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March 19, 2009

Josef Fritzl pleads guility on all counts: Is that enough?

Josef Fritzl, the man who shocked the world by (allegedly) confining his daughter to the basement for 34 years and fathering 7 by her, has changed his plea to GUILTY on all counts, and has accepted the court’s verdict. Previously, Fritzl had contested some of the wording of the allegations, including the allegation of rape. On Wednesday, Fritzl surprised the court by changing his mind, and pleading guilty to charges of homicide, enslavement, incest, rape, false imprisonment, and coercion.

On Thursday, Fritzl was sentenced to life in a psychiatric hospital and will not be eligible for parole for at least 15 years. A panel of psychiatrists will have to agree before he will be able to released. Earlier on Wednesday, Fritzl’s prisoner-daughter Elizabeth, testified via video about the atrocities visited upon her and her children at the hands of her father. It was after this video that Fritzl changed his plea, prompting some to speculate his daughter’s testimony defeated his willingness to fight in court. Fritzl is quoted as saying, “I regret it with all my heart … I can’t make it right anymore.”

Elizabeth was held captive in a handmade-dungeon for 24 years, completely dependent upon her father’s whims for even the most basic necessities, such as food for herself and her children. In 1996, one of Elizabeth’s children (baby Michael) was in desperate need of medical care. Fritzl, caring “father” he is, denied the baby the medical care he needed, and baby Michael perished in that dank dungeon; it took 66 hours for him to suffer and eventually die. Was Fritzl standing there the whole time, watching this baby slowly die? Or did he go back upstairs, where there was fresh air and natural light, and wait for the baby to succumb?

Elizabeth has six remaining children, all fathered by her father; three were brought upstairs to be raised by Fritzl and his wife, while the other three had never seen the light of day until the day they were rescued and taken to the hospital 11 months ago. Elizabeth has been described by police as a “broken woman,” who over 24 years has been raped approximately 3000 times, sometimes in front of her (their?) children.

There is so much about this case that has not yet come to light, and there are so many things about this case I don’t understand. My biggest issue, above all else, is with Mrs. Fritzl; Josef Fritzl’s wife, and Elizabeth’s mother. As has been reported in the news, when Fritzl locked his daughter in the basement, he told her mother that she had run off to join a cult. Then, over time, Elizabeth’s babies “mysteriously” arrived on their doorstep, for Josef and his wife to raise. I find it absolutely boggling that Mrs. Fritzl went along with this idea; her daughter is who-knows-where in a cult, but manages to break free long enough to drop off her unwanted babies for her parents to look after? In what world does that make any kind of sense?

Also: Why did she not question the locked door she was not permitted to open? A locked door she’s not allowed to open, a “missing” daughter, babies just appearing on the doorstep … you’d have to completely stupid, or else very deep in denial, to not realize something fishy was going on. I know it is only Josef Fritzl who has been tried here, but I think his wife now deserves some of the heat. As for Fritzl, we can only hope no panel of psychiatrists ever decides he is well enough to get out of the hospital. He can rot for life as far as I’m concerned, denied the same fresh air and freedom he once denied to his greatly-abused children.

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