Invisible Children

Elisabeth, Katharina, and Viktoria Mittermayer

Content note: Case narratives include descriptions of severe violence inflicted on children, including abuse and neglect, sexual violence, torture, and murder, as well as mentions of suicide and domestic violence. They also include photos of victims and perpetrators of violence.

Elisabeth (b. 1985), Katharina (b. 1987), and Viktoria (b. 1991) Mittermayer were emotionally abused and neglected by their mother, Ingrid L.,for seven years. During this period, all three girls were homeschooled.

Elisabeth, Katharina, and Viktoria Mittermayer grew up in a middle-class family in Linz, Austria. The girls’ father was a judge and their mother, Ingrid L., was an attorney. When the girls’ parents divorced in 1998, Ingrid won custody of the three girls, who were 13, 11, and 7 at the time. Shortly after the divorce, Ingrid pulled Elisabeth out of school to homeschool her, while Katharina and Viktoria continued attending school. However, neighbors noticed that Elisabeth rarely left the house, and Ingrid sometimes locked Elisabeth inside while she left the house for hours. Ingrid also allowed trash and the excrement of the family dog to build up inside the house. She told the three girls that their father was a monster and refused to let him see them. Over the course of seven years, Ingrid was summoned to court nine times due to complaints by the girls’ father and by neighbors, but evaded charges due to her profession as a lawyer.

In 2000, Ingrid pulled Katharina, now 12 years old, out of school. School authorities, who had agreed that Ingrid could homeschool Elisabeth, found her “uncooperative” when they attempted to contact her about Katharina. A judge ordered psychotherapy for Katharina in 2002, but Ingrid did not allow her to attend for long. In mid-2003, when a Linz court reminded Ingrid of her responsibility to educate her two oldest daughters, they received no response. When Katharina and Viktoria were briefly hospitalized in August of that year, Ingrid barred their father from visiting the girls. In March of 2005, Ingrid pulled Viktoria out of school. When the court sent a delegate to the house in April to inquire about Viktoria’s absences, Ingrid refused to open the door.

The abuse came to light in June 2005, when the local Society for the Protection of Animals sent a veterinarian to the family’s house. A neighbor had reported seeing “filth” inside the house when the Mittermayers’ golden retriever, Linda, brushed the curtain aside. The veterinarian reported the unsanitary conditions inside the house to the police, who ordered all three girls removed from the house in October 2005. Elisabeth, who was by then a legal adult, refused to leave. Social workers and police convinced Elisabeth to leave her mother and reunite with her sisters the following year. Ingrid was found guilty of child neglect and all three girls received psychiatric care to recover from their experience.

Date: June 2005


Documents: Date:
Austria’s hidden nightmare 04-28-2008
L’affaire de Linz 02-23-2007
Anfragebeantwortung, Bundesministerium für Unterricht, Kunst und Kultur 04-24-2007