A 73-year-old Austrian has been charged with keeping his daughter a prisoner in the cellar of his home for almost 24 years and fathering as many as seven children through her.
Lower Austria police said in a statement that the 42-year-old woman, identified as Elisabeth F., had been missing since Aug. 29, 1984 and was found by police in the town of Amstetten on Saturday evening following a tip.
Franz Polzer, head of the Lower Austrian Bureau of Criminal Affairs, told reporters that the 73-year-old father, identified in a separate police statement as Josef F., had been taken into custody.
During police questioning, Elisabeth F. told police her father began sexually abusing her when she was 11 and locked her in a room in the cellar on Aug. 28, 1984, news agency AP reports.
During the 24 years that followed, she said she was continually abused by her father and gave birth to six children, the statement said. In 1996, she gave birth to twins but one died several days later because it was not appropriately cared for. Josef F. had then apparently removed the corpse from the cellar and burned it, the statement said.
Police said Elisabeth F. appeared "greatly disturbed" psychologically during questioning. She agreed to talk only after authorities assured her that she would no longer have to have contact with her father and that her children would be taken care of.
One of her children, identified as 19-year-old Kerstin F., is currently hospitalized in the Lower Austrian town of Amstetten in very serious condition.
APA cited police as saying Josef F. has been arrested but had not confessed.
APA quoted Gerhard Sedlacek, spokesman for the public prosecutor's office in St. Poelten, as saying that the surviving children three boys and three girls were aged between 5 and 20.
DNA tests are expected to determine whether Josef F. is the father of the children.