The Fritzl case emerged in April 2008 when a 42-year-old woman, Elisabeth Fritzl (born 6 April 1966), stated to police in the town of Amstetten, Austria that she had been held captive for 24 years in a concealed part of the basement of the family home by her father, Josef Fritzl (born 9 April 1935), and that he had physically assaulted, sexually abused, and raped her numerous times during her imprisonment. The incestuous relationship forced upon her by her father resulted in the birth of seven children and one miscarriage.
Three of the children were imprisoned along with their mother for the whole of their lives: daughter Kerstin, aged 19, and sons Stefan, 18, and Felix, 5. One child, Michael, died of respiratory problems three days after birth, having been deprived of all medical help; his body was incinerated by Josef Fritzl on his property. The three other children were raised by Fritzl and his wife Rosemarie in the upstairs home. Fritzl engineered the appearance of these children as foundlings discovered outside his house: Lisa at nine months in 1993, Monika at ten months in 1994, and Alexander at 15 months in 1997. When the eldest daughter, Kerstin, became seriously ill, Josef acceded to Elisabeth's pleas to take her to a hospital, triggering a series of events that eventually led to discovery.
Josef Fritzl, aged 73, was arrested on 26 April 2008 on suspicion of serious crimes against family members and went on trial in Sankt Pölten, Austria on 16 March 2009. He was charged with incest, rape, coercion, false imprisonment, enslavement and the negligent homicide of the infant Michael. After a four day trial from which the public and the media were largely excluded, he was sentenced to life imprisonment.