trapped by the sub sicko

jour­nal­ist Kim Wall’s pur­suit of a great story had taken her on risky as­sign­ments in the past, but an evening ride on an in­ven­tor’s sub­ma­rine so close to home, should not have been her last

Real Crime - - Contents - Words Tanita Matthews

What was Mad­sen’s rea­son for killing Kim Wall, and which ver­sion of Kim’s fi­nal hours aboard Mad­sen’s sub is true?

On 10 Au­gust 2017, aboard his crowd- funded, self- built midget sub­ma­rine the UC3 Nau­tilus, 46- year- old

Dan­ish in­ven­tor Peter Mad­sen went on the In­ter­net. In the search bar he typed the words, “be­headed”, “girl” and “ar­gony”. A link led Mad­sen to a video of a girl hav­ing her throat slit open – a search he would later deem “pure co­in­ci­dence”. The pros­e­cu­tion at­tor­ney to Den­mark’s most fa­mous mur­der trial would deem this a sign of things to come. Only hours later Mad­sen was ly­ing on the floor of his ves­sel as he sent a text mes­sage to his wife. It read, “I am on an ad­ven­ture on Nau­tilus. All is well. Sail­ing in calm seas and moon­light. Not div­ing. Kisses and hugs to the cats.”

Barely cen­time­tres away from him lay the body of a sweet Swedish red­head, an in­de­pen­dent and de­ter­mined free­lance jour­nal­ist who Mad­sen had killed only 20 min­utes ear­lier in a “cyn­i­cal and pre- planned sex­ual as­sault of a par­tic­u­larly bru­tal na­ture”. The vic­tim, 30- year- old Kim Wall, had will­ingly climbed into Mad­sen’s sink­ing tor­ture cham­ber only hours be­fore­hand, de­ter­mined to dis­cuss his in­spir­ing DIY rocket “space race”. But trapped me­tres be­low sea level, the per­verted in­ven­tor knew no one would hear her screams as he butchered her in a re- en­act­ment of the snuff porn he had de­voured on­line only hours ear­lier.

Deadly De­scent

10 Au­gust 2017 was, for Kim, a time to say good­bye to her Scan­di­na­vian life. A free­lance reporter, she had been born in 1987 in the south­ern Swedish town of Trelle­borg to par­ents In­grid and Joachim. As a young woman she had at­tended school in the Skåne cap­i­tal of Malmö, be­fore re­ceiv­ing a bach­e­lor’s de­gree in in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions at the Lon­don School of Eco­nomics. An in­tel­li­gent and driven young woman, Kim Wall went on to re­ceive a dual master’s de­gree in jour­nal­ism and in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions at New York’s Columbia Univer­sity.

Her work had, over the years, fea­tured in news­pa­pers such as Bri­tish news­pa­per The Guardian and renowned US broad­sheet The New York Times, as well as on­line and mag­a­zine out­lets such as Vice, Slate and Time. Her sto­ries fo­cused on themes such as iden­tity, gen­der or sub­cul­ture, and of­ten ex­plored the realms of so­cial jus­tice and “the un­der­cur­rents of re­bel­lion”. With still so much to achieve in her life, she and her part­ner, Dan­ish de­signer Ole Sto­bbe, were leav­ing Den­mark the fol­low­ing week for Bei­jing, China, and were throw­ing a party in Ref­shaleøen to bid farewell to their friends. It should have been the start of a new be­gin­ning for the jour­nal­ist, but that fate­ful day was in­stead to be a tragic, fi­nal end­ing.

Hours be­fore the party was due to start, Kim’s phone re­ceived a mes­sage from a man she had not ex­pected to ever hear from – Dan­ish en­tre­pre­neur and lo­cal celebrity Peter Mad­sen. The in­ven­tor had been thrust into the me­dia lime­light back in May 2008, fol­low­ing the launch of a sub­ma­rine he had built him­self and funded thanks to donations from the pub­lic. The sub, named after the fic­tional ves­sel in writer Jules Verne’s 1870 sci­ence fic­tion novel Twenty Thou­sand Leagues Un­der The Sea, had gained in­cred­i­ble at­ten­tion across the globe.

