Danes charge priest suspected of killing wife, body missing

International

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — A Danish Lutheran priest on Monday was charged with murdering his wife, even though her body has never been found.

The charges against Thomas Gotthard, 44, were filed after an assessment found that the evidence was “sufficiently weighty to be able to prosecute,” Prosecutor Anne-Mette Seerup said, according to Danish media.

Although investigators don’t have a corpse and ”hence a probable a method of murder, we have found evidence that is sufficient to us,” she said. She was not immediately available for comment.

According to Gotthard, his wife Maria From Jakobsen left the couple’s home in Frederikssund, northwest of Copenhagen, on Oct. 26, in a depressed state of mind.

However, when the 43-year-old psychologist didn’t show up at the birthday party of one of the couple’s two children three days later, she was reported missing by her sister. Police said From Jakobsen left her phone, computer and credit cards behind.

Gotthard’s arrest three weeks after her disappearance made news in the country of nearly 6 million where a majority belongs to the state Lutheran church, although there are few churchgoers.

He was detained after investigators found hydrochloric acid and caustic soda in the couple’s home and discovered that internet searches for words like “sea depth,” “oil barrels,” “suicide,” “disappeared” and “cleaning” had been made on the couple’s computer.

In a Nov. 6 surveillance video from a recycling station Gotthard was seen moving a large barrel on a hand truck. That was 11 days after his wife disappeared and 10 days before his arrest.

Investigators also have sought information from witnesses who have may have seen the family’s two cars and a trailer, and have carried out extensive searches with specially trained dogs in, among other places, a forest and a lake.

The priest, who denies any wrongdoing, is being held in pretrial custody and faces a trial starting Oct. 25.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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