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How old was Elisabeth Fritzl when she escaped from her ordeal?

Jane Corscadden March 1, 2021
how old was elisabeth fritzl when she escaped
Photo credit should read SAMUEL KUBANI/AFP via Getty Images

How old was Elisabeth Fritzl when she escaped? A Lifetime movie, called Girl In The Basement, and centring on the true story of the captivity and abuse of Elisabeth Fritzl premiered this weekend. So, people are naturally interested in learning more about this horrific case. Here is what we know.

The case of Elisabeth Fritzl

18-year-old Elisabeth Fritzl was reported as missing on August 24, 1984 in Amstetten, Austria.

Her mum filed a missing person’s report, worried about her daughter’s whereabouts. After this, a letter came from Elisabeth, claiming she had grown tired of her family life and had run away.

Elisabeth’s dad, Josef, told police officers he had no idea where his daughter could have gone. However, he knew exactly where she was – he was keeping her captive in the basement of their house.

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While there, Elisabeth Fritzl was assaulted and sexually abused by her father. Over time, she had her father’s children – some of whom were raised by Josef and his wife, Rosemarie, after mysteriously “arriving on their doorstep”, as he would tell the community.

This story is re-told in Lifetime’s new movie Girl In The Basement. Here’s the movie’s trailer:

How old was Elisabeth Fritzl when she escaped?

Elisabeth was kept as captive in the basement of her family home for 24 years, starting when she was 18 years old.

That means that, when she escaped, Elisabeth Fritzl was 42 years old.

She was able to escape from the basement after one of her children, Kerstin, fell unconscious and Josef agreed to get her medical care.

Once they were at the hospital, staff couldn’t believe Josef’s account of who the mother was. After this, police got involved and re-opened the case into Elisabeth’s disappearance.

Elisabeth begged to be taken to the hospital to see her daughter. Once she and Fritzl arrived, police were tipped off and they were taken in for questioning.

When she was told she’d never have to see her father again, Elisabeth opened up. Over the next two hours, she provided the horrifying account of her 24 years in captivity.

Following her ordeal, Elisabeth’s identity was changed. She and her children moved to an unknown Austrian village – only referred to as Village X in media reports – and their home is kept under constant CCTV surveillance.

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Jane is a freelance journalist from Belfast, Northern Ireland specialising in news, culture and politics. She studied Politics at Queen’s University Belfast before completing a Journalism MA at the University of Ulster. Always trawling social media and keeping up to date with the latest trends and crazes, her main interest lies in digital culture and internet trends.