Let's talk about that Danish submarine murder case for a moment

There’s been a new development in the case of the murder of Swedish journalist Kim Wall (which I’ll get to in a moment) which makes an already insanely bizarre case even more strange. If you haven’t been following the story of Wall’s death and the accusations against Danish inventor Peter Madsen, I’ll warn you in advance that this gets particularly gruesome in a hurry. But at this point, there are some who are actually beginning to wonder if this strange story could actually have taken place the way police suspect.

The Guardian published a full timeline of events complete with maps last month if you’re not familiar with it and really want to dig into the details. I’ll just give a brief, thumbnail version for purposes of posing the questions I have. Madsen is a highly successful inventor and aerospace engineer who has done very well for himself. Among his creations are three personally designed and constructed submarines, with the largest and most recent being the UC3 Nautilus.

Kim Wall was a journalist who was doing a story on Madsen and his creations. This spring she arranged to go on a journey with Madsen in the Nautilus for her reporting, but after leaving port with him she was never seen alive again. Suspicion immediately fell on Madsen since he was the only other person onboard the sub, which he was seen escaping from as it sank. Madsen’s story about what happened to Wall sounded fishy to begin with and changed drastically through many renditions over time.

He originally claimed that he had already dropped her off and had no idea where she was. When pressed, he changed his mind and said Wall had been accidentally killed during their journey and he had “buried her at sea.” (Well, technically the buried at sea part turned out to be true, but…) He said that a hatch had unexpectedly slammed shut, hitting her in the head and killing her. Afraid of what people might think, he performed the sea burial.

Then, Wall’s torso showed up floating in the water. Just the torso. The head and limbs had been removed. Madsen insisted that he had dumped her overboard but hadn’t cut her up. Perhaps a shark did it? (That would have needed to be a shark with some precision cutting tools.) I’m sure you get the impression by now. Nobody was believing anything Madsen had to say. And now Wall’s head, legs, and personal effects have been found in a bag weighted down in the ocean. Along with a knife. (Associated Press)

Danish divers found the decapitated head, legs and clothes of a Swedish journalist who was killed after going on a trip with an inventor on his submarine, police said Saturday.

The body parts and clothing were found Friday in plastic bags with a knife and “heavy metal pieces” to make them sink near where the 30-year-old Wall’s naked headless torso was found in August, Copenhagen police investigator Jens Moeller Jensen said.

Moeller Jensen said there were no fractures to Wall’s skull and he declined to comment on the discovery of the knife.

While Madsen is still proclaiming his innocence, I neglected to mention that authorities found a large number of films on his computer of the “snuff” variety showing women being killed and decapitated. Madsen insists someone else was using his computer. If Madsen actually didn’t murder and decapitate Wall and someone else was using his computer to look at films of murder and decapitation, this is just about the unluckiest guy on the planet.

But that brings us to the really big question. Based on everything I set forth here, the guy is guilty, right? Of course he is. But still…

We can’t avoid the question of why he would do it and, most particularly, do it under those specific circumstances. He and Wall were on a submarine that he constructed. Granted, that’s about the most isolated environment imaginable to do something so completely horrific and not be interrupted, but how did Madsen picture the rest of the story playing out? They were the only two on the boat! Did he honestly think he could sail back into port without her and nobody was going to ask any questions when she didn’t show up for work? Or was he scuttling the ship so he could claim that she was lost at sea when it was going down? Slightly more plausible I suppose, but why not just say that up front?

I’m only asking this (and I’m not the only one) because Madsen wasn’t just smart. He’s a genius. He was literally in the process of starting his own space program. He was also quite famous, at least in Europe. Could he honestly have believed that he could get away with this? And if not, who else could have done it? There just isn’t anyone else we can pin it on unless there was a third party on the submarine that nobody else knew about and Madsen isn’t willing to reveal. But again… if it was someone else, why would Madsen take the fall for them?

He’s changed his story so many times at this point that by the time this goes to trial we may finally have a confession. But if he continues to profess his innocence, this will go down as one of the weirdest murders in history.