Submarine killing: What we know about ‘one of the most spectacular murder cases in Danish history’

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The submarine inventor accused of killing a journalist on his vessel in Denmark volunteered today to remain in jail until Nov. 15 in a case described as “one of the most spectacular murder cases in Danish history.”

Swedish journalist Kim Wall boarded the UC3 Nautilus submarine in Copenhagen this summer to interview Peter Madsen, the Danish inventor who built and operated the submarine.

But the submarine sank, Wall went missing and the inventor has since been charged in the death of the dismembered journalist, who was the only other person on the Aug. 10 trip.

Madsen, 46, is charged with manslaughter, the equivalent of murder in Denmark, and indecent handling of a corpse. He has pleaded guilty to the latter but denies killing the 30-year-old journalist. He has been in jail since Aug. 12.

IBL/REX/Shutterstock, FILE
Swedish police conduct their investigation at the scene where the body of Swedish freelance journalist Kim Wall was found, Aug. 24, 2017.

His trial is expected to start in the spring, but several pre-trial hearings have taken place. Another one had been scheduled for Tuesday to determine whether Madsen should remain in prison for four more weeks, but his defense lawyer today informed the prosecutor that Madsen has volunteered to stay in prison.

Here is a timeline of events in the case that has shocked Scandinavia.

Saturday Oct. 7

Copenhagen police announced they found Wall’s head and legs. The arms are still missing. The examination showed no fracture or blunt violence to the skull, which contradicts Madsen’s explanation that Wall died after the heavy submarine hatch cover hit her in the head, which led to a fracture to her skull.

Police said that metal was attached to the body parts, which indicated an attempt to have them sink. The next step is to examine the torso again along with the other body parts to determine the cause of death, police said.

Police also found a bag with Wall’s clothing, a knife and lead weights. Technicians will be looking into whether this was the knife used to inflict the stab wounds on her body, police said.

Tuesday Oct. 3

The prosecutor announced the result of Wall’s autopsy report. She had sustained 15 stab wounds, including 14 to her genitals alone. Her DNA was found on Madsen’s neck, hand and nostrils. Investigators also found several videos depicting women being killed and tortured on Madsen’s computer. These videos are presumed real and were recorded abroad, though not by Madsen, the prosecutor said. Jakob Buch-Jepsen, the prosecutor in the case, told ABC News that Madsen’s mental fitness was being examined.

Tuesday Sept. 5

Peter Madsen made his first public appearance in court. Madsen said that Kim Wall died aboard the submarine after she was accidentally hit in the head by the submarine’s 55-pound hatch cover.

According to the prosecutor, Madsen gave this explanation on Aug. 12 behind closed doors. Madsen said that while in his submarine’s tower on Aug. 10, he slipped and lost grip of the heavy lid to the vessel. Wall was on her way up to the tower and was hit in the head with the cover, he said.

Madsen said Wall sustained an open skull fracture and was bleeding from the head. She also had cramps, but they stopped after about 20 seconds, he told the court. She had no pulse and was dead, he said.

Madsen said he decided to bury Wall at sea, but that he didn’t know anything about the dismemberment of Wall’s body parts. The prosecutor told Madsen that Wall’s head, arms and legs were cut off on purpose, and asked him who else would have cut off the body parts. Madsen did not have an explanation but maintained that he did not cut off her body parts. He denied killing Wall, but pleaded guilty to the charge of indecent handling of a corpse.

The prosecutor also said that blood was found on the floor of the submarine as well as pair of women’s panties, tights and locks of hair. The judge decided that the results of Wall’s autopsy report would be off the record. The results were read out in court, but the media was prohibited from reporting them. The judge decided that Madsen was to be detained for four more weeks.

Friday Aug. 25

Madsen was now also charged with indecent handling of a corpse.

Wednesday Aug. 23

After a DNA-test, police announced that the torso that was found was Kim Wall’s.

Monday Aug. 21

The Copenhagen District court announced that Madsen had changed his explanation. He now said that Wall died in an accident aboard the submarine and he buried her at sea. Later that day, police said a cyclist found a torso of a woman in the water missing the head, arms and legs.

Sunday Aug. 13

Police announced that the submarine was probably sunk deliberately.

Saturday Aug. 12

Peter Madsen was charged with involuntary manslaughter “under particularly aggravating circumstances” and detained. There’s no bail in Denmark but a judge has to rule every four weeks that further detention is justified.

Friday Aug. 11

Kim Wall didn’t come back from the submarine ride. Her boyfriend reported her missing. Authorities started a search for the submarine. Peter Madsen was rescued by a private boat and the submarine sank.

Madsen claimed he dropped Wall off at Refshaleøen, an island that used to be an industrial area in the harbor of Copenhagen. Later that day, police said they charged Madsen with killing Wall – before a body had been found.



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