It’s highly unusual for police in Norway to publicly identify crime suspects or those charged with crimes, much less issue photos of those sought for questioning. They’ve made an exception in the case of a murder and a robbery at knifepoint in Oslo this week, which police now believe are connected.
This man was being sought nationwide on Friday, as police released photos of him taken from a surveillance camera at Oslo’s Skøyen train station at 1:16pm on Monday. That’s just around an hour after police were called to an apartment at Arbos Gate 2 in Oslo’s Majorstuen district, where the body of a 24-year-old man was found murdered.
It later emerged that the murder victim had been stabbed more than 20 times in a case police are describing as “extremely serious.” A roommate of the victim had found him and called police, just a few hours after a man had been held up at knifepoint in a parking garage not far away, at Essendrops Gate 5, and forced to turn over valuables including his mobile phone.
Police announced at a press conference Friday that their investigation has revealed “a man who can be tied to both the robbery and the murder that occured on the same morning.” They described the male suspect as “central” but that others could have been involved.
“It’s very important for police to identify him,” said Police Inspector Grete Metlid, spokesperson for the investigation. She urged anyone who knows who he is to contact police.
She said police deliberated “for a long time” whether to go public with his photo, “and we decided we couldn’t wait with it. There are firm reasons why we’re doing this.” She stressed, however, that anyone encountering him should call police and not attempt any contact themselves.
Police say the man they’re seeking was observed several places in the vicinity of the robbery and murder. Investigators believe they have pieced together his escape route from the robbery scene to the murder scene and then through the Frogner Park. He was observed at 12:37pm on Monday at the Skøyen end of the scenic valley where the Frogner River runs from the park. Some unidentified items tied to the crimes were also later found there. He was then photographed by a surveillance camera at the Skøyen train station at 1:16pm.
Police said cameras also picked up an “unusual” mark on his hand that’s believed to be a tattoo. One tattoo expert told NRK that “both the symbol and where it was placed are unusual. I have never seen this symbol before.”
The murder victim has now also been publicly identified, as 24-year-old Heikki Bjørklund Paltto of Mysen, a small town in Østfold County southeast of Oslo. State broadcaster NRK reported that Paltto was active in his town’s football club. “He was well-liked,” one acquaintance told NRK. “I remember him as a cheerful, nice and kind man.” Paltto had quit playing football himself but remained an active supporter of the club and often took part in its social functions.
The club was supposed to play a match Tuesday evening, where a victory would have advanced it to a bigger league. Instead the club’s players, coaches and administrative leaders gathered in sorrow for a memorial to Paltto. “He was part of a good group of guys who always held together,” Per Egil Aas, leader of Mysen IF, told NRK. “It’s a group that has eaten, worked and sometimes lived together.”
The local mayor, Erik Unaas, was also in mourning for a young man who had a large network of friends and family. “On a day like this, it feels like everyone knowns everyone else,” Unaas told NRK. “There are many here who are touched or were directly involved in his life.”
Paltto was supposed to report for work at 9am Monday, at a job in sales and marketing in downtown Oslo. His employer tried to call him when he failed to show up for work but was unable to reach him. One of his three roommates in the apartment at Majorstuen found him stabbed and called for an ambulance and police. Ambulance personnel later declared Paltto dead at the scene.
Paltto was aslo known to recently have earned a substantial sum of money on the sale of bitcoins. Speculation was swirling over whether any cash from the bitcoin sale could have drawn a robber/murderer to the apartment at Majorstua. TV2 has reported that police are aware there was cash in the apartment.