Captor of girl in cellar may have had help

 

A NEW investigation into the Natascha Kampusch case has suggested her kidnapper did not act alone and may have been murdered by an accomplice.

The report’s author claims to have compiled a “thick dossier” of police failures during the girl’s nine-year captivity. Ahead of its publication next month, the report has already revived long-standing questions about Austrian police competence in the case.

Werner Amon, head of an Austrian parliamentary investigation into the case, suggests that perpetrator Wolfgang Priklopil had assistance in snatching and holding Ms Kampusch captive for nine years in the cellar of his Vienna suburban home.

“In my view, a single perpetrator theory is hard to stand up,” said Mr Amon, who claims to be the first person to view all evidence relating to the case in preparation for his report to the Austrian parliament.

Ms Kampusch was 10 when she was snatched on her way to school. Until her escape on August 23rd, 2006, she spent 3,096 days in captivity, mostly in the hidden cellar under Priklopil’s garage. Occasionally allowed excursions and holidays, she says she escaped while helping Priklopil wash his car after he was distracted by the telephone.

Central to the accomplice claims are photographs of Priklopil’s dead body, found on a railway track hours after Ms Kampusch escaped. According to police, Priklopil killed himself by lying down in front of a train. Mr Amon says Priklopil was beheadedcleanly, and with few of the secondary injuries usual in such cases. The railway employee who found the body was never questioned, according to Mr Amon, nor was a full autopsy performed on the body before it was cremated.

The investigator has expressed doubts that Priklopil wrote the farewell letter attributed to him, suggesting that handwriting samples match those of a close friend, Ernst Holzapfel.

He was the last man to see Priklopil alive: the two met in a Vienna shopping centre car park the afternoon of Ms Kampusch’s escape. Mr Holzapfel said his friend was agitated and spoke of how he kidnapped the girl nine years earlier.

Mr Holzapfel has admitted he met Ms Kampusch on occasions during the years of her captivity but says he knew nothing of the case and urged Priklopil to hand himself in to police. He was cleared by investigators of any involvement in the case in 2010.

A previous investigation in 2006 revealed “massive flaws” in the original police investigation. Previous investigations have already called the suicide note a “mysterious piece of evidence that calls into question the suicide theory”.