– The completely meaningless and random victim. The intense hunt out in Europe. These are the elements that make this case very special. No one had seen the perpetrator enter the apartment, and no one had seen him leave. Had he left? Where did he go? From Monday to Wednesday we had no clear tracks.
He remembers it almost as it was yesterday, despite the fact that two years have passed. Police attorney Christian Hatlo explains in detail when he is asked to summarize one of the Oslo police’s most intense homicide investigations in recent years.
The eight days from 15 to 28 October in 2018, are still very fresh in my memory.
For Hatlo’s part, the working day started with a report of a robbery at Majorstua. The details were few, the video surveillance from the scene so poor that the perpetrator could not be identified.
The robbery victim had fortunately escaped unharmed from the incident. Shortly afterwards, the situation was to be turned upside down.
A young man was found killed in a collective. The distance from the robbery to the crime scene was only a few minutes on foot.
What was really going on at Majorstua?
Listen to Dagbladet’s podcast Right on, about the murder at Majorstua below.
An unknown person enters
– There were no signs of burglary, and of course we had to see if the others who lived in the collective had anything to do with the murder. They never received any status other than witnesses, but it had to be investigated. There was also a lot of talk about bitcoin, and people are starting to think about motives, says Hatlo.
Slowly but surely it becomes clear that the police are facing a murder mystery with no answer. Without witnesses, good surveillance images or a clear motive, they are also without suspects. The challenges will soon go from difficult to worse.
Two days of intense investigation yield few results. Interrogation of the three other boys in the collective does not lead to any specific people who may have committed the murder.
The statistics on murder cases in Norway paint a clear picture. When a life is taken, with few exceptions, partners, ex-partners, family or friends are behind it.
This time it was different. This time a man was killed in his own home by a completely unknown perpetrator.
Fumbles in the blind
The police are already going out the day of the murder and are asking the public for help. Someone must have seen something.
– When Oslo presses the red light, we are very, very many. We quickly received a number of tips. Many of them turned out to be blind spots, says Hatlo.
One of the most interesting tips came from a taxi driver. A male passenger had asked him to be driven to Skøyen.
– The person in question paid with a 500 note and said “you have not seen me” when he left the taxi. Then he switched to a new taxi. In this we later found traces that we thought were blood, says Hatlo.
The taxi drives the man to a hospital, where he enters. For the police, it takes a lot of time to get information out of the hospital. The hope of a speedy solution to the murder is alive.
– 12 people who could correspond to the description of the passenger had entered. All turned out to be blind spots. It shows a bit of what one must investigate in such a situation, says the police attorney.
A crushing downturn
After two days without an answer, the first real clue finally appears to the police. A tipper has found some objects dumped by the Frogner river. It turns out to be things from the collective where the murder took place.
Surveillance images from the area are collected quickly. Several people have been caught near the area.
– But the behavior of one of them caught our attention. The person first passed by, then returned again, and behaved strangely. In the end, the police managed to get a good picture of the person in question, and sent this out to, among other things, the border controls, Hatlo says.
At the same time, DNA samples are taken from the clothes found by the Frogner River. Analyzes are carried out. The answer, however, will be a downturn for the police.
Searching the register yields no hits. Interpol and Europol are contacted, but the answer is also negative at Interpol. No one matched the DNA found on the dumped clothes.
An unusual Friday night
While the DNA findings were being analyzed, the police had followed the route of the man the suspects were behind the murder. From Frognerelva he went further down to Skøyen station.
New surveillance images were secured. Did they really approach a breakthrough?
Friday night, the case turned completely. Swedish police had contacted. They knew who the DNA on the clothes came from. The name ticked in: Makaveli Lindén.
The 20-year-old man was previously convicted in Sweden, among other things for robbery in a collective in 2017, but was released from prison after a short time. An international request is sent out quickly. Also in Oslo, the police go out with the name and picture of the suspect. A tattoo on the 20-year-old’s hand makes him easy to identify.
At the same time, it becomes clear that Lindén left Norway almost immediately after the murder. After moving on to his home country, the journey has gone south by train, via Denmark and on to Belgium.
The horror scenario
An intense police chase down Europe is fully launched. Belgium is first scoured. From there, the tracks point further south towards France.
On Monday, French police will be contacted and connected. Eight days after the murder, at 06.40 on Tuesday 23 October, the message arrives. The suspect has been arrested in Dijon by special forces.
Hatlo remembers the day as very special. The police in Oslo had realized that they were facing what could be a very long and difficult investigation. If the perpetrator managed to get to a country without an extradition agreement, they would be left almost helpless.
– That is the horror scenario, Hatlo states.
– When a perpetrator manages to leave Norway, without you having identified the person, how challenging will the investigation be then?
– It makes it very much worse. This is one of the most difficult things we can do. When the person in question has no connection to Norway at all, you do not know where to start looking.
In retrospect, the police attorney has thought a lot about the investigation. The job that was done at the time has been described almost as a textbook example. On Monday 19 October, almost on the day two years after the murder, the trial against the 22-year-old Swede begins in Oslo District Court.
The murder itself is described by the police attorney as one big tragedy.
– It appears to be completely, completely random. And it is unfortunately a brutal murder we are facing. This is evident from the indictment, says Hatlo.