Peter Madsen

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Peter Madsen
PeterMadsen clipportrait.png
Madsen in November 2010
Peter Langkjær Madsen

(1971-01-12) 12 January 1971 (age 48)
ResidenceCopenhagen, Denmark[citation needed]
Conviction(s)Premeditated murder, sexual assault, and indecent handling of a corpse
Criminal chargeMurder, indecent handling of a corpse, sexual assault
PenaltyLife imprisonment

Peter Langkjær Madsen[1] (Danish: [ˈpʰeːˀtɐ ˈlaŋkʰæɐ̯ ˈmæsn̩]; born 12 January 1971) is a Danish engineer, former entrepreneur and convicted murderer. He co-founded the non-profit organization Copenhagen Suborbitals but left it in 2014, becoming the founder of RML Spacelab ApS.

In April 2018, Madsen was convicted of the 2017 murder of Swedish journalist Kim Wall on board his submarine, UC3 Nautilus, and sentenced to life imprisonment.[2]


Madsen was born in 1971 to Annie and Carl Madsen. He lived his first years in Sæby and Høng (both in Kalundborg Municipality), Denmark.[3] Annie was more than 30 years younger than Carl and had three other boys from two previous men. Carl was allegedly abusive toward his three stepsons. Annie left when Peter was 6, taking the children with her.[4][5] After a couple of years, Madsen returned to his father, with whom he shared an interest in rockets.

While attending primary and secondary school in Høng, Madsen developed an interest in rocket fuel with the help of chemistry and physics teacher Johannes Fischer. He developed his first large rocket at Høng and launched it on 3 March 1986.[6] It was one meter tall, modelled after the American ICBM MX Peacekeeper and built in his father's workshop. It reached a height of 100 m (330 ft) before crashing without harming anyone.[7] In 1987, Madsen was accepted at the gymnasium (upper secondary school) in the nearby town of Kalundborg.[7] He moved to live in a youth house in the town. His father died in 1990 when Peter was 18.[8][9]

Madsen continued to experiment and to consult engineers, and became friendly with the family responsible for the fireworks in Copenhagen's Tivoli Gardens. He also joined the Dansk Amatør Raket Klub (DARK) rocket club in Copenhagen,[10] but the other members gradually became disillusioned with him. DARK members claimed that "saying his name would start the fire sprinkler system".[11] He never finished any formal education, but took courses in welding and engineering to learn something about submarines.[12][13] His enthusiasm brought impressive results, but also caused conflicts with others. Madsen funded his lifestyle through financial support from people, organizations, and enterprises which saw promise in him.[11]



Madsen built three submarines: UC1 Freya, UC2 Kraka and UC3 Nautilus. The Nautilus was a privately built midget submarine, launched on 3 May 2008 in Copenhagen, Denmark. Constructed over three years, it cost approximately US$200,000 to build (1.5 million DKK).[14]

Copenhagen Suborbitals[edit]

On 1 May 2008, Madsen co-founded Copenhagen Suborbitals. In June 2014, he left the project.[15] Madsen was responsible for the launch system, launchpad and booster rocket engines.[16]

Rocket Madsen Space Lab[edit]

In June 2014, Madsen established RML Spacelab ApS. The goal was the development and construction of a crewed spacecraft. From 2016, RML was developing a nano satellite launch vehicle using venture investments. Under the title Raket-Madsens Rumlaboratorium (Danish for Rocket-Madsen's Space Laboratory) Madsen has blogged about his activities on the web-site of the Danish news magazine Ingeniøren.[17] Madsen became CEO of the company.[14][failed verification]

Murder of Kim Wall and sinking of UC3 Nautilus[edit]

On 11 August 2017, Madsen was arrested after the sinking of UC3 Nautilus and the disappearance of Kim Wall, a Swedish journalist who had last been seen alive aboard the submarine.[18][19]

The following day, a court ruled that he be held in pre-trial detention for 24 days on a charge of negligent homicide.[20] Madsen initially claimed that he disembarked Wall on land at the tip of Refshaleøen on the night before the sinking.[18][21] He later changed his statement, saying that she had died on board in an accident, and that he had buried her at sea.[22] According to the Danish police, the submarine was deliberately sunk, contradicting Madsen's explanation regarding a technical fault.[21]

A human torso washed up on the coast of Amager on 21 August, which DNA tests concluded belonged to Wall.[23] Chief investigator Jens Møller reported that the torso had been stabbed multiple times to vent accumulating gases that could float it to the surface, and that a piece of metal had been fastened to it to ensure its sinking to the seabed.[24] On 25 August, Madsen's charge was extended to improper handling of a corpse.[25]

