Her death, so close to home, and in a region known for its prosperity and safety, has focused attention on the dangers facing female journalists, especially those who work on a freelance basis.

Mr. Madsen was known as a temperamental and eccentric inventor who, starting in adolescence, built rockets and submarines, including the UC3 Nautilus, the vessel on which Ms. Wall died.

In court on Tuesday, Mr. Madsen confirmed that Ms. Wall had first contacted him to talk about rockets, but became intrigued by his submarines and wanted to go along for a ride. It was not clear when they first communicated, but they met for the first time on Aug. 10.

Mr. Madsen had brought numerous visitors on underwater trips — 300, he estimated, both individuals and small groups. When the prosecutor, Jakob Buch-Jepsen, asked if he had ever had sex on the submarine at sea, Mr. Madsen said he had, once, with a mistress.

Mr. Buch-Jepsen asked about Mr. Madsen’s involvement in the sadism-and-masochism community. He said that he had once had consensual sex with a woman who held her breath during intercourse — in a simulation of choking — but that he had not hurt her.

As to the evening of Aug. 10, Mr. Madsen offered this account: He navigated the submarine out of the depths of the harbor and toward the surface of the waters, which were calm that evening. Then, he said, he climbed through the hatch, which weighs about 150 pounds, and was holding it open for Ms. Wall to follow him onto the bridge of the submarine.


Kim Wall

Tom Wall, via Associated Press

The surface was slippery, by his account, and he lost hold of the hatch, which struck Ms. Wall in the head. He heard her body fall to the floor of the submarine as the door slammed. He went down and checked on her pulse, and found none. He thought she had fractured her skull.

Believing his career was over, and out of fear and desperation, Mr. Madsen said, he decided to bury the body at sea. “Sinking the Nautilus is not a suitable ending for Kim, so I removed the body and did a funeral at sea, like it’s been done at sea for hundreds of years,” he said.

Mr. Madsen found a rope, he said, and tied it to Ms. Wall’s legs, to pull her out through the hatch, in the process tearing off her pantyhose and her shoes. Asked to account for why her underwear and other clothing were missing, he had no explanation.

Mr. Madsen said he had used a nylon strap to secure pieces of iron pipe to the body, and then dumped it overboard. Then he continued his journey, intending to steer the vessel south, toward the Baltic Sea, and to kill himself, he said.

He did not explain why he had not carried out that plan.

Early the following morning, Aug. 11, Mr. Madsen’s submarine returned to the surface of the bay. As rescuers approached, he said, he opened a valve to let in water — effectively sabotaging his invention — and then jumped into the water to swim to safety.

“Whether I sank her or returned her to port would make no difference for my situation: I’m done as ‘Rocket’ Madsen,” he said, using one of his nicknames. (He noted that he had sunk a previous submarine, Freya, near Flakfortet, an old maritime fortress near Copenhagen.)

When Mr. Buch-Jepsen asked why he had lied to the police, Mr. Madsen answered: “I wanted to see my wife and the three cats. I wanted to see them before all this was going to happen. I had no doubt that everything would come to light. I just wanted five minutes to say goodbye to my wife.”

His lawyer, Betina Hald Engmark, asked why he didn’t call for help.

“I realized there was nothing left of the world I was living in,” he replied. “I was in a suicidal psychosis, and I had no more plans in this world other than to sink the Nautilus.”

Journalists filled most of the 25 or so seats in the courtroom. During a break in the testimony, Mr. Madsen turned to a woman in one of the seats and smiled at her; she did not appear to respond. He was wearing a military-style camouflage outfit, similar to the one he wore when he was arrested.

The police have interviewed numerous witnesses and are still conducting forensic tests on evidence, including strands of hair, underwear and blood, found at the scene.

The judge ordered a psychiatric examination of Mr. Madsen, who had refused to submit to one. She also approved a search of his computer.

Both Mr. Madsen’s and Ms. Wall’s cellphones are missing. He testified that he threw his overboard, but that he did not know where hers was.

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