April 28th, 2008
06:30 PM ET

Erica's News Note

Erica Hill
360° Correspondent

You never know what you’ll find on YouTube… though I never thought I’d see this.

A 10-minute video of photographs taken of a barracks at Fort Bragg, which shows – among other things – what appears to be a building that is falling apart around the soldiers who live there. The bathroom is the worst part. In one shot, a soldier is standing in a sink, to avoid the inches of sewage that have apparently overflowed onto the bathroom floor.

Commanders at the base say there were repairs that needed to be done, but the soldiers came home from Afghanistan earlier than expected. Early or not, this is deplorable. No one should have to live like this, and it shouldn’t take an outraged father turning to YouTube to have these issues addressed.


DISCLAIMER: The following story is beyond disturbing.

When I saw this story on my BlackBerry this morning, I couldn’t believe what I was reading. When I got to work, I went looking for more information and was astounded.

The short version: a man in Austria is accused of fathering seven children with his daughter while holding her hostage for 24 years and repeatedly raping her. It started when she was 18 – he allegedly drugged her, handcuffed her and locked her in the basement. He told his wife their daughter had run away.

Six of the seven children this man fathered with is own daughter survived – three were raised by him and his wife, the other three lived in the basement dungeon with their mother. Those three – ages 19, 18 and five – had never seen the light of day, a detail that reminded me of the eerie books my sister and I read in the 80’s, the VC Andrews “Flowers in the Attic” series. But this isn’t fiction, and I hate to say it, the truth likely is stranger and, frankly much more firghtenng than anything we could imagine in this case.


If you’re one of the millions of Americans who will receive a tax rebate, will it help? I was passing by the TV today when I heard a talking head say there should be some money left over after “you do your patriotic duty” and spend a little. I was appalled. Yes, it’s great to help the economy, but wouldn’t that money be better spent paying off bills, going into your savings or buying groceries and gas, which just keep going up? Since when is spending a “patriotic duty”?

Even if it everyone went out and spent their tax rebate, it doesn’t mean the economy would necessarily perk up.


I swear, I’m not trying to be Debbie Downer on a (rainy in NY) Monday, so here’s one uplifting tidbit to leave you with: a little more info on our good friend Pierre the penguin from The Shot the other night.

Filed under: Erica Hill
soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. deborah,OH

    Forgot to look at this yesterday! Ten Lashes! Erica, my rebate check will go for BILLS, BILLS, & more BILLS. Doing something about gas & food prices would help MUCH MORE. Oh well, the government giveth & the government taketh away. See you tonight on what looks to be a great show, as always.

    April 29, 2008 at 8:51 am |
  2. Judith, Cologne Germany

    Hi Erica
    The story about the austrian man is very shocking and it has been dominating the news here in Germany (and I guess most other european countries) for the past couple of days.
    I was a bit surprised that it wasn't even mentioned on the show last night.

    April 29, 2008 at 4:30 am |
  3. Lorie Ann, Buellton, California

    Hi Erica,
    I think we owe our servicemen and women a debt of gratitude. What our troops are facing or helping to bring about in Afghanistan and Iraq, should be on the nightly news..nightly. They deserve our undivided attention.
    As far as "Patriotic duty" rebates? These rebates aren't "All about US." Spending keeps people employed. So shop to you drop..

    Lorie Ann, Buellton, Calif.

    April 29, 2008 at 12:55 am |
  4. jean

    Thousands of young Americans have been killed and maimed physically, mentally, and emotionally by the Iraq War: a war with no end in sight. A war that was launched based on faulty (false) intelligence. Our young and innocent were rushed into battle without proper body armor. They were sent into battle with ill-equipped Humvees making them more vulnerable to death and severe injury. This barely scratches the surface of the tremendous burden that our young men and women have been saddled with.

    Does anyone care that Senator Clinton voted for this war? Does anyone care that Senator Clinton seems to suffer from serious memory lapses that resulted in her fabricating a blatant lie about her trip to Bosnia? Whether it was a blatant lie or faulty memory, this raises questions about her ability to serve as president.

    Prices for essentials such as gas and food are continuing to rise. Foreclosures are unabated... Yet, the media is preoccupied, not with critical issues or even Barack Obama, but with Barack Obama's former pastor.

    Rome burns while Nero fiddles.

    April 28, 2008 at 10:41 pm |
  5. Guatemala Gringo

    To Dori in AZ

    great points. I've come to the sad conclusion that our government merely views the troops they claim to support as cannon fodder for their imperial ambitions. Brave young men and women sacrifice for thier country only to be treated like (fill in the blank_________) when their service expires. Send Cheney to the front lines!

    April 28, 2008 at 10:35 pm |
  6. Dori in AZ


    The barracks story doesn't surprise me. With all the money that we are sending overseas & putting into war & other expensive things, we have yet to take the full responsibility of attending to our military.

