As It Happens

Journalist describes meeting accused killer Peter Madsen on his submarine

Susanne Johansson describes the time she interviewed the inventor now accused of killing Swedish journalist Kim Wall.
Peter Madsen, a Danish inventor, said journalist Kim Wall died in an accident and he buried her at sea. (Scanpix Denmark/Ida Marie Odgaard/Reuters)

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Susanne Johansson, a journalist with the Danish newspaper BT, once stepped foot on the "raw and unpolished" submarine built and owned by the man police believe killed Swedish journalist Kim Wall.

Wall, 30, was last seen alive Aug.10 aboard the submarine of Danish aerospace and submarine enthusiast Peter Madsen. Her headless torso was found on a beach off Copenhagen on Monday. 

Police have charged Madsen with manslaughter. Prosecutor Jakob Buch-Jepsen said Thursday that police expect to raise the preliminary charges to murder and indecent handling of a corpse when Madsen appears at a hearing Sept. 5.

Wall was last seen alive on Aug. 10 aboard the submarine belonging to Madsen. (Peter Thomson/AFP/Getty Images)

Madsen has denied killing Wall, saying she died in an accident and he buried her at sea.

Wall was working on a profile about Madsen when she disappeared. Johansson also interviewed the inventor about his submarine and rocket last year.

"I thought it was a really fascinating story so I wanted to do a piece on this crazy guy,"  Johansson said in an interview with As It Happens guest host Jim Brown. "There was no doubt about that he was a very, very dedicated person."

But during their interview, Johansson said she "could feel that he was short-tempered."

"Everything had to go exactly as he had planned it, and everyone had to be in line," she said.

Johansson interviewed Madsen aboard his 'very basic submarine.' (BT)

Johansson was interviewing Madsen aboard his submarine with her photographer, and said that she never felt that her life was in danger. 

While Wall went out to sea with Madsen, Johansson said she only boarded the submarine on land.

"I remember thinking, 'I would never, ever go into the water in that submarine,'" Johansson said. "Everything was just so raw and unpolished and unfinished somehow."

But Johansson said Madsen told her he "has actually slept in the submarine at the bottom of the sea many times himself."

The homemade submarine UC3 Nautilus, built by Danish inventor Peter Madsen, who is charged with killing Swedish journalist Kim Wall in his submarine, sails in the harbour of Copenhagen, Denmark. (Peter Thompson/Reuters)

The story of Wall's mysterious death has captivated the world, with some Danish media outlets noting the similarities between the gruesome details and the plot of the Danish TV crime series, The Bridge. This similarity has sparked outrage, even prompting the New York Times to release a response to its use of the comparison. 

To Johansson, the use of the darker parts of Wall's death in the media is unavoidable as websites compete for traffic.

"I think a machine has been started that really can't be stopped," she said. 

 With files from Associated Press and Reuters.