Gone Girl

How a rare murder case is changing a nation’s attitudes towards law and order

01 September 2017
Over 700 people, many of them volunteers, took part in the search for Brjansdottir.
johannsson
Over 700 people, many of them volunteers, took part in the search for Brjansdottir.
johannsson

On the evening of 13 January, Birna Brjansdottir—a 20-year-old woman who worked as a salesperson at a department store—went out with a friend to an indie bar in downtown Reykjavik, Iceland. Brjansdottir’s friend headed home at 2 am, but Brjansdottir wanted to stay out longer. Shortly after 5 am, she left the bar on her own.

After that, Brjansdottir was filmed by at least five CCTV cameras in the downtown area. In footage that would be viewed thousands of times in the coming weeks, she walks unsteadily down a well-lit street, bumps into a man, drops a few coins and almost falls over as she collects them. In the background, a red Kia drives by. At 5.25 am, the footage shows Brjansdottir turning left at a building of the Church of Iceland. This is the last image captured of her, alive.

The next day, Brjansdottir did not show up to work. Her phone was switched off. That evening, her family reported her missing.

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    Fiona Weber-Steinhaus is a German-British journalist based in Hamburg. She reported from India as part of the Media Ambassadors India-Germany fellowship for 2016, and is part of the German journalists’ collective Kill Your Darlings. (www.killdarlings.de/webersteinhaus)

    Keywords: crime murder Iceland Reykjavik Birna Brjansdottir
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