UPDATED: More details have emerged over a murder this week on the otherwise idyllic island of Nakholmen in the Oslo Fjord that has stunned its small holiday-oriented community. On Thursday the island was teeming with police after a local cottage owner in his 50s was murdered near its ferry dock.
Shocked witnesses told newspaper Aftenposten Friday that they’d called police just before the murder occurred on Wednesday night. Many owners of the small cottages that dot the island had noticed that a man who’d arrived on the island that evening was behaving very strangely.
He’d arrived at 7:38pm on the ferry that serves the island from downtown Oslo. Newspaper Dagbladet reported that the man then started breaking windows, and threw a decorative anchor down a hill. That prompted some residents to take contact with the man.
Police were also summoned, and while they were heading out to the island on the short boat trip from Oslo, came another call for help. The vandal off the ferry had proceeded to attack a man on the ferry pier on the northern side of the island. It’s unclear whether the assailant then fled, but cottage owners rushed to the attack victim’s aid and tried to help him. By the time an air ambulance arrived, the man, a well-liked neighbour in his 50s with a life-long presence on the island, was dead.
State broadcaster NRK and other media could quickly report that police had a suspect in custody, charged with the murder that stemmed from what they called “a violent episode” on Wednesday night. Police said there was “no relation” between the murder suspect, who’s in his late 20s, and the victim.
Aftenposten reported that the man who first vandalized property on Nakholmen and then went on the attack was apprehended just 20 minutes after police were first called to the island. Police described the suspect as a foreign resident from Northern Europe who has a police record. An investigation was underway, but Kjetil Moen of the Oslo Police District said at a press conference Thursday morning that “the violent episode occurred suddenly and was unexpected.” The suspect was due to undergo psychiatric evaluation. Police wouldn’t reveal what sort of weapon was used.
Nakholmen is especially popular during the summer months and reached both by the ferries now running between Oslo’s new ferry terminal on the City Hall plaza and several other islands, and by private boats. It’s a traditional summer paradise for many, with some cottages (hytter) both on Nakholmen and neighbouring islands attracting record high prices.
Aftenposten reported that there currently are 183 private cottages on Nakholmen and that “everyone knows everyone” on the island. They were in mourning after the murder, with many putting up flags on their cottages at half-mast. The murder victim, who was not immediately identified, was well-known on the island. “Everyone liked him very much,” one cottage owner told Aftenposten. “I think everyone here is in sorrow now.” Another told Aftenposten that “we received crisis help from medical personnel during the night.”
An emergency crew hosed down the pier area Thursday to remove blood stains, and neighbours also arrived with buckets and brushes to help. Local cottage owners also told newspaper VG that they were shocked by the murder and described the victim as “a great guy,” both helpful and kind. “He could never have provoked anyone,” a neighbour told VG. “This must have been just a random assault.”