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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Triple murder-suicide shocks small mountain community

UPDATED: The small Norwegian town of Ål in the mountains of Hallingdal was stunned during the weekend by another triple murder and suicide that left a family of four dead in their own home. It’s the latest in a series of murder-suicides within Norwegian families, and police are ringing alarms.

The scenic mountain region around Ål in the valley of Hallingdal is a popular destination during the Easter holidays, but this year it’s become the site of a triple murder and suicide. PHOTO: Wikipedia/Philip Gabrielsen

“We’ve traditionally been a country with few murders, and we’ve had a sense of control over the situation,” Kristen Kvigne, chief of the state police’s criminal investigation unit Kripos, told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) on Monday. “We’re now afraid that we’re seeing more murders in Norway than earlier.”

The latest wave has mostly involved domestic violence, with one family member killing others and then committing suicide. In addition to partner murders, Norway has had four cases of families being all but wiped out just in the past six months:

*** On January 23, two sisters aged 30 and 24 were shot and killed by their father, Steinar Korslund, along with the 10-month-old baby daughter of one of the sisters, at the family home in Skogbygda in Romerike, northeast of Oslo. The 65-year-old Korslund also shot and killed himself.

*** On January 1, police believe that a 19-year-old man killed his mother, Elin Nordhei Bordi, and stepfather, Terje Asmund Nordhei, in the family home at Sørfold in the northern country of Nordland before killing himself. He’s also charged post-mortem with the attempted murder of his 11-year-old sister, who locked herself in a room and called police.

*** On September 27, a mother and her eight-year-old daughter were found dead in their home at Vågsbygd in Kristiansand. The father of the child was later found dead in the sea off Kristiansand and police suspect he committed suicide after killing the other two.

On Saturday night, police faced another triple murder and suicide in the mountain town of Ål in Hallingdal, after receiving a call from what they called a worried member of the family involved. Newspaper Aftenposten reported that police first drove out to the house at around 3pm Saturday afternoon but found nothing amiss outside and quiet inside. They returned to the house at 8pm, however, after failing to make contact with any of the four people living in the house, a husband and wife with two grown children.

At that point police broke into the house and found the bodies of all four. Details remained sketchy Monday morning as the investigation continued, but police claimed as early as Saturday night that they suspected one of the family members had killed the other three before committing suicide.

On late Monday afternoon police could report the seizure of several legally registered firearms in the house and that one of them can be tied to the murders. “All indications are that the victims were shot while they slept, and there are no signs of any struggle in the house,” prosecutor Ann Iren Svane Mathiassen said at a press conference in Ål.

Police also revealed that the father in the family has been charged post-mortem with the murders of his wife and two grown children, before he killed himself.

“This is a gruesome tragedy for the family, the local community and the entire nation,” said Kriopos’ Kvigne on national radio and TV Monday morning. The recent wave of family murders has left 14 dead and one wounded, and police are often left without a clear motive.

“Mental health issues, drugs and alcohol, financial problems and divorce, or a combination of these things, can trigger both violence and murder within close relationships,” Kvigne said. “It’s difficult to say exactly what the reason or motive is.”

She stressed that police conduct murder investigations involving suspected but deceased assailants in much the same way as if the suspects were alive, interviewing friends, relatives, neighbours, colleagues and others in their attempt to solve the cases. Such an investigation was in high gear as the week began, and autopsies were ordered for all those found dead.

Lars Mehlum, a professor and psychiatrist who specializes in suicide, said it remained “very seldom that we see such cases” (involving murder and suicide within families). He added that “it’s difficult to say” recent prior cases have had an influence and triggered other cases.

Meanwhile the small community of Torpo in Ål, with a total population of around 400, was in mourning and the local church was being used as a gathering place. The mountains around Ål are a popular holiday destination during the Easter holidays, and local pastor Sveinung Hansen suddenly found himself facing tragedy instead of traditional Easter celebrations.

“This will be a completely different Easter for us,” Hansen told Aftenposten. He noted that there are still many unanswered questions, especially among the young who knew those now found dead. The identities of all four victims were not immediately released pending confirmation from police, who did reveal that the murder weapon had been recovered at the scene and no other suspects were involved.

NewsinEnglish.no/Nina Berglund

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