UPDATED: Police in the northern county of Nordland believe a triple murder-suicide is behind what they’re calling a “family tragedy” in the small community of Sørfold during the New Year’s holiday. It’s the latest in a string of stabbings and shootings in Norway this past autumn and winter.
The most recent killings were discovered after police were called out to a house in Sørfold, just north of Fauske, early Monday morning. Inside they found the bodies of a woman in her 40s, a man in his 40s and a teenaged boy. All had been stabbed to death.
Police also found two children, one of whom had also been stabbed but was still alive and rushed to hospital in Bodø by helicopter. The other child was physically uninjured. Police believed one of those found dead murdered and wounded the other three before committing suicide.
On Tuesday afternoon police confirmed that the 19-year-old man has been charged post-mortem with murdering his mother and his step-father. He’s also charged with the attempted murder of his younger half-sister, before committing suicide himself.
Another younger sister escaped physical injury at the family home in the Indre Salten community of Sørfold, and called for emergency help shortly before 5am. Both sisters were able to respond to questions from the police and are now in the care of relatives and a crisis team set up by the local municipality.
Local police are receiving assistance from the state crime unit Kripos. “They will, along with criminal technicians from Bodø, undertake the necessary investigations at the crime site,” local prosecutor Kristine Pedersen told Norwegian Broadcating (NRK). “We’re holding all options open and probing them one after the other.”
There were no indications that any others were involved in the deaths, Pedersen said. She added, however, that more people had been in the home on New Year’s Eve, hours before the deaths were discovered, and they were being questioned. “When police arrived at the scene, only the five people were there,” she said.
Sørfold is home to less than 2,000 people, and the local mayor, Kolbjørn Mathisen, was clearly stunned by the murders. “This is a tragedy, pure and simple, we are in deep sorrow,” he told NRK. “Now it’s important that the people of Sørfold stand together and take care of one another. That’s most important.”
The suspected murder-suicide follows another fatal stabbing in the Oslo area during the holidays, along with several other stabbings and shootings, including one at Sinsen and another on lower Karl Johans Gate just before Christmas. In another case, a young man was the victim of a hit-and-run attack near Solli Plass in the affluent Frogner area that resulted in the arrest of an underaged suspect.
The incidents have raised alarm over whether Norway’s relatively low crime rate and reputation as a safe country still apply. The new leader of Oslo’s city government, Eirik Lae Solberg of the Conservative Party, called the stabbings and shootings “a worrisome development,” while newspaper Dagsavisen editorialized that the local population “can feel a new sense of a lack of safety in their own city.”
Some of the attacks have been tied to drug lords who use youngsters to threaten or attack rivals since they can’t be jailed. Other crimes are often a result of domestic violence. Reports emerged on Tuesday, meanwhile, of a women found dead in a car in the eastern town of Elverum along with a wounded man who was charged with her death. Both were registered as resident in Oslo.