Finland

The Bodom Lake Murders

June 5, 1960
Espoo, Finland
Four teenagers camping at Lake Bodom are attacked as they sleep, leaving 3 dead and 1 wounded

The two female victims, Maila Irmeli Björklund and Anja Tuulikki Mäki, were 15 at the time of their murders. They had been accompanied by their boyfriends, Seppo Antero Boisman and Nils Wilhelm Gustafsson, both of whom were 18. Sometime between 4:00 and 6:00 in the morning, the teens were stabbed and bludgeoned. Strangely, their attacker made the killing blows from the outside of their tent. Around 6am, boys birdwatching in the area noticed the crumpled tent and a blonde man walking away from it. At 11am, a man found the teens’ bodies and alerted police who arrived around noon.

Gustafsson, the sole survivor, suffered from a concussion, a fractured jaw, and facial brushing. He and his girlfriend, Björklund, were found laying on top of the tent while the other victims were found inside. Björklund was nude from the waist down and suffered more severe injuries than the other victims.

Though several people were considered suspects, only one arrest was made: Gustaffsson was arrested in 2004, nearly 44 years after the murder. It was suspected he had flown into a jealous rage against his girlfriend — explaining her more severe wounds — and murdered the others to cover his tracks. He then allegedly inflicted injuries on himself to seem less suspicious. DNA testing on a shoe known to be Gustafsson’s found blood of the three other victims, but not his own. Gustafsson was tried but the circumstantial evidence against him was not enough for a conviction and he was acquitted.

Another suspect was Valdemar Gyllström who had a history of violent interactions with campers, including throwing rocks at their tents. Gyllström confessed to the murders and, as proof, mentioned he had placed several pieces of the victims’ stolen property around his home. Police searched extensively but could find nothing. Gyllström’s wife also supplied an alibi claiming he was with her the night of the murders (she later confessed on her deathbed that she had lied and believed he had committed the murders). Because of the alibi and the lack of physical evidence, police disregarded Gyllström as a suspect. He drowned in Lake Bodom in 1969 in a suspected suicide.

Pentti Soininen also confessed to the murders, though police found no links connecting him to the crime. He hanged himself in 1969.

A blonde, disheveled man with blackened fingertips and covered in a “red substance” was treated at the local hospital the day after the murders. He acted erratically, claimed he was a KGB agent, and feigned unconsciousness during most of his stay. He also matched police sketches of the man seen by the birdwatchers. Although he initially lied about his identity, it was discovered he was Hans Assmann. His questionable appearance and behavior initially made police suspicious, though they did not continue to investigate Assmann when they received evidence he was in Germany at the time of the murders.

Despite a plethora of theories, some more believable than others, the case remains unsolved.

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