The Murders in Baneheia

Two stories, one truth

The brutal murders of Lena Sløgedal Paulsen (10) and Stine Sofie Sørstrønen (8) in Baneheia on May 19, 2000, shocked a whole nation. A sigh of relief went through the country when Viggo Kristiansen and Jan Helge Andersen were arrested on September 13th the same year. Finally, the country could get some answers as to what had happened and try to put this horrendous crime to rest.

In the following trial, the prosecution and the press created two widely different images of the accused: While Kristiansen was the monster, Andersen was his pitiful companion who was pressed to carry out rape and killing. The prosecution’s case was based exclusively on Jan Helge Andersen’s explanation. There was no technical evidence against Viggo Kristiansen. He denied then and still denies now any knowledge of the crime.

Why did the jury believe Jan Helge’s story—and not Viggo’s? And how can one story become truer than another when there is no evidence supporting the testimony? Who is paying the price?

The Murders in Baneheia is a true crime story about what happens to an individual’s rights when a whole nation has decided he is guilty. Do the police, the press and the judiciary system manage to keep emotions at bay and ensure fair treatment of the suspects in the hunt for the right culprit?

The author is currently starting work on a TV documentary about the Baneheia case that will be released next year.

‘One of the biggest legal scandals in recent Norwegian history’