A 15-year-old Norwegian boy has been ordered held in custody for a double murder, three families are in deep crisis and the police have gone from being heroes to being warned that their questioning of the boy won’t hold up in court. Monday’s stabbing deaths in Kristiansand have traumatized the southern coastal city that’s still recovering from the murders of two young girls 16 years ago.
Details continued to emerge from this week’s double homicide that has shocked both the city and the country. On Wednesday, just two days after a 14-year-old boy and a 48-year-old woman were found stabbed outside a Kristiansand school, the 15-year-old who confessed to the murders was ordered held in police custody for at least the next two weeks, while police continue to investigate the charges against him. Because of his young age, he’s likely to be transferred to a special detention facility for minors.
Race issues were also entering the fray on Thursday. The 15-year-old defendant has been described in local media as “an ethnic (white) Norwegian boy” who was active in a local Christian community. He has confessed to the stabbings of young Jakob Hassan, who comes from a Somalian family in Kristiansand, and Tone Ilebekk, a blond Norwegian mother who had raised two teenagers herself.
Things turned even uglier than they already were when a candidate for Parliament from Hedmark County for the small anti-immigration party Demokratene (The Democrats) wrote on social media Wednesday that “it doesn’t matter that Hassan was killed. He was surely a future terrorist. But it’s unfair the woman, Tone Ilebekk, became a random victim!” Local newspaper Glåmdalen reported that his statement sparked an uproar both online and within his party, which has been accused of racism before. He quickly resigned and police were investigating the case as another example of hate crime in Norway.
Police under fire
Meanwhile, police in Kristiansand found themselves suddenly under fire for continuing to question the murder defendant without him having a defense attorney present. The police had been praised on Wednesday for an intense investigation that allowed them to arrest a suspect just 30 hours after the crime, even though they initially had no leads.
By Thursday, they were being threatened with not being able to use the “detailed information” their young defendant provided: “From the moment it became clear that the police would charge him with the murders, they should have halted their questioning and called in a defense attorney,” Marius Oscar Dietrichson, who leads the defense counsel group for the Norwegian Bar Association, told newspaper Aftenposten. He was also on national radio Thursday morning, telling state broadcaster NRK that the defendant may not have been aware of the “consequences” his detailed confession could have for him.
Sequence of events falls into place
While police declined to comment pending receipt of a complaint, more information emerged about the sequence of events leading to the murders on Monday. Police told Aftenposten and other media that the two teenagers were in the same circle of friends and acquaintances and played football for the same local athletic club. They attended different schools but both were located in the same area, west of downtown.
Together they boarded a bus in downtown Kristiansand at 3:30pm Monday and rode it for around 12 minutes to a busstop on Marviksveien in Lund, an area on the east side of Kristiansand. Police wouldn’t say what the boys were doing downtown.
A witness living on Marviksveien, who said she was acquainted with Hassan’s family, has reported seeing the young murder victim walking with another boy. Around 20 minutes later, she heard the sirens of emergency vehicles responding to reports of two stabbing victims being found on the grounds of the nearby Wilds Minne School. No witnesses to the stabbings have emerged, even though there were many people in the immediate area including children attending an after-school program indoors and full activity on an adjacent football field.
Mother accompanied 15-year-old to police station
After an all-night investigation, including examination of the victims’ mobile phones, police called in the 15-year-old for questioning but only as a potential witness who knew Hassan. He therefore had no attorney with him. Kristiansand newspaper Fædrelandsvennen reported that he arrived at the police station with his mother on Tuesday afternoon.
Terje Skaar of the local police told Fædrelandsvennen that the investigation progressed, and apparently turned up important information, while the 15-year-old was speaking with police. The session lasted well into the evening. Newspaper VG reported that the session evolved in such a way that police eventually informed the 15-year-old that they thought he was behind the murders. He was charged and informed of his rights. Police then contacted defense attorney Svein Kjetil Stallemo and asked if he could represent the 15-year-old. By the time Stellemo arrived at the police station, the questioning had ended.
Skaar said the teenager confessed to the charges against him and went on to offer a detailed description of what happened on Monday afternoon. After a custody hearing Wednesday afternoon, Stallemo confirmed that his client had “acknowledged that he had brought about the deaths of both (victims )and explained that he was alone in that.” He wouldn’t say whether his client had also admitted criminal liability for the deaths. The 15-year-old was referred to a psychiatric institution Tuesday night, but has since been released.
His family and the families of both Hassan and Ilebekk have been provided with attorneys and crisis help from professional health care personnel. Police had not revealed any motive for the murders as of Thursday midday.
“This is a tragic case from the outset,” said Skaar, who’s been leading the investigation for Norway’s Sør-Øst Police District. “The case is not any less tragic, when a 15-year-old is behind it.”
Nor is it less tragic than the so-called “Baneheia murders” that also traumatized Kristiansand 16 years ago. That’s when two girls, aged eight and 10, were found raped and murdered at Baneheia, a forested area in the hills above the city in May 2000. Two local young men aged 19 and 20 were convicted of the attacks in 2002, with one of them receiving Norway’s toughest punishment of 21 years in prison with a special provision that can keep him in prison for life. The murders prompted the mother of one of the girls to found a charitable foundation that fights to preserve the rights of children and toughen penalties for child abuse.