June 5, 1960. A camping site near Lake Bodom in Finland. Four teenagers were attacked and killed. Three of them were murdered, and one was injured but survived. Unfortunately, no one ever managed to track down the killer(s). This has still been a mystery.
The start of the mystery
Maila Irmeli Björklund (15), and Anja Tuulikki Mäki (18), and their 18-year-old boyfriends Nils Wilhelm Gustafsson and Seppo Antero Boisman, decided to camp along the shore of Lake Bodom on Saturday, June 4.
They rode their motorcycles to the lake’s bay and set up camp. They then pitched their tent near the local beach, where they spent the rest of the evening drinking, talking, and barbecuing before retiring for the night around midnight.
When the guys went fishing for a short while, they claim to have woken up a couple of hours after they fell asleep. That was followed by a journey back to their tent. Between the hours of 4 a.m. and 6 a.m., the teenagers were attacked.
All four of them were subjected to blunt force trauma to the head. On Sunday morning, a man swimming with his son came across the victims’ bodies at around 11 a.m. He described how a collapsed tent caught his eye, and he was able to see the victims.
Mr Boisman was discovered lying on his back. He had died as a result of a haemorrhage caused by a puncture wound to his right lung. According to the autopsy reports, the assaults were directed at Mr Boisman’s head and neck areas. The following factors all played a role: a skull fracture caused by external violence, a cerebral contusion, a puncture wound to the trachea, and the subsequent inhalation of blood.
According to the studies, the injuries may have been caused by an edged weapon such as a regular knife, and the head injuries may have been caused by a flat-surfaced heavy object such as a stone.
Ms Mäki was discovered lying on her right side on the tent’s roof, on her right side. According to the autopsy reports, Ms Mäki’s head area had been subjected to blunt external violence from behind. Her primary cause of death was a fracture of the skull caused by a cerebral contusion, which was the primary contributing factor. She was not stabbed in the back.
Mr Gustafsson, the lone survivor, was discovered lying on top of the tent, seriously injured, and was taken to the hospital. It was determined that he had suffered blunt force trauma to his face. He had a fractured jaw and facial bones, as well as a deep wound on the inside of his cheek. He was in critical condition. He was taken to a hospital, and the police began an investigation into what happened.
The beginning of Investigation
The investigation began at approximately noon. After investigating, the police discovered that the murderer had cut the tent ropes and then attacked the victims from outside the tent with sharp and blunt objects, according to the investigation. Even though the murder weapons were not left behind, nothing was ever discovered despite an extensive investigation.
As well as stealing the teenagers’ personal belongings (including Mr Boisman’s wallet and shirt), the assailant also stole Miss Mäki’s wallet, towel, swimsuit, and pliers, as well as Mr Gustafsson’s wallet, tote bag, wristwatch, and pair of pliers.
Approximately 0.5 kilometres away from the crime scene, the shoes of Mr Boisman and Gustafsson were discovered. Both pairs were on the opposite side of the road, one in a hole and the other on the other side of the road.
Several tiny droplets of blood were found on Mr Gustafsson’s shoes, and the bloodstain pattern analysis revealed that the shoes had been worn at the time of the attack. Mr Gustafsson stated that he had no recollection of wearing the boots and that he was in no condition after the attacks to be able to move the shoes more than 500 meters.
A pillowcase with blood droplets and sperm on it was discovered at the crime scene. It measured 40 x 48 cm. Although it was initially assumed to be the girls’ sanitary towel, DNA analysis of the pillowcase conducted as part of the 2005 investigation revealed that the DNA belonged to a man.
Things getting suspicious
Neither Mr Gustafsson nor Mr Boisman was a good match for each other. A large number of eyewitness reports came in from people in the surrounding area of the lake. By the end of July, there were approximately 50 reports of a light man in the area.
There were no arrests made, on the other hand. Nils, the primary survivor, had been in the hospital for several weeks and had no recollection of what had happened that night. When no one was apprehended, the authorities turned to unconventional methods to track down the perpetrator.
Mr Gustafsson was hypnotized between the 2nd and 5th of July. Nils described, under hypnosis, how he heard girls screaming and how a man was slashing the children with a knife and some sort of iron pipe-type object through the tent. He describes how he noticed blood on Miss Björklund’s head. Then Gustafsson went into great detail about the assailant.
The attacker was between the ages of 20 and 30 years old, neither young nor old. In his account, Mr Gustafsson described the perpetrator’s clothing as a thick checkered dark blouse with small black buttons on the front and back, and the blouse was buttoned up.
The blouse had many different colours, such as black and green, and overlapping breast pockets. But since the hypnosis used in criminal investigations was a new concept in Finland in the 1960s, the hypnosis experiment was disputed and seen more as a form of entertainment than an appropriate part of the medicine.
Did the lie detector even lie?
It was particularly highlighted by medical superintendent Hannu Lauerma, who stated that hypnosis is not a lie detector and that the person under hypnosis does not always provide truthful information because they are in a dream-like state.
The person under hypnosis can create their own mental images. For example, in Mr. Gustafsson’s case, because he couldn’t recall much from the previous night, he might choose to fill in the blanks with a mental image he created himself.
