Kim Wall (born Kim Isabel Fredrika) was a Swedish journalist born in the small town of Trelleborg in Scania, Sweden in 1987. Trelleborg is described as a quiet and peaceful place known as a Ferry town that sits just 9 miles from the Scandinavian Peninsula.
By the age of 24 Kim Wall was well traveled. She had studied at various schools around the world and had resided and worked in numerous countries. She worked as an independent journalist, writing freelance articles for newspapers such as “Vice”, “The Guardian”, “Time” and the “South China morning post” to name a few.
She received her master’s degree in Journalism from the University of Columbia in 2011 (where she graduated with honors). Her full biography can be read in detail on this memorial website HERE.
Although there is much to celebrate when it comes to the life of Kim Wall and her many achievements, we’re here today, unfortunately, to discuss her tragic death.
Peter Langkjær Madsen, an inventor and engineer in his mid-forties, caught the attention of Wall with his home-made mini submarines. A friend of the journalist later revealed that Kim intended to write an article about the home made vessel with the intention of submitting it to “Wired” magazine. Her plan was to board the “UC3 Nautilus” alone with its creator to interview him about his project and get some first-hand experience.
Mini-submarines or “midget submarines” as they are commonly known, are vessels usually manned by a single operative or modest crew. To be considered mini they must weigh no more than 150 tons. The “UC3 Nautilus” was built in 2008 and cost around quarter of a million US dollars to construct. Submerged it could host no more than 4 crew members and could be operated by a single individual almost completely controlled from one room.
The mini-submarine was the third of its type created by Madsen and his force of volunteers. Standing at just over 17 meters in length and weighing 40-tonnes, it earned the title of the biggest privately built submarine in the world (at the time) and attracted a lot of attention. Kim wall would certainly not be the first to venture out with Peter Madsen for a unique experience in the UC3 Nautilus, several others had done so before her, including the developers of a video game “Silent Hunter 5: Battle of the Atlantic” which centered around the player controlling a German VII U-boat. The 360 degree periscope and several port holes installed on the mini-sub allowed the developers to recreate realistic game play (although finally the game itself was not well received on its playability)
Although the submarine initially belonged to both Madsen and the volunteers that were integral to constructing it, the vessel was handed over to him as sole owner in early 2015 following a dispute.
Wall’s request for a trip on the UC3 Nautilus was approved and the two decided to meet on the evening of August 10th 2017 at 7pm in Refshaleøen, Copenhagen, Denmark. Kim let her boyfriend know her plans for the evening and had him drop her off that night at the port. As he waved her off he had no way of knowing that it would be the last time he’d ever see her.
Early the following morning at 2:30am, when Kim did not return, her boyfriend reported her missing to the authorities.
They were quick to contact Peter Madsen who claimed that he had dropped her off at the shore by Halvandet restaurant at around 22:30, as planned. Kim was considered a missing person and the restaurant submitted its surveillance tapes to local authorities.
A news team visited the location that Madsen claimed to drop her off at around 10pm, but a worker in the watch tower claimed that he had not seen anything of the sort that night and did not clock out until 11pm. A woman who lived on a docked boat on the shore denied seeing anything too.
Madsen changed his story following questioning, and claimed that Wall had accidentally died when a heavy hatch door fell onto her head. He claimed that he was holding the door open for her when he was thrown off balance and accidentally lost his grip on the hatch, causing it swing down and hit the journalist in the head, killing her.
He said he then decided to bury her at sea by throwing her over, but insisted that he did not kill her. He claimed he was in a state of shock and was considering suicide following the ordeal.
We know that the submarine did not sink until until 11am on the 11th of August due to various sightings along numerous parts of the journey.
It was sighted at midnight on August 10th, from a lighthouse at 10:30am on August 11th and finally spotted sunken half an hour later. Madsen was rescued but there was no sign of Kim Wall.
The sunken submarine, however, is belived to be no accident. Investigation revealed that they believed Madsen had intentionally flooded the submarine and allowed it to sink.
The truth surrounding tragic fate of Miss Wall would remain a mystery until 12 days later, on the 21st of August, when part of her dismembered body washed up onto Klydesoen bay. An unclothed torso was found in the bay area by a civilian riding his bicycle and after DNA testing was revealed to be that of the missing journalist. Investigators determined that body had been weighed down at some point, with the intention of keeping it from washing up on shore.
Just over 2 weeks later police divers found deliberately weighted plastic bags while searching for the rest of Kim’s remains. They found her severed legs and severed head, as well as her personal belongings on the 6th of October. Amongst her personal effects were her shoes, a pair of stockings and also a knife.
Autopsy revealed that there was no blunt force trauma or any injury to the skull, which contradicted the statement that Peter Madsen had given to police.
Madsen later changed his story and claimed that she had died as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning, and in a state of panic while on the deck he had dismembered her body and thrown it over board. He insisted that he did not murder her; however autopsy revealed some disturbing information.
Kim walls body was riddled with stab wounds, fifteen in total, mainly to her genitals. Apparently the stab wounds were made “around or shortly after death”. Either these were the wounds that killed Kim Wall, or the knife wounds had been made post-mortem to prevent the inevitable build of gases that inflate the body after death and cause it to float to the surface. It is possible that Madsen even inflicted the injuries for pleasure.
The cause of Kim Wall’s death could not officially be determined.
DNA evidence was not washed clean following the intentional sinking of the vessel and police found a pair of women’s underwear in the control room of the submarine, as well as blood and hair in the toilet.
Analysis of Peter Madsen’s computer hard drive turned up some twisted content. There were images of women being tortured and decapitated. Authorities believe them to be real and commented that the women were from “foreign countries”. Madsen denied that the files belonged to him and indicated that an intern lived at the lab where he kept his computer, and said that others had access to it. Several people who personally knew Madsen claimed that they had seen him viewing such content before. They are unnamed in reports but apparently told police that they were aware he was into autoerotic asphyxia sex and violent content.
Although he was originally charged with manslaughter and abuse of a corpse, he is now facing murder charges.
Peter Madsen is currently in voluntary provisional detention. The trail will start March/April next year.