During a hearing on 5 September, Madsen stated that Wall had been killed when he lost his grip on the submarine’s hatch cover, which he was holding open for her, and it hit her on the head, causing her skull to fracture.[26] On 7 October 2017 Royal Danish Navy divers assisting the police found Wall's head and legs, along with a knife and pieces of her clothing, in bags at the bottom of Køge Bay, weighted down by bits of metal. A police spokesperson reported that there were no fractures to Wall's skull.[27]

A post-mortem examination of the torso found "knife wounds to her genitals and ribcage", believed to have been caused "around or shortly after her death".[28] On 30 October 2017 it was reported that Madsen had changed his account of Wall's death and admitted dismembering her body.[29]

It was reported that he now claimed that she had died from carbon monoxide poisoning on board the submarine, but his legal representation denied this, saying that Madsen did not know how she died. It was later confirmed by the police that he had made no clear statement on how she had died, but had said that she was inside the submarine when it contained exhaust gases.[30]

In January 2018 Madsen was charged with murder, indecent handling of a corpse (due to dismemberment), and sexual assault (due to stabbings in genital region). The prosecution accused him of having bound, hit, cut and stabbed Wall before killing her by cutting her throat or strangling her.[31][32][33]

Madsen's trial began on 8 March 2018 with him pleading not guilty to Wall's murder.[34] On 25 April 2018 Madsen was found guilty of all charges, and sentenced to life imprisonment.[2][33][35][36] A psychiatric evaluation of Madsen described him as a narcissistic psychopath, lacking in empathy but not psychotic or delusional.[37]

Madsen immediately appealed the sentence but not the guilty verdict.[38][39] On 26 September 2018, the Østre Landsret (High Court of Eastern Denmark) upheld the sentence.[40]

Personal life[edit]

