Darja's killer found thanks to detectives' patience

Päev pärast Darja surnukeha leidmist Narvas.

PHOTO: Liis Treimann

Talk, talk, talk. Ten times over if necessary – that was the key to finally cracking the case of the murder of 14-year-old Darja.

Criminal investigators working on the murder of the schoolgirl since December of last year knew from the very beginning that the particulars of Darja's death were known to two 18-year-old male acquaintances. The only question was how to get that knowledge out of the criminally-inclined young men. It proved more difficult than detectives had anticipated.

Finding the alleged perpetrators was a piece of cake compared to everything that followed. Help from the community allowed detectives to quickly retrace the steps leading to Darja's death and who she was with. The same two youngsters, as confirmed by evidence found at the scene of the crime. Both men were initially apprehended and official suspicions of causing death out of negligence brought against them.

The only problem was the men under investigation were adamant in claiming they had done nothing. While they admitted to spending time with the girl that evening, both claimed they left her safe and sound.

The suspects were promptly released as authorities lacked any concrete evidence against the young men at the time. The relatively confident demeanor of the two suspects came as little surprise to investigators as both had come into contact with the authorities before.

One had been punished for physical abuse, the other for robbery. The suspect committed his first robbery when he was still underage, while his second offense in the same category had occurred immediately after his 18th birthday. The young man was handed a three-year conditional sentence for the robberies.

While Darja had died of asphyxiation, detectives did not know how the killer had acted. It was believed possible the girl was asphyxiated with something soft that left no signs of violence on her body. The police now had to find the item and the victim's DNA on it, and tie it to the killer.

Months passed, and detectives did their work knowing that the guilty person had to be one of their two suspects. In the meantime, the young man convicted of two robberies had broken the conditions of his parole and was sent to prison.

Investigators spoke to the suspects again and again. The situation had been rendered simpler by the fact that only one of the two suspects now remained unincarcerated and had been prohibited from departing from his residence without a permit.

Little pieces of evidence continued to trickle in until detectives finally believed they had solved the case. They had finally heard statements corroborating their version of what transpired.

All the authorities had to do now was to wait for the results of a final expert analysis to confirm their theory. The wait took the entire summer. Only now, in the middle of September, were the police and the prosecution ready to notify the public of solving the crime.

Public interest in the solving of Darja's murder was extensive. Postimees' corresponding news story alone had nearly 120,000 readers yesterday. Leading prosecutor of the Viru District Prosecution Margus Gross and head of the Eastern Police Prefecture's criminal investigation bureau Tarvo Kruup said at a press conference in Narva yesterday that the police had sent the case to the prosecution last week. From there it will move on to court.

Criminal evidence suspects one youth of killing Darja, and the other of connivance. What this means in direct terms is that one of the men asphyxiated Darja while the other stood by.

While the prosecution did not release any motive behind the crime, it is believed to have been a spontaneous act. That is to say the two boys did not plan on asphyxiating their acquaintance. The reason for Darja's murder will be disclosed in the courtroom. It was said at yesterday's press conference, however, that the incident has nothing to do with alcohol or drugs.