Austrian authorities yesterday said a young woman found near Vienna had been identified as a girl who went missing more than eight years ago.
The woman said her name was Natascha Kampusch and told police she had been kidnapped and kept in a small enclosure under a garage for years. Her alleged kidnapper committed suicide.
Armin Halm, spokesman for Austrian's federal police, said Kampusch had been identified by a scar on one of her ears that dates back to an operation she had when she was younger.
The discovery could bring closure to one of the biggest police mysteries in recent Austrian history.
Kampusch, then aged ten, vanished in Vienna on her way to school on March 2, 1998. Her disappearance triggered a massive search that extended into neighbouring Hungary.
On Wednesday afternoon, police said they found the young woman in a garden north-east of Vienna.
The woman, who was identified by her father, mother and half-sister, told police that she had been kidnapped and held prisoner by a man, Halm said.
Halm said police found Kampusch's passport in the house in Lower Austria where she was allegedly kept.
The alleged kidnapper committed suicide by jumping in front of a train in Vienna. He has been identified by Austrian media as 44-year-old Wolfgang Priklopil, an electrician.
Halm said the woman spent the night in "a secure location" in the presence of a female police officer who has specialised psychological training.
She was due to undergo more questioning yesterday, he said.
Investigators say that the woman had been examined by a doctor and that she did not have signs of injuries. Still, police are investigating whether she was beaten or sexually abused.
Erich Zwettler of Austria's federal police was quoted by the Austria Press Agency as saying that the woman appeared to have a severe case of Stockholm Syndrome, a survival mechanism in which a hostage begins to empathise with his or her captors.