor when the door to her hiding place was open, and ran into a nearby garden where she told an elderly woman that her name was Natascha Kampusch and that she had been kidnapped.

  • Dan Collins

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