    My USMC nephew was deployed to Iraq. Went by ship, stopping in various countries along the way, so his journey took many weeks before his "in country" experience.

    His wife & 2 young children's military allotment was reduced by the "cost" of feeding my nephew while he was on ship. He also had to pay for his laundry. When he was on duty & missed meals, he still had to pay for them. Low ranking personnel aren't exactly rich. Family chipped in every month to help his wife & children cover their bills.

    COMPLETELY obscene in my book to send warriors off to fight for their country, & to charge them for their meals & laundry! Not as if they don't have enough pressures to deal with.... Incredible!

    April 28, 2008 at 10:22 pm |
  7. Lilibeth

    Hi Erica! I'm back! Looking forward to the show tonight!

    Edmonds, Washington

    April 28, 2008 at 9:57 pm |
  8. Dori in AZ

    Hola, Erica!

    Talking heads can say what they want. Paying bills helps the economy. It certainly fits for my "family duty."

    May put the rebate toward diesel (currently $4.15/gal – why? It's a by-product, so should be cheaper, right?) for our truck. Costs are hurting us – currently $140 a fill. Is that not obscene? Live on a ranch way out of town. Tempted, for another $332, to fill the extra (usually empty) tank before prices go up again. Wow. That's $472 off the top!

    Got a strange offer from one of the gas card companies this week. Included a "check" for $1400. We can increase our line of credit with them by $1400 if we cash the check. A $70 processing fee (that can increase the line of credit by another $70) & a payback of a whopping 21% in interest will apply!

    Can't help but wonder why I'd have to take out a loan with my gas card company in order to increase my credit limit.... And, then have to pay them back at killer interest! Is this a sign of things to come? No, thanks. Shredded that!

    April 28, 2008 at 9:54 pm |
  9. EJ

    That 73 year old man is nasty and I hope he gets vigilante justice by other Austrian citizens.

    April 28, 2008 at 9:25 pm |
  10. Annie Kate

    The Austrian man having 6 children with his daughter in the basement over 2 decades and the wife never catching on - its just unbelievable and (I'm not trying to trivialize it) it sounds like an episode off the old X-Files show. In 2 decades the wife never became curious enough to look in that basement? This father stole his daughters youth and her young adult years. Its not only disturbing – its almost unimaginable.

    Tax rebate – if we get one it will either help pay a bill or go into savings for whatever emergency we need it for down the road.

    Pierre and his wet suit are a great story – thanks for telling us about it!

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    April 28, 2008 at 8:43 pm |
  11. John

    "No one should have to live like this, and it shouldn’t take an outraged father turning to YouTube to have these issues addressed."

    The father did not have to turn to youtube to have it addressed. Had he taken the issue up with the military authorities it would have been taken care of.

    Just another case of people not knowing the right way to get things done and instead running off to the media.

    April 28, 2008 at 8:37 pm |
  12. Joseph Kowalski, North Huntingdon, PA

    I don't believe for an instant that this barracks was scheduled to be repaired but the soldiers arrived home early. It's just another excuse from a military and Presidential administration which has cut funding support on a large number of benefits for our returning troops and veterans. Just look at the deplorable conditions found at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

    April 28, 2008 at 8:31 pm |
  13. Ruby Coria, LA., CA.

    Hi Erica, as I was reading your blog I thought, oh i't Monday. The military get's so much $ and it's just wasted on who know what?, I too can not believe what happen to that daughter/mother hostage in Austria, I'm sure they are shocked by our Texas ranch. Such madness., can't wait to see Pierre tonight. p.s. I voted for you guys*

    April 28, 2008 at 8:20 pm |
  14. Michael, NC

    Wow. That was a pretty depressing News Note.
    The videos of Fort Bragg-inexcusable. That is DISGUSTING. I wouldn't even expect something like that for prisoners of war, much less our returning soldiers.
    That Austrian man should be put away for life,especially since he basically destroyed all hope of anyone in his family from having a normal life. Even after the man is taken into custody, they will not adjust to normalcy. Thats disgusting. What a pig.
    Not to put your idea down Erica, but I am going to spend that check-along with two of my roommates-to get a flat screen for our apartment! I didn't know I was such a patriotic citizen!!! hehe. Oh yea, rainy here too 🙁

    April 28, 2008 at 8:13 pm |
  15. Tammy

    I'm leaving the sad and scary stuff alone. The military story just ticks me off, and the story from Austria just makes me think "What a sick f--!" Sorry. It's the nicest I could come up with considering.

    Onto my "patriotic duty" instead. I'm taking my rebate and using it as fun money. I refuse to pay bills (the budget handles that each month). I just figure that gift money should be used well, for a gift. I might buy pieces to start my formal Christmas china pattern or a piece of jewelry or a plane ticket to go back to play in New York City or who knows? It will definitely be on something enjoyable, though. Life is way too short not to enjoy the happy extras that come every so often.

