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Police "almost certain" of identity of victim in grisly Malmi murder (updated 13.20)
Two men arrested on Monday over killing
Helsinki Criminal Police said on Monday that they have identified "with almost 100% certainty" the woman whose body parts - including her severed head - were discovered on Sunday from a rubbish skip close to the Malmi swimming hall in suburban Helsinki.
Police also arrested two men on Monday evening on suspicion of the woman’s murder. The men were actually brought in for questioning during the morning. The arrest was considered necessary for the purposes of continuing investigations, even though forensic and other enquiries into the peculiarly grisly slaying are still under way.
The facts of the case so far are that a passer-by noticed the woman’s head in a rubbish skip on Sunday. According to detectives, the woman is probably a 36-year-old resident of East Helsinki, but her identity will be formally determined only after DNA analysis. This is not expected to take very long.
Police officers believe the woman was killed on Friday or Saturday. After the murder, her body was cut up, and even now apparently not all body parts have been located. The search is continuing, but on this subject the police are saying very little, at least for the time being.
An image of the woman’s face was released by the police on Sunday evening and at least the late-edition tabloid newspapers Iltalehti and Ilta-Sanomat published the picture in their Monday editions.
Several of the woman’s acquaintances and relatives called police to report that they may have recognised the face. This further firmed up the police’s confidence in the woman’s identity. Studies made in the field had also led officers to an informal identification.
Detective Chief Inspector Arto Karalahti, who is leading the investigation, commented on Monday that the telephone number given for possible identification of the body had been ringing all day.
The image published in the newspapers showed the woman’s head surrounded by a green cloth. There were signs only of a small scratch on the forehead and of bruising to the neck region. The police justified the publication of the rather shocking picture on the grounds that it would speed up the investigation process. On Sunday evening, when the decision was taken, the victim was still classified as unknown. Nevertheless, it is extremely uncommon for police to release pictures of crime victims to the media in this manner.
Officers are regarding this as a murder enquiry. Several individuals have been questioned as suspects and their movements are being checked out, reported Karalahti on Monday. He was very reluctant to go into any details of the exceptionally brutal killing, nor would he say which body parts, if any, are still missing.
Helsinki Criminal Police are still taking details from members of the public who may know something relating to the crime, on numbers (09) 189 5307 and (09) 189 4240.
TUESDAY: According to the two tabloid evening papers, the woman in question is a 36-year-old who was herself closely involved with an earlier very similar dismemberment case from 1996.
She was in fact found guilty of the earlier killing in the lower court, but the verdict was overturned on appeal and she was subsequently acquitted. Her partner at the time was given a life sentence, but this was subsequently commuted on appeal and the man was released from prison earlier this year.
Uncorroborated reports suggest he is one of the two men arrested on Monday, but police have not been willing to confirm this. More is likely to emerge during the day.