Please note: There is no suggestion that these two cases are linked.
The Betrayal and Murder of Connie Svendsen
Connie Svendsen was well known on the island of Bornholm. She lived at Rønne and had a large circle of friends, being 51, divorced and working as a waitress. On September 1, 1997, she failed to arrive for work, alarming colleagues due to her reputation for punctuality and always phoning managers before being absent. Her boss, Birte, subsequently decided to do a welfare check at her apartment and found that the front door was unlocked. Entering, she found the apartment silent, moving through the flat until coming across Connie’s body in the bedroom, she had been beaten and strangled.
“I still remember it clearly. On the way to Bornholm and with the rocky island in sight, I thought that this case would probably be one of the easy ones. A relatively closed society, where everyone knows everyone — in the middle of the Baltic Sea — a victim who was known by many people. How hard can it be? But it was to end up being one of the most difficult”
Police Inspector Bent Isager-Nielsen, Bornholms Tidende
Investigations by police ascertained that she had last been seen on the evening of August 31, leaving for home following a night out with friends. She wasn’t in any company when she left and was seen walking alone through the streets after 11pm. Checking the crime scene, police also ascertained that there were no signs of forced entry at the apartment. There was wine and smoked cigarettes at a table in the dining room, suggesting that Connie and her killer had enjoyed a pleasant time together before the killing. Six cigarettes in all had been smoked by an unknown man, a full DNA profile being obtained but never matched to anyone.
The length of time taken to smoke six cigarettes is, for most people, considerable. This, coupled with the wine, led police to believe that Svendsen knew the killer personally and likely considered them a friend, spending hours together before something went wrong and the evening ended in murder. One interesting aspect surrounding the cigarettes was that the killer chewed the filter, a habit that police linked to somebody who works outdoors, suggesting a fisherman, farmer or seaman. Often, outdoorsmen are faced with needing their hands free or severe wind, meaning a habit of biting the cigarette to keep it in place becomes a norm.
The murder came just a day after the death of Britain’s Diana, Princess of Wales on August 31 in Paris, the major international news pushing most other stories off the front pages around the globe. The Connie Svendsen murder subsequently received little press coverage, and it wasn’t until 2012 that the case would receive fresh attention after being featured on an unsolved crimes television show from TV2 Bornholm in the country, marking the 15th anniversary of the killing. In all, police have questioned 2,000 individuals and taken 600 blood samples as part of the case. Yet, they have failed to generate many leads despite Bornholm only having a population of around 40,000, 14,000 living in Rønne.
“A good deal of investigation work was done. We had DNA, testimony and some information about the perpetrator’s behaviour at the crime scene. We actually know a lot about this unknown perpetrator. So the case should not be unresolved”
Police Inspector Bent Isager-Nielsen, Newsbreak
One theory into the case is that the perpetrator was a foreigner, perhaps a sailor, explaining why there are so few local leads in the close-knit community. Others suggest that the man may have been a lover, with the wine offering an intimacy beyond casual acquaintances. Another, presented by Connie’s brother, is that the murder had a drugs angle, suggesting that his sister was involved in some kind of drug smuggling operation. However, no evidence for this has ever been made public.
Despite leaving an abundance of forensic evidence at the scene, the killer has yet to be found, and after 23 years, a new break in the case seems unlikely. With no witnesses or motive, the death of Connie Svendsen seems destined to be one of the few affairs in Denmark to go unresolved.
The Merciless Killing of Louise Borglit
Many crimes have shocked Denmark. The killing of teenagers Stine Geisler and Emilie Meng standing out, as did the murder of Marie Lock-Hansen a generation before. However, none have perhaps affected the national psyche more than the merciless slaughter of Louise Borglit and her unborn baby.
Louise Borglit was 32-years-old and seven months pregnant, expecting a boy she intended to call Peter. A hard working and diligent worker, she served as a beauty consultant in the cosmetics section of a luxury department store. She had been voted as best colleague by her coworkers in 2015 and was considered well-liked with no known enemies. Following the discovery of her pregnancy, she had moved in with her sister and brother-in-law in Herlev, leaving Copenhagen. She was not in a relationship with the baby’s father.
It was around 6:30pm on November 4, 2016, that Louise Borglit decided to take her sister’s dog, Maggie, for a walk, it was a golden retriever. The weather was nasty, being cold and raining, the sky already dark when she set out for the park just five minutes away. She wouldn’t return.
Around 7pm, a witness would report hearing two screams from the park and saw a man running from the scene. Ten minutes later, another dog walker, 52-year-old tire fitter Michael Hudlebusch, encountered Maggie running loose, the animal clearly in a state of distress. The dog walker picked up the leash and Maggie led him and his girlfriend to the body of Louise, she’d been stabbed. An ambulance was called, and the man attempted CPR but to no avail, paramedics pronouncing her dead at the scene alongside her unborn child at 7:36pm. Maggie stayed at Louise’s side throughout.
Louise had been stabbed in the breast and ribcage, defensive wounds to the arms showing she had attempted to defend herself. The knife was never found and presumably was taken by the perpetrator. Reports in the tabloid Ekstra Bladet suggested that the murder weapon was an axe. Others say both an axe and knife were used. Police and the Danish armed forces subsequently searched for the offending article in the shrubbery, the sewers and a lake in the park but found nothing of note. 46 knives have since been handed over to police as potential suspect weapons, but no matches have been found.
The man seen running from the scene was described as between 28 and 30, around 5 foot 10 inches, thin and golden-skinned. He was wearing a black jacket and dark pants, a cap visible under his hood. Danish police believe that the killing was opportunistic and random, with no evidence that Louise Borglit was deliberately targeted. It was a brazen attack in the early evening, with potential witnesses everywhere and against a woman with a dog that may have been a threat to any attacker. They are currently working on the theory that the perpetrator is likely suffering from mental illness, and the baby’s father is not a suspect in the case.
Despite a reward of 84,000 kroner being offered for information leading to the arrest of a suspect, nothing more was forthcoming, and nobody has ever been arrested. One year after the senseless killing, police released video footage from around the park that showed the man who was seen by witnesses, again with nothing developing afterwards.
The shocking nature of the crime led to a wave of revulsion in the Danish press and heavy criticism of the police when no suspects were identified. While the tabloids are often unduly harsh on investigators working with very little evidence, a review into the investigation found that these criticisms were probably fair. In 2018, Copenhagen West Region Police asked other forces to look at the case after coming up empty-handed, an investigation leader and two investigators joining those working on the matter from other police districts. This initiative is undertaken during challenging circumstances to ensure that the case doesn’t become bogged down in long-standing threads and those officers who’ve been on the matter a while don’t lead new members of the team with their pet theories. This form of peer review found that there were significant flaws with the police case, with analysis of mobile phone usage in the area being lost through data failings. These are the same computer data losses that affected the Emilie Meng case.
Despite the trail seemingly running cold, police insist that the investigation into the brutal murder of Louise Borglit is still ongoing, with fresh tips still being presented to investigators. 700 people have been questioned over the past year alone.
“I have never experienced so many inquiries as we have received in this murder case, and there is good reason to praise the public. But we still lack the information that allows us to go out and arrest the perpetrator. We have received tips about almost 100 specific people who could be the perpetrator — and all those people have been thoroughly investigated”
Nils Gjerlev, Assistant Detective, Copenhagen West Region Police
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