The beginning of interrogation
All four people in the area at the time of the murder were taken into custody and interrogated. They were at the south beach of the lake around 5:30 a.m., and Heikki Salonen (16), and Kalevi Haapalainen (15) were with them. Before 6 a.m.
Both witnesses stated that they heard noises that they believe in having been cries for help from the scene. One of the main reasons they were there was to ring the bells of the birds.
According to them, they had been about 20 meters away from the tent when they witnessed the motorcycles leaning against the trees and a man lying on top of the collapsed tent. The only thing they could say about the man was that he wore dark trousers, and that was it.
Soon after, they noticed another man walking away from the tent, and the birdwatchers were able to describe how the unknown man walked towards the east beach, where they had camped. After that, they didn’t see any more movement and decided to leave so that they wouldn’t bother the campers any longer. Olavi Kivilahti, a 14-year-old from Finland, had been fishing in the area.
Mr. Kivilahti was spotted in the area, according to the birdwatchers who reported it to the authorities. He had left his house at 4 a.m. to travel to Lake Bodom, where he had arrived at the bay closest to Oittaa’s manor. In his words, he didn’t hear anything out of the ordinary.
He had noticed an unknown man hurrying towards the Vesto construction site around 6 a.m. He had called 911 after seeing the man. Mr. Kivilahti was unsure of the man’s origins and wondered where he had come from.
He did manage to catch a glimpse of the mysterious figure. Approximately 20 to 30 years old, 170 to 180 cm in height, regular build, straight-backed, light brown hair, combed back, and dressed in dark trousers and a light jacket, the man stood out from the crowd. He wasn’t sure what to make of the shoes the man was wearing.
Proceedings going on
Mr. Kivilahti was hypnotized on the 31st of January in 1966 and described the man as having the same features as him and wearing black shoes. Aili Karjalainen, the wife of the Oittaa manor’s caretaker, recalled how she went to the manor’s bank at 3:45 a.m. to wash some laundry before going to work the following day.
She had observed a young man fishing in the bay where the victims were located from 400 meters. Later, she noticed two young boys fishing on the west side of the bay, which she took note of. The other youngster had run away, leaving the other youngster alone in the room with him.
Mrs. Karjalainen stated that she did not notice anyone else at the location other than herself. The murder investigation had been going on for years, and hundreds of people had been interrogated, but the top suspects were the people listed below.
A major breakthrough?
On the 6th of July, at 10 a.m., a bearded man approached a carpenter and asked for a cigarette. According to the carpenter, the carpenter described the man as having a sly smirk on his face and dropping droplets of blood on his sleeves and the chest of his light shirt.
The police began looking for a man who was described as 177 cm tall, with a normal-sized body, light brown hair, and blue eyes, among other characteristics. When the man’s identity was revealed, it became clear that he was the first person to be apprehended in connection with the murders.
Pauli Luoma was described as being extremely introverted by others. Even though he had a criminal record that included robbery and theft, his alibi was verified. He was living in Otanniemi with a group of other homeless people at the time of the murder.
No mention was made in any of the articles about the shirt that had bloodstains on it. However, DNA profiling did not exist back then, and it was only developed in the 1980s that it became valuable.
Pentti Soininen was incarcerated in the Kuopio county jail in 1969, accused of crimes against property and acts of violence. He was well-known for abusing substances such as drugs and alcohol.
A group of criminals got together and started talking about the most famous murder cases in Finland, and Soininen revealed to his fellow convicts that he was the mastermind behind the Bodom assassinations.
Soininen opens up
According to historical records, a 15-year-old youngster named Soininen ran away from an approved school that was located nearby in 1960. Soininen was well-versed in the Bodom lake area, and he described how he came across the four teenagers sitting around a campfire, drinking and laughing.
He talked about how he was irritated by the campers and how he cracked them up and murdered them. After being questioned, no one believed Soininen because he was perceived as a celebrity seeking to make a name for himself.
Soininen committed suicide by hanging himself in Toijala’s prison station in 1969, and he did not leave a suicide note. Valdemar Gyllström, a kiosk keeper from Oittaa, was well-known for his aggressive demeanor, hatred for all campers, and loud noises to attract attention.
In 1969, he was drowned in Lake Bodom. It is unknown whether he drowned himself or if it was an accident, but a neighbor claimed that Gyllström confessed to killing the children after drinking heavily before the incident.
His wife was afraid of him, and it is alleged that he abused her physically. And she was his only means of avoiding responsibility.
The wife initially told the police that the kiosk owner was at home during the Lake Bodom murder, but she later admitted that she had lied on her deathbed. Gyllström had threatened her life if she revealed where he was hiding to save his life.
Legenden om Bodom: rhundradets mord mysterium
Ulf Johansson, who was 18 at the time of the murders, published a book in 2016 titled “Legenden om Bodom: rhundradets mord mysterium” in which he claimed that the locals were aware that the kiosk keeper was the perpetrator. According to Mr. Johansson, Gyllström was a violent man who was well-known throughout North-Espoo.
