Elisabeth Fritzl now — The girl in the basement’s return to normal life above the ground

Elisabeth Fritzl

The 2008 Fritzl case is an exceptionally harrowing one in its cruelty and severity of crimes committed by Josef Fritzl against his daughter, Elisabeth. An 18-year-old Elisabeth was captured and imprisoned in the family’s basement and repeatedly subjected to sexual abuse and rape by her father.

During the 24-year captivity, Elisabeth gave birth to seven children fathered by her abuser with one dying shortly after birth. After the horrific ordeal came to light, Josef was sentenced to life imprisonment for his condemnable actions while Elisabeth and her children attempted to get their lives back together.

Elisabeth leads a normal life in a “two-story and brightly-painted” house in upper Austria with her family

After the trial against Josef Fritzl found him guilty of all charges, Elisabeth and her three basement children were taken care of by a team of social workers, therapists, and psychiatrists at a clinic outside Amstetten.

They were soon united with Elisabeth’s three other children who were raised upstairs by Josef and his wife, Rosemarie. The family received therapy and care in the hospital to make sufficient recovery to eventually live on their own.

The family lived there for about a year before moving to their permanent new home in a secret countryside in upper Austria, known only as “Village X” by the media under the strict laws forbidding its disclosure. Elisabeth and her children have assumed new identities to move on with their lives.

Details about the family’s two-story and brightly-painted fortress of a home have been published by The Independent. The house is also monitored by constant CCTV surveillance and patrolled by security guards to keep away prying strangers, photographers, and journalists.

Moreover, the close-knit residents of the small village have formed an ally to protect the family and report any threats to the police. They remain very vigilant of the family and have taken it upon themselves to prevent intruders from trespassing into the area.

The villagers’ accounts state that Elisabeth and her family are in a happy place. One of the local restaurant owners told The Daily Mirror:

“The family is doing more than fine. They often come to my venue and treat them like any other guests. Everybody in the village knows them. Given what they have been through, they are very polite, happy, and smile a lot.”

Elisabeth began a romantic relationship with her security guard, Thomas Wagner, who is 23 years younger than her

In July 2009, a year after Elisabeth’s newfound freedom, she began a romantic relationship with Thomas Wagner. He worked as a security guard sent by the Austrian firm A&T securities to protect the family.

Their relationship had a positive influence on Elisabeth’s return to a normal routine. Her progress in therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder improved after Wagner came into her life and eventually, she weaned off therapy.

Wagner, who is 23 years younger than Elisabeth, not only moved in with the family but also became a big brother figure to the children. According to The Daily Mirror, the couple was still together in 2010 as per a statement given by the family’s psychiatrist to Austria’s Oesterreich paper:

“This is vivid proof of love being the strongest force in the world. With the approval of her doctors, she has ceased psychiatric therapies while she gets on with her life – learning to drive, helping her children with their homework, and making friends with people in her locality.”

It is also reported that Elisabeth’s three children who grew up in the basement have open-door rooms to help them to sleep better. All six children have undergone weekly therapy sessions to cope with the trauma and adjust to new changes in their lives.

“[Elisabeth] lost the best years of her life in that cellar; she is determined that every day remaining to her will be filled with activity,” said the psychiatrist.

Elisabeth is reportedly married as of 2018 and one of her children works in the local council

Though Elisabeth has maintained a safe distance from the public eye, her daily life is not any different from the rest of us. As divulged by her maternal aunt, Christine R, Elisabeth has learned how to drive and has found new hobbies to spend her time.

“Elisabeth likes to go shopping a lot. She couldn’t do that while she was locked in the cellar for those 24 years. She loves jeans with glitter pockets and she passed her driving test without difficulty. Now she’s looking for a car.” Christine told The Independent.

The children have also restarted their normal lives as they get to go to school and play video games. Besides, the Austrian authorities had paid Elisabeth €60,000 worth of child allowance for all the years she was denied while living in the cellar.

“The kids are all going to school and working hard. Felix, the smallest one, has got a PlayStation,” Christine added.

Over the years, Elisabeth mended her strained relationship with her mother, Rosemarie. Elisabeth’s initial misgivings about her mother’s “indifference” to her disappearance went away and Rosemarie kept in touch with Elisabeth and her grandchildren, visiting them every week.

As of 2018, according to Who Magazine, Elisabeth is said to be married and one of her six children, all of whom are adults now, works for the local council.