Submarine murderer Peter Madsen surrounded by armed officers after escaping Danish prison

Richard Orange
·3-min read
The convicted murderer escaped jail on Tuesday morning
The convicted murderer escaped jail on Tuesday morning

Danish submarine killer Peter Madsen took a female psychologist hostage and then escaped from prison in Copenhagen on Tuesday, keeping police at bay for nearby two hours after he wore what police feared was an explosives belt strapped around his abdomen.

The 49-year-old escaped from Herstedvester prison at around 10am, seizing the woman and brandishing a "pistol-like object".

"He used her as a shield to threaten the staff to open the gate. It was very violent and the staff, therefore, chose to back off,"  Bo Yde Sorensen, Chairman of the Danish Prison Federation, told  Ekstra Bladet newspaper.

"The weapon was life-like so the prison guards at the gate did not dare take any chances in relation to the hostage, who they judged to be in life danger. He threatened to kill her if they did not open the gate."

Madsen, who murdered a Swedish journalist on his submarine in 2017, made it little more than half a mile from the prison gates.  

Police officers used a bomb-defusing robot - Ritzau Scanpix/Nils Meilvang via REUTERS
Police officers used a bomb-defusing robot - Ritzau Scanpix/Nils Meilvang via REUTERS

He was quickly surrounded by police in the residential area of Albertslund, at which point he jumped into a white van parked nearby.

When he emerged, he was wearing what he claimed was a bomb belt. It then took bomb squad officers and specially trained armed police nearly two hours to seize him, during which time Madsen was photographed calmly sitting with his back against a hedge or fence by the side of the road.

"There is nothing at this point to indicate that (the belt) contained explosives... We think it was fake," Copenhagen Vestegns police inspector Mogens Lauridsen said, adding that an investigation was underway to be certain.

According to the Ritzau newswire, Danish police also used a remote-controlled bomb-robot, known as Rullemarie, during the operation.

"No one was physically injured, but it has been very psychologically stressful for the employees involved," Hanne Hoegh Rasmussen, the prison's head, said at a press conference after the arrest.

Madsen repeatedly lied to police about what happened to Wall - Scanpix Denmark/Bax Lindhardt/via REUTERS
Madsen repeatedly lied to police about what happened to Wall - Scanpix Denmark/Bax Lindhardt/via REUTERS

"We will try to investigate the case in cooperation with the police. The best thing we can say now about that situation is that Peter Madsen is in police custody."

Madsen was jailed for life in April 2018, after murdering the 30-year-old journalist Kim Wall the previous August, after she joined him on board his self-built submarine for an interview.

In a documentary that aired in September, he confessed for the first time to the killing, after having insisted during the trial that her death had been an accident.

"There is only one who is guilty, and that is me," Madsen said in the documentary.

Kim Wall was murdered by Madsen after she boarded his submarine - TT NEWS AGENCY/Tom Wall Handout via REUTERS
Kim Wall was murdered by Madsen after she boarded his submarine - TT NEWS AGENCY/Tom Wall Handout via REUTERS

In a case that made headlines around the world, Madsen had however admitted to the court that he chopped up her corpse and threw her body parts into the sea.

Before the murder, Madsen, who described himself as an artist and inventor, had made a name for himself internationally both for his series of self-built submarines and for his plan to send himself into space on a self-built rocket.

A few months after Madsen was jailed, it emerged that he had entered into a relationship with one of his prison guards, and in January he married the Russian artist Jenny Curpen.