Austrian Man Confesses to Keeping Daughter, Her Children Captive in Cellar

Monday, April 28, 2008

AMSTETTEN, Austria —  A man has confessed to imprisoning his daughter for 24 years in a windowless cell with a soundproofed door and fathering seven children with her including three who “never saw sunlight,” police said Monday.

The man, now 73, also told investigators that he tossed the body of one of the children in an incinerator when the infant died shortly after birth, said Franz Polzer, head of the Lower Austrian Bureau of Criminal Affairs.

“We are being confronted with an unfathomable crime,” Interior Minister Guenther Platter said.

The daughter, who is now 42, had been missing since 1984 and was found by police in the town of Amstetten on Saturday evening after police received a tip. She and her children have been placed in psychiatric care.

Police on Monday released several photos showing parts of the cramped basement cell, with a small bathroom and a narrow passageway leading to a tiny bedroom. Investigators said an electronic keyless-entry system apparently kept the daughter from escaping from the cell, which was made of solid reinforced concrete.

Click here to see photos of Josef F. and the “House of Horrors.”

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Police: Man neglected sons, kept wife drugged

S.C. house was trashed except for tidy room used for gambling


Updated: 12:39 p.m. ET May 12, 2007

CHESTER, S.C. – For nearly four years, a South Carolina man held his wife and two sons captive in a house infested with maggots and human waste, authorities said.

The boys slept on a bare mattress as their mother was kept in a drug-induced stupor in a house that was decrepit except for a tidy one-room illegal gambling parlor run by Danny William Dove, police said.

Police found maggots infesting the refrigerator. Human waste and used toilet paper littered the bathroom floor and the house smelled like a dead animal, according to police photographs and authorities who visited the home after Dove was arrested this week.

The living room was covered in trash and upturned furniture, the kitchen’s cabinets were falling apart and dirty clothing was piled in waist-high heaps.

“There was chaos everywhere,” Chester County Sheriff’s Detective Scott Thompson said Thursday. “I don’t think we’ll ever really determine how it happened — how you get to live like that. I think he got so wrapped up in drugs and wanting to control everything, nothing else mattered.”

Boys monitored via video
The young boys, ages 4 and 8, didn’t go to school. Police say they rarely were allowed out of the house and that a video camera monitored their room and the doors to the home. The boys’ own grandmother says they’re hard to understand unless they’re cursing.

Dove, 45, plied his wife, Tamara, with prescription painkillers, cocaine and crack, and forbade her to go outside, police said. Thompson said he didn’t expect the 37-year-old mother would be lucid enough to be interviewed for weeks.

“People don’t understand why she just doesn’t leave,” Thompson said. “But with a little intimidation and a lot of drug use, this is what they grew to know as normal life.”

Dove was charged with two counts of distribution of a controlled substance, two counts of criminal conspiracy, operating a gambling establishment and two counts of child neglect. He remained in jail Thursday without bond. If convicted, he faces up to 40 years in prison.

But Dove’s mother said her son held no one hostage and that his wife was the root of the couple’s drug addiction.

“She’s driven my son crazy,” Helaine Young said in an interview at her home.

Once owned convenience stores
Young said she threw up when she visited the home with police, her first visit since Christmas 2005, when she said she left after being threatened by her daughter-in-law.

Young said her son was once a wealthy owner of several convenience stores, paying for anything his wife requested including baby sitters and house cleaners. Her son installed the cameras for the family’s security when he renovated the home in a rural town near the North Carolina line, she said. The pair met about 13 years ago, Young said.

Young, who has taken care of the couple’s 12-year-old son since he was an infant, said she’s asked the Department of Social Services repeatedly over the last six years to investigate.

Messages left with Department of Social Services were not immediately returned Friday.

Dove’s oldest child, 20-year-old Brittney Dove, said she and a friend used to take care of the boys when she stayed in the home. But she last saw them about three years ago, she said.

“She would not get out of the bed,” Brittney said of the boys’ mother. “It disgusts me that he’s in jail. I’m not condoning what he did. There’s no excuse for the child neglect. But she should be there, too. He honestly loved her. He was nothing but good to her.” (*now there is a totally insane statement*)

‘Cuss words’ from boys
Thompson said the boys were socially inept.

“The oldest one can communicate, but it’s on a 3- to 4-year-old, broken-English level,” he said. “The 4-year-old jibber jabbers. It’s rambling stuff.”

Young said the two knew how to curse because that’s what they heard at home.

“The cuss words were the plainest words you can hear from them,” she said, recalling phone conversations with the boys.

The boys are living safely with a relative, Thompson said.

“Maybe now we’ve given these kids the chance of a normal life,” Thompson said.

Information source: MSNBC.com