Fritzl 'was a regular at brothel and prostitutes feared him'
Christoph Flugel worked for six years as a waiter and barman at the bordello Villa Ostende in Linz, 40 miles from Amstetten where Fritzl, 73, built the underground lair in which he raped his daughter over 24 years.
"He was a regular," said Mr Flugel. "On the first look, there was nothing wrong with him. He was neatly dressed and courteous. But as soon as one of the girls he wanted to go upstairs approached him, his mood changed."
He said that in conversations at the bar, he was a man who was clearly more into dominance than the pleasure of sex itself – and therefore was feared when he did go to the first floor where the girls had their room.
He went on: "Ninety-five per cent of customers are totally normal; 3 per cent are a bit weird. Fritzl belongs to the remaining 2 per cent that are definitely mentally ill.
"None of the girls wanted to spend time in a room with him. Two of them even strictly refused to and did without the earnings."
But Fritzl went there again and again as the brothel changed its prostitutes every ten weeks.
Flugel went on: "I recognised Fritzl on the pictures in the papers and on TV. I will never forget his tight-fistedness, too. When he had to pay 97 once, he demanded I return the three euros in change from a 100 note. Working as a barman, you never forget such behaviour, especially when working in a nightclub.
"And upstairs, in a room, he got completely out of the track." Asked what he meant, Mr Flugel replied: "Perverse. I heard about that when talking to the girls. Two of them said, 'Never again with that guy!'. Such a thing is very rare in this business."
Earlier this week, it emerged that building records showed that Fritzel planned his underground lair well before Elisabeth was entombed in it.
Police chief Franz Polzer said: "He started, six years before Elisabeth was incarcerated underground, with extending the cellar, most of the details of which he kept secret from planning authorities."
Fritzel expanded the 35sq m cellar into 55sq m, but the extra space was sealed off.
On 28 August, 1984, Elisabeth's incarceration began behind a 500kg concrete door, and after the birth of her daughter Monika, now 14, he opened up the extra space.
Mr Polzer added: "Long before the act, he clearly was possessed with the idea of locking his daughter away. All the cavities under the house were already in place."
Altogether, the dungeon had eight doors to the outside with intricate locks.
Meanwhile, the enormity of his crime is weighing heavily on Fritzl.
His lawyer, Rudolf Mayer, said that, after he was first arrested, Fritzl watched television and ate meals with other convicts at his remand prison. Now he refuses to leave his cell for fear of being attacked by fellow prisoners, who traditionally loathe child-sex criminals.
Mr Mayer said he was in a "very bad condition" – and constantly fretting about how his children were doing.
QUESTIONING DUE TO START
PROSECUTORS in Austria will today interview Josef Fritzl for the first time.
The meeting between Fritzl and prosecutor Christiane Burkheiser will take place in the prison in the Lower Austrian city of St Poelten, where the 73-year-old is being held, said prosecution spokesman Gerhard Sedlacek.
Mr Sedlacek said it was unclear if Fritzl would agree to answer questions. Authorities say he initially confessed to locking up and raping his daughter but has since remained silent and may claim to be insane.
Chief investigator Franz Polzer said experts were continuing to sift through Fritzl's property for evidence, adding there may be more "hollow spaces" that need to be examined. It was unlikely investigators would find anything "dramatic" , he said.