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Dossier | Meet Natascha Kampusch, the kidnapped woman who inspired the film Stockholm Pennsylvania

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A case that shocked the world, Natascha Maria Kampusch was known for her sad story, kidnapped at age 10, she was held in fourth for 8 years. His life had a lot of repercussion and was adapted for several works. Know your story.

Who is Natascha Kampusch

Natascha Maria Kampusch was born on February 17, 1988, in Vienna. She is an Austrian citizen who was known for her kidnapping at the age of ten on her way to school, after which she spent more than eight years in captivity. Imprisoned in a cell in the basement of her abductor's house, Wolfgang Přiklopil, since March 2, 1998. Escaped on August 23, 2006, when he was then 18 years old. The case has been described as one of the most dramatic in Austria's criminal history.

Isolated from the world of childhood to late adolescence, she was subjected to all kinds of psychological and sexual humiliation, physical torture with constant beatings and deprivation of food and light. Her escape caused the suicide of her kidnapper, a national uproar and a crisis in the country's government and security services, regarding the flaws discovered and the cover-up of errors in the police investigation during the years she was missing and that could have led to to his release earlier.

troubled childhood

Natascha Maria Kampusch / Reproduction

Natasha had a difficult upbringing, having several problems with her mother, whom some witnesses say that may have planned the kidnapping. Daughter of Ludwig Koch and Brigitta SirnyNatascha described her mother as someone with an energetic and decisive nature, not very fond of showing emotions, someone who did not tolerate weaknesses in others and detested vulgarity. His father, on the other hand, was cheerful, affectionate and playful, but little applied to work and drank a lot with his friends at night.

His family included two adult sisters and five cousins and cousins. Her sisters, daughters from her mother's first marriage, treated her like the baby of the house, training her to have children in the future. It was with her maternal grandmother that in childhood Natascha felt most comfortable and secure.

Her parents separated when Natascha was only five years old and divorced after her disappearance. The girl spent time with the two and had returned to her mother's house after a few days' trip with her father in Hungary when she was kidnapped.

how was she kidnapped

On the morning of March 2, 1998, Kampusch left home for school, where he was in fourth grade, but did not arrive at school or return home. Annoyed and frustrated after an argument with her mother, she had left the house without kissing her as she always did, with her backpack and her red coat. He walked along one of the alleys surrounded by houses with gardens that connected the housing complex to Calle Melangasse, on the way to the school. As he walked along Rennbahnweg Street, he noticed in front of him a parked white pickup truck and a dark man with blue eyes outside who was looking around without interest. Worried, she hesitated between crossing the street or continuing on her way. She decided to continue, and as she passed him, she was quickly grabbed and thrown into the truck that had the door open.

In the early days, searches were carried out using dogs and helicopters, and posters were posted in all schools in and around Vienna. A 12-year-old witness claimed to have seen the girl grabbed by two men and thrown into a white van. When this clue was finally investigated, a major police search ensued in the following weeks, with 776 vans being searched across the Vienna metropolitan area and neighboring towns, among the vans searched was that of the kidnapper.

Suffering in Captivity

During the eight years she was kidnapped, Natascha was kept in a small cell measuring 5 m² in the garage of Přiklopil's house, whose entrance was hidden behind a cupboard. Windowless and soundproof, the cell had a door made of steel-reinforced concrete. The small place had a sink, toilet, and a bunk bed where she slept upstairs and used the ladder to hang clothes. The air in the cell came from an overhead fan that ran through a pipe in the ceiling from the garage.

For the first six months of captivity, she was not allowed to leave the cell at any time, was not allowed to bathe except in the cell's small sink, could not look or speak to Přiklopil without permission, and for several years could not leave the little boy. space at night. In the first year, she was forced to call her captor “Master”, which she always refused to do, showing rebellion, which would cost her beatings. With a year and a half in captivity, he decided that Natascha could no longer use his name and now belonged to him. So she was forced to choose another name and was called “Bibiane”, her identity for the next seven years. In December 1999, at 21 months of captivity, she was able to breathe clean air for the first time, when Přiklopil allowed her to spend a few minutes in the house's garden with him at night. A short time later, he told her her real name and with that Natascha was sure that her captor would never let her leave alive.

Subjected to years of physical and mental abuse after entering puberty, Natascha often slept handcuffed to Wolfgang in his bed after turning 14 years old. She was forced to shave her head so that hairs wouldn't stay around the house, she went through periods of hunger, she was beaten more than 200 times a week until she heard her own spine crack, she was forced to wash, cook, tidy and clean the house almost naked, usually just in panties and a cap. When her abductor decided to renovate the house, which lasted for years, Natascha was his only worker.

Tried to commit suicide three times, strangling himself with clothes at 14 and trying to slit his wrists at 15. In 2004 he tried burning papers on an electric hotplate to heat food in his cell, trying to die from smoke poisoning, after hearing his name on a radio show debating a new book about people who had disappeared without a trace.

After a few years of captivity, Přiklopil took her to the outside world. Natascha's psychological state and his mental dominance over her, in addition to his constant physical presence always inches away, however prevented any possibility of escape. They were once in a construction supply store and on a car ride to Vienna they were stopped in a roadside police raid. The policeman even asked for the documents of Přiklopil and the car and looked at Natascha in the passenger seat. Panicked by the death threats to her and anyone who came to the car in case of any reaction, she remained paralyzed and the vehicle was released. It was the first time in seven years that she had been out in the open. The entire time, he had been with the kidnapper close to her, reminding her that he would kill her and anyone if she caught any attention.

the kidnapper

Wolfgang Přiklopil/ Reproduction

Wolfgang Přiklopil was an Austrian telecommunications technician and was responsible for the kidnapping and captivity of Natascha Kampusch. only child of Karl and Waltraud Přiklopil, his father was a salesman for a liquor company and his mother, who pampered him since he was a child, was a shoe salesman. For a time, in his profession, Wolfgang worked at Siemens. After he left this job, he worked as a self-employed person, renovating houses and apartments.

