The body of a woman found in a fjord near the mountain town of Sogndal on Friday was confirmed on Sunday to be that of Veronica Heggheim Stegjerdet, a 22-year-old who’d been missing since late October. A massive search had failed to find her earlier, and police were still waiting for a written report on the cause of death.
That will be important for determining whether to continue their investigation as a murder probe. Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported Friday that Stegjerdet had been a target of “threats and violence” in the weeks leading up to her disappearance from the house where she lived outside Sogndal. She had shared the house with a brother but reportedly had been living in the house alone most recently.
She was last seen on Saturday October 25 and reported missing on October 28, right when the area was subjected to severe storms and flooding. Personal effects such as her mobile telephone, computer and even rain gear were all found in the house, along with her cat and dog.
Extensive searches of the area around her home, a local river and the fjord had failed to find any trace of Stegjerdet, until a person out hiking along the Barsnesfjord encountered a woman’s body washed up on the shore Friday. It was taken to Gades Institute in Bergen for autopsy, and finally identified Sunday.
NRK reported that the alleged threats and violence against Stegjerdet were tied to a “tough milieu” in Sogndal believed to be involved with drug abuse. NRK reported that police have questioned several people involved in the milieu, along with an expanded circle of the dead woman’s acquaintances.
Acting Sheriff Asle Karoliussen refused to comment on the preliminary autopsy report, the status of the police investigation or its direction. He did say that no further questioning had been carried out during the weekend, but wouldn’t confirm whether Stegjerdet had been the victim of a crime.