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Austrian incest dad vacationed in Thailand

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  • Incest dad twice holidayed in Thailand while daughter remained in cellar
  • Austrian family terrorized by decades of incest meet for the first time
  • Josef Fritzl kept daughter imprisoned under home for 24 years, police say
  • Fritzl, who appeared in court Tuesday, has admitted guilt and faces 15 years|
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AMSTETTEN, Austria (CNN) -- Josef Fritzl, who Austrian police say has confessed to imprisoning his daughter for 24 years and fathering seven of her children, twice holidayed in Thailand while she remained trapped in a cellar below his house, according to German media reports.

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Josef Fritzl appeared in court after admitting raping his daughter and fathering her seven children.

Germany's Bild newspaper quoted a holiday companion, identified only as Paul H, who said he and 73-year-old Fritzl traveled to Thailand together twice and spent time in each other's homes.

"He went [to Thailand] without his wife; apparently she had to look after the children. ... Once he had a very long massage from a young Thai girl at the beach. He really loved that," Paul H told the newspaper, which featured video of Fritzl laughing and receiving a massage in Thailand on its Web site.

"Once I saw how Josef bought an evening dress and racy lingerie for a very slim woman in Pattaya [Thailand] on the beach. He got really angry when he realized I saw him. Then he told me that he has a girlfriend on the side. The items were meant for her. He told me not to tell his wife." Video Watch footage of Fritzl on vacation at a Thai beach resort »

The pair had also ventured to Oktoberfest.

Paul H said he had visited Fritzl's house three times, the last in 2005.

"We sat out on the terrace and had a really nice evening. ... The kids were well-behaved, however; they had a great respect for their father. They were never allowed downstairs into the cellar, but we never thought anything of it," he told Bild.

"Now that I think of the dungeon down there, I feel really sick in the stomach."

Paul H said Fritzl was a DIY "genius," constantly extending and building on to the house.

Meanwhile, family members at the center of the incest and imprisonment case have held an "astonishing" reunion, medical officials said.

"They met each other on Sunday morning," clinic director Berthold Kepplinger said Tuesday. "And it is astonishing how easy it worked, that the children came together, and also it was astonishing how easy it happened that the grandmother and the mother came together."

Investigators say Fritzl held his daughter, Elisabeth, captive in a cellar for 24 years. He raped her repeatedly, they say, and eventually fathered seven of her children.

Elisabeth and two of her children were reunited Sunday with three of her other children and her mother, Kepplinger said Tuesday. The three children and her mother lived in the home above the cellar.

Elisabeth's eldest child, 19-year-old Kerstin Fritzl, remains in hospital.

A seventh child died years ago, shortly after birth. Fritzl told police he burned the infant's body in a furnace.

The story of the family's imprisonment began to unravel a week ago, when Kerstin fell seriously ill with convulsions and was hospitalized.

Timeline

1977: Elisabeth Fritzl claims she was first abused by her father Josef when aged 11.

1984: Elisabeth is allegedly lured into house cellar, drugged and handcuffed by her father. She is forced to write letters saying she has run away.

1988: Her first child, Kerstin, is born.

1989: Elisabeth gives birth to her first son, Stefan.

1993: Nine-month-old Lisa is left on the doorstep of the Fritzl house.

1994: Another child, Monika, arrives and is adopted by the Fritzls.

1996: Elisabeth gives birth to twins, but one dies after three days. Josef allegedly burned the body.

1997: Alexander, the surviving twin, joins the children upstairs.

2003: A letter from Elisabeth arrives saying she had a second son, Felix, the previous year. He is raised in the cellar.

2008:

April 19:
Kerstin is taken to that hospital after falling serious ill. Doctors discover that her grandfather is her father.

April 20-27: Josef releases Elisabeth, Stefan and Felix and tells his wife they are returning.

April 26:
Police pick up Josef and Elisabeth near the hospital where Kerstin is being treated.

April 27: Josef admits his guilt after Elisabeth's statement.

April 28: Police search house and discover cramped cellar with special security door.

April 29: Josef appears in court.

Austrian police Wednesday denied reports that they were investigating possible links between Fritzl and the unsolved murder of a woman.

Franz Polzer, director of the Lower Austrian Bureau of Criminal Affairs, said Fritzl had owned an Austrian hotel near where a woman was found murdered decades ago. However, they were not investigating the incident at this stage.

Meanwhile, an Austrian girl who was held prisoner in a basement for eight years said the family faced a long period of adjustment. Video See how Austrians are troubled by the case »

Natascha Kampusch was 10 years old when she was kidnapped on her way to school in March 1998.

She escaped from a bunker below the house of Wolfgang Priklopil in a suburb of Vienna in August 2007. Priklopil killed himself by throwing himself under a train only hours later.

"Although they are now in a secret location, I believe it might have been even better to leave them where they were, but that was probably impossible," she said of the Fritzl family Tuesday.

"Yes, because that was of course the environment they were used to, and now they're somewhere else. Pulling them abruptly out of this situation, without transition, to hold them and isolating them to some extent, it can't be good for them."

Officials said Tuesday that DNA testing had confirmed Fritzl fathered the children.

His DNA also was found on a letter sent to the Fritzl family that was made to look like it was from his daughter, Elisabeth, Polzer said. Video See inside the 'House of horrors' »

Authorities said Fritzl sent other letters over the years, leading the family to believe that Elisabeth was a runaway who had abandoned three of her children on their doorstep. He dictated at least one of the letters to his daughter, they said.

Authorities said it did not appear that Fritzl's wife, Rosemarie, knew about her husband's activities.

Reports have surfaced in The Times of London and Austria's Presse that Fritzl was convicted of sexual assault in the 1960s, but there is nothing in his record to confirm this, said District Governor Hans Heinz Lenze. He added, however, that records were expunged after a certain number of years.

Prosecutors were checking archives to find the information, said Gerhard Sedlacek, prosecutor for the state of Poelten.

The Times of London quoted a 50-year-old neighbor who said that when he was 10, he remembered "how we children were afraid to play near Mr. Fritzl's house because of the rumors that he had raped a woman and spent some time in jail for it." Video Watch a report of how the case unfolded. »

Fritzl led police to the cellar Sunday. A day later, he confessed to raping his daughter, now 42, and keeping her and their children in captivity, police said.

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Fritzl was able to convince social service workers, friends and family that Elisabeth had run away in 1984, when she was about 18. The father, who police described as an authoritarian figure, forbade anyone from entering the cellar.

In the cellar with Elisabeth were Kerstin and two sons, aged 5 and 18. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN's Phil Black, Nadine Schmidt and Eileen Hsieh contributed to this story.

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