Swedish Journalist Kim Wall boarded Peter Madsen’s DIY submarine off the coast of Denmark to write a story, but she never came back.
Now Madsen, 46, a well-known inventor, is in custody “while Danish police continue their investigation into the presumed death” of the 30-year-old journalist, reports the Guardian.
Horrifically, police have now identified a headless torso as that of Wall. “Headless torso found in Copenhagen identified as missing Swedish journalist Kim Wall, Danish police say,” BBC reports.
The sub, described by the Guardian as a “self-built, 18-metre (59ft) UC3 Nautilus” sank in Køge Bay, south of Copenhagen, on the morning of August 11. Madsen had already gained headlines in Denmark because he crowd-funded the building of his home-made sub.
The mystery of the vanishing journalist has fascinated and horrified Denmark.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Wall Boarded the Sub to do a Story & Vanished
According to the Guardian, Wall went on board the submarine to write a story about the sub and Madsen on Thursday, August 10 and “has not been heard from since.” However, on August 22, Danish police announced on Twitter that “there was a “DNA match between [the] torso and Kim Wall.”
“The torso was found on Monday – police said the arms, legs and head had been deliberately cut off,” BBC reported on August 22.
Wall’s boyfriend contacted police when she didn’t return home and “Danish authorities began searching for the vessel – the world’s largest home-built submarine when it was launched in 2008 – eventually locating it in Køge Bay, about 30 miles from the Danish capital,” according to The Guardian.
BBC reports that authorities think Wall is most likely dead and divers are searching for her body.
According to The Associated Press, Madsen is being held in pre-trial detention for 24 days while the disappearance is investigated.
AP quoted the prosecutor as saying that Madsen faced a preliminary manslaughter charge “for having killed in an unknown way and in an unknown place Kim Isabell Frerika Wall of Sweden sometime after Thursday 5 p.m.” BBC reports that Madsen “was charged with negligent manslaughter. He initially said he had dropped her off safely near Copenhagen, but has since said she died in an accident and that he had ‘buried’ her at sea.”
2. Madsen Was Rescued After the Sub Sank but Police Think he Sabotaged It
There’s a last photo of Wall that shows her “standing in the vessel’s tower with Madsen, looking out to sea,” reports News.com.au. You can see it above.
Compounding the mystery, the sub sank, and Madsen was rescued when it did, but authorities dredged it back up and there were no bodies inside.
According to BBC, Madsen has been accused of negligent manslaughter, and “police now believe he deliberately sank his own sub.”
Madsen “was rescued by the Navy on Friday afternoon after the Nautilus sank in a bay off Copenhagen. He told authorities he had technical difficulties but police now believe the vessel was deliberately sunk,” reports News.com.au.
His lawyer told BBC he is not guilty but hasn’t said much more. According to AP, “Madsen smiled and chatted with his lawyer” in court and said, “I would very much like to express myself.”
Kristian Isbak, who was helping the Navy search for the ship after Wall was reported missing, told The Associated Press “he first spotted Madsen standing wearing his trademark military fatigues in the submarine’s tower while it was still afloat.”
“He then climbed down inside the submarine and there was then some kind of air flow coming up and the submarine started to sink,” Isbak said to AP. “(He) came up again and stayed in the tower until water came into it” and then swam to a nearby boat.
3. Wall Was a Respected Freelance Journalist
Wall had written for many prominent publications throughout the world as a freelance journalist.
She “was researching a feature about Peter Madsen, an inventor who built his private 40-tonne submarine, UC3 Nautilus, through crowdfunding in 2008. She has written for the New York Times, Guardian, Vice and the South China Morning Post,” reported BBC.
On Facebook, Wall wrote that she lived in Beijing, China. Her most recent post, from June, indicated she was in Havana, Cuba, and read, “I wrote a story about hard drives, hackers & hustling. With Alexa Hoyer’s photos, and the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. Read in Harper’s Magazine’s July issue; online (and consider subscribing) or — if you’re in Cuba — look out in next week’s El Paquete Semanal.”
In January, she wrote on Facebook: “I wrote about the Chinese feminists rising up against Donald Trump’s misogyny, a.k.a. ‘Straight Man Cancer’, in D.C last weekend. #直男癌.”
4. Madsen Claimed He Dropped Kim Wall Off at a Restaurant
According to BBC, “Peter Madsen said he dropped Kim Wall off after dark at about 22:30 at the Halvandet restaurant, on the northern tip of Refshaleoen, close to where they had met earlier.”
However, there is surveillance video footage of that area, which police have recovered, although they haven’t said what’s on it.
The Committee to Protect Journalists has released a statement on Wall’s behalf.
“We call on Danish authorities to employ all efforts and resources to carry out an exhaustive inquiry into Kim Wall’s fate and whereabouts,” CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova said in the statement. “Denmark should not be considered a dangerous assignment for journalists.”
According to a statement Wall’s family shared with CPJ, “It is with a great concern that we, her family, received the news that Kim is missing after an interview with Peter Madsen in Denmark. We sincerely hope that she will be found and that she is well.”
5. Madsen Was a Well-Known, Eccentric Inventor Known as the ‘Crazy Professor’
Madsen had a reputation for both genius and eccentricity well before the Wall mystery.
“He’s an eccentric but celebrated inventor affectionately known as ‘Rocket’ and the ‘crazy professor,'” reports News.com.au. The site also reported that Madsen is “co-founder of Copenhagen Suborbitals, a collective of amateur rocket builders.”
Reuters describes Madsen as “an entrepreneur, artist, submarine builder and aerospace engineer,” adding, “The submarine, UC3 Nautilus, is one of three constructed by Madsen. It can carry eight people.”