Lake Bodom – Espoo, Finland - Atlas Obscura

They say that it was death itself, the Grim Reaper, who came for the victims on the fateful night of June 4, 1960.

Some 22 kilometres west of Helsinki, four teenagers, Maila Irmeli Björklund and Anja Tuulikki Mäki, both fifteen years old, and their eighteen-year-old boyfriends, Seppo Antero Boisman and Nils Wilhelm Gustafsson, decided to camp on the shore of the idyllic lake near the town of Espoo.

Sometime between 4 and 6 a.m. three of them were brutally stabbed and bludgeoned to death. The fourth, Gustafsson, sustained a concussion, fractures to the jaw and facial bones, and bruises to the face, but survived.  In a state of shock, he claimed to have seen a apparition clad in black with bright red eyes.

No murder weapons were retrieved from the site, though some of victims’ belongings were missing.  The murders shocked the nation, yet despite the intense police investigation the case remains unsolved to this day.  The Bodom murders never fully faded from memory and a series of suspects were interrogated over the years.

Exactly 12 years after that night, unexpected news once again stirred the public’s attention. A man announced in his suicide note that he was the murderer. Karl Gyllström was working at the nearby Kiosk and hated the campers. However, his story was discarded as a cry for attention as police determined that he was asleep with his wife at the time of the murders.

Wild theories begun to surface and the details of murders both real and conjured become a part of macabre local lore. One theory even involved a supposedly-deranged KGB spy.

Dr. Jorma Palo, who had been working in the local hospital, claims to have treated a highly suspicious man for his injuries shortly after the murder. The man was the German-born Hans Assmann, allegedly a KGB agent. According to Dr. Palo, Mr. Assmann pretended to suffer from memory loss and was aggressive and nervous. However, Mr. Assmann too had a solid alibi.  Two local men, Pauli Luoma and Pentti Soininen were also considered suspects at different times.

Finally, in March 2004 the story of the “Children of Bodom” took another turn. Nils Wilhelm Gustafsson, the only survivor, was arrested under suspicion of murdering his friends. According to the Police, enough new evidence was acquired through new investigative methods, unavailable at in 1960s, to indict Mr. Gustafsson, but in 2005 the court rejected the prosecution’s case and acquitted Mr. Gustafsson.

The infamy of lake Bodom transcends the borders of Finland and a metal band from Espoo, “Children of Bodom” takes its name from this grim event.

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July 27, 2010

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