Soon after its launch came the an­nounce­ment of Mad­sen’s next idea, a ground­break­ing DIY rocket that was to be the first of its kind. The project, which had been the brain­child of

It should have been the start of a new be­gin­ning for the jour­nal­ist, but that fate­ful day was in­stead to

be a tragic, fi­nal end­ing

Mad­sen and for­mer NASA con­trac­tor Kris­tian von Bengt­son, as­pired to launch the world’s first DIY rocket as part of their newly co- founded and crowd­funded enterprise ‘ Copen­hagen Subor­bitals’. Their rocket work­shop was set up in a derelict hangar close to Copen­hagen har­bour, but after relationships be­tween the part­ners grew strained, Mad­sen set up his own rocket work­shop, named ‘ Rocket Mad­sen Space Work­shop’, in June 2014, just across the way from his orig­i­nal workspace. In March 2017 Kim had come across the in­ven­tor’s hangar and put out feel­ers to see whether Mad­sen would be will­ing to grant her an in­ter­view as part of a story she was writ­ing about the rocket builders. She had heard noth­ing for months, un­til the day of her farewell party, when the sub­ma­rine owner fi­nally ac­cepted her re­quest and in­vited her to meet him at his work­shop.

Kim was de­lighted at the idea that her story on Mad­sen’s ‘ space race’ might go ahead after all. That af­ter­noon she met with Mad­sen, and over a cup of tea at his ‘ space lab’ the pair talked. With hind­sight, this now ap­pears to be noth­ing more than Mad­sen’s at­tempts to put his fu­ture vic­tim at ease. Jour­nal­ism can some­times be a risky pro­fes­sion, es­pe­cially for a woman, but for Kim the friendly chat­ter of Mad­sen clearly had the de­sired ef­fect and, although she was a smart woman with great in­stincts, Mad­sen’s plan pro­gressed smoothly. Kim ac­cepted his in­vi­ta­tion to board the ves­sel with him that evening for a jour­ney around the har­bour. Kim re­turned to her part­ner with ex­cit­ing news about her voy­age. She in­vited Ole to go with her. He later claimed he had been

on the verge of say­ing yes, but they had guests ar­riv­ing soon and, feel­ing it was bet­ter that at least one of them was there to greet them, he told Kim to go alone.

Leav­ing the party on dry land, Kim stepped on board Nau­tilus at around 7pm. Pas­sen­gers on board an­other ves­sel snapped a pic­ture of Kim and Mad­sen some 90 min­utes after they set sail. It was still light out­side and Kim ap­peared to be en­joy­ing her ex­pe­di­tion around the waters. Hip to hip with Mad­sen in the sub’s con­ning tower, if she was ner­vous she didn’t show it: a broad smile spreads across her face as she looks out over the waters. It would turn out to be one of the last pic­tures of Kim ever taken.

Kim’s boyfriend re­ceived a text from her shortly after she left, say­ing, “I’m still alive btw. But go­ing down now!” She signed off what would be her fi­nal mes­sage to the out­side world: “I love you”.

In­side a hold on board his ves­sel Mad­sen had stored a num­ber of con­cern­ing items that would prove fun­da­men­tal to the pros­e­cu­tion’s case months later: a saw, sharp­ened screw­drivers, straps, pipes and a video cam­era.

Down The Hatch

On land, the farewell party car­ried on in the ab­sence of its sec­ond guest of hon­our, but after the crowds had dis­persed and the fes­tiv­i­ties had wound to a close, Kim’s part­ner grew in­creas­ingly con­cerned. Mid­night had passed and still there was no sign of Kim. The cou­ple were due to at­tend a wed­ding in the morn­ing, and it seemed strange that she would still be out at this time. After a search around the is­land on his bike, Ole called the po­lice at 1.45am. Half an hour later he called the navy. Kim had boarded Mad­sen’s sub­ma­rine more than seven hours ago and it was clear some­thing was wrong.

The search for Kim was fran­tic and strange in equal parts. The sub­ma­rine was sighted off the coast at around mid­night be­fore it dis­ap­peared again. The fol­low­ing morn­ing, at 11am ac­cord­ing to a lo­cal news re­port, a man who was out on

his boat help­ing with the search for the miss­ing ves­sel saw Mad­sen in the sub­ma­rine tower out on the wa­ter. Mad­sen de­scended down the hatch, and then re- emerged as the sub­ma­rine be­gan to sink. He swam to safety and was picked up by a nearby mo­tor­boat.

