Sa, 2.12.2023

Death of builder raises eyebrows

Risto Berendson
, reporter
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Photo: Pm

In theory, anything is possible. The dead man was discovered on a forest path he had no reason to wander. Next to corpse stood sports shoes several sizes smaller. His skull features a large hole, probably by a hit from behind with a blunt object. The conclusion: deranged, the man might have fallen to his own death in dark woods. This, at least, was what prosecutor’s office thinks how Christer Loorents, a builder, perished.

«He called me and asked: «Mother, is everything okay with you?» He’d never asked anything like this before. That was our last conversation. A week later he was dead,» says Karin Mägi, mother of Christer Loorents (33).

The woman is about to lose hopes to learn what really happened to her son doing occasional work at a well known tourism farm in Estonia. She thinks that her son was killed. Having investigated facts of the death, prosecutor’s office and police opted for the path of least resistance and stated: an accident, probably.

In court, Ms Mägi challenged the termination of criminal case. The court admitted investigation should have been more thorough. Essentially, however, nothing changed. The court upheld the decision to terminate investigations, as the time between the death of Mr Loorents and the finding of his body was too long. To find new evidence regarding the alleged crime was said to be impossible.

Unconcerned approach

Considering the circumstances, the story is strange is all respects. In a job ad published late fall of 2012, by Mustjõe tavern farm near Aegviidu, skilled builders were sought for to set up a log cabin. Decent pay was promised. As a bonus, accommodation on location.

For Christer Loorents, this looked like a good offer. Thus, he journeyed there from Pärnu, by bus and train. It was December, 2012. Mr Loorents did visit home during his work, one. To his mother he mentioned he did not like the kind of people doing the construction work at the farm, but the work had to be completed.

In New Year, Mr Loorents headed back to Aegviidu and was scheduled to come home for a moment on January 16th. Namely, a visit to probation supervisor was in store, Mr Loorents under criminal punishment for extortion of a bicycle from an acquaintance and selling it for €200.

He never showed up at the supervisor’s. «I thought him being a bachelor, who knows what may have happened,» said the mother. The days went on and the son seemed to be missing. The mobile phone constantly out of coverage. Worried, the mother called the tourism farm owner.

On January 12th, she was told, Mr Loorents had left the farm and had not been seen after that. At the beginning of February, the relatives travelled there to find out. «We were led to the farm manager who said that all of a sudden Christer had started drinking and talk gibberish,» says the mother. «On the third day, they said, he had locked himself up in the boiler house and claimed somebody was after him. In the morning he was said to have packed his stuff and headed for the train.»

The story sounded credible. Mr Loorents had had alcohol problems before, and had indeed on these occasions suffered from delusions of being followed. «All I asked for was that I might see the room he had been staying. Then came the owner and said this is not allowed,» recalls the mother. «A worker went and fetched the bag with Christer’s overalls and shirt. Then, the owner said you will have to leave now you are messing with our work.»

Considering the worries of the relatives, this was callous. Mother reported to police regarding her missing son and hoped Mr Loorents would perhaps show up.

Berry picker finds skeleton

Eight months later, in September 2013, the feared phone call came from Northern prefecture. Investigator announced that a chance berrypicker had found the skeleton of Mr Loorents, about a dozen metres off a forest path close to Mustjõe tavern farm.  

The location of the body was surprising, being to the opposite direction of train station. Theoretically, the path in question only leads deeper into the woods and no-one walks that direction for no reason. Also, near where the body was found there’s a ten-metre wide space for vehicles to turn around on the narrow gravel road.

That pointed to the possibility of the victim brought there by car. Eight months after the event, this was impossible to prove. Next to the skeleton gnawed at by animals, untouched clothes were found. Trousers and somebody’s overcoat, Nike sneakers smaller than Mr Loorents’ feet, a purse with documents and mobile phone Nokia 6210.

