Seppo Antero Boisman and Nils Wilhelm Gustafsson had been best friends since they were 12 years old. They often stayed the night at each other’s houses and went on to become electricians after high school. In May 1960, Seppo, who was 18 at the time, started going out with Anja Tuulikki Maki, who was 15 years old. At about the same time, Nils started going out with Maila Irmeli Bjorklund, who is 15 years old.
They chose to go camping near Lake Bodom, which is outside of Espoo in Finland’s Uusimaa Region, two weeks after Nils’s birthday. It was going to be Maila’s first summer without having to take care of her younger brothers over the summer. While Seppo and Nils’ parents trusted and believed in them, Maila and Anja’s parents didn’t want to let them go camping alone because they thought it was unsafe and only gave in after a lot of pleading.
From their home in Helsinki, the campsite was a 30-minute drive away. The first thing they did when they got there was borrow a canvas tent. Seppo also brought fishing gear, pliers, two bottles of strong liquor, and a dozen light beers from home. Nils bought snacks, bread, and sausages. Seppo and Nils borrowed two motorcycles in the afternoon and drove them, Anja, and Maila to the campsite. On the south shore of the lake, on a small peninsula, the four people found a good place to camp. The beach is only a few steps away. People told them that their camping spot was safe and private.
Not long after that, Seppo and Nils dropped off their backpacks, got back on their motorcycles, and drove back to the canteen, which was one kilometer away from their campsite. A few packs of gum and bottles of soda to mix with wine were bought. It was already 7:15 p.m. when they got back to the campsite. thus, not many people were outside any longer. The last thing anyone knew about their plans was how they set up their one-person tent, which was already pretty crowded with four people.
Early the next morning, on June 5, two teens were taking a walk along the south shore of Lake Bodom. It was almost 6 a.m. to try to figure out where the sound was coming from when they heard the sound of someone moving. They saw two motorcycles leaning against a birch tree there. They also found a tent that was only partly open. A man was lying on the tent. You could barely make out his face; all you could see was that he was wearing dark pants. After some time, they saw another man walk out of the tent and into the woods. That’s right, they could only make out his light-colored shirt and not his face. The man went into the woods and then didn’t come back. They left to not bother other campers because they wanted to get a better look at the motorcycles.
At the same time, Olavi Kivilahti, 14, was sitting on the rocks by the lake, waiting for the other kids he was fishing with to come back. As he waited, he saw a young man about 20 years old, average height, with combed-back brown hair, a light-colored shirt, and dark pants walking out of the forest. After that, he walked south and was no longer in sight.
By 10:00 a.m. As more and more campers woke up, the tent was seen by a lot more people. Some teens swimming in the lake close to the campsite saw the tent fall apart and a man lying on top of it. Because they thought there was a fight between campers, they chose not to get involved. At 11:15 a.m. The same man was seen lying on the tent by someone else, and that person would be the one to finally do something. He ran to a nearby construction site to call the police from a public phone.
Detectives from the local police force arrived. Nils was the man who was lying on top of the tent. Nils had been badly beaten because his face was swollen and his eyes were shut. Nils’s left jaw, cheekbone, and temple were also broken in several places. Besides those, he had stab wounds to his left forearm and right face, as well as a wound to his cheek that cut through all the muscle and showed his teeth.
The police found the other three campers inside the tent. He had his hands on his chest and was lying on the edge of the tent near the door. Someone hit him on the chin and face several times with something blunt, and his skull was broken in several places. Besides that, he had been stabbed several times through the tent canvas, and the wounds in his neck and chest were fatal. She was found curled up on her back, face down, with her shirt pulled up over her head. The blows to her head had caused her skull to break in several places. Finally, Maila was lying next to the curtain tent with her right leg bent over Anja’s head and her left leg straight out in front of her. Maila had her jeans pulled down to her knees and her shirt pulled up to her shoulders. She had three blunt force injuries to the head, which broke her skull and jaw and caused her brain to swell and bleed inside her skull. Lastly, she had been stabbed 15 times in the neck and shoulders. Lucky for us, Nils was still alive, and he was rushed to the hospital.
