Elisabeth Fritzl, 42, has had a terrible life. Raped by her father, Josef Fritzl, 73, since age 11 and incarcerated by him for 24 years. She bore her father 7 children, six of whom are still alive, while being held captive in a dungeon cellar. For a detailed look at the abuse Elisabeth suffered at the hands of her father click here for The Josef Fritzl story.
It now appears that a rift has opened up between her mother, Rosemarie Fritzl, 69, and herself. According to reports, Elisabeth has asked her mother to leave their home. She, Elisabeth, appears to have mixed feelings about her mother:
She is said to find it hard to understand why her mother stayed with her father even though he was a convicted rapist who spent time in jail in the 1960’s.
She also has a hard time understanding why her mother did not stand up to her father, who began raping her when she was only 11 years old. She finds it hard to believe that her mother knew nothing at all about the abuse. Also, when Josef told his wife that Elisabeth had run away from home, she wonders why her mother did not do more to try and find her, especially when Josef produced three of her children who were supposedly left on her doorstep.
Elisabeth is also upset that the three children who grew up with her mother are still calling Rosemarie “Mom” and not “Grandmother”. The children: Lisa, 16, Monika, 14, and Alexander, 12, were all raised by Josef and Rosemarie in their home, while the other children: Kerstin, 19, Stefan, 18, and Felix, 5, were forced to live in the cellar with Elisabeth.
In the meantime, Rosemarie Fritzl was seen collecting some personal items from her old house. Christoph Herbst, the lawyer for the Fritzl family, said: “No-one from that family will ever want to live in that house again.” It is believed that she has moved in with one of her relatives, possibly one of her own sons. Rosemarie is said to be “shattered” that she had to leave her family. Doctors fear she could be the most severely disturbed member of the family. Christoph Herbst, the family’s lawyer, said after Elisabeth was freed in April:
“Rosemarie has lost the centre of her world. Her life was never that good but she always had the children and she had to be strong and be there for them no matter how bad things were at home.
“Now she is no longer the key figure in the children’s lives because their mother has returned and she also has to deal with the awful revelations of what had happened to her daughter Elisabeth over all these years.”
After being asked to leave her family, Rosemarie announced that she would be divorcing her husband Josef. She had married him at age 17 and had spent the next 52 years of her life as his wife. She is reportedly doing all she can to distance herself from her husband. She will take back her maiden name after the divorce. Not having worked since her early youth, Mrs Fritzl is only entitled to meager benefits payments.
In other developments Elisabeth Fritzl has finished giving testimony against her father. She spent 4 days talking to prosecutors. While details of her testimony have not been made public, it is believed that she accused her father of rape and psychological torment, as well as for the death of her child, who is thought to have died three days after birth because of conditions in the cellar.
However there seems to be some reluctance on the part of the adult children to give testimony against their father. Prosecutors want to use the testimonies of Kerstin,19, and Stefan,18, to reinforce the charges against their father.The prosecution spokesman, Gerhard Sedlacek, said:
“We still have not fixed a date for the questioning of the two adult children but it has now emerged that they could make use of their right not to speak to the authorities and refuse to give evidence against their father.
“The matter will be discussed between their lawyer and the judge in charge, but it has been suggested that they decline to give any statement.”
Josef Fritzl, a retired engineer, has made a partial confession and is facing charges of manslaughter for the death in 1996 of Michael, who was the twin brother of 12-year-old Alexander, as well as rape, coercion, deprivation of freedom and incest. However, prosecutors said that the first two charges would be very difficult to prove because of the lack of scientific evidence and because they were relying to a large extent on the testimonies of the children to strengthen their case.
“There is no direct forensic evidence due to the time elapsed and there is no body, since he allegedly burnt the baby in an oven. The charges could therefore only be based on the testimony of his daughter. In addition, in order to stand up the charges of manslaughter, one would need to attain evidence that there was premeditation, as well as evidence that the child would have survived had it received medical attention.”
The allegations of rape, which carry a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison, would also be difficult to prove because of lack of corroborating evidence, and the charges would only be based on the testimony of Elisabeth.
If his adult children refuse to give evidence, Mr Fritzl could be facing a ten-year prison term as Austrian law does not allow for multiple convictions. This means that even if he is found guilty of several crimes, he will only serve one punishment, for the offense that carries the longest prison sentence, which in this case is likely to be deprivation of freedom.
A jury of eight will decide whether Mr Fritzl is guilty. If he is convicted they will confer with a panel of three judges to determine his sentence. The trial is set to start sometime in the fall.