Fritzl Told Victims He'd Gas Them

Sister-in-law says he'd 'spend whole nights down there'
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted May 1, 2008 2:16 PM CDT
A man makes a photo of the backyard of the house in Amstetten, Austria, where 73-year-old Josef Fritzl imprisoned his daughter for 24 years and fathered seven children with her, May 1, 2008.    (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)
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(Newser) – Josef Fritzl threatened to gas his captive daughter and their children if they tried to escape, the Guardian reports, claiming he had rigged a toxic-gas system in the basement. Meanwhile, the possibility of an accomplice arose for the first time today, when a 12-year lodger at the house said he had seen another man, identified as a “plumber,” go into the basement, reports the BBC.

The lodger said he and others staying at the house were forbidden to enter the basement. Fritzl’s sister-in-law, who called him a “despot,” said he often spent whole nights in the basement, and went down “every morning at seven, supposedly to develop plans for machines that would sell to businesses.” A letter he forced his daughter to write suggests he may have planned to release her eventually.