The house in which he lived and where he imprisoned Kampusch, at Heine Strasse 60, Strasshof an der Nordbahn, a small town on the outskirts of Vienna, previously belonged to his grandfather, Oskar Přiklopil, who bought it after World War II. During the Cold War period, Oskar and his son Karl built a bomb shelter in it, which would become the origin of the Kampusch dungeon. Wolfgang came to live in the house in 1984, after his grandmother's death.

A maniac for cleanliness and organization, he had Mein Kampf from adolf hitler like one of your favorite books on the shelf. He always told Natascha about Hitler saying that "he was right to send the Jews to the gas chamber". His political idol was Jörg Haider, the leader of the far-right Freedom Party of Austria. On September 11, 2001, he was satisfied with the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, calling it an "attack on the conspiracy of Jewish world domination."

how Natascha managed to escape

On August 23, 2006, Natascha was in the garden washing and vacuuming Přiklopil's BMW 850i, always closely watched, when, at 12:53, he received a call on his cell phone. Because of the noise of the vacuum, he moved to another area of the house so he could answer the call. Leaving the vacuum on, she ran out into the garden without being seen by him, who, according to what the caller later informed investigators, carried himself through the entire conversation without appearing distracted or disturbed. The garden gate was, for the first time, half open. Natascha slipped out of it unnoticed and ran for about 200 m between the gardens of neighboring houses and down the street, trying to find someone. On the adjacent street he saw three people walking towards him and called for help: a cell phone to call the police. The men avoided her following their path saying they didn't have a cell phone. He then jumped to the fence around one of the gardens of the houses around him, but found no one. He continued to run across hedges and flowerbeds until he saw a lady through the open window of one of the houses on Heine Street and asked for help shouting "I am Natascha Kampusch!" and saying that she had been kidnapped. She was told to stay on the hedge and not step on the lawn by the owner, 71-year-old Inge T, while she called the police. Two young police officers answered the call and, to Natascha's surprise, told her to stand with her hands in the air. Quick questions were asked and she was taken by the police to the Deutsch-Wagram police station.

At the police station, she was identified by the scar she had, the passport found after searching Přiklopil's house, and DNA tests. Shortly after his arrival in Deutsch-Wagram and the first news broadcast on special television and radio stations, the press had completely surrounded the place.

Her parents, forewarned, found her in Vienna in a state of shock and elation. However, she was not allowed to return home, remaining at the disposal of the police and under the care of their psychologists, being transferred from the police station to a hotel in Burgenland, on a floor guarded by armed men and totally banned by the police, which until then had not news from Wolfgang Přiklopil and feared revenge.

With Natascha's flight, Wolfgang Přiklopil fled the house and wandered all day through Vienna. He met a friend and former partner Ernst Holzapfel in a shopping center, where he confessed the reasons for his actions and had his image captured by security cameras at the establishment when he was at an information desk. At the end of the day, knowing that all the police in the country were hunting him, he committed suicide by throwing himself in front of a moving train near the Wien Praterstern station, in the north of the city. He had told Kampusch that "they would never catch him alive."

Inspiration for different works

Natascha's story shocked the world and turned her into a national and international celebrity, resulting in works inspired by her story. As early as November 2006, three months after his release, Britons Allan Hall and Michael Leidig published Girl in the Cellar: The Natascha Kampusch Story, written in English, and considered by Kampusch's lawyer to be premature and speculative. In September 2010, Kampusch released his own book, 3096 days (3 096 Tage), in which he tells his story in detail in his own words.

Also in 2010 the British channel Channel 5 exhibited an hour-long documentary, Natascha: the Girl in the Cellar, which reconstructed the entire case and included an extensive interview with Kampusch. 3096 Days of Captivity, based on his autobiographical book, filmed in Munich, Germany, in part because of the commotion and controversy the case still causes in Austria.

Your parents wrote books about the kidnapping. Verzweifelte Jahre – Mein Leben ohne Natascha. (Desperate Years – My Life Without Natascha, in the English edition), by Brigitta Sirny-Kampusch, was released in 2007 with the testimony of Natascha's mother about the years she spent away from her daughter. In 2013, his father, together with the British Alan Hall, wrote the best seller Missing, based on 57,000 police files on the case, which raises the hypothesis that Ernst Holzapfel was an accomplice of Wolfgang Přiklopil in the kidnapping and captivity of Kampusch.

In 2015 the international production came out Stockholm, Pennsylvania (Stockholm, Pennsylvania) and later the story won a television talk show.

Where is Natascha Maria Kampusch now

In 2016, to remember the 10 years of her escape, Natascha released another book. She said that most people had left her alone. In the book he wrote that "Society needs 'supposed monsters', like Wolfgang Priklopil, to put a face to the evil that lives in them." The then housewife who lived in Strasshof, on the outskirts of Vienna, also told the agency that she would like to be a psychologist, she was still integrating into the 21st century.

in 2018 she bought the crime house claiming that he would like to "keep it tidy".

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