Death of Sigrid Schjetne
|Date||4 August 2012|
|Location||Østensjø, Oslo, Norway|
|Outcome||Body discovered on 4 September 2012|
|Suspect(s)||Chris Kenneth Giske (born 11 May 1975)|
Accessory to murder
Sigrid Giskegjerde Schjetne (6 July 1996 - c. August 2012) was a Norwegian teenager who vanished from the streets of suburban Oslo while walking home during the late hours of Saturday August 4, 2012. Her disappearance caused a media sensation as well as causing shock and disbelief in Norway at the time.
Schjetne was last seen saying goodnight to a friend around midnight on August 4. The last sign of life was while walking home, by a message sent from her phone at 00:15 to her friend. The police are however unsure whether the message was sent by the 16-year-old herself, or a possible perpetrator. On September 4, 2012, her body was discovered in the woods 17 kilometres (11 miles) from the site of her disappearance. A 37-year-old male, later identified as Chris Kenneth Giske and a 64-year-old male were arrested on charges of murder and accessory to murder. The 64-year old, who had been cooperating with the police, was released from custody in early November. At the release of the 64-year old, the Attorney Investigator Cecilie Gulnes stated: "The evidence in the case has not been strengthened against the 64-year old. We have not received any test results linking the 64-year old to Sigrid or to the homicide."
On Saturday August 4, 2012, Schjetne had attended Norway Cup soccer tournament together with a group of friends, they were there to cheer for their friends who played in the finals for Skeid Fotball. At around 19:45, she was spotted by CCTV on a bus at Tveita heading home to eat dinner with her family before she left her childhood home to visit a friend in the evening. The 16-year-old girl started walking home from her friend just before 00:00, which was her strict curfew. The walk should have taken her half an hour, and the family notified police when as the night progressed she did not come home.
Around an hour later, two boys walking through a local kindergarten found her shoe, socks and her ringing iPhone which Schjetne's friends and family was desperately trying to call. The boys were asked to deliver the items to Schjetne's parents who lived nearby, which they did. The same kindergarten had been searched by her parents earlier, around 00:30. According to them, none of the items were present at that time, which would later lead to speculation that they may have been planted there in the meantime.
Several neighbors to the site described having heard loud, frantic female-screams coming from the area around the same time during the night. One neighbor reported to have observed a car driving at high speed towards the kindergarten immediately prior to hearing the screams. Other witnesses described seeing the mysterious car parked with headlights turned on outside the kindergarten Saturday night. Despite repeated public calls by authorities, no driver came forward.
Search and investigation
Searches for Schjetne began immediately after her disappearance. Hundreds of volunteers from all over the Oslo area congregated in a massive search operation. The family experienced early requests from people who wanted to show support by massing a larger bounty; one individual offered NOK 500,000 (84,000 US dollars). After conferring with police the family declined the offers. However they later accepted and at the end the reward stood at over 950,000 NOK (US $160,000). Volunteers along with police units canvassed the neighborhood and local parks, while search-and-rescue divers from the fire department searched the nearby lake Østensjø.
As the public response increased, the search was expanded to include the forested woodlands adjacent to Oslo, namely Østmarka and Nordmarka. Unprecedented numbers of volunteers and search-and-rescue personnel descended upon the area, aided by police helicopters with heat-seeking technology and search dogs. The Norwegian Red Cross came in with 40 canine units who searched 24-hours a day and covered more than 1300 square kilometers using GPS mapping, and even well-known self-proclaimed psychics tried to locate the missing girl. Besides a white sock which was later determined not to match, and despite the most extensive missing-person search operation in recent Norwegian history, no trace of Schjetne was found.
During the first few days after the disappearance, the Oslo police received almost two thousand tips from the public. They sifted through over 13 hours of surveillance tapes, without significant results. On Monday August 6, Norwegian police issued an international alert for Schjetne and the case was transferred to the Section for violent and sexual crimes. Expert analysts from the National Investigation Service and the Police Security Service were engaged to assist with expertise in analysing Schjetne's Internet and social media history.
The police's main theory at that time, was that Schjetne was abducted into a moving car against her will, and that the perpetrator may have used her cell phone before leaving it at the scene in order to mislead authorities. On August 11, Schjetne's family delivered on emotional appeal to the perpetrator through the media calling for her release. Around the same time it was announced that high-profile lawyer Harald Stabell would be formally appointed to assist the family as legal aid.
On August 16, twelve days after Schjetne's disappearance, the partly decomposed remains of a woman were discovered in a private garden area in Ski, about 30 minutes outside Oslo. After speculation in the press that is was the missing 16-year-old, the police announced that it was the body of another person unrelated to the case.
On August 22, Oslo police announced that they were specifically looking for the driver of a burgundy colored vehicle that was observed in the area. Police also said they were checking named car-owners, as dozens of plain clothed police detectives went door-to-door and photographing cars as well as interviewing people in the neighborhood. More than 100 addresses were visited in hopes of getting new information.
Almost four weeks into the investigation, police charged a convicted rapist from Schjetne's community with making false statements to the investigators. The man's lawyer, Kim Gerdts, claimed the police had used illegal coercion, and warned of consequences. Police confirmed that although he is suspected of lying to the police regarding alleged witness observations, he is not a suspect in the murder case.
