Monday, November 28, 2005

A US citizen is cleared of murder charges but sentenced to four months in prison for desecrating a dead body in Copenhagen in April

Copenhagen Post:

After giving bone-chilling descriptions of the murder and dismemberment of 41-year-old Copenhagen taxi driver Torben Vagn Knudsen in April, 35-year-old US citizen Jared Heller was sentenced to four months in prison before a Copenhagen court on Monday.

Heller was cleared of charges of murdering Knudsen, but sentenced for desecrating his body after the killing by dismembering him with a chainsaw and leaving his body parts on the street.

The judged emphasised that Heller had felt threatened by the suspected murderer, a Sudanese named Ahmed Numan Isaac Rahma, who called himself Jaguar.

Police began hunting Heller and Jaguar after linking them with the brutal murder of Knudsen, whose dismembered body was discovered in downtown Copenhagen just before Easter this year.

Jaguar is still on the loose, but police suspect he is hiding in Sudan. Heller was arrested in an apartment in Copenhagen's Amager district after he called the police and turned himself in a few days after the murder.

Prosecutor Lone Damgaard read aloud from Heller's previous statements taken during closed court sessions before the verdict was announced on Monday.

'The atmosphere in Jaguar's apartment was relaxed and good, and there was cocaine on the table. But then Jaguar asked the taxi driver to take a bath. He followed him to the bathroom, while the American went to sleep. He heard knocking noises from the bathroom and thought they were cleaning the bathtub. After that there was a single cry of help, but who was screaming?' Damgaard read from the statement.

'The American walked to the bathroom and saw Jaguar leaning over the taxi driver, who was lying in the bathtub with his legs hanging down the side. Jaguar was hitting him with his fists. The American tried to drag him away. There was blood spilling out of the taxi driver's mouth. It was like a film.

Jaguar said the taxi driver was dead, and that he could not tell anyone. The American was scared to be in the apartment with a man who had committed a murder. He wanted to call the police, but the other one demanded and took his telephone. He did not dare to run away, but left the bathroom, because it was a terrible sight. Jaguar called him in again and wanted his help to saw the body to pieces. He had already sawn off one leg and both arms. The American felt he did not have a choice.

He tried to saw the other leg off, but threw up after a few moments. He left the room, and was called in again. He tried to cut the body in two, but gave up again. Jaguar called him 'a bitch' and finished the work.

Jaguar placed the body parts in trash bags and told the American to take a bag and follow him to the street, where they emptied the bags. The torso and the head were put in a suitcase and a laundry basket, which they carried out and emptied in a corner.'

Heller, a native of Philadelphia in the state of Pennsylvania, has been employed as a DJ at a Copenhagen bar and is known in Copenhagen's hiphop circles. Both he and Jaguar have been frequent customers at the city's clubs and bars.

Police have resumed their search for Jaguar.

DJ sentenced to prison for role in dismembering murder victim


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