Reading the list of findings, relatives were left wondering. «Had Christer indeed intended to travel to town, he would never have gone out in clothes like that. In these kinds of things, he was too much of a pedant,» claims the mother.

The more so that nearby, remains of a trash bag were discovered. «Why would he have had to stuff his things hurriedly into a trash bag and thus to leave?» asks sworn lawyer Indrek Lillo representing the family.

The weightiest argument pointing to a possible crime, however, was plainly visible: skull trauma penetrating the forehead. As claimed by an expert, this was probably due to a hit from behind, with a dull object. «This could have been a hammer blow,» suggests the lawyer Mr Lillo.

Whether or not the blow caused the death, it was impossible to tell. For that, the dead body ought to have been still in the decomposition phase. Regrettably, only the bones remained. Police initiated criminal case regarding cause of death due to negligence. The mother Karin Mägi asked investigator if the hole in the head might have resulted from work injury. «The investigator said this was excluded,» she claims.

Over time, one by one the police was interrogating the individuals who worked at the farm at the time of Mr Loorents’ disappearance. Asked by relatives why Mr Loorents was in the woods naked, the investigator had a credible answer – hypothermal in the cold, people feel hot; a deranged person will throw clothes off.

In the fall of 2014, investigator was changed in the criminal case. On November 20th, Karin Mägi got a curt e-mail from police: «The file is closed and you may come get it from Tallinn.»

In the decision to close the case, it states that Mr Loorents was drink even as he returned to the farm after New Year. By several witnesses, behaviour resembling delirium was described. In the night before he disappeared, Mr Loorents had barricaded in the boiler house, thinking somebody was after him.

At interrogations, building coordinator at the farm Egmar (30) related how, during the days before that Mr Loorents had repeatedly called him and said that two men and a lady were trying to break into the farm. According to Egmar, these were delusions. The same was claimed by other witnesses.

By six o’clock in the morning of January 12th, Mr Loorents had vanished from the farm without a trace. Searches for him were limited to checking the territory of the farm. Understood.

The question remained. Whence the hammer-end size hole in the head of Mr Loorents?

As admitted by investigator Ulvi Tamming who wrote the regulation to close the case: it cannot be excluded that the injury was caused by a single blow in the region of the head, but the time that it occurred was impossible to determine. «It has not been established that Christer Loorents was attacked,» reads the regulation. «There is basis to believe it may have been an accident – deranged, C. Loorents got lost in the woods after leaving the farm and died of hypothermia.»

Investigated as accident only

Getting lost in the woods causes no hole in the head. Critical, sworn lawyer Mr Lillo says that as without a basis the police only raised the accident version during investigation, necessary procedures were not performed in timely manner. Referring to professional literature, he says it is only after the murder version is not established the investigators should switch to investigating an accident.

As in this case all is topsy-turvy, the lawyer challenged the termination of investigation in Office of the Prosecutor General. The negative reply received was more speculative yet. «A blow in the head is an option, but also the trauma might have resulted from falling headlong against terrain or trees,» announced State Prosecutor Tristan Ploom.

The reason sounds unbelievable. «From what height must a man fall to have a hole in his head like this?» asks Mr Loorents’ brother-in-law. Therefore, they sued Office of the Prosecutor General’s refusal.

Forming its opinion on February 25th, for the first time the circuit court admitted there were shortcomings in the investigation – interrogating the witnesses was delayed, thereby missing the opportunity to obtain an overview more adequate. All told, the court still consented to termination of investigation, as two years after the event it would allegedly be impossible to perform complementary proceedings allowing for reassessment of cause of death to be from violence.

«Sot this is official – Christer Loorents suffered a skull-piercing injury by falling on «swampy forest floor» against terrain and trees,» observed sworn lawyer Mr Lillo. He suspects that investigation of the case as accident was purely pragmatic – in order to diminish the statistics of the so-called unsolved murders.

Whatever actually happened with the delusional Mr Loorents in the boiler house of the tavern farm is destined to remain a mystery.