Italian Woman Held Prisoner for 18 Years

Austria Redux? Italian Woman Held Prisoner for 18 Years

Italian authorities discovered a woman who has been kept in a locked room in her family’s home for 18 years, immediately drawing comparisons to the Josef Fritzl story out of Austria.

After receiving a tip authorities freed the 47-year-old woman, Maria Monaco, from her befouled living quarters. Her 80-year-old mother, a sister, and a brother have been accused of kidnapping.

After becoming pregnant out of wedlock, Monaco was kept locked up at home. when she was found the police said, “she could barely walk, and instead of speaking she emitted a sort of wailing sound.” She was immediately transferred to a psychiatric ward in a Naples hospital.

Though the parallels to the Austria case were quick to fly, a lawyer representing the family said the comparison was false. To find out why, read more.

The lawyer said that Monaco had severe psychological problems. “The family was only trying to be discreet,” said the lawyer adding that she had not been prevented from leaving the family home. Because of her "serious psychological problems and [that she] refused to undergo any therapy,” or take care of her personal hygiene, the family kept her out of sight.

The room where Monaco was kept was accessible through a locked gate she had access to a “fetid washroom,” according to police. In perhaps the most striking detail, Monaco's family used dog bowls to feed her.