Murder of shooter
On 7 June 1916, Rifleman H. L. Hansen at Engestofte was murdered by Vilhelm Been, one of Lolland's most notorious poachers.
The shooter H. L. Hansen
Hansen, the shooter was born in 1883 in Hammelstrup in Everdrup parish. Around 1911 - 1912 he took up the position of forester and marksman at Engestofte.
On 17 June 1916, he was transported by rail to Tappernøje station, and from there to Everdrup Cemetery, where he was buried in the presence of colleagues from other estates, both from Lolland and Zealand. At the murder site stands a stone in memory of Rifleman H. L. Hansen. It can be seen on Røgbøllevej.
In the evening of 7 June 1916, a jumbo drove past Søholt in the direction of Røgbølle Sø. Forest rider Hansen at Søholt noticed the vehicle and he was fully aware of who the two men in the vehicle were. One was the owner of the jumb, a merchant from Hillested, Grønborg. He had a bad reputation and had recently been punished for theft. But it was more the other man in the jumbo that piqued his interest. It was Vilhelm Been. Skovrider Hansen probably made up his mind o, and apparently the idea of poaching occurred to him. He headed back towards Søholt and called the marksman Ludvig Hansen at Engestofte. He advised him to keep an eye out for the jumbo, which was probably heading towards his area.
Rifleman Hansen took his bicycle and rode off towards Søholt to keep an eye on the jumbo. However, he reached Søholt without any result, and after a short conversation with forest rider Hansen, he turned his bike and rode back towards Engestofte. Outside Frederikshuset he met a good acquaintance, blacksmith Ejnar Christensen. He got off his bicycle and asked Ejner Christensen if he had seen the jumbo. While they were talking, they saw it coming from the west. Skytte Hansen walked behind the house, so that the poachers would not see him, and the jumbo drove past.
When the two men in the jumbo were out of sight, Ejner and Ludvig cycled together towards Søholt to see if the poachers had killed anything wild, as they thought they heard a shot. They found nothing unusual, however, and then cycled back the way they came. At the lake, where the road joins the road now called Røgbøllevej, they guessed that the jumbo had probably turned left towards Engestofte. But as Ejner Christensen had an errand in Godsted, the shooter asked him to check if the jumbo had gone that way. He cycled towards Engestofte.
When Ejner Christensen had finished his errand in Godsted, he cycled towards the lake. When he was almost there, he saw the jumbo again. But this time he saw only one man in it. A little further on, about 200 yards before the place where the beet trail then crossed the road, he saw Gunner Hansen in the twilight arguing with a man. He repeatedly heard the gunner say: You mustn't - you mustn't! When he came nearer, he saw to his dismay that Been had aimed the gun at the cheek of the gunman. There was a bang and the shooter instantly fell to the ground.
Terrified, Ejnar Christensen jumped off his bike, but Been turned to him and shouted: "If any more come, they'll get the same beating!" Then he ran away. Ejnar Christensen ran to the shooter, who was lying on the ground. The shot had struck him in the throat and blown away a piece of his chin. Ludvig Hansen was dead on the spot.
Ejner Christensen decided to seek out the shooter Hansen's superior. He took his bicycle and rode towards Engestofte, where he informed Skovridder Kann. They drove back to the scene in Kann's car and had the shooter transported to Maribo hospital, where it was established that he had long since died.
Vilhelm Been arrested and convicted
The Nysted birching verdict was handed down on 7 September 1916. The verdict read in brief: the statement made by the arresting officer to the state police and in the first interrogation in Nysted that he had shot the shooter on purpose is so confirmed by all the circumstances of the case that his later explanations that the shooter's death was caused by a wet shot cannot be taken into account. The arrested man's statement that the shooter struck him several times before the shot was fired is not borne out by the evidence in the case, on the contrary...
A mitigating circumstance was that the killing had occurred on an alpine road. Therefore he received the mildest punishment of the law: 8 years of chastisement. The prosecution immediately appealed to the Superior Court. There they agreed with the bi-parliament's premises. However, the sentence was increased to 10 years. However, the sentence was appealed to the Supreme Court, which agreed with the first instance courts. Here the sentence was increased once again. The final sentence for the murder of the shooter was 12 years' imprisonment.
Vilhelm Been's real name was Laurits Vilhelm Larsen. He was born on 13 October 1867 in Kistofte near Slemminge, a small village on Lolland. Both his parents were respectable working people who, as far as we know, never harmed a human being. But with Vilhelm Been it was something quite different. He had the blood of a freebooter in his veins. Already as a young man he roamed the forests, and here arose the dream of becoming master of the forest and its animals. Because of his free upbringing, it is believed that this later took power away from him and turned him into an uncontrollable brute, whose ambition eventually led him to do everything to free himself from his parents and the authority of others. After his confirmation he was in various places, while he was most at ease with the box at his hand and tending his own. After his soldiering days, Been wandered around a lot on both Lolland and Falster, where he accumulated quite a record of sins, including theft, violence and fraud.
In 1850 and until around the 1890s there was a certain lawlessness in an area near Christianssæde, known as Stibanken. In a newspaper article from the middle of the last century, the small town is described as "a place far removed from law and order". The people here had a very different view of "mine and yours" than elsewhere. It was here that Been felt at home, and he made every effort to pick up the legacy of the lawbreakers of the past. In these areas he haunted the forests, but moved away again because of the authorities' interest in his work. Later he changed his residence frequently.
What became of Been?
Information about Been's life after the murder is quite sparse. He was probably released around 1924/25 after serving two thirds of his sentence. He cycled around for a while selling pottery in the villages around Maribo, and for a time he helped out as a hotel clerk at the Central Hotel. He died on 30 April 1949 after some illness, aged almost 82. Despite everything, he was well liked by people in Maribo who knew him.