Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Who's living next door?

What do you do when life reads like a really bad novel? You thank God it's not your life! I guess that's the best positive spin I can put on some of what I'm about to blog about. I've gone back and forth on this post and questioned whether I should include something so grim in my blog. I won't know for sure that I will until I finally hit the publish button. And of course, I can always delete it. So if you're reading this..... My apologies in advance.

Warning! If you are a minor (younger than 18 years old) or are sensitive to images or ideas of rape and incest please don't read beyond this point.

Anyway, here it goes:

Yesterday, I read in horror about an Austrian man, Josef Fritzl, who police say has confessed to imprisoning his daughter for 24 years and fathering seven of her children. That's right! Are you as shocked as I am? Anxiously I read on, gathering up each detail of this perverted story. All the time repeating in my head "This can't be true. There must be a punch line to this story somewhere." I read on to learn the unthinkable details of a pathetic and sad story.....

According to investigators, Josef Fritzl held his daughter Elisabeth captive in a cellar for 24 years. That's right! 24 YEARS! He raped her repeatedly and eventually fathered seven of her children. He fabricated a story that his daughter ran away from home but came back on three occasions to drop off (abandon) her children. Fritzl and his wife agreed to raise these children in their daughter's absence. All the while, Fritzl kept his daughter, the mother of these, children, plus three other children that he fathered locked in a cellar beneath his house. One other child that Fritzl fathered, a twin, died shortly after birth. Fritzl later admitted to burning the remains.

Fritzl was finally caught when his 19 year-old (daughter/grand daughter), Kerstin fell ill and needed medical attention. Fritzl claimed she was dropped on his doorstep and took her to the hospital. Fritzl came under suspicion when a note was found in Kerstin's pocket written by the captive mother Elisabeth. This note described their captivity. I won't go into any more of the morbid details of this story but if you're interested follow the link below the photo to a more detailed story.

Right: Elisabeth Fritzl in a 1981 school photo taken when she was 15 at the "Polytechnische Lehrgang

More Photos

Today, I read about Susan LeFevre 53, who had been living under an assumed identity for 32 years. LeFevre was a fugitive living under cover after escaping from a Michigan prison in 1976 while serving time on heroin charges. She managed to build a new life for herself in California. She and her husband raised three children. Her husband Alan of 23 years, claimed he never knew her real identity. LeFevre was arrested April 24 outside her home in an affluent suburb of San Diego after someone anonymously alerted Michigan police and revealed her assumed name. She was arrested wearing a sweat suit and driving a black Lexus SUV.

So I ask myself, come on.... the spouses of these two individuals must have had some idea of what was going on right? Is it possible to be married to someone for 23 years and not know that they're a fugitive from the law? And more frightening, can you be married to someone for nearly half a century and not know that he has held your daughter and three others captive in a cellar for 24 years? And what about the neighbors and friends? Did they suspect anything?

In all honesty, the LeFever story is somewhat tolerable. I suppose I could stand the thought of living next to an escaped heroin user who had cleaned up her life and become a law-abiding citizen. But the Fritzl story is tragic and nearly knocks me off my feet. As were the stories of Manson, Ray, Bundy, Gacy, Dahmer and other serial killers. Every time I read or hear of a story like this it make me wonder. How many more of these quacks are out there yet undiscovered. Call me paranoid but I'll be keeping a close eye on my neighbors for the next few years and you should do the same!

photograph of Susan Lefevre, now known as Marie Walsh

If you're interested in checking out your neighbors as well as staying abreast of safety issues that may affect you and your family check out:


This site contains a National Sex Offender Registry as well as other tips that may help keep you and your family safe.


Speedcat Hollydale said...

Powerful and shocking really. Honestly, stories like these shake my faith in humanity ... how, why, what??? My blood boils when I hear about such horror an abuse. Thank God that there are also "good" people here walking the planet with us as well.

wheew! I better move on to the next post.

Tamera said...

I know. I can't believe it either. All of the questions you ask, I also have wondered about. How in the world can one not know of someone being kept hostage in the basement? I'm not so sure I believe that she didn't know. With all of the children that she carried, I wondered where in the heck did she give birth? Talk about a risky situation doing it without medical supervision...and, if he managed to sneak her out, would the hospital not pick up on obvious symptoms of trauma or that something wasn't quite right? Go figure. I'm not sure I want to know the answers.

intrepidideas said...

Speedy, you're right. I get steamed too when I hear about things like this. Fortunately, these are few and far between. There are far more Funny people than Sicko Psychotic Nutsos!


Good to see you. Yeah, there are lots of questions to be asked and answered here. I wonder what 24 years of living in a windowless/sunless environment does to your body? I'm sure there's more to come here. And the three kids raised in captivity. You wonder about their social development.

Tamera said...

@intrepid...Oh, I know! The kids..Huff, I don't think I want to know.

CharmaineZoe said...

I too was horrified by the Fritzl case. I have a 24 year old daughter, the same age as his daughters incarceration and when I think back over those 24 years it really brings home the length of time that represents. This has got to be the most horrendous case imaginable and I can't even begin to imagine what it must have been like to go through that horror. I just hope they manage to enjoy life from now on and can attain some kind of normality.

intrepidideas said...

Charmain, that really quantifies the whole episode. 24 years is really a long time. The equivalent of your daughter's entire life and experiences. Wow. The horror!