AnAustrian woman identified as a girl who disappeared while walking to school at the age of 10 had been held captive in a cellar for the past eight years, authorities say Thursday.
An80-year-old man found Natascha Kampusch in a yard in a residential area northeast of Vienna on Wednesday afternoon,according to reports.Hesaid the woman was running and screaming and in a state of panic.
Heralleged kidnapper, 44-year-old Wolfgang Priklopil,committed suicide Wednesday night by jumping in front of a train in Vienna, police said. A DNA analysiswas underwayto confirm his identity.
Her parents and police identified her by a scar on her arm from a childhood operation. Results of a DNA test were expected later Thursday.
"We've made many comparisons, and identity parades. These comparisons say it is Natascha Kampusch," Herwig Haidinger, a spokesman forVienna's Office of Criminal Investigation.
"We would be still sitting here tomorrow ifI had to tell you what I did to find her. I did everything a man could possibly do," her father told reporters, as he burst into tears.
The young woman told investigators her name was Natascha Kampusch, and she was kidnapped and kept for years in a cellar under a garage in a house in Strasshof, just outside Vienna, police said.
Thedungeon-like cellmeasured six square metres, according to reports.
Austrian police suggestNatascha hasa severe case of Stockholm syndrome, a survival mechanism in which a hostage begins to empathize with a captor.
Investigators said she had been examined by a doctor and that she did not have signs of injuries. But police are investigating whether she was beaten or sexually abused.
In touch with alleged kidnapper
Kampusch vanished in Vienna on her way to school on March 2, 1998, triggering a massive search that extended into neighbouring Hungary.
Nikolaus Koch, a lead investigator, said on Austrian television that the police had contact with the alleged kidnapper about three months after the girl disappeared, but that he had a "sturdy alibi" at the time.
Kampusch's sister said in remarks broadcast on Austrian television that her mother almost had a nervous breakdown when police notified her Wednesday, adding that she always held onto the hope that her daughter would come back one day.
"She always said she was still alive," said the sister, identified as Sabina Sirny.