The police thought that the ki*ller cut the drawstring and only touched the tent’s canvas, which would have let him see the campers’ heads. This way, he could strike while they were trapped under the tent and couldn’t see his attacker. The police got all of their stuff from the crime scene, which included Anja’s clothes, bags, cigarettes, makeup, and a lyrics book. The police also found four knives, but none of them were used in the mur*der. Two of their alcohol bottles were left behind, and one of them had a fingerprint on it that didn’t belong to any of the four of them.
Their wallets and ID cards, a knife, Seppo’s leather jacket, two men’s watches, shoes, and the keys to their motorcycles were among the other things that were missing. Several volunteers, police officers, and even soldiers searched the campground in different ways over the next few days. Metal detectors, dogs, and divers searching the lake and the bottom of Lake Bodom were all used by the police. Every item found at the bottom of the lake was later found. Five hundred meters from the crime scene, police found a pair of worn-out brown leather shoes under a rock that had blood on them. They also found another pair of shoes in the bushes across the road. Nils owned the first pair of shoes, and Seppo owned the other pair.
The police made it their top priority to solve the crime because it was so violent. The police asked the public for help and told them to come forward if they knew anything about the killer. After this appeal, the police had to deal with dozens of false leads, such as people being reported to them just because they were out late. The people who were reported to the police did not have any evidence that they were guilty, so all of the suspects were freed.
There were no more suspects for the police to look into, so their investigation came to an end. While the police were looking for leads, the people in the area had their own suspect: Karl Valdemar Gyllstrom, who is 51 years old. A lot of campers would go to Karl’s Truck Stop and Kiosk to buy different things because it was close to the canteen and campsite. Karl was known for having short, violent outbursts. Karl was a heavy drinker who hated campers at the lake. He would hide razor blades in apples growing on trees near his house to stop kids from picking them and punish them if they did.
Karl was also known for hurting other people. Someone in the area saw Karl hunting on his land without permission. When the person asked Karl to leave, Karl raised his shotgun and shot the person. Though the wounds did not ki*ll him, the man had to go to the hospital to have shrapnel taken out surgically. Karl was also crazy about who had the right of way on the road. A truck was driving close to Karl’s business one time, which caused him to break the glass and almost cause an accident. Karl told the police that he was trying to scare the man away because he was going too fast and honking his horn too much. Karl always had a hunting knife and a steal pipe with him. He would put wooden strips with nails sticking out on the roads to puncture the tires of cars going by, and he would break into campsites where no one was there to cut and damage tents that were not occupied.
It was June 4, and Nils and Seppo went to his truck stop and bought some things before leaving. They did business with Karl’s wife because he wasn’t working at the time. After buying something, they drove by Karl’s house on their way to the campsite. Karl’s wife told her husband that there were four tents nearby. Karl was told about the mu*rders by a local the next morning, and he didn’t seem to react at all. People in the area became even more suspicious when Karl dug a well on his property. They thought that Karl would dispose of their things and the mu*rder weapon at the bottom of the well. The shoes of Nils and Seppo were also found on the road that led to his home and truck stop.
The police asked Karl and his wife some questions. Karl and his wife both said they were asleep the night of the mu*rder. Karl said he stayed in the living room, while his wife said she slept upstairs with the kids. Even though his wife said the door was open, she didn’t hear Karl leave. The police went through Karl’s house and didn’t find anything important, so they left. The people in the area were very unhappy with this search because they thought it was dull. They were especially upset that the well wasn’t searched.
On June 9, Nils woke up in the hospital. He was in a lot of pain and had no idea where he was. The police wanted to question him, but Nils was in so much pain that he could barely speak. When he did, he said he couldn’t remember what happened. The police had to wait again until June 23, when he was released from the hospital and went to the police station through a back door to give them a statement.
Nils says that he and Seppo set up their tent at 7:30 p.m. on June 4. and talked until 9:30 p.m. when they finally fell asleep. After a few hours, Nils woke up to the sound of Seppo looking for fishing gear outside the tent. Nils agreed to go with him, and later, he wanted to go for a late swim anyway. Nils thought it was 3 a.m. Anja had written in her Lyric book that “Seppo and Nils were drunk,” “got up at two o’clock in the middle of the night,” and “Seppo was fishing.” When the police asked him what happened next, he said that he remembered waking up in the hospital. The police took Nils back to the crime scene in the hopes that it would bring up old memories, but he still couldn’t tell them what happened next.
