A 52-year-old man from Karmøy was convicted on Monday for the murder of teenager Birgitte Tengs 27 years ago. He then fainted in court, shortly after the judge sentenced him to 17 years in prison.
The Tengs murder and rape case has been one of Norway’s most traumatic, including accusations of a botched police investigation and the arrest two years later of Tengs’ cousin. He claimed innocence all along, but was subjected to much-criticized questioning and a conviction that later was overturned but ordered him nonetheless to pay compensation to Tengs’ parents. He later left Norway because of the injustice and negative publicity that his family said ruined his life.
Tengs’ cousin was finally cleared and the compensation order overturned just days before the trial of the man now convicted began. Police had been tipped from the beginning about the new suspect, identified as Johny Vassbakk, because he had a history of assault and attempted assault on the island of Karmøy and no alibi for the time when Tengs disappeared.
Police launched a new probe into Tengs’ murder in 2017, the first in an effort to re-examine so-called “cold cases.” In 2019, new DNA evidence linked him to Tengs’ stockings, and police launched a secret investigation that resulted in Vassbakk’s arrest in September last year. He has also pleaded innocence and his conviction on Monday was due to be appealed.