Re­porters had flocked to the shore­line, des­per­ate to find out about the miss­ing per­son re­port that had prompted a huge search for Nau­tilus. Mad­sen, once re­turned to shore, told them that while he was sad his sub had sunk, he was un­harmed and ev­ery­thing was fine.

When ques­tioned about the where­abouts of his pas­sen­ger, Mad­sen feigned ig­no­rance, claim­ing that three and a half hours after she had boarded the midget ves­sel, he had dropped her off on the tip of Ref­shaleøen is­land at 11.30pm. He in­sisted that he hadn’t seen her since. Al­ready de­tails in Mad­sen’s story weren’t adding up. Her boyfriend and friends knew that she had been ex­cited about the party and go­ing to China, and found it per­plex­ing that she would fail to re­turn home. They weren’t the only ones to doubt Mad­sen’s story. Copen­hagen po­lice ar­rested Mad­sen on sus­pi­cion of in­vol­un­tary man­slaugh­ter and ac­cused him of “hav­ing killed in an un­known way and in an un­known place Kim Is­abel Fredrika Wall of Swe­den, some­time after Thurs­day 5pm.”

Ap­pear­ing in court the fol­low­ing day, Mad­sen’s story changed. This time he claimed there had been a “ter­ri­ble ac­ci­dent” on board Nau­tilus. He said Kim had hit her head on the sub­ma­rine’s 70- kilo­gram hatch and died. Pan­ick­ing, he had pulled her body out of the sub­ma­rine us­ing a rope and dumped her body some­where off Køge Bay.

On 21 Au­gust, 11 days after she was last seen, Dan­ish po­lice were alerted to a grim dis­cov­ery that had been made by a cy­clist rid­ing close to where the sub­ma­rine had sank: a head­less, lim­b­less torso.

The fol­low­ing day DNA tests con­firmed the worst – it was Kim. Mad­sen’s charge was upped to man­slaugh­ter. A month later deep- sea divers dis­cov­ered the five re­main­ing com­po­nents of Kim’s body, bun­dled into plas­tic bags and weighed down in the wa­ter by metal scraps. Mad­sen stuck to the story that he had dumped her body at sea fully in­tact. Po­lice had rea­son to be­lieve oth­er­wise: divers had found a

Ac­cord­ing to the al­le­ga­tions, Mad­sen had bound, beaten and stabbed Kim be­fore killing her by chok­ing or

cut­ting her throat

saw they thought could have been used to dis­mem­ber the jour­nal­ist. More­over, Mad­sen’s per­sonal com­puter hard drive was full of videos show­ing women be­ing stran­gled, tor­tured and de­cap­i­tated. An in­spec­tion of Kim’s body showed that it had been cut into six pieces, but also that the skull showed no signs of trauma, which went di­rectly against Mad­sen’s story that a heavy blow to the skull had killed her. Kim had also been stabbed a dozen times in the vagina. It was a grim dis­cov­ery that hinted at the pos­si­bil­ity of sin­is­ter and twisted mo­tives for mur­der.

Then, on 30 Oc­to­ber, came Mad­sen’s third and fi­nal ver­sion of the events that oc­curred on board Nau­tilus. He now claimed that Kim had ac­ci­den­tally died of car­bon monox­ide poi­son­ing and that he had in­deed dis­mem­bered her body be­fore throw­ing her over­board. A state­ment, re­leased in Jan­uary 2018 by the courts, said that Mad­sen had been in­dicted for homi­cide that “took place with prior plan­ning and prepa­ra­tion”. A method of mur­der was not ini­tially of­fered, but it was re­vealed that po­lice had also charged him with “sex­ual re­la­tions other than in­ter­course of a par­tic­u­larly dan­ger­ous na­ture, as well as for dis­mem­ber­ment”. Ac­cord­ing to the al­le­ga­tions against the Dan­ish pris­oner, Mad­sen had bound, beaten and stabbed Kim be­fore killing her by chok­ing or cut­ting her throat.

