Fishing Trawler Crewmen Held in Iceland Murder Mystery

F/V Polar Nanoq. File photo: Shipspotting/ Capt. Hilmar Snorrason
F/V Polar Nanoq. File photo: Shipspotting/ Capt. Hilmar Snorrason

Two crewman from the Greenlandic fishing trawler Polar Nanoq have been arrested in Iceland and are being held as suspects in the murder of 20-year-old Icelandic woman in a rare case that has gripped the country.

A photo of Birna Brjánsdóttir released by Iceland police.
A photo of Birna Brjánsdóttir released by Iceland police.

The woman, Birna Brjánsdóttir, went missing early last Saturday morning, January 13, after a night out in Reykjavik, the capital and largest city in Iceland. She was last spotted on surveillance video walking down the street alone at about 5 a.m.

Her disappearance more than 10 days ago has prompted a massive search involving hundreds of volunteers and calls for help from the general public.

The two men were arrested onboard the Polar Nanoq on January 18 after the investigation honed in on a red Kia Rio that the two had rented while the fishing vessel was in port. Blood samples found inside the car have been sent for analysis.

Birna’s body found on the Reykjanes pennisula in southwest Iceland by a Coast Guard helicopter this past Sunday.

The F/V Polar Nanoq, which has been docked at Hafnarfjörður harbor, was reportedly cleared to leave Iceland on today. A third crew member of the vessel was arrested last week but was later cleared in the case.

The two suspects, ages 25 and 30, are being held but have not been formally charged with a crime in the case.

Iceland, with a population of about 325,000, has an amazingly low murder and violent crime rate, with less than 2 murders per year on average.

Update: Icelandic media is reporting Tuesday that police have found Birna Brjánsdóttir’s ID in a trash bin onboard the Polar Nanoq.