The police now had only one choice. They went to the University of Helsinki and asked a psychiatry professor to put him under hypnosis to help Nils remember things. This was something that had worked in the past with other patients. Nils was put under hypnosis three times, for an hour each, from July 2 to July 5. After a long time, Nils finally talked about how he and the others were attacked by a man brandishing a knife and what everyone thought was a steel pipe.
He said he could describe this man when asked. The police said the man was between 20 and 30 years old, 173 to 174 cm tall, had a round face, long blonde hair that was combed back, and normal ears that did not stick out. He had a high forehead with uneven horizontal lines, thick lips, a strong jaw, cheekbones that stuck out a little, a short neck, white teeth, thick, big fingers, and pimples on his forehead and cheeks. Finally, he was wearing a thick, checkered, dark blouse with small black buttons. A composite sketch was made based on this description and sent to the media. Based on this sketch, the police got 50 tips and arrested 9 suspects, with one being especially interesting.
Hans Assmann, a 36-year-old German citizen, came to The Helsinki Surgical Hospital by ambulance on June 6. His hands and overalls were stained with red. Along with him going to the hospital, his wife said that Hans passed out after having stomach pain. One of the doctors poked Hans in the side as part of their regular checks. Hans laughed, which let the hospital staff know that he was probably not awake. Hans didn’t feel bad when he was caught lying; instead, he threatened hospital staff and demanded treatment right away. A hospital worker and an intern began to keep a close eye on Hans because of this.
During his stay in the hospital, a woman who wasn’t his wife came to see him. They would whisper to each other, but no one knew what they were saying. To get rid of the red stains on his hands, Hans would wash them for hours and hours. When talking to hospital staff he told police he was a guard at Auschwitz but became disillusioned with Nazism after falling in love with a Jewish girl. He was sent to a different job and was captured by the Red Army in 1943. When he got out of the POW camp after two years, he joined the KGB. The hospital let him go after a few days, but he kept going back for more care and to make the staff more uncomfortable. A surgeon once saw an article from a German magazine about a cold case. He joked that he and the surgeon were both good with a knife, but he didn’t save anyone with his.
By July, Hans’s staff was becoming more and more suspicious of him, and they eventually thought he was behind the Lake Bodom Mur*ders. Things got even stranger after reading about the sketch in the newspaper. After calling the police, they even got Hans’s bloody clothes to give to the police. Hans was never actually arrested, though, and his clothes were never checked. The police said Hans had a strong alibi, but they never shared it with the public.
A man named Pauli Luoma was one of the other suspects that the police learned about. Pauli stole bikes and was seen in the area with what looked like a bloody shirt and a backpack that looked like the one that was stolen from the campers. The man was quickly identified as Pauli, but he had a strong alibi and was seen by many people at Otaniemi at the time of the mur*der.
Pentti Soininen, who is 15 years old, was another one. Pentti had done a lot of violent things even though he was young. In 1969, when he was 24 years old, he was caught and told police that he had been at Lake Bodom when the murd*er happened because he had run away from school. The police didn’t believe his confession because he couldn’t give them any information that they couldn’t get from reading the news, there was no proof that he was involved with the crime, and Pentti was known for lying to make a name for himself. Pentti hanged himself at a train station while he was being taken to jail.
The last suspect is the one we know the least about, and the police seem to think of them more as possible suspects than real ones. Two young men were seen fishing at the lake the night of the mu*rder. They would have seen what happened and might have been able to help the police. They could have fished, but instead they left their gear on the rocks by the lake and walked away. They never came back to get their stuff, were never caught, and even though the police asked them many times, they never came forward. As time went on, the police ran out of leads, and news about the investigation stopped being printed in the newspapers. The police eventually ran out of things to look into, and the case went cold.
People in the area continued to think Karl was the main suspect for years afterward. Karl didn’t look anything like the sketch, but his behavior was still enough to identify him; he sealed up that well of his just a few days after the mur*der. In the late 1960s, his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. While she was in the hospital, she told a friend that she thought Karl was the k*iller and gave the police a fake alibi because she was afraid Karl would hurt her. At this point, the police were said to have an 80-page file on Karl. They went to the hospital to question Karl’s wife, who later took back what she said. In September 1969, all investigations into Karl were officially over because she wouldn’t say anything and there was no proof that he had anything to do with the mu*rder.
