Josef Fritzl Could Be Eligible for Parole — He Locked His Daughter in a Basement for 24 Years

Jennifer Tisdale - Author

Jan. 18 2024, Updated 5:41 p.m. ET

The story of Josef Fritzl was thrust back into the spotlight with Lifetime’s Girl in the Basement. The TV movie was released in February 2021 and was inspired by the horrifying crimes of Fritzl, who fathered seven children with the daughter he kept locked in a basement for 24 years. Fritzl then returned to the news again in January 2024, when it was revealed that he could become eligible for parole. Here's what we know about Josef Fritzl now.

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Where is Josef Fritzl now? He is in a special prison unit for the criminally insane.

As of the time of this writing, Fritzl has been in a special prison unit for the criminally insane in Austria's Stein Prison since his conviction in 2009. According to the Daily Mirror, Fritzl changed his name to Josef Mayrhoff and is suffering. After talking to Fritzl's solicitor in 2017, British journalist Mark Perry learned that the criminal showed no remorse. "He doesn’t believe he’s done anything wrong at all," Perry said. "He thinks it’s a failure of justice and that he’s been wrongly locked up."

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Being locked up might not be an issue soon for Fritzl, who, per a January 2024 Reuters report, could be transferred to a "prison where he would be eligible to apply for release." A court official told the outlet that "if transferred to a regular jail, he could apply for early release on parole 15 years after his conviction," which would be sometime in 2024.

One reason for this change is the fact that the now-88-year-old's dementia is steadily growing worse. The hope is that he ultimately spends his remaining time in a care home, reported The Guardian. His lawyer, Astrid Wagner, told the German newspaper Bild that a recent psychiatric report determined that Fritzl was no longer a threat to society. She went on to say, "I would not be frightened of moving in with him in a flatshare arrangement, or to live alongside him in a care home. He no longer possesses a sex drive."

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Josef Fritzl's crimes are horrific.

Fritzl is described by the BBC as someone who "appeared to be a respectable member of the community, living in the small Lower Austria town of Amstetten with his wife with whom he had seven grown-up children." However, Fritzl had two families in his home. Upstairs is where his public-facing life was, but down in his soundproofed cellar, he had imprisoned and raped one of his daughters, Elisabeth Fritzl, who gave birth to seven of his children.

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Many find it strange that Fritzl's wife claimed to have no idea what was happening literally beneath her. Fritzl told his wife that Elizabeth had run away in 1984 but returned three times to leave a baby on their doorstep. What was really happening was far worse than anything someone could imagine. Fritzl decided to keep three of Elizabeth's children upstairs. He never revealed why, per 60 Minutes Australia.

Fritzl kept Elizabeth “in a slave-like position by kidnapping and locking her up in the cellar… [and] demanding her sexual services and disposing of her as if she was his property,” prosecutors said. In 2008, investigators uncovered Fritzl’s crimes after one of his daughter’s children had to be hospitalized. At the subsequent trial, Fritzl was found guilty of all charges he faced — including rape, incest, murder, and enslavement — and was sentenced to life in prison.

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