The Mind Of A

“Poly­mor­phic Per­vert”

Await­ing trial for mur­der, Mad­sen sat be­hind bars with lim­ited ac­cess to any­thing other than pa­per and a pen­cil. Mean­while, across the globe Kim’s name was be­com­ing fre­quently used in dis­cus­sions about how an in­trepid reporter could meet such a grisly demise. Those who knew Kim when she was alive knew that she was driven by her en­thu­si­asm for in­de­pen­dent jour­nal­ism and her pas­sion to give the world a closer look at the ar­eas fre­quently glossed over by main­stream me­dia. The irony that she had been mur­dered in her home­town – one of the world’s safest and most equal­i­ty­driven re­gions – was al­most too much to bear.

Mad­sen’s much- awaited 12- day trial com­menced on 8 March 2018, heard by Copen­hagen City Court Judge Anette Burkø and two jurors. In his open­ing state­ment, prose­cu­tor

Jakob Buch- Jepsen de­tailed how Kim’s sev­ered limbs had been found on a south­ern shore­line in Copen­hagen, and that her death had been a pre­med­i­tated at­tack by a man psy­chi­a­trists re­garded as “hav­ing no em­pa­thy or feel­ings of guilt”. The pros­e­cu­tion, it had been re­vealed back in Jan­uary, were seek­ing life im­pris­on­ment for Mad­sen with a sec­ondary claim for safe cus­tody, mean­ing that the court could keep Mad­sen in prison for as long as he was deemed a threat and a dan­ger to the pub­lic. Mad­sen’s de­fence lawyer, Betina Hald Eng­mark, ar­gued that while Mad­sen ad­mit­ted to dis­mem­ber­ing the jour­nal­ist on his sub­ma­rine, there was no proof that her client had mur­dered Kim.

On the first day of his trial, Mad­sen took the stand for over two hours, wear­ing glasses, a dark shirt and jeans, to give his ver­sion of events. He told the court he had lied on pre­vi­ous oc­ca­sions to spare her friends and fam­ily the de­tails of how she had died, fol­low­ing a “won­der­ful evening” that ended in a “hor­ri­ble ac­ci­dent”. Ac­cord­ing to the de­fen­dant, his fe­male pas­sen­ger had died a slow and painful death thanks to a com­bi­na­tion of ex­haust gas and a fall in cabin pres­sure while he was on deck. He claimed that he had tried to open the hatches but couldn’t, and when he fi­nally could, Kim’s body was ly­ing life­less on the floor. He had tried to re­sus­ci­tate her but fi­nally gave up. Mad­sen, who tried to in­sist that the dis­mem­ber­ment of Kim was not at­trib­ut­able to any kind of sex­ual fan­tasy and was car­ried out to make it eas­ier to re­move the body from the sub­ma­rine, be­came ir­ri­ta­ble when Buch- Jepsen sug­gested that Mad­sen had sex­u­ally in­ter­fered with the body. When he was asked about se­men stains found in his un­der­wear, Mad­sen an­swered back, “It’s not strange given I am such a pro­mis­cu­ous per­son.”

Foren­sic ex­perts and pathol­o­gists tes­ti­fied in court, cit­ing that no ev­i­dence of gas poi­son­ing was found in Kim’s lungs or heart tis­sue. The sec­ond day of the trial saw no signs of the pros­e­cu­tion’s fierce ques­tion­ing of the de­fen­dant abat­ing, as Mad­sen was put on the stand again to give an ex­pla­na­tion

re­gard­ing the dis­mem­ber­ment of Kim, which he had said took place after toxic gases suf­fo­cated her. He ad­mit­ted he had dis­mem­bered the jour­nal­ist in the bath­room but of­fered lit­tle more in­sight. “I have said what I have to say about this. I was in an in­sane sit­u­a­tion and used what was around,” he told the court. “I put some punc­tures in the body parts be­cause I didn’t want them to be in­flated by gases,” Mad­sen went on to ad­mit. “There is noth­ing sex­ual in the fact that the stab holes were in her vagina. I un­der­stand why you might think there was, but there was noth­ing sex­ual in it for me.”

The pros­e­cu­tion’s claims hinged quite heav­ily on the find­ings on Mad­sen’s iPhone pro­file. The phone it­self was never found and nor was Kim’s, and Dan­ish po­lice as­sumed they had likely been tossed over­board.