    April 28, 2008 at 8:08 pm |
  16. linda., bella vista, ar

    Erica keep this story in the news. The Military is stretched way to thin, but it won't get better if we keep believing the spin... 15 months... Home too soon... same contractors or same kind of contractors that were at Walter Reed, Iraqi Army Training Facility, Showers in Iraq, VA hospitals, how many other bases....To quote Dr. Ira Katz's e-mail about Vet suicides, "Shhhh... ."

    April 28, 2008 at 8:07 pm |
  17. Steve N

    One last thing...spending became our patriotic duty since 9/11 and Bush asked us to sacrifice nothing, just to keep shopping. Seven years later, here we are. A culture that defines itself by how much they buy with no regard to if they can afford it or not (how else did all these mortgages get defaulted?)

    April 28, 2008 at 7:58 pm |
  18. jes from Canada

    Hi Erica, You started off the evening with two very sad & disturbing stories. I hope things get better as the night goes on. You mentioned last week your roots in Canada.Do you ever visit up our way? I would love to welcome you to our beautiful Country!!

    April 28, 2008 at 7:56 pm |
  19. Steve N

    Erica, These are definitely disturbing stories. My best friend just joined the armed forces and the thought that he could be forced to live in such conditions is infuriating. The billions of tax dollars spent on our armed forces and they are meant to live like THIS? It's awful. Makes you wonder where the money is actually going if they can even fix a bathroom.

    And the story about the Austrian father is pretty disgusting. It always makes me wonder how people could ever do things like this to other human beings, let alone their family. Horrible.

    The tax rebate.....will be paying down debt and bills. I doubt it will boost much but oil company profits since we all need it for gasoline now.

    April 28, 2008 at 7:54 pm |
  20. xtina, chicago IL

    on your third subject, I think it would be better all around for this country to continue to elect Presidents who will keep the Bush tax cuts intact. Ideally, a President should cut them even more, but I don't believe any of the three "Democrats" running will do that.

    April 28, 2008 at 7:33 pm |
  21. Jennifer NC

    Hi Erica,
    It's rainy in NC today too. My rebate went straight to the bank and will stay there to stimulate my own savings account. My stimulus payment will do the same!
    I hope that disturbed father gets locked up forever and ever.

    April 28, 2008 at 7:25 pm |
  22. Alexander

    Erica, that is such a disturbing story regarding the poor woman and her poor children in Austria. I heard about it yesterday. Simply unspeakable. And, not that we can move on casually from this previous point, I'm glad to see that Pierre the little penguin is doing well, having his feathers or whatever those are, lol, come back into 'plumage.' Thanks for that brief note, about the penguin of course, and, of course, for all of the other, even if disturbing, news. It's informative either way. : )

    April 28, 2008 at 7:03 pm |
  23. Jolene

    I was just as shocked about the 73 year old Austria man (or should I say creep) when I read it this morning. This story was one of the top "Water Cooler" topics today at work. I'm sure there will be more details as this story develops. You can't help but wonder about the mental health of not only the father, but his wife and the daughter/children. I don't know if they have the death penalty in Austria, but this man certainly deserves it.

    Thanks for the penguin story! What a great idea. That little wet suit is just too cute for words.

    Jolene, St. Joseph, MI

    April 28, 2008 at 7:03 pm |
  24. Genevieve M, TX

    I saw the story about the father and daughter this past weekend on my laptop's homepage, hp-desktop.aol.com

    At first I was baffled because I never thought something like this could happen. Then I was disgusted because it is appalling to think that a parent could do this to their child!

    I don't know if that country has a statute of limitations on the crimes this man has committed, but I do hope he gets punished to the fullest extent of that country's laws!

    On another note: I am sorry to hear you all in NY are having such bummer weather. Where I live, it was 75F today and tomorrow it will be 90F....yikes!

    April 28, 2008 at 6:59 pm |
  25. Megan O. Toronto, ON, Canada

    The story about the man from Austria is deplorable. How this could go on for so long is just hard to fathom.

    I don't get where the wife thought this man got 3 children from. There is just so much that is still unknown but thank god these people are now away from this horrid man

    I could not imagine living for 19 years and never seeing the light of day. What a horrible thought.

    Thanks for the brightening up this dull, cold Toronto day with more Pierre the Penguin. He is too adorable

    April 28, 2008 at 6:58 pm |
  26. Megan Dresslar

    Hi Erica,
    I heard that too! I saw news on CNN this morning.That is so bad news for this! I don't know why Father is hostage her too long for 24 years and stay in basement and lock up, That is not good idea to lock up in basement. That is so awful sight. I am sorry for daughter, I am so glad she had to ran away from him. she is safe now, no more rape! against the law. I agree with you. this is so distrubing to me. I am glad he is going to jail right now. I will see you tonight on AC360 at 7 pm ! See you later!
    Megan D.
    Shoreline, Wa

    April 28, 2008 at 6:49 pm |