Knutby murder

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The Knutby murder refers to a murder and attempted murder in the village of Knutby east of Uppsala in Sweden, on January 10, 2004.[1][2]

Murder and arrests[edit]

Around 04:40 in the morning, the 30-year-old IT entrepreneur Daniel Linde was shot in the head and chest and seriously wounded. Two hours later it was discovered that his employee and neighbor Alexandra Fossmo had also been shot.[1] She was found dead in her bed.[3] The murdered woman was married to Helge Fossmo, a pastor in a local Pentecostal church.[4] Her husband had left with Daniel Linde in the ambulance to the hospital.[1]

The next day 26-year-old Sara Svensson confessed to both shootings. She had worked as a nanny in the pastor's family. Two weeks later, the pastor was also arrested, together with Daniel Linde's wife.[3] Wiretapping had revealed to the police that they[clarification needed] were lovers. They[clarification needed] were both suspected of instigating the murder and murder attempt, but Linde's wife was released after two weeks and never charged.[4]


The pastor's first wife Heléne Fossmo had been found dead in her bath tub in 1999.[3] Although she had a hole in her skull[5] and although there was a toxic concentration of dextropropoxyphene in her blood, this death had been ruled an accident. This death was also investigated again, and the pastor was charged with murder.[1]


At the trial, Sara Svensson gave a detailed confession. She told the court that she had been influenced by anonymous text messages that were forwarded to her by Helge Fossmo. Her credibility was strengthened by the text of erased messages that could be recovered from her mobile phone. On July 30, 2004, Fossmo was sentenced to life in prison for instigated murder and instigated murder attempt; however he was not convicted for killing his first wife.[6] Sara Svensson was sentenced to institutional psychiatric care. In 2006 Fossmo confessed in an interview that he had in fact been involved; until then he had denied all charges laid against him.[7]

Media coverage[edit]

The murders and the following police investigation caused a lot of media attention both in Sweden and abroad. Details such as the victims' and perpetrators' involvement in the same sect-like church community (led by Åsa Waldau, sister of the murdered woman), as well as the pastor's sexual relationship with both the nanny and the wounded man's wife, were extensively covered in the tabloid newspapers. Waldau was frequently called "Kristi brud" (The Bride of Christ) in the media, following news that she had performed an engagement ritual with Jesus. She was also called "Queen Tirsa" by some members of the church and signed her SMS messages "T".

An aspect of the case which aroused widespread media interest was the punishment of the persons involved in the crimes. Helge Fossmo was sentenced to life imprisonment while the person who actually murdered Alexandra Fossmo, Sara Svensson, was released into the custody of the psychiatric ward of Linköping court system (Förvaltningsrätten). In August 2006, she was allowed to walk around the grounds of the psychiatric hospital unsupervised. Twice per month, she was given unsupervised leaves provided she went with a relative to the town of Vadstena or nearby Motala. Starting in March, 2007 Svensson was allowed to stay overnight at her father's house. In June, 2007 the places she was allowed to visit were expanded to include the city of Linköping.


In 2007 Fossmo married inside the Kumla Prison.[8] In 2008 Fossmo was relocated from Kumla Prison to Tidaholm after receiving death threats from other prisoners.[9] In early 2013 Fossmo had his first day out on parole from the Tidaholm prison.[10] In October 2014, after serving 10 years of his life sentence, Fossmo's applied to the court and had his sentenced time determined, which means that he will be released on parole in 2020.[11]

In January 2010 Aftonbladet reported that Sara began college at the folkhögskola or folk high school in Vadstena.[1] In early 2010, she received permission to live on her own during a six-month transition period. She presumably returned to society in late 2010, but Swedish law prevents the disclosure of any details pertained to her release.

Cultural influence[edit]

The Knutby case became so notorious in Sweden that it has been used in fiction as an example of a sensational crime with no need for explanation.[12][13] The name Knutby has also entered the Swedish language as a metaphor, even in contexts that had nothing to do with crime. For instance, a sports journalist who was dismayed that the players on the national football team were putting up a united front against the media and refusing to discuss possible personal conflicts wrote a piece headlined "The National team is like Knutby".


  1. ^ a b c d e Sundell, Camilla (2010-03-30). "Snart släpps hon fri" [Soon she will be released]. Aftonbladet (in Swedish). Retrieved 2013-03-16. 
  2. ^ "Sommarläsning: Helge Fossmo". Café Magazine (in Swedish). 13 July 2011. Retrieved 2013-03-16. 
  3. ^ a b c "Friheten ökar för Sara Svensson" [The freedom increases for Sara Svensson]. Östgöta Correspondenten (in Swedish). 2007-07-03. Archived from the original on September 27, 2011. Retrieved 2013-03-16. 
  4. ^ a b "The definitive guide to - The Local". 2004-01-10. Archived from the original on July 22, 2012. Retrieved 2013-03-16. 
  5. ^ Borgos Hjelle, Thomas (2011-11-22). "Forsker: Knutby-saken bør tas opp på nytt". Verdens Gang (in Norwegian). Retrieved 2013-03-16. 
  6. ^ Hanson, Matilda (2005-04-23). "Helge Fossmo gav tårfyllt vittnesmål" [Helge Fossmo gave tearful testimony]. Sydsvenskan (in Swedish). Retrieved 2013-03-16. 
  7. ^ "The SMS Murder Mystery: the dark side of technology" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-03-16. 
  8. ^ Tagesson, Pelle (2007-07-21). "Knutbypastorn gift – bakom Kumlas galler" [Knutby pastor married - behind the bars of Kumla]. Aftonbladet (in Swedish). Retrieved 2013-03-16. 
  9. ^ Hellberg, Magnus; Johansson, Andreas; Salihu, Diamant (5 April 2008). "Helge Fossmo tvingas flytta efter hot" [Helge Fossmo forced to move following threats]. Expressen (in Swedish). Retrieved 2013-03-16. 
  10. ^ "Här firar Helge Fossmo i frihet" (in Swedish). Retrieved 2013-03-16. 
  11. ^ "Fossmo får straffet tidsbestämt". (in Swedish). Retrieved 3 December 2014. 
  12. ^ Stieg Larsson (2006). "Chapter 21". Flickan som lekte med elden. 
  13. ^ TV show: Annika Bengtzon: Crime Reporter - Season 1, Episode 4 "The Red Wolf" @ 35:30