Just before the investigation was over, Karl was drinking with a neighbor when all of a sudden he became angry and sad for no clear reason. When the neighbor asked what was wrong, Karl said, “Don’t you realize it yet? I am the kil*ler behind the Lake Bodom Massacre.” The neighbor replied, “If that’s true, then go to the lake and drown yourself right away. Otherwise, you will be locked up for the rest of your life.” On August 2, 1969, Karl’s body was found floating in Lake Bodom. The police determined that he had likely kil*led himself. Because there were no other witnesses to this alleged confession and Karl was drunk and mentally ill, along with the fact that there was no evidence, the police did not think this was enough to end the investigation and declare Karl the k*iller.
In 1997, Hans was interviewed by a reporter. When asked if he was the kil*ler, he didn’t say he wasn’t, but instead said, “I can’t disclose the details.” This was taken as a confession. One of Hans’ doctors wrote three books about the case and how Hans was most likely the ki*ller. Others think Hans may have had something to do with the mu*rder of Kyllikki Saari (he was in Germany at the time) and the death of Penna Tervo, a member of the Finnish parliament and minister. He was k*illed in a car accident, but some people think it was murd*er. Hans passed away in a Swedish hospital on June 19, 1998.
In 2005, the police finally let everyone know what they knew about Hans. At the time, the hospital called the police in 1960. Hans was questioned, but they quickly found out that he had a good excuse. At the time of the murd*er, he was getting together with his mistress in their Helsinki apartment and having an affair. Some of the people who saw him were the landlord, the landlady, her mistress’s sister, and her husband. He could not have left without being seen, and from 6:00 to 9:00 a.m., he got up and made coffee. the following morning. That would have cleared him by then. Red paint, not blood, was on his clothes, and he was acting strangely because he was drunk. His wife told the hospital that he was there because he had stomach pain. In 1978, the police looked into the case again and compared Hans’s fingerprints to fingerprints they didn’t know that were found on soda cans at the crime scene. The fingerprints didn’t match.
People were still not happy and kept thinking that Hans was the k*iller because he looked a lot like the sketch. Furthermore, many people noticed that there was a man at the memorial service on June 13, 1960, who looked a lot like the man in the sketch. Many people thought Hans went to the funeral to relive the murd*er. The police, on the other hand, stopped trusting the sketch as much. People were also able to make up memories while under hypnosis. Olavi was also hypnotized and talked about a man who sounded a lot like the first sketch. However, this was 6 years after the fact, so the first sketch was already known. Other than that, though, the sketch was not used because Nils might have been lying.
The case was looked at again in 2003, after 43 years. DNA testing and forensic technology had come a long way. All the evidence that had blood on it was tested, and on March 29, 2004, 62-year-old semi-retired truck driver and pensioner Nils Wilhelm Gustafsson was arrested. DNA tests showed that Nils’s shoes had blood from the victim but not his own.
The police thought that Nils, who was very drunk the night of the mur*der, got a pack of condoms ready and tried to have sex with Maila, but she turned him down. This made Nils angry, and Seppo was told to leave the tent because he was in the way of Nils and the two girls. Nils cut the tent ropes and trapped everyone inside while they were all asleep. He was drunk, angry, and high on adrenaline.
Nils began his attack because he knew where everyone was in the tent. He picked up a rock from the ground and hit Seppo in the head with it. Seppo fought back and kept kicking, hitting Nils in the jaw through the tent. This broke his bone, which made Nils even angrier. He pulled out his knife and stabbed him several times in the chest and neck through the tent fabric. After that, Anja tried to get out of the tent. When Nils saw this, he hit her over and over in the head with a rock until she stopped moving. Maila was stabbed 15 times and hit over and over in the head with a rock to finish the attack.
After killing the three, he got all of those things together and left the campsite to hide them. The man who was seen leaving the campsite was Nils. When he was done, he went back to the campsite and cut the tent open and smashed it together to make the crime scene look more “chaotic.” He also pulled Maila’s pants down to make it look like she was trying to be raped. He finished by lying on top of the smashed tent and waiting for someone to find the scene of the crime.
