VIENNA, Austria – Josef Fritzl's family of incest victims have visited and thanked the officers who protected them during their first few weeks of freedom, Austrian police said Wednesday.
Investigators say Fritzl confessed to holding his daughter Elisabeth prisoner for 24 years in a cellar below his home, sexually abusing her and fathering seven children with her. Three of the children were raised above ground by Fritzl and his wife; three never saw sunlight until the crime became known in late April. One child died.
Police in Ulmerfeld-Hausmening said the victims brought presents during their visit last week — a cake, a gift basket and a poster with a handwritten message. The officers protected the family from throngs of paparazzi and unwelcome guests during their first month and a half in a psychiatric clinic near Amstetten, west of Vienna.
Johann Wagner, one of the officers at the police station, said the gift basket included several bottles of wine. He was not present during the family's visit and could not provide more details.
The Kurier newspaper quoted police station chief Karl Gschoepf as saying that Elisabeth and all six children "suddenly" showed up.
"A really nice gesture, we were touched," Kurier quoted Gschoepf as saying.
The poster, a photograph of which was printed in Kurier, bore a message that appeared to have been written by a child.
"During the initial, most difficult period you gave us a lot of strength and security," part of it read. "We will always fondly remember you and hope that our contact won't stop."
Authorities hope to have a series of formal charges against Fritzl ready by the end of September.