Triathlete abducted, tied up with duct tape and forced to drink alcohol at knife-point

Runner manages to convince kidnapper to let her go after complimenting his orchids

Corazon Miller@c0ra_z0n
Friday 26 July 2019 18:00
Man arrested over abduction of Austrian triathlete

An Austrian triathlete has survived a kidnapping that saw her hit by a car, tied up with duct tape and taken to a remote house where she was held for hours.

Nathalie Birli, 27, has described how she was beaten, blindfolded, forced to drink alcohol at knife-point and was almost drowned in a bath before convincing her kidnapper to set her free.

Graz police spokesperson Fritz Grundnig said Ms Birli had been training on a road in Kumberg in southern Austria on Tuesday afternoon when she was abducted.

On Wednesday, a 33-year-old man, who has not been named in accordance with Austrian privacy rules, was arrested.

Ms Birli, who has a 14-week-old son, told Austrian newspaper Krone that she was riding her bicycle when a car rammed into her and knocked her over.

She broke her left arm in the fall and the driver then beat her with a stick and threw her into the back seat.

Ms Birli said she lost consciousness for a while, and when she woke up she was naked and tied to an armchair.

“He was full of hatred,” she said. “He blindfolded me, forced me to drink wine and schnapps and he always held a knife in his hand,” she told the paper.

Ms Birli said that, at some point, he held her nose and mouth and she thought he wanted to suffocate her but then stopped and forced her into a bathtub with cold water “to drown me”.

She said the situation began to change when she saw that there were a lot of orchids in the house and she expressed her admiration for the plants.

“All of a sudden the attacker was nice to me.”

The man told her that he was a gardener and started talking about his horrible life – “a dead father, a mother addicted to alcohol and girlfriends who betrayed him” she said.

The triathlete managed to convince her kidnapper to let her go after complimenting his orchids

Ms Birli said that was the moment when she suggested a “deal” to the man.

“‘Let’s pretend it was an accident,’ I offered him, ‘and you let me go’.”

He agreed, took off the duct tape and drove her all the way home, she said.

“I went right into the house, locked the door and called my partner.”

In a Facebook post on Wednesday, Ms Birli said the experience was like a “bad movie” and thanked all who went out looking for her when she was missing.

“Thank God I could liberate myself, and other than a fractured arm and a head injury, I’m fine.”

Additional reporting by AP