London, May 12 : Elizabeth Fritzl's 24 year dungeon ordeal could have come to an end 5 years ago if cops hadn't failed to find the secret prison during an arson probe.
According to some leaked papers, police had suspected Josef Fritzl of being involved in starting a deliberate fire in an insurance scam five years ago.
In fact, in 2003 two officers even visited his home for a full search but failed to take any action. This was followed by two more fires the next year at Fritzl's house in Amstetten, Austria, which were also ignored by the police.
"It was started in two places - a classic sign of arson. But despite all that, the officers only carried out a brief inspection. Senior police officials will be asking why. If a proper investigation had been carried out, the secret family Fritzl kept in his cellar would have been found," The Sun quoted a source, as saying of the 2003 fire.
In the 2003 fire Fritzl claimed 8,000 pounds and in 2004 he claimed 800 pounds after a power meter that somehow burst into flames. In another fire in the same year he claimed 2,300 pounds saying that a TV had gone up in smoke. The police did not take any action in both these incidents.
The sex monster had also been accused for arson way back in 1982, when a fire had devastated a B and B he owned at nearby Lake Mondsee. But the police had dropped this case as well.
Fritzl had kept his daughter Elisabeth, now 42, captive for 24 years and forced her to bear seven of his children.