go to content

Remains Found After Submarine Builder Claimed He Buried Missing Journalist At Sea

Peter Madsen, 46, was rescued after his submarine sank. He was then arrested when the journalist Kim Wall — who had accompanied him at sea — was reported missing. He first claimed to have dropped her off, but later changed his story.

Originally posted on
Updated on

A Danish inventor has said he buried a missing Swedish journalist at sea after she was killed in an accident on board his submarine.

On Aug. 11, Peter Madsen, 46, was rescued in a Danish military operation after his submarine did not return from an excursion at its expected time, Copenhagen police said. Madsen had set off on the Thursday evening from Copenhagen's Refshale Island with the journalist Kim Wall, and around 3:30 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 12, authorities received a report that the submarine had not returned.

A rescue team later spotted the submarine in Køge Bay at 10:30 a.m. and made radio contact, police said. Madsen, who had gained fame in his home country for building the submarine, said he was heading into the harbor. About half an hour later, the submarine abruptly sank, police said.

Madsen was rescued by a private motorboat in the area, but the journalist was not found. Madsen told police that he had dropped her off on Thursday not far from where the submarine journey began. He was subsequently arrested and is facing a charge of manslaughter.

However, on Monday police released a statement that Madsen had changed his story and now claimed Wall had died while on the submarine.

“The accused has told police and the court that an accident occurred on board the submarine which caused Kim Wall’s death, and that he subsequently buried her at sea at an unspecified location somewhere in Køge Bay. Copenhagen Police can additionally confirm that the current charges remain in place. No further information will be given with regard to the investigation of the case, since it is being conducted behind closed doors,” the police statement read.

Danish and Swedish authorities searched the bay for Wall's body, and on Monday, a woman's remains were spotted in the area by a cyclist, the Guardian reported. A police spokesman said it appeared to be a woman's torso, but it was too soon to say if it was Wall.

After his rescue, Madsen spoke to a Danish TV station about what happened. He didn't mention the journalist, and he said the sinking was due to issues with the submarine's ballast tank.

"I am fine, but sad because Nautilus went down," he told TV2, according to the Associated Press.

Police are asking any witnesses who may have seen Madsen or Wall on the Thursday to come forward.

Wall had been writing about Madsen and his submarine and was reported missing by her boyfriend, Danish tabloid Ekstra Bladet reported.

Madsen has for years been a colorful figure in Denmark. He launched his submarine, the Nautilus, in 2008. At the time, it was the largest privately built submarine in the world, and he completed it through volunteers and crowdfunding.

The self-styled "inventrepaneur" also cofounded an amateur rocket company.

Claudia Koerner is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.

Contact Claudia Koerner at claudia.koerner@buzzfeed.com.

Alicia Melville-Smith is a homepage editor and reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Alicia Melville-Smith at alicia.melville-smith@buzzfeed.com.

Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.