After Woman Was Abducted, She Noticed the Orchids

Nathalie Birli says she gained her freedom by talking about them
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 26, 2019 6:55 AM CDT
Victim Changes Kidnapper's Mind by Admiring His Flowers
The power of orchids...   (Getty Images)

An Austrian triathlete survived a kidnapping in which she was hit by a car, tied up with duct tape, and held for hours at a remote house before convincing her abductor to release her, police said. An unidentified 33-year-old man was arrested Wednesday by Austria's Cobra special forces, per the AP. A day earlier, Nathalie Birli, 27, was training with her bicycle on a road in Kumberg in southern Austria when a car rammed into her and knocked her over, according to an interview published in local newspaper Krone on Thursday. She said she broke her left arm in the fall and the driver then beat her with a stick and threw her into the back seat. Birli, who has a 14-week-old son, said that she lost consciousness for a while, and when she woke up she was naked and tied to an armchair. She described her attacker as "full of hatred."

"He blindfolded me, forced me to drink wine and schnapps and he always held a knife in his hand," Birli said, adding the man held her nose and mouth before forcing her into a bathtub "to drown me." She said the situation began to change when she saw that there were a lot of orchids in the house and expressed her admiration for the plants. "All of a sudden the attacker was nice to me," and started talking about his horrible life—"a dead father, a mother addicted to alcohol and girlfriends who betrayed him," Birli told Krone. She said she then suggested a "deal" to the man. "'Let's pretend it was an accident,' I offered him, 'and you let me go.'" He agreed, took off the duct tape and drove her all the way home, she said. "Thank God I could liberate myself, and other than a fractured arm and a head injury, I'm fine," Birli wrote in a Facebook post on Wednesday.

(Read more abduction stories.)

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