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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kidnapped Girl Escapes After 8 Years Held Under a Garage

VIENNA -- Austrian authorities said Thursday that a young woman found near Vienna has been identified as a girl who went missing more than eight years ago by a scar on her ear.

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 Wednesday night.

Armin Halm, spokesman for Austrian federal police, said Kampusch had been identified by a scar on one of her ears that dated back to an operation she had when she was younger. Results of a DNA test are expected later Thursday, but authorities were "quite sure it's her," Halm said.

The discovery could bring closure to one of the biggest police mysteries in recent Austrian history.

Kampusch, then aged 10, vanished in Vienna on her way to school on March 2, 1998. Her disappearance triggered an extensive search that extended into neighboring Hungary.

On Wednesday afternoon, police said they found the young woman in a garden northeast of Vienna. The woman, who was identified later by her father, mother and half-sister, told police that she had been kidnapped and held prisoner by a man, Halm said.

The alleged kidnapper committed suicide by jumping in front of a train in Vienna, Halm said. He was identified by Austrian media as Wolfgang Priklopil, a technician. He was 44.

Halm said Kampusch spent the night in "a secure location" in the presence of a female police officer who had specialized psychological training.