Kim Wall

Beats Covered:
Local or Foreign:

Swedish freelance journalist Kim Wall, 30, disappeared off the coast of Copenhagen, Denmark, on August 10, 2017, after boarding an amateur-built submarine to interview its owner, Peter Madsen, according to reports.

When Madsen, a Danish citizen, was rescued unharmed and alone from the submarine after it sank that night, he told police that he had dropped Wall off on an island.

Copenhagen police said on August 13 that Madsen deliberately sank the vessel. On August 21, while in custody, Madsen told police that Wall died in an accident on board the submarine and said that he buried her at sea, press reports said.

On August 23, 2017, Danish police confirmed that a torso found off Copenhagen was that of Wall. The body was weighted down in an apparent attempt to prevent it from surfacing, a police chief investigator said at a press conference.

Madsen was initially charged with manslaughter and abuse of corpse, according to reports. He denies killing Wall. A Danish court ordered the inventor detained until September 5, 2017, pending further inquiries, Reuters reported.

On September 5, a judge upgraded the initial involuntary manslaughter charges against Madsen to murder charges, Jakob Buch-Jepsen, special prosecutor with the Copenhagen Police, told The Washington Post. At a court hearing that day, Madsen said he did not kill Wall but that she had died as a result of an accident where she was hit in the head by the submarine’s heavy hatch, according to press reports.

In November, Danish police said divers had recovered Wall’s missing arms from the sea, which police said had been weighted down the same way the journalist’s torso, which was recovered earlier, had been, The Associated Press reported. 

On April 25, 2018, a Copenhagen court convicted Madsen of killing Wall and sentenced him to the maximum sentence of life in prison, according to reports.

On September 28, 2018, a Danish appeals court upheld a life sentence against Madsen, according to media reports. The inventor had asked the Eastern High Court in Copenhagen to reduce the sentence, but did not contest the April 25 guilty verdict, according to reports. A life sentence typically lasts for around 15 years in Denmark.

Wall, a graduate of the London School of Economics and New York’s Columbia Journalism School, was based in New York and Beijing and wrote for publications including The New York TimesHarper’s magazine, The GuardianThe AtlanticForeign PolicySlate, TIME, and Vice.

She often chose to cover underreported stories including the life of marginalized subcultures, according to colleagues. Her brother Tom Wall told CPJ in an email that she also covered stories on gender, social issues, and foreign policy. She worked in several countries including Sri Lanka, Haiti, Cuba, and Uganda. In 2016, Wall was awarded the Hanzel Mieth digital award for her reporting in the Marshall Islands on climate change and the impact of U.S. nuclear weapons testing in the region.