Police stated that they were investigating a possible connection between Schjetne's disappearance and a yet-unknown serial sex-offender who has been linked through DNA evidence to three cases of sexual assault, rape and indecent exposure to minors. All of these incidents happened in the close vicinity to where Schjetne vanished. Police conducted voluntary DNA testing of people who live in proximity to the crime scenes, without getting a connection to the serial offender.
The area where Schjetne's body was found, Sofiemyr in Oppegård, is close to where, in two unresolved cases, other young women were found murdered after being kidnapped from Oslo during the 1980s. This led to speculations that a serial-killer had begun killing again after a 25-year hiatus.
Discovery and arrests
On Tuesday, September 4, 2012, police announced that Schjetne's body had been found in Sofiemyr (Kolbotn), about 20 minutes from the place where she had disappeared. The body was in a state of decomposition, wrapped up in several layers of plastic and clothing, partly concealed in a wooded, hilly terrain and adjacent to an industrial area with many derelict buildings. The autopsy and subsequent forensic report revealed that she had suffered massive head trauma, but ruled out sexual assault or molestation.
At the same time, media reported that two men had been arrested during a raid at a nearby warehouse in connection with the case. The arrests were made by heavily armed police from the Delta Unit in an operation set up after receiving a tip-off from the public. The two men, Chris Kenneth Giske aged 37 and his unidentified colleague, aged 64, were charged with murder and being an accessory to murder. The 64-year-old had no prior criminal record, but Giske had multiple previous convictions for violent crimes, among them, an unprovoked assault on a young woman with a crowbar in 2007. The young woman, who barely survived the attack, suffered a fractured skull, crush fracture of the head and a seven centimetres long cut to the face. Court-appointed psychiatrists observing the man at the time stated that he had antisocial personality disorder, emotional, unstable personality disorder and panic disorder. The lawyer for the victim characterized the case as, "One of the worst cases I've seen that has not ended in murder". The 23-page psychiatric report from the trial revealed that the man had suffered from audible hallucinations for over a decade. According to the report; "the voices in his head had commanded him to go out and kill or physically assault random people." Both men initially denied having anything to do with Schjetne's disappearance and murder.
In October 2012, the final autopsy report was submitted to police by the forensic pathologist, it concluded that the precise cause of death could not be determined, nor the exact time of death. It could however, establish several other facts, e.g. that Schjetne had suffered massive blunt force trauma to the head, chest and abdominal region, and that many of Schjetne's injuries were inflicted post-mortem.
On October 30, the 64-year old suspect was released from custody. The police stated that although they were no longer keeping him remanded, they were not dropping the charges against him. At the same time a court ordered Chris Giske old to be kept remanded in isolation for an additional four weeks. About a month later, court-appointed psychiatrists who was to evaluate the Giskes olds mental status, requested that he be transferred to Dikemark Hospital and be put under 24-hour observation.
On 9 July 2013, the prosecution formally charged the now 38-year-old suspect with second-degree murder (Norwegian: Forsettlig drap) and kidnapping. The police declined to charge the other suspect with any crime. Because the court psychiatrists could not definitely determine the 38-year-old's mental status, the prosecution sought compulsory psychiatric care for the defendant, instead of normal prison time.
The trial opened at Oslo District Court on 16 September 2013, with the Judge Ingemar Nestor Nielsen presiding. The defendant, who was facing Schjetne's parents who were sitting on the opposite aisle, was represented by defense attorneys John Christian Elden and Ida Andenæs. He denied the charge of murder and claimed that he was criminally sane and competent, something that the prosecution disagrees with. The defendant was not formally required to enter a plea, since the lead prosecutor, Nina Margoth Prebe decided not to seek normal prison, but rather compulsory psychiatric care.
When cross-examined by the assistant prosecutor Jens Olav Sæther, the defendant claimed to possess a mysterious mirror which allegedly contained magical powers. He went on to claim that he had been stalked and harassed by groups of local children in Ålesund, who was under the influence of an imprisoned felon in Oslo, as well as receiving violent threats from members of a child pornography ring. When asked about his psychiatric evaluation, he claimed that the expert neuropsychiatrist who examined him, and concluded that he was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia was in fact working as a belly dancer
The defendant, Christ Kenneth Giske was on 25 October 2013 sentenced to compulsory psychiatric care for the murder of Sigrid Schjetne. The court ruled in favour of the prosecution on all counts. Giske appealed the sentence, and Schjetne's parents appealed the amount of financial compensation they had been awarded by the court.
In the aftermath of the disappearance there was an outpouring of sympathy, particularly in the local community, and thousands of people contacted authorities with a desire to help. Among the people who showed their support was a friend of the Schjetne family who acted as volunteer-coordinator and spokesman, crime author Gunnar Staalesen, players from the local football club Vålerenga, who participated in the search, as well as Minister of Education Kristin Halvorsen who mobilized her department to support the family.
Five weeks after Schjetne's disappearance, and nearly a week after she was found dead, thousands of residents of Østensjø filled the one-kilometer route Schjetne walked when she was taken with candles and torches in a bid to reclaim the neighborhood. The "Demonstration of light" was intended to restore the feeling of safety to the streets of the neighborhood.
The case had a strong impact on the neighborhood, the city as well as the entire nation, as teenagers reported that they no longer felt safe in their communities. Polls showed that over half the country's parents were more afraid for their children than before. In addition, an increased number of women said they felt unsafe being outside after dark.
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