ODENSE, Denmark – A Danish inventor convicted of the murder of a journalist aboard his self-built submarine in Copenhagen in 2017 escaped briefly from prison on Tuesday, but was arrested by police, according to reports from local news outlets.

The inventor Peter Madsen is said to have escaped from Herstedvester prison near Copenhagen, but was arrested a short time later in Albertslund on the western outskirts. Photos and videos from Ekstra Bladet, a local news agency, appeared to show Mr Madsen sitting on the side of the road surrounded by police officers whose area was cordoned off. According to media reports, he may have had a “belt-like” object around his waist.

Police said in a statement posted on Twitter that they had responded to an incident in Albertslund in which “a man was arrested after trying to escape,” but without naming Mr Madsen. A short time later, the police announced that the person had been removed from the scene. State broadcaster DR said police had confirmed that the escaped prisoner was Mr Madsen.

Police also said there were investigators and that the area had been cordoned off. Kirsten Schlichting, 78, who lives and works near the prison, spoke to TV 2, a national news network, and described a heavy police presence when officers tried to arrest Mr Madsen.

“The only thing I’m worried about is the school, which is also nearby, but I don’t know if there are any students there,” said Ms. Schlichting. “But I’m not afraid. There are a lot of police officers who watch out. “

Mr Madsen was found guilty of the premeditated murder of journalist Kim Wall in 2018 and was sentenced to life in prison. Life imprisonment is rare in Denmark, even in murder cases, but the gruesome death of Mrs. Wall appalled the nation and the brutality of the crime made the trial of Mr. Madsen one of the most closely watched in Scandinavian history.

Ms. Wall, 30, disappeared after meeting Mr. Madsen for an interview on board his self-built submarine in August 2017. Her body was later found dismembered, and Mr Madsen was soon arrested and charged with her murder.

Mr Madsen initially offered a number of alternating explanations about the whereabouts of Ms. Wall before admitting that he had dismembered her body and thrown body parts overboard. But he denied killing her.