Any crime drama is terrifying in its own right, but the ones that are based on actual events are the most unsettling. Girl In The Basement, the newest film to have audiences talking about its deeply disturbing subject matter, is based on a true story, which some viewers may not realise.
In 2008, Austria exposed one of the worst people ever, a nasty and twisted criminal who will live in infamy.
Whose Story Inspired Girl In The Basement?
In 2008, an Austrian called Josef Fritzl from Amstetten gained international attention. In reality, he was hiding one of the most horrific crimes imaginable from his own daughter, 18-year-old Elisabeth Fritzl, and even now, 14 years later, no one can forget the horrors he inflicted on her.
Josef had Elisabeth come down to the basement of the family home in August of 1984 under the guise that he required her assistance moving a door. But, she was unaware that he had spent months transforming the basement into a secret prison. Elisabeth would be drugged with a tea towel and then awaken to find herself trapped.
Rosemarie filed a missing persons report for her daughter, but Josef was one step ahead of her. He had Elisabeth write a letter saying she ran away and begging her family not to hunt for her. Elisabeth was held captive in the basement by Josef for 24 years, during which time she was subjected to many attacks and rapes.
She gave birth to seven children while held captive, three of whom stayed with her in the cellar, one of whom died from breathing problems, and the remaining three were reported as abandoned and moved upstairs to live with Josef, Rosemarie, and Elisabeth’s siblings.
During these years, Josef visited Elisabeth nearly every day, feeding her and assaulting her. Elisabeth taught the kids to read and write while they watched TV, listened to the radio, and listened to cassettes. He warned them that if they tried to flee, they would be gassed (which was later proven to be an empty threat, as there was no gas supply to the basement).
After the birth of the fourth child in 1994, Josef gave his blessing to the expansion of the basement, but not before making Elisabeth and the kids dig through the dirt for years.
Elisabeth’s eldest child, Kerstin, became ill in 2008 and needed medical attention. Even though Josef promised to accompany her to the hospital, he locked Elisabeth in the basement for the next week while she waited in anguish to hear the news about her unborn child.
The doctors and nurses at the hospital didn’t understand how Josef knew Kerstin and where her mother was hiding. Her severe malnutrition and rotten teeth also caused them great concern. At this point, they decided to look into Elisabeth’s missing case again.
A week later, Josef gave Elisabeth permission to see Kerstin in the hospital; however, the police were waiting outside and promptly arrested the pair. When police promised Elisabeth she would never see her father again, she finally agreed to help. Then, for the next two hours, she talked about the agony she had felt for decades. That evening, at age 73, Fritzl was taken into custody on suspicion of murder.
A few days later, Genetic testing established Fritzl as his daughter’s biological father. The dreadful ordeal was at an end. Josef admitted to the murder of his young son and to decades of abusing, enslaving, incestuating, raping, coercing, and falsely imprisoning his daughter Elisabeth. He was given a life sentence.
It’s unfathomable to contemplate the trauma Elisabeth and her children must have experienced; the police officers who entered the basement needed therapy after only a few hours.
Elisabeth Fritzl — Where are She Now?
The last known photo of Elisabeth was shot when she was only 16 years old, making her currently age 50. In an effort to provide Elisabeth the most normal existence possible, authorities have gone to considerable measures to keep her identity a secret from the public.
Since her release, she has adopted a new identity, and she is presumed to be living in a small Austrian town codenamed “Village X” for security reasons. Her offspring, who are now between the ages of 19 and 33, still reside with her. They’ve all been through counselling to deal with their traumatic experiences, but it’s been said that they all sleep with the door of their bedrooms wide open.
The two-story house is under round-the-clock observation by a team of security personnel. There is scant information available regarding Elisabeth’s life after her release from prison, however in 2019, it was reported that she and her bodyguard had “discovered love.”
How Old is Elisabeth Fritzl Now?
Elisabeth Fritzl was born on April 6, 1966. As of 2023, she would be 57 years old. The years she spent in captivity robbed her of a considerable portion of her life, but since her rescue, she has remained largely out of the public eye, focusing on rebuilding her life and caring for her children.
How Many Babies Did Elisabeth Have?
During her horrendous period of captivity, Elisabeth gave birth to seven children. One of these children died shortly after birth due to lack of medical care.
Three of her children were taken upstairs and raised by her parents, under the guise that Elisabeth had run away and left the children on their doorstep. The remaining three children were kept in the basement with her.
Duration of Elisabeth Fritzl’s Captivity
Elisabeth Fritzl was held captive for a horrifying 24 years, from 1984 until her discovery in 2008. She was imprisoned in a hidden basement underneath her family home in Amstetten, Lower Austria. The space was soundproofed and reinforced to prevent any chance of escape.
The Discovery of Elisabeth Fritzl
Elisabeth Fritzl was discovered when her eldest daughter, Kerstin, fell seriously ill and needed medical attention. Josef Fritzl had no choice but to take her to the hospital. Hospital staff found her condition and background suspicious, which led to an investigation.
Police questioned Josef Fritzl, who ultimately led them to the concealed basement where Elisabeth and her other children were being held. This marked the end of Elisabeth’s unimaginable ordeal.
When Was Josef Fritzl Jailed?
Josef Fritzl was arrested immediately upon the discovery of his crime in April 2008. In March 2009, he was tried and found guilty of several charges, including incest, rape, coercion, false imprisonment, and the negligent homicide of the infant who died. He was sentenced to life imprisonment and is currently serving his term in a facility for the criminally insane.