STOCKHOLM: The headless torso of a woman found at sea was identified on Wednesday as a Swedish journalist who likely died aboard a Danish inventor’s homemade submarine.
In a grisly case that has gripped the nation and drawn parallels with Nordic Noir detective fiction, Danish police confirmed they had made a positive identification of the body, which was found on Monday.
“The DNA of the torso matches that of Kim Wall,” Copenhagen police announced on Twitter.
Danish inventor Peter Madsen has been accused of the negligent manslaughter of the 30-year-old reporter who went to interview him aboard his 60-foot (18-metre) submarine on August 10.
She has not been seen since.
The torso, whose head and limbs were deliberately cut off, was found on in Koge Bay, some 50 kilometers (30 miles) south of Copenhagen, police say.
It also bore injuries which appeared to suggest that air had been forced out of it, Copenhagen homicide chief Jens Moller Jensen told a news conference.
He also said the torso had been attached to a metal object which was likely intended to weigh it down.
The cause of death remains unknown and police are still searching for the remaining body parts, Jensen said.
Blood in the sub
Madsen, who has been in custody since August 12, has changed his story several times, with police saying they believe the 46-year-old “deliberately” sank the sub.
Inside the submarine they found traces of Wall’s blood.
“We secured a hairbrush and a toothbrush to confirm her DNA. We found blood in the submarine and it was a match,” Jensen said.
But it would take two to three weeks before police could confirm if there were blood stains on the clothes Madsen was wearing at the time.
Wall, a freelance journalist who had reported for The Guardian and The New York Times, has not been seen since she was observed on board the sub with Madsen on August 10.
Her boyfriend reported her missing a day later. The same day, Madsen was rescued from waters between Denmark and Sweden shortly before his submarine sank.
Madsen, whose website describes him as an “inventepreneur”, initially told authorities he dropped Wall off on an island late on the evening of August 10.
But he changed his story several days later when he appeared in court, saying Wall had died in an accident on board and that he dumped the body in the water at an undefined location in Koge Bay.
Investigators have since recovered and searched the sunken submarine.
Madsen is currently being held on suspicion of negligent manslaughter, but Jensen said that could change following the latest developments.
Madsen has denied the allegations.
Police said it was not clear what motive Madsen could have had for killing her.
Dubbed “Rocket Madsen” in Danish media after the title of a biography of him, the inventor has been described by acquaintances as temperamental, but not violent.
“He’s not violent, he doesn’t drink, (he) doesn’t take drugs,” said journalist Thomas Djursing, who wrote the biography, in an interview with Denmark’s Jyllands-Posten daily on August 14.
“But he is angry with God and everyone.”
And on August 16, his brother Benny Langkjaer Egeso told the Swedish daily Expressen that Madsen “is very strange and that turns him into his own greatest enemy right now.”
Born into a working-class family, Madsen lived with his father after his parents divorced. His father had a “great interest in ships, war jets and history”, according to Expressen.
“I don’t think they talked about anything else but science. Not so much about feelings,” Egeso said.
A self-taught engineer, Madsen worked with volunteers to build the Nautilus, the biggest-ever private submarine when it was launched in 2008.
But they fell out in 2014-2015 and ownership of the vessel was transferred to him, the submarine’s website says.
More recently, Madsen had created Rocket-Madsen Space Lab, funded by donations and which aimed to send privately built rockets into space.
Wall, a graduate of Columbia School of Journalism, was based between New York and China.
Her friends have described her as “invincible”, “ambitious” and as “seeing something good in everyone”, according to Swedish media reports.
“It is with endless sorrow and dismay that we have received the news that the remains of our daughter and sister have been found,” Wall’s mother Ingrid wrote in a Facebook post on Wednesday.
Wall had covered news about earthquake-hit areas in Haiti, Idi Amin’s torture chambers in Uganda and minefields in Sri Lanka.
“She gave voice to the weak, to the vulnerable and marginalized people,” her mother wrote.
“That voice would have been needed much, much longer. But now that will not be so.” AFP