Austrian Father Veered From Loving to Brutal

Fritzl beat dungeon children, then bought them gifts
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted May 1, 2008 6:26 AM CDT
A protester holds a sign reading "Another time" next to other signs reading "Why", and "How could that happen?", in front of the Fritzl house in Amstetten, Austria, Wednesday, April 30, 2008.    (AP Photo/Diether Endlicher)
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(Newser) – Barbaric grandfather Josef Fritzl spent hours like a "normal" dad watching car racing on TV with the three dungeon children he fathered with his sex-slave daughter, reports the Times of London. But he also severely beat the children and his daughter, Elisabeth, who was raped repeatedly in a padded room in the cellar where she was imprisoned for 24 years, investigators believe.

Fritzl, 73, bought the children toys, shared meals with them, and discussed their upbringing with their mother. He only raised three of the seven children he fathered with Elisabeth in his own home because his elderly wife couldn't handle more, he told police. The cellar children's lives were made bearable by their mother's steadfast refusal to reveal that they had been imprisoned by Fritzl. She struggled to create an illusion of normalcy, and spun tales of princesses and pirates, investigators said.