COPENHAGEN, DENMARK — The trial is underway of Danish inventor Peter Madsen, 47, for the August 2017 murder of Swedish journalist Kim Wall, 30, on board his homemade submarine, the UC3 Nautilus.
Peter Madsen is a renowned engineer and a popular public figure in Denmark nicknamed “Rocket Madsen.” Thus, when Madsen initially told authorities that Wall had taken a ride on his vessel, interviewed him, and then gotten off the sub, few eyebrows were raised. That changed in a hurry.
While being further interviewed by police, Madsen said, no, Wall actually died when a hatch cover accidentally fractured her skull. Since then, Madsen has again changed the story to claim that Wall succumbed to carbon monoxide poisoning below deck while he was safely up top.
Twelve days after Wall vanished, her severely mutilated torso washed up on a local beach. She had been stabbed 15 times, mostly in her genital area — both inside and outside.
On October 6, divers found weighted plastic bags containing Wall’s head, legs, and clothing, as well a knife. As still more pieces of Kim Wall surfaced, Madsen admitted to dismembering and dumping her body.
Betina Hald Engmark, Madsen’s lawyer, maintains that her client simply panicked when Wall suddenly expired and, not knowing what to do, he chopped her up in a haze. While testifying Thursday, Madsen said he tried to cover up Wall’s demise to “protect” her loved ones, saying, “I didn’t want to share with the rest of the world the horrible manner in which she died.”
As he justified Wall’s dismemberment in court, Madsen apparently “flashed a sick smile,” and said, “I don’t see how that mattered at that time, as she was dead.” He also admitted to sleeping next to Wall’s dead body for two hours before chopping her into pieces.
Prosecutors allege that Madsen always had murder on his mind and that he purposefully pre-loaded the sub with a saw, a knife, sharpened screwdrivers, rope, and other implements of sadism and death.
Further darkening the picture, officers discovered that Madsen’s computer contained numerous videos of real-life torture, murder, and acts of violence against women.
When lead prosecutor Jakob Buch-Jepsen asked Madsen on stand if such videos “inspired” him to kill Wall, the accused scientist snarkily responded, “No, but I worry about you for asking.”
A retired adult film star, Dorthe Damsgaard, has come forward saying that she is sure she would have met the same fate as Wall if she hadn’t turned down Madsen’s repeated advances. “He has repeatedly invited me to sail in his submarine, but I thanked no every time. Last he asked was about 14 days before it all happened,” Damsgaard told a Danish newspaper. “It could have been me that had been killed down there.”
Damsgaard, who has known Madsen for nine years, says that he has a “dark side” and that he made no secret of his sexual fantasies to her. Regarding Madsen’s repeated invitations, Damsgaard says, “I had a bad … feeling about it. I was afraid he would do something out there to scare me.”
A court psychiatrist has diagnosed Madsen as “severely aberrant,” but sane enough to know what he was doing was illegal and wrong.
Unlike the typical trial heard by a six- or nine-member jury, the City Court of Copenhagen agreed to try Madsen — at his own request — before a judge and just two jurors.
Madsen is charged with murder, dismemberment, and indecent handling of a corpse. The court expects to deliver a verdict on April 25. If convicted, Madsen could potentially spend the rest of his days behind bars. Denmark’s majority of “life sentences,” however, average about 12 years.
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Main photos: From left — Peter Madsen/YouTube video [screenshot]; Kim Wall/YouTube video [screenshot]