A teenager who escaped a year ago after being kept prisoner for more than eight years in a dingy cell said Monday she considered her captor a “poor soul” and once told him that one day she would dance on his grave.
Natascha Kampusch was 10 years old when she was kidnapped in Vienna on her way to school on March 2, 1998. She spent the next 8½ years at the mercy of her captor, Wolfgang Priklopil, who largely confined her to a tiny underground dungeon in his home in the Vienna suburb of Strasshof.
The 44-year-old communications technician committed suicide within hours of Kampusch’s dramatic escape on Aug. 23, 2006, which marked the end of one of Austria’s greatest criminal mysteries.
“All I can say is that, bit by bit, I feel more sorry for him,” Kampusch, now 19, said in a 50-minute documentary aired on Austrian television Monday night to mark her first year of freedom.
‘Lost and misguided’
Looking healthy and calm, Kampusch referred to Priklopil as a “poor soul — lost and misguided,” and said that what he did to her hadn’t paled but had “moved further into the distance.”
She said that in part she let Priklopil manipulate her but that she was also able to manipulate him.
“It was like a wrestling match, if you know what I mean,” she said.
Kampusch also acknowledged she said goodbye to Priklopil as he lay in a coffin after throwing himself in front of a commuter train hours after she fled while he was distracted with a cell phone call.
Kampusch also said that, like her, Priklopil was always very exact and determined, traits she referred to as “good and advantageous.”
“I meant this cynically but I said to him that one day I’d dance on his grave. That was of course not the case,” she said, adding she did feel a certain gratification and sense of victory.
“It was always clear there could only be one of us and it was me in the end — and not him,” she said.
Still unable to fully trust anyone
Kampusch, who said it would take her a long time before she would be able to fully trust anyone, said she still owned clothing she had while in captivity and that she has been back to the house where she was imprisoned.
She said she didn’t want her case to be “swept under the carpet” but wished people would be more considerate by asking permission before taking photographs and not seeking autographs.
“I don’t give autographs — I’m not a superstar,” she said.