3,096 Days in the Cellar
August 23, 2006 - This was freedom day for 18-year-old Natascha Kampusch. The Austrian girl had been kidnapped 8 years earlier by a creepy loner named Wolfgang Priklopil.
Priklopil snatched Kampusch as she was walking to school. A 12-year-old witness claimed that she saw two men dragging Kampusch into a minivan. A huge manhunt followed in which almost 800 minivans were searched. One of those belonged to Priklopil, but the police believed his story about being home at the time of the kidnapping.
He had actually thrown Kampusch into a secret chamber beneath his garage that had once been a bomb shelter. For the first 6 months she was not allowed to leave the hidden room. She was regularly beaten and photographed by Priklopil.
Kampusch's captor/tormentor explained how all the doors and windows were booby-trapped with explosives. He also carried a gun and promised to kill her if she attempted to escape.
Gradually over the years of captivity, Kampusch was permitted to spend more time inside the main house with Priklopil. He gave her many books and she became a voracious reader.
On August 23, 2006, Priklopil was watching Kampusch as she cleaned and vacuumed his BMW in the driveway. When he received a call on his mobile phone he had to step away to hear over the noise of the vacuum. Kampusch saw a chance and took it. She left the vacuum running and bolted for the street.
After sprinting through gardens and climbing over fences she begged the first people she encountered to call the police. They ignored her. She banged on a neighbor's door and told the woman who answered it, "I am Natascha Kampusch!"
After 3,096 days her ordeal was finally over.
The police were called and the hunt for Wolfgang Priklopil began. Set on not being captured alive, he stepped in front of a train and was killed instantly.
Natascha Kampusch has gone on to host her own talk show on Austrian television. She occasionally gives interviews but she has not revealed many details about her 8 years in captivity.