August 24, 2006

Austrian girl’s suspected kidnapper kills himself

VIENNA (Reuters) - A 44-year old man suspected of having
kidnapped and imprisoned a girl for the past eight years has
committed suicide after his victim managed to break free on
Wednesday, Austrian police said on Thursday.

The man, identified as Wolfgang P., had thrown himself in
front of a night express train in Vienna after running away
from police, authorities said according to Austrian news agency

The communications technician is suspected of having
imprisoned Natascha Kampusch for the past eight years in a
small cellar in his house in Strasshof, a hamlet on the
outskirts of Vienna.

Following her eight-year ordeal, the now 18-year old woman
showed up on Wednesday in a garden close to the house where she
had been kept and identified herself to a neighbor as the girl
who went missing nearly a decade ago.

Kampusch's disappearance without a trace on her way to
school had sent shockwaves through Austria.

Her re-appearance sparked a major manhunt for her captor n
Wednesday. Neighborhood witnesses said they had seen a car
speeding away shortly after the girl re-emerged.

Police said they later found the red BMW sports car
abandoned in a parking lot in Vienna and the key in Wolfgang
P.'s pocket after his suicide.

Authorities said they had little doubt that the woman was
really Kampusch. Kampusch's passport was found in her prison
and she bore a scar that is identical to one of the missing

Police said, however, that they were still awaiting a final
DNA test.

Police said Kampusch was in good physical health, although
she looked pale and shaken when she was discovered. She bore no
indications of having suffered sexual abuse.

The woman had been allowed occasional outings with her
captor, yet had not fled because she apparently suffered from
"Stockholm Syndrome" -- a psychological condition in which
long-held captives begin to identify with their kidnappers.