Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The murder of Kristin

by Jorn Lier Horst, Norway

News coverage from 1999
"Girl (12) mysterious dead"
I've had some very special days. One of my Cold Cases from the time I worked as a police investigator might got a solution.

At half past six in the evening on the 5th of August 1999, twelve year old Kristin Juel Johannessen went for a ride on her bike. She never returned.

Over the next few hours a search crew spread out in the terrain around the small village Mork, outside Larvik. Neighbors, friends, family. It was searching paths and meadows, ravines and streams. Just before midnight she was found murdered in a roadside. I spent almost all my working time for the next tree years in an attempt to find the perpetrator. Kristin and what had happened to her, was always on my mind.

Kristin and her dogs
Suspicion was first directed to a retarded and silent man who had driven through the village on a small motorcycle, but as the details fell into place, the investigation changed direction. I was given the responsibility to follow an alternative tack that ended in the arrest of a 24 year old man in Stockholm. He was prosecuted, but the evidence did not hold in court. He was acquitted.

The murder of Kristin is an investigation that has given me long, sleepless nights. It is a case of the kind that you go through time and time again, to scrutinize every detail in search of something that could take it further. It's the type of case that creates a mental scar in you as an investigator. The type of scar that does not heal properly, but which becomes inflamed.

Me and Kristins father to the left
Just before noon, Wednesday last week, I received a call from Kristins father, Roar. We have kept in touch in the years that have passed since the murder, even after I left the police. He has never given up on finding out who killed his daughter and has operated his own investigation. I have given him advice and we have listened together to the clairvoyant and others who believe they have tips and information. Now he called to say he had just been informed that the police had arrested a man for the murder of his daughter. New analysis methods made it possible to find a DNA profile on Kristins nails, which had been kept all these years. The man who was arrested was the same man I apprehended 15 years earlier. The new investigation has just started, but hopefully we're all about to get answers to what really happened back then in 1999.

Last week news coverage:
2001: Guilty
2002: Acquitted
2015: Arrested again
Roar and I have not just been talking about the case over the years that have passed, but also about literature. He is an avid mystery reader. I must admit that I found it strange that he that had experienced brutal crime in reality, read this type of literature. He explained, however, like many others, that he read crime novels to unwind and relax. And when he opens a crime novel he is well aware that here will justice be served. He will meet a protagonist who helps us to understand the incomprehensible. The investigator will restore an order that has been disturbed, and I think that such a restoration of law and order has an appeal to the reader in our chaotic world. 

Jorn Lier Horst


  1. Maybe this time the case will be closed. Maybe you have touched on what I find draws me to reading these stories.

  2. I hope you will be able to sleep better, Jørn.

  3. A moving story, Jørn. These unsolved murders must haunt the detective as well as the family. Good to hear how you stayed in touch.