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Austrian teen tells of days of despair

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published September 7, 2006


VIENNA - Natascha Kampusch, kidnapped as a 10-year-old on her way to school and held for more than eight years, dreamed in her underground cell of chopping off her abductor's head with an ax and despaired as she read newspaper accounts of police dredging ponds for her corpse.

Veering between poised declarations and tearful recollections, Kampusch, now 18, on Wednesday gave an enthralled Austrian public an emotional, riveting television account of her abduction, captivity and bold escape two weeks ago.

The 20-minute interview on state channel ORF was the country's first view of the young woman. She said she harbored intense animosity toward her captor, but also noted that he was her only human company.

"Again and again I asked myself why this had to happen to me, of the many millions of people out there," Kampusch said in a separate interview with News, a weekly newsmagazine that hit the streets a few hours before the television broadcast.

Her captor, Wolfgang Priklopil, kept her in a 6-by-10-foot chamber equipped with a toilet, sink and a bed below his house in Strasshof. It was six months before he allowed her out to take a bath, Kampusch recalled.

Over the next several years, Priklopil became her mentor, her teacher and her tormentor. While he plied her with candy eggs at Easter and toys at Christmas, he often punished her by withholding food, she said.

In the last few years, Priklopil allowed her to work in the house's overgrown garden and took her on short trips. He told her that he would kill anyone she tried to contact for help.

But on Aug. 23, when she was vacuuming his car, he turned his back on her for a split second to answer a cell phone call. "I knew, in that moment, if not now, then maybe never again" could she escape, Kampusch said.

Priklopil threw himself in front of a train shortly after.

[Last modified September 7, 2006, 01:35:59]


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