Gyllström was said to be terrorizing the villagers, which is why no one came forward to inform the authorities of his activities. As described in the book, the kiosk keeper was responsible for cutting the ropes of the campers’ tents. He is also said to have done so the night of the murder as well.
Gyllström was said to have carried a knife and an iron pipe in his shoe at all times. According to one rumor, Gyllström had filled a well in his yard a few days after the murders, and as a result, his home and yard were investigated. Despite this, nothing was discovered.
However, according to some sources, the well was never even looked into at all. There is a widespread belief that murder weapons are still buried at the bottom of the well. However, in the end, the police were unable to establish a link between Gyllström and the murders because they lacked evidence.
Hans Assmann’s probable involvement
Hans Assmann was a German immigrant who lived in Finland from the 1950s to the 1960s and was a member of the Communist Party. He was well-known for his drug use and violent behavior, and he was sentenced for assault in 1962, for example. He was implicated in several heinous crimes in Finland, including the double homicide of Tulilahti and the murder of Kyllikki Saari.
Assmann was also a suspect in the Bodom murder investigation. He was also suspected of being a KGB spy, according to reports. On the 6th of June, 1960, Assmann arrived at the Helsinki Surgical Hospital, where he was greeted by hospital staff who described him as acting strangely. From the beginning, the shabby appearance was immediately apparent.
Assmann’s fingernails were extremely dark, and his clothes were covered in red spots, which were suspected to be the result of blood. He pretended to be unconscious as he lay in the hospital bed.
In the middle of a doctor poking Assmann with a needle, Assmann opened his eyes and exclaimed, “Stop it, doctor.” Assmann approached a nurse and requested paint thinner so that he could wash his hands. When it came to wound cleansing, paint thinner was not used in the hospitals, but gasoline was.
In the middle of the night, Assmann washed his hands with gasoline. He would also boast about his knife skills, claiming that those who were struck with a knife would die due to his actions. The hospital staff would be sure that Assmann was guilty of the crimes he committed. He lived about 5 kilometers away from Lake Bodom, so he had to be familiar with the surroundings.
He matched the description of a man seen in the area the night before the murder occurred. In an announcement, the police stated that Assmann was in an apartment with a female companion, and the landlord and his wife both observed Assmann at the breakfast table.
The police were called to the hospital, but they did not seize the clothing and take it away to be analyzed further. Apparently, Assmann had a perfect alibi for the night of the murder, but the police did not reveal the evidence until the 21st century when the case was finally closed.
Before his death in 1997, he agreed to an interview with Swedish detective inspector Martti Paloaro, who was later published. Assmann is said to have indirectly confessed to a slew of crimes.
Unidentified likely-to-be murderers
During the time of the murder, two unidentified fishermen were seen in the surrounding area. Aili Karjalainen, the caretaker’s wife at Oittaa Manor, reported seeing two young males fishing at the western cape at 3:45 a.m. on Saturday. Even though the authorities pleaded with the fishermen to turn themselves in, no one ever showed up.
Following their retreat into their tent, Nils and the other victims claim they never saw anyone else in the vicinity. In the beginning, Nils Gustafsson was not considered a suspect because he was one of the victims and could no way be held responsible for such a severe injury.
However, Mr. Gustafsson was apprehended in 2004 after 44 years on the run. Gustafsson, who was 62 at the time of the triple homicide, was charged with the crime in 2005.
Mr. Gustafsson’s sexual advances
According to the Finnish National Bureau of Investigation, the case has been solved due to a new forensic analysis. The trial began on August 4, 2005, and was held in a closed-circuit format throughout.
According to the prosecutor, Mr. Boisman and Mr. Gustafsson were drinking when they got into an argument and fought each other.
According to the prosecutor, Ms. Björklund, the victim who had sustained the majority of the injuries, would have rejected Mr. Gustafsson’s sexual advances. He would have been enraged by this.
As a result, he murdered all three of them in cold blood. When his shoes were discovered 500 meters away, the prosecutor focused his investigation solely on them.
Mr. Gustafsson’s injuries were not deemed to be as severe as previously stated, and it is possible that he committed the crime and moved the shoes away due to this. Some unexpected witnesses were called into the courtroom, and some claimed that Mr. Gustafsson had stated, “What’s done is done, I’ve got 15 years,” among other things.
This was insufficient evidence to convict him because the statement was not entered into the Pre-Trial Investigation Record and because the context and content of the statement were not confirmed by the prosecution.
Mr. Gustafsson’s getting free from charges
On October 7, 2005, Mr. Gustafsson was found not guilty of all charges against him. According to the district court, the motive of jealousy did not constitute sufficient evidence. During the 1960s, only a partial DNA examination could rule out an outsider as a possible perpetrator of the attacks, as the entire tent had not been thoroughly examined at the time.
Mr. Gustafsson could not hide the shoes because of his injuries, and they were discovered much closer to the tent. In addition, a witness had observed an unidentified individual leaving the crime scene, which was later confirmed. The State of Finland compensated Nils for his mental anguish with a sum of 44,900 euros.
The Lake Bodom murders are one of the most well-known murder mysteries in Finland, and the perpetrator’s identity has remained a mystery to this day.