THE mystery of a 10-year-old girl who was kidnapped and kept in a basement for eight years takes another twist as it emerges her captor may have had an accomplice,The Sun reports.
Natascha Kampusch was bundled into a white van as she walked to school in Vienna, Austria in March 1988. The young girl was abducted by Wolfgang Priklopil, 44, and held captive in a cellar under a garage for eight years, where she was beaten, raped and treated like a slave.
After frantically stopping a couple of people who had no mobile phone and so were unable to help her, Natascha knocked on two doors before someone finally let her in and called police.
Hours after Natascha escaped, Priklopil was found beheaded by an express train after apparently lying down on railway tracks.
In what was described as Stockholm Syndrome at the time, Natascha sobbed after finding out he was dead and begged police to let her visit the mortuary to see him.
Natascha astonishingly threw herself over her captor’s body and cried, and has kept a photo of him in her purse ever since. But now, a decade since Natascha was freed, claims have been made suggesting her kidnapping had links to a high-powered child sex ring.
Priklopil’s business partner, Ernst Holzapfel, has come under scrutiny for his alleged part in Natascha’s stolen life. While he denied being anything more than a business partner to the abductor, the two men are said to have been friends who went out drinking together.
Shortly after Natascha escaped, Holzapfel met Priklopil at a shopping centre, where the pair were seen chatting intently on CCTV.Priklopil had called Holzapfel to say: “I am in the Donauzentrum (shopping centre) by the old post office. Please pick me up. This is an emergency. Please pick me up.”
In a police statement Holzapfel admitted driving the “agitated” kidnapper around, but claims he thought police were after him for drink driving.
He says he advised him to hand himself in to police as “he would probably only lose the driving license for a few months”. Holzapfel said: “He promised to do that and got out. I simply could not believe [when he was told about the kidnapping by police] he would be capable of doing something like that.”
This turned out to be a lie – as after intense questioning by journalists, Holzapfel admitted Priklopol had told him he had kidnapped and imprisoned Natascha, allegedly shortly before the captor killed himself.
Holzapfel claims he lied as he “feared investigators would wrongly link [him] with the kidnapping”. His alleged involvement in Natascha’s capitivity is enhanced by claims he visited the house a number of times while Natascha was being held captive there, which he denies.
He claims he only met Natascha once, when Priklopil brought her to his house and described her as an “acquaintance”. He said: “‘She stood with him in the entrance — he introduced her as an acquaintance. I offered her my hand and she said a very polite hello.
“She made a happy, relaxed impression. I didn’t, of course, realise that it was Natascha Kampusch. It was only when I was questioned by the police that they showed me a photo and I realised it was her.”
The wealthy Austrian claims when Priklopil allegedly told him what he had done, he explained the woman he had met at his house had been kidnapped.
Holzapfel said: “I was travelling in my Kia. He said to me: ‘You are going to hate me, I am a rapist and a kidnapper.’ He repeated it. “He was really stressed. He seemed to be beside himself. He then explained he had kidnapped Frau Kampusch.
“The name didn’t mean anything to me. He then told me I knew her – I had seen her in the hall [of his own home].” The shocking story has taken a more sinister twist as experts reveal they now believe Priklopil could have been murdered.
Der Spiegel, a German newspaper, revealed two eminent coroners investigating the case believe the captor’s death “was not investigated to acceptable forensic standards” by police – suggesting he may have been dead before the train decapitated him.
A former president of the Supreme Court of Vienna, who was involved in previous inquiries into the truth about the case, also agrees there are “serious doubts” about whether he killed himself.
Many fingers have pointed towards Holzapfel’s involement in the wake of these allegations, especially as handwriting experts claim the “suicide note” left by Priklopil’s body bears more resemblance to his business partner’s penmanship than his own.
Police did not prosecute Holzapfel after their original investigation, but he was shockingly allowed into the house Natascha was held in just hours after his friend allegedly committed suicide.
He has been accused of removing computers and images of Natascha that would have implicated him in her captivity. Furthermore, his first words to police when they arrived just hours after Natascha escaped were “has he killed her?” – sparking suggestions he knew Natascha was being held.
Perhaps most shockingly is a witness to Natascha’s abduction who has always insisted she saw two men in the van when the 10-year-old was grabbed. Ischtar Akcan, who was 12 at the time, saw one man bundle Natascha into the van while another sat in the driving seat.
She told the MailOnline: “I know there were two men. The second man remained in the driving seat the whole time. They saw me, too. They knew I was a witness. In all those years she was gone I feared they would come back for me.”
Ischtar claims police ignored her claims and insisted she had “mixed up” her story. Natascha herself told police the man driving her away had said his name was Ernst Holzapfel when she demanded to know who her kidnapper was immediately after being seized.
In her biography she talks about more than one man coming to “do things” to her, and says Priklopil threatened to “give her over to others”. It has since been revealed Holzapfel shared more than 100 phone calls with Natascha after she was released, despite claiming to have only been introduced to her once briefly.
Some have put this down to Natascha wanting contact with someone who knew her captor, but others think there is a more sinister cover-up involved.
It has been suggested Natascha could still be being manipulated, as she was for years by her captor – but the truth behind the calls is yet to be revealed.
The ten-year-old’s mother was a party-loving single woman who regularly brought men home and her dad was an alcoholic who was seldom around.
Priklopil preyed on this and told Natascha her parents had sold her to him, a classic twisted technique paedophile kidnappers use to emotionally manipulate their victims.
In another sinister twist, a police investigator who told his brother he was on to “something big” when looking at the case was found dead at his apartment.
Colonel Franz Kroll suffered a gunshot wound to the head and was found with his service revolver at this feet an alleged suicide note about “intolerable” work and family problems.
Independent investigators have rubbished claims he committed suicide and suggested he was killed for “knowing too much”. His brother Karl believes he had files linking others to the case, which would have allegedly linked Priklopil to a paedophile network reputedly used by the rich and powerful in Austrian society.