Kidnapped Austrian Girl Pays Final Respects to Captor

The Austrian teen held in an underground cell for 8 1/2 years went to a morgue to pay last respects to her captor, police disclosed Friday, and she told a newspaper she once came agonizingly close to escaping.

Natascha Kampusch stopped briefly by the medical examiner's office in Vienna on Thursday to bid farewell to kidnapper Wolfgang Priklopil, who killed himself by jumping in front of a train hours after she bolted to freedom on Aug. 23, said Maj. Gen. Gerhard Lang of Austria's Federal Criminal Investigations Bureau.

Priklopil's remains were buried Friday under a false name in an undisclosed cemetery south of the capital, Lang said. He said authorities kept the location secret to keep away vandals.

CountryWatch: Austria

Kampusch, now 18, was not present at the funeral, Lang said. He said only two mourners were present at the grave: Priklopil's mother, and a sister of a former business associate.

The burial ceremony took only five minutes, and although the pair recited a prayer, no priest presided at the funeral, Austrian radio reported.

As nine police officers stood guard, the two mourners left wreaths of pink and red roses on the grave, the radio report said. It said Priklopil was buried in a light wood coffin and that the grave marker bore a false name.

The 44-year-old communications technician committed suicide a few hours after Kampusch escaped from his home in the Vienna suburb of Strasshof while he was distracted with a cell phone call.

Her disappearance while walking to school on March 2, 1998, as a freckle-faced 10-year-old had been Austria's greatest unsolved criminal mystery.

Officials did not say if Kampusch said or did anything during her stop at the coroner's office. Last week, she had released a statement saying she mourned "in a certain way" for Priklopil and empathized with his mother's loss.

Kampusch has been resting at a secure and undisclosed location since her dramatic escape. Psychologists tending to her said she was exhausted after giving her first interviews about her ordeal, during which she described her fear and anger at being taken and the horror of being thrust inside the tiny windowless cell for the first time.

"Natascha Superstar," the Kurier newspaper headlined on its front page Friday, noting that her TV interview scored record ratings after 2.7 million Austrians in the nation of 8 million tuned in.

Kampusch told the mass-circulation Kronen Zeitung daily, which has been publishing daily installments of its interview with her, that she once made it undetected to the front gate of Priklopil's house when she suddenly got dizzy, lost her nerve and crept back into the house.

"It was a fear of escape -- like those people who are afraid to leave their house, even though everything is open," she said in a segment for Saturday's editions. It was unclear when the gate incident occurred.

Earlier this week, Kampusch told of another time when she tried to jump out of her captor's car when he took her out shopping. She also described how Priklopil threatened to kill anyone she might consider fleeing to while they were out on errands, and recounted freezing in panic when a sales clerk once asked her: "May I help you?"

Lang gave Kampusch an official FBI cap after she indicated during police questioning about her ordeal that she wanted one. He said investigators would not meet with her next week out of respect for her need to rest.

On Friday, Lang also warned that investigators had come across several bogus online appeals for donations to help Kampusch which had nothing to do with official campaigns set up in Austria to raise money for the teen, and he cautioned donors to carefully examine bank account information before giving.

Kampusch's lawyer, Gerald Ganzger, told the Austria Press Agency on Friday that she intended to use the donations to help people in need "and made it very clear that she won't spend a cent on herself."

Monika Pinterits, another lawyer advising Kampusch, said the young woman granted the interviews this week — including one broadcast on national television — "to give something of herself so the paparazzi would leave her in peace."

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