How­ever, they were still able to re­cover on­line data from them. Mad­sen’s search his­tory showed his pro­cliv­ity for snuff porn and vi­o­lence to­wards women.

His top three porn search words were

“throat” “girl” and “pain”. Dan­ish tabloid

The Copen­hagen Post com­mented in their trial re­port how “his pre­ferred method of tor­ture, it would ap­pear, in­cludes a woman be­ing mis­treated with a knife, fire or a spear”. The judges and jurors also saw a film, re­cov­ered from Mad­sen’s com­puter, show­ing a woman hav­ing her throat slit. It was sim­i­lar to the one Mad­sen watched just hours be­fore Kim boarded his ves­sel. Too hor­rific to be shown pub­licly, the rest of the court could only lis­ten to the gory sounds from the video. When asked why he watched an an­i­mated video show­ing a sim­i­lar thing, Mad­sen be­gan to com­pare it to watch­ing films like Seven and Kill Bill. Psy­cho­log­i­cal eval­u­a­tions con­ducted in the run- up to his trial de­scribed Mad­sen as a “poly­mor­phic per­vert”. The psy­chol­o­gists who eval­u­ated Mad­sen came to the con­clu­sion that he was a “highly un­trust­wor­thy” and emo­tion­ally im­paired ma­nip­u­la­tor with nar­cis­sis­tic ten­den­cies, and that he had a lack of em­pa­thy or a con­science. Mad­sen’s de­fence team coun­tered, ar­gu­ing that the pros­e­cu­tion could not prove ex­actly how Kim Wall had died, and there­fore they were miss­ing a cru­cial com­po­nent in their ar­gu­ments and the case against their client.

Dur­ing the fourth day of the trial, on what should have been Kim’s 31st birth­day, wit­nesses came for­ward, many choos­ing to give ev­i­dence be­hind a screen. A fe­male wit­ness claimed that, although she had not had a phys­i­cal re­la­tion­ship with Mad­sen, their con­ver­sa­tions fo­cused on sex and, more im­por­tantly, the role of pain and death in sex­ual arousal. They dis­cussed the most plea­sur­able way to die, snuff movies, the abil­ity to be a car­ing fa­ther and a “lov­ing psy­chopath” and in­creas­ingly wilder fan­tasies. At one point Mad­sen sug­gested she could pho­to­graph an orgy he had planned. The pros­e­cu­tion also read ev­i­dence to the

y ( left) In court on the fir st da of his tr ial, Mad­sen w as gr illed by the prose­cu­tor , who a ttempted w to demon­str ate to the court ho Kim Mad­sen had sex­u­all y as­saulted ted as part of a sadis­tic pre­medita at­tack, bef ore killing her (...

Hald Mad­sen’s def ence la wyer, Betina court tha t Eng­mark, tr ied to con vince the to dis­mem­ber although her c lient’s de­ci­sion a giv en tha t Kim w as str ange, it w as not he had mur­dered her

The sub­ma­rine sinks in Køge Bay. Lo­cals res­cue Mad­sen from the wa­ter and take him to Dragør Har­bour. Mad­sen claims that tech­ni­cal prob­lems caused the sub to sink but that no one was harmed. Kim is nowhere to be found. Kim boards Mad­sen’s fa­mous pri­vate...

Deputy As­sis­tant Com­mis­sioner Jens Moeller an­nounced tha t ing Mad­sen ad­mit­ted to dis­mem­ber and Kim’s body, after her head­less 11 punc­tured tor so w ashed ashore days after she disa ppeared top While search­ing the shore­lines and waters where Kim was...

Peter Mad­sen, seen here along­side his home­made sub , had searc hed “metal pipe” 220 times on his com­puter , look­ing for the metal tha t w ould ev en­tu­ally be used to w eigh do wn Kim’ s sev ered limbs in plas­tic ba gs dis­carded in the sea Right...

across 30- year- old Kim had re­ported Cuba the w orld, vis­it­ing places lik e and North K orea. She sur veyed and post- war tour ism in Sr i Lanka it w as ex­plored v oodoo in Haiti, but ine a “quic k tr ip” in Mad­sen’ s sub­mar that cost her her lif...

Right The 22- year- old Tokyo- born stu­dent van­ished when trav­el­ling in Scan­di­navia and Ger­many more than 30 years ago

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