When the news came out the next day that Nils had been arrested, a 61-year-old woman came forward to give a statement. In 1960, she was 17 years old and camping with her friends when she saw Nils arguing with other people. This was after the murd*er, she told the police. After that, she saw two men who weren’t police officers taking Nils away. When asked for more information, she couldn’t name or describe these other men and possible helpers. Nils denied having anything to do with it and said the woman was lying because he had never seen her. Anja’s lyric book entries, which didn’t mention an argument and didn’t show any erasing or torn pages, also showed that he wasn’t guilty.
When the police turned over the case to the prosecutor, Nils was charged with three counts of mur*der. The Espoo District Court decided on April 2, 2004, that there was enough evidence to go to trial. Nils pleaded not guilty when the trial started on August 4, 2005. The prosecutor, Heikki Lampela, who has had his own legal problems in the past, asked for a life sentence. The prosecution stuck to the same theory as the police: Nils only had a mild concussion. They also said that Nils was lying about not remembering things to keep from being implicated. The tent was fixed up and put on display for the court during the trial. This was a very important part of proving Nils’ innocence in the end.
The two lawyers for Nils, Riitta Leppiniemi and Heikki Uotila, started their arguments. They didn’t believe that Nils threw his and Seppo’s shoes into the bushes, because if that were true, he would have gone back to the campsite by himself, either barefoot or with only socks on. It was a problem that his socks and foot soles were clean and didn’t show any signs of having walked that far.
The prosecutor said that the tent was hacked and cut open after the mu*rders to make the crime scene dirty. Because the tent was fixed up, Nils’s lawyers were able to find flaws in his story. Because the blood stains on the tent were all in the same place as the stab wounds, it was clear that the victims were stabbed through the tent. The police also said that the prosecutor and the police thought that Nils stabbed them through the tent as part of their story about what happened.
There were many stab wounds on Nils that were not self-inflicted, which went against the police and prosecution’s story that Seppo just kicked his jaw through the tent. At the crime scene, only bloodstains from the four victims were found. The police didn’t think anyone else was involved with the crime. The defense said that this wasn’t true because only 20 blood samples from 11 places had been tested, so the police and prosecutors couldn’t be sure that there wasn’t a fifth person. Also, the DNA had been breaking down for 45 years at that point, and even if the results were correct, the k*iller might not have shed a single drop of blood if they were well-prepared and attacked from outside the tent. In addition, the defense used the DNA results against them and said that Nils’ blood was found where he said he was sleeping. They said his blood shouldn’t have been in the tent if he was the kil*ler. Other witnesses who saw people leaving the tent while Nils was lying unconscious on top of it were also used by the defense.
Lastly, the prosecution had neurological experts testify, and they said that Nils had only a mild concussion. The defense and their experts, on the other hand, thought this was funny. He had been unconscious for almost five days and had permanent brain damage and memory loss. When he woke up, he couldn’t keep his balance for weeks and had to use a cane. The police and prosecutor also never told him where his serious injuries came from.
As a last-ditch effort, the police officer who was watching over Nils’s cell while he was being held before his trial was asked to testify about a possible confession Nils made. The police officer said Nils told them, “What does it matter? What’s done is done. The worst thing that could happen is that I get 15 years in prison,” which they thought was the same thing as confessing. There were no written records or recordings of him saying this, and Nils himself denied ever saying those things. It was also never made clear what he was talking about when he said this, so the court threw out any testimony about it and said it wasn’t a valid confession, assuming it even happened.
The six judges came to a decision on October 7, 2005. They found Nils not guilty because his blood was found in the tent, he was hurt and couldn’t have thrown away or hidden evidence, there wasn’t enough evidence, and witnesses said he wasn’t guilty. The verdict was unanimous. Nils was freed and given 44,900 euros in compensation because the prosecutor didn’t appeal the verdict within the seven days that were allowed.
Because of all the news coverage of the case and the fact that Nils was called a mur*derer, he rarely left his house and stayed there to avoid being confronted on the street. After he was found not guilty, he tried to sue the media and newspapers for defamation but gave up before he could find a lawyer who would take the case. No new suspects ever came forward after he was found not guilty.
63 years later the case remains unsolved.