New technology and help from a relatively new “Cold Case” group within the Norwegian police contributed to the surprise arrest last week of a new suspect in two murder cases, one of them committed 26 years ago. The man now charged is a repeat sex offender whose DNA prompted police to take him into custody.
He’s also now suspected of raping and murdering not only 17-year-old Birgitte Tengs near her home on Karmøy, western Norway in 1995, but also abducting and murdering 20-year-old Tina Jørgensen in 2000. Jørgensen’s body was found stuffed into a manhole used for drainage near Bore Church in Jæren, south of Stavanger.
The suspect, a man in his 50s, is from nearby Haugelandet and can be placed in both areas at the time of the murders. He had been questioned but released shortly after the murders, even though he already had a series of convictions for breaking into women’s homes and stealing their clothing and underwear. His last convictions for more theft and sexual harassment came in 2005.
He was arrested last week in Kristiansand and ordered held in police custody for at least four weeks while the investigation continues. He has denied the charges against him.
The case made headlines throughout the weekend, because of all the publicity and drama around the murders at the time. They resulted in charges against other young men, including Tengs’ cousin and Jørgensen’s boyfriend, who were later released or acquitted. Newspaper Aftenposten’s commentator Inge D Hanssen, who specializes in crime coverage, wrote that police “can’t tolerate a new scandal” if they’ve charged the wrong man once again.