Madsen was married at Copenhagen City Hall in November 2011. His wife had worked in the film industry and had also helped in Madsen's workshop at Refshaleøen, Copenhagen. In February 2018 it was reported that his wife had abandoned him. Madsen himself explained that he had lived in an "open relationship". His wife has chosen to remain anonymous and her identity has not been released by the media.[41]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Peter Madsen, inventeur exalté et mégalo". FranceSoir (in French). 24 August 2017. Retrieved 24 August 2017.
  2. ^ a b "Inventor Madsen guilty of Kim Wall murder". BBC News. 25 April 2018. Retrieved 25 April 2018.
  3. ^ Robdrup, B. (7 February 2018). "Raket-Madsen fra Høng er en varm historie i Frankrig" [Rocket-Madsen of Høng is a major story in France]. (in Danish). Retrieved 27 April 2018.
  4. ^ Jeong, M. (15 February 2018). "The Final, Terrible Voyage of the 'Nautilus'". Retrieved 26 April 2018.
  5. ^ "Who is Peter Madsen, the Danish inventor charged with murdering Kim Wall?". Fox News. 25 April 2018. Retrieved 26 April 2018.
  6. ^ Madsen, M.C. (16 October 2017). "Skolelærer om Peter Madsen: Sådan husker jeg ham" [School teacher about Peter Madsen: This is how I remember him] (in Danish). Retrieved 27 April 2018.
  7. ^ a b Buch, D. (26 August 2017). "Her er portrættet af Peter Madsen Peter Madsen" [Here is the portrait of Peter Madsen] (in Danish). Retrieved 26 April 2018.
  8. ^ Robdrup, B. (23 August 2017). "Portræt: Drabssigtet ubådsejer og raketbygger er fra Høng" [Portrait: The homicide-charged submarine owner and rocket builder from Høng]. (in Danish). Retrieved 27 April 2018.
  9. ^ Bergman, P. (23 October 2017). "Forfatter: Peter Madsen fandt sin far død og vendte ham ryggen" [Author: Peter Madsen found his dead father and turned him on his back]. (in Danish). Retrieved 27 April 2018.
  10. ^ "About". Retrieved 27 April 2018.
  11. ^ a b Aagaard, L.H. (22 August 2017). "Peter Madsen, manden uden stopknap" [Peter Madsen, the man without a stop button]. Berlingske Tidende (in Danish). Retrieved 27 April 2018.
  12. ^ "Danish inventor Peter Madsen sentenced to life in prison for murder of Swedish journalist Kim Wall". Associated Press. 25 April 2018. Retrieved 26 April 2018.
  13. ^ "Danish engineer Peter Madsen sentenced to life for murdering journalist Kim Wall". The Guardian. 25 April 2018. Retrieved 26 April 2018.
  14. ^ a b "UC3 Nautilus Homepage". Archived from the original on 5 March 2010. Retrieved 9 February 2010.
  15. ^ Wilson, Mads (10 June 2014). "Farvel Peter, goddag til et nyt CS". Retrieved 17 June 2014.
  16. ^ "Copenhagen Suborbital – Mission Statement". Archived from the original on 1 September 2011.
  17. ^ Madsen, Peter (9 August 2017). "Raket-Madsens Rumlaboratorium" [Rocket-Madsen's Space Laboratory]. (in Danish). Retrieved 14 August 2017.
  18. ^ a b "Drabssigtelse i sag om ubåd" [Homicide charge in submarine case]. Mynewsdesk (in Danish). Copenhagen Police. 11 August 2017. Retrieved 12 August 2017.
  19. ^ Koerner, Claudia (12 August 2017). "Submarine Builder Arrested On Suspicion Of Killing Journalist After Vessel Sinks". BuzzFeed. Retrieved 12 August 2017.
  20. ^ "Opfinder er varetægtsfængslet i 24 dage for uagtsomt manddrab" [Inventor is held in remand for 24 days for involuntary manslaughter]. (in Danish). 12 August 2017. Retrieved 12 August 2017.
  21. ^ a b "Kim Wall: Danish submarine was 'deliberately sunk'". BBC News. 13 August 2017. Retrieved 22 August 2017.
  22. ^ Elkjær, Jane Bruun; Søndberg, Astrid (21 August 2017). "Peter Madsen: Kim Wall døde i en ulykke på ubåden" [Peter Madsen: Kim Wall died in an accident in the submarine]. (in Danish). Retrieved 21 August 2017.
  23. ^ Sorensen, Martin Selsoe (23 August 2017). "Kim Wall Is Confirmed Dead as Danish Inventor Is Investigated". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 23 August 2017.
  24. ^ Nielsen, N.S.; Gram, K.D. (23 August 2017). "Drabschef: Kim Walls lig skulle blive på havbunden" [Homicide investigation leader: Kim Wall's body was supposed to stay on the seabed]. DR (in Danish). Retrieved 24 August 2017.
  25. ^ Gottschalck, Anna (25 August 2017). "Peter Madsen nægter usømmelig omgang med et lig" [Peter Madsen denies improper handling of a corpse]. (in Danish). Berlingske. Retrieved 25 August 2017.
  26. ^ Bjørnager, Jens Anton (5 September 2017). "Retten afviser at lukke døre i ubådssag: Nu får vi Peter Madsens forklaring" [Court denies request for a closed-door hearing: Now, the public will get Peter Madsen's explanation]. (in Danish). Berlingske Media. Retrieved 5 September 2017.
  27. ^ Jensen, Teis (7 October 2017). "Danish divers find missing body parts of Swedish journalist". Reuters. Retrieved 8 October 2017.
  28. ^ "Kim Wall death: Danish inventor Madsen admits dismembering journalist". BBC News. 30 October 2017. Retrieved 30 October 2017.
  29. ^ Kentish, Ben (30 October 2017). "Kim Wall: Danish submarine inventor admits dismembering Swedish journalist's body". The Independent. London. Retrieved 30 October 2017.
  30. ^ "Politiet præciserer udmelding om Peter Madsen efter kritik" [Clarification by the police after criticism]. TV2 (in Danish). 1 November 2017. Retrieved 29 November 2017.
  31. ^ Henley, Jon (16 January 2018). "Peter Madsen formally charged with murder of Kim Wall on submarine". the Guardian. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  32. ^ Sorensen, Martin Selsoe (2018). "Danish inventor abused Kim Wall before killing her, indictment says". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  33. ^ a b "Dom i ubådssag" [Conviction in the submarine case] (in Danish). Københavns Byret, Danmarks Domstole. 25 April 2018. Retrieved 28 April 2018.
  34. ^ "Inventor on trial over submarine murder". BBC News. 8 March 2018. Retrieved 8 March 2018.
  35. ^ Orange, Richard (25 April 2018). "Peter Madsen sentenced to life for murdering journalist Kim Wall". the Guardian. Retrieved 25 April 2018.
  36. ^ "Danish inventor Peter Madsen jailed for life over submarine murder". The Local. 25 April 2018. Retrieved 28 April 2018.
  37. ^ Sorensen, Martin. "Peter Madsen, Danish Inventor, Is Convicted of Killing Kim Wall". Retrieved 25 April 2018.
  38. ^ Larsen, Sally Frydenlund (26 April 2018). "Hvad sker der nu i ubådssagen: 9 spørgsmål til professoren" [What's happening now in the submarine case: 9 questions to the professor]. (in Danish). Retrieved 27 April 2018.
  39. ^ Press, Associated (25 April 2018). "The Latest: Danish inventor to appeal murder sentence". Archived from the original on 25 April 2018. Retrieved 25 April 2018 – via
  40. ^ Ilsøe, Trine Maria (8 October 2018). "Dom i ubådssagen: Peter Madsen idømt livstid i landsretten" (in Danish). DR News. Retrieved 26 September 2018.
  41. ^ Astrup, P. (11 February 2018). "Raket-Madsen er blevet forladt af sin kone" [Rocket-Madsen has been abandoned by his wife] (in Danish). Retrieved 27 April 2018.

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