A Danish inventor arrested in connection with the death of a still-missing Swedish journalist has allegedly admitted to burying her at sea but will not reveal where, PEOPLE confirms.
Peter Madsen is held on a charge of involuntary manslaughter in the death of Kim Wall, 30, whose remains have not been found and who was last seen alive aboard Madsen’s privately-built submarine on Aug. 10, according to a Monday statement from police in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Wall was working on a story about the 46-year-old Madsen when she boarded his submarine in Copenhagen’s harbor in August. But authorities say she never returned home and the following day was reported missing by her boyfriend.
The submarine she was on was seen periodically on Aug. 10 and 11, according to police, and a witness reportedly said he later saw Madsen swim from his sinking submarine, which was found 22 feet below the water and pulled to shore, according to the New York Times. Madsen was arrested on Aug. 11.
A technical investigation of the submarine was completed on Aug. 14, according to police, who said that their findings show “the sinking of the submarine was allegedly a consequence of a deliberate act.”
At the time of Wall’s disappearance, Madsen allegedly told investigators he had taken her out on his submarine on Aug. 10 but dropped her back off on land that night. However, according to police, Madsen has changed his story — allegedly admitting that “there was an accident on board which caused Kim Wall’s death and that he consequently buried her at sea at a non-defined location in the Bay of Køge.”
Other details about this account have not been released, including the nature of the alleged accident Wall suffered and why Madsen felt he should get rid of her body.
Police announced on Monday that a headless female torso was found by the Copenhagen shoreline, Jens Moller, the city’s chief homicide investigator, tells PEOPLE.
The torso did not have arms or legs and was naked, Moller says. Its limbs appeared to have been cut off with a knife or saw.
However, “It’s way, way too early to say if it’s Kim Wall. We don’t know if it’s her,” he told the New York Times.
Authorities are awaiting an autopsy report and DNA identification, Moller says, adding that in the meantime the search for Wall continues. An identification on the torso is expected Wednesday.
Speaking recently to Danish media, Madsen’s attorney, Betina Hald Engmark, said the well-known inventor maintains his innocence and is cooperating with police. “People react differently when they have been out of a traumatic experience,” Engmar told Denmark’s TV2.
It was unclear if Madsen has entered a plea. He remains behind bars, according to police.
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Wall, a freelance journalist, studied at Columbia University in New York, the London School of Economics and the Paris-Sorbonne University, according to the Associated Press. She had written for international outlets including The New York Times, Time magazine, The Guardian and the South China Morning Post.
The Times reports that in his native Denmark, Madsen is known as “Rocket Madsen” — “an uncompromising builder of submarines and space rockets who was hoping to become the world’s first amateur space traveler riding in a homemade rocket.”
After Madsen’s submarine was discovered earlier this month, divers and bottom-scanning sonars were used to search its route around the time of Wall’s disappearance.
Neither her family nor Madsen’s attorney could immediately be reached for comment on Tuesday.
“There’s a dark irony in Kim, who traveled to North Korea and reported from Haiti, should disappear in Denmark,” a colleague said in remembrance of her, according to the Times. “Perhaps it speaks to the vulnerability of female freelance journalists. To work alone and do everything.”