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Austrian says he tried to care for family in cellar, knew actions were wrong

VIENNA, Austria - Josef Fritzl said he knew it was wrong to hold his daughter captive in a locked cellar for 24 years but said he tried to care for her and their children by bringing them flowers, toys and books, according to comments published Thursday.


VIENNA, Austria - Josef Fritzl said he knew it was wrong to hold his daughter captive in a locked cellar for 24 years but said he tried to care for her and their children by bringing them flowers, toys and books, according to comments published Thursday.

"I constantly knew, during the entire 24 years, that what I did was not right, that I must have been crazy because I did something like this," the Austrian magazine News quoted Fritzl as saying through his lawyer.

The lawyer, Rudolf Mayer, confirmed Thursday to The Associated Press that Fritzl made the remarks during a series of conversations with him at a prison in St. Poelten, west of Vienna, where he is being held in pretrial detention.

Since the case came to light last month, Fritzl has confessed to locking up daughter Elisabeth in 1984, repeatedly raping her and fathering her seven children. He said three of the children were raised in a cellar in his home in Amstetten, never seeing the light of day; three were raised above ground by him and his wife, and one died in infancy.

Charges have not yet been filed against him.

"I tried as best I could to care for my family in the cellar," Fritzl said in the published comments.

"When I went into the bunker, I brought my daughter flowers and my children books and stuffed animals," Fritzl said, adding that he would watch adventure videos with the children while Elisabeth cooked their favourite meals.

"And then we'd all sit at the kitchen table and eat together," he said.

Fritzl's double life began to disintegrate when Elisabeth's oldest child, a 19-year-old woman, was hospitalized with a severe infection.

Unable to find medical records for the woman, doctors appealed for her mother to come forward. Fritzl accompanied Elisabeth to the hospital on April 26.

In other comments published by the News, Fritzl said he grew up an only child in "humble circumstances" and that his mother, whom he "admired very much," threw his father out of the house when he was 4.

"She was the boss at home, and I the only man in the house," Fritzl said of his mother.

Fritzl also said he considered good behaviour and decency important, and that Elisabeth had stopped following rules when she hit puberty.

After locking her up, Fritzl said he repeatedly thought about letting her go but was scared about being arrested and having people find out what he had done.

"With every week that I held my daughter captive, my situation got crazier ... it's true, I thought repeatedly about whether I should let her go or not," he said.

Fritzl, who always wanted to have a large family, said he was happy about the children Elisabeth bore him. To prepare her for labour, he brought her medical books, towels, disinfectants and diapers, he said.

"Elisabeth was, of course, scared of the delivery," he said.

 
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