UPDATED: The small community of Berger south of Drammen was shocked again late last week when police concluded that a deadly fire that swept through a local home most likely was arson, ignited by a father who’d murdered his wife and two children before setting the fire and committing suicide himself. Police now report that he shot them all before shooting himself.
“The fire was initially investigated as just that, with various theories,” police inspector Odd Skei Kostveit of the Sør-Øst Police District told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) Friday afternoon. “When new information came yesterday, the investigation changed.” Kostveit said police now had “a good foundation for saying that three of the four people in the home were murdered.”
On Wednesday police confirmed that all four family members were shot, and the weapon believed to have been used had been found in the burned-out house. The weapon was registered in the name of the father. No one else is believed to have been involved in the tragedy. The motive for the shootings and arson remained unknown.
The actual cause of the fire “was more complicated,” he said. Various discoveries at the scene and autopsy reports from bodies recovered from the ruins of the wooden house indicated the two children and mother in the family of four were killed before the fire broke out. The father apparently died shortly thereafter, and he’s now been charged port-mortem with three murders and arson.
Kostveit also confirmed that the first alarms that came in to the local fire department, where the father in the home had been a constable, did not come from the house itself but rather from a neighbour who saw flames in the middle of the night. That suggests smoke detectors or other fire alarms in the dead family’s house had been disabled.
“This tragic event has hit the small local community hard,” the local police chief Øyvind Aas told NRK. “When our investigation indicates that one of those killed was behind the tragedy, it affects relatives, friends and colleagues extra hard. We hope that as we head into the Christmas holiday season that we can all show respect towards those facing very difficult days ahead.”
Kristin Grydeland, representing all fire-fighters in the Drammen area, issued a statement that “we are in shock and in mourning, and ask for understanding for our situation at the moment. We need some time to deal with this tragedy.”