Lake Bodom murders

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Lake Bodom murders
Bodomjarvi talvella.jpg
Lake Bodom in 2004
Location Espoo, Finland
Date Sunday, June 5, 1960
Attack type
Weapons Knife, blunt instrument
Deaths 3
Non-fatal injuries
Perpetrators Unknown

Coordinates: 60°14′30″N 24°40′30″E / 60.24167°N 24.67500°E / 60.24167; 24.67500 The Lake Bodom murders took place in Finland in 1960 on the shores of a lake by the city of Espoo. Two 15 year old girls and an 18 year old boy were stabbed and battered to death during the early hours. The victims had been sharing their tent with an 18 year boy, who was found in the morning at the scene, apparently unconscious. He had a jaw fracture and knife wounds, but made a full recovery.[1] Nils Wilhelm Gustafsson said he could not remember what had happened. Despite bloodstained shoe-prints at and leading away from the scene of the crime matching the soles of Gustafsson's footwear (found hundreds of meters away) he was seemingly not considered a prime person of interest for the original investigation.

More than forty years later, Gustafsson was officially questioned as a suspect following a re-examination of the evidence gathered in 1960. Police said the new forensic analysis of bloodstains pointed to Gustafsson being the killer.

The murders[edit]

On Saturday, June 4, 1960, four Finnish teenagers had decided to camp along the shore of an elegant lake near the city of Espoo's Oitaa Manor. The lake was known as Lake Bodom (Finnish: Bodominjärvi, Swedish: Bodom träsk). Maila Irmeli Björklund and Anja Tuulikki Mäki were fifteen-years-old at the time; accompanying them were their eighteen-year-old boyfriends, Seppo Antero Boisman and Nils Wilhelm Gustafsson.[2][3][4]

Sometime between 4:00 AM and 6:00 AM (EET) during the early morning hours of Sunday, June 5, 1960, Mäki, Björklund and Boisman were all stabbed and bludgeoned to death by an unknown person or persons. Gustafsson, the only survivor of the massacre, sustained a concussion, fractures to the jaw and facial bones and bruises to the face, but lived. He stated that he had seen a vision of black and bright red eyes coming for them.[2][4]

At about 6:00 AM, a number of boys birdwatching some distance away had reportedly seen the tent collapsed and a blonde man walking away from the murder scene.[3][4] The bodies of the victims were discovered at about 11:00 AM by a carpenter named Risto Sirén. Upon his discovery of the bodies, he subsequently alerted the police, who arrived on the scene at noon.[3]

Initial investigation[edit]

The tent is being investigated right after the murders.

The killer had not injured the victims from inside the tent, but instead had attacked the occupants from outside with a knife and an unidentified blunt instrument through the sides of the tent. The murder weapons have never been located.[4] The killer had taken several items detectives found puzzling, including the keys to the motorcycles, which were themselves left. Gustafsson's shoes were later discovered partially-hidden approximately 500 meters from the murder site. Police did not seal the site and record the details of the scene (later seen as a major error) and almost immediately allowed the a large number of police and other people to trample over and disturb vital evidence. The mistake was further exacerbated by calling in soldiers to assist with the search around the lake for the missing possessions, several of which were never found.[4]

Björklund, Gustafsson's girlfriend, was found undressed from the waist down and was lying on top of the tent, and had suffered the most injuries out of all of the victims. She was stabbed multiple times after her death, whilst the other two teenagers were slain with less brutality. Nils was also found lying on the top of the tent.[4]


There have been numerous suspects during the investigation of Lake Bodom murders, but these suspects are the most notable.

Valdemar Gyllström[edit]

Many local people suspected Karl Valdemar Gyllström, a kiosk keeper from Oittaa known to have expressed annoyance at campers. Police found no hard evidence to link him to the actual murders. They were skeptical of supposed confessions he was said to have made because they considered him disturbed. He drowned in Lake Bodom in 1969,

Hans Assmann[edit]

Most public suspicion focused on Hans Assmann, who lived several kilometers from the shore of Lake Bodom. A series of popular books promulgated a theory of Assmann committing the Bodom killings, and other murders. It was not taken seriously by police who had evidence that he had been in Germany at the time.

Arrest and trial of Gustafsson[edit]

In late March 2004, almost 44 years after the event, Gustafsson (not a suspect in the case as far as the public knew) was arrested. In early 2005, the Finnish National Bureau of Investigation declared the case was solved based on new forensic analysis. According to the statement, Gustafsson had been drunk and excluded from the tent when he attacked the other boy, getting his jaw broken in a fight which escalated into him committing three murders

The trial started on August 4, 2005. Gustafsson's defense lawyer argued that the murders were the work of one or more outsiders and that Gustafsson would have been incapable of killing three people given the extent of his injuries. It had always been known that the shoes worn by the killer and left by him 500 yards away belonged to Gustafsson, who was found barefoot. The significance of modern DNA analysis for the prosecution was it showed that the three murdered victims' blood was on the shoes, but Gustafsson's was completely absent. The prosecution said it followed that Gustafsson must have been stabbed at a different time to the attack on the murdered victims, and that the only explanation of this was that Gustafsson's knife wounds had been self inflicted after he committed the murders and took his shoes off. The prosecution attempted to bolster their case with an identification by two birdwatchers of Gustafsson as the man they observed at the scene on the crime, and an assertion that while in custody he had made a incriminating remark[5] On October 7, 2005, Gustafsson was acquitted of all charges.[6] The State of Finland paid him 44,900 for mental suffering caused by the long remand time but he was refused permission to sue Finnish newpapers for defamation..

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

Jorma Palo and Matti Paloaro wrote three books about the murders.

  • Palo, Jorma: Bodomin arvoitus. WSOY, 2003 (The mystery of Bodom)
  • Palo, Jorma & Paloaro, Matti: Luottamus tai kuolema! Hans Assmannin arvoitus. Tammi, 2004 (Assurance or death! The mystery of Hans Assmann)
  • Palo, Jorma: Nils Gustafsson ja Bodomin varjo. WSOY, 2006 (Nils Gustafsson and the shadow of Bodom)


  1. ^ Palo, Jorma. Bodomin arvoitus. Helsinki: WSOY, 2003. - p.8. - ISBN 978-951-0-27893-2.
  2. ^ a b "Lake Bodom Murders – We visited where everything happened |...". 2015-02-13. Retrieved 2016-09-05. 
  3. ^ a b c Vidani, Peter. "The Lake Bodom Murders". Retrieved 2016-09-05. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f "The Lake Bodom murders". Retrieved 2016-09-05. 
  5. ^ Court finds Gustafsson not guilty of 1960 Bodom Lake triple murder Archived June 28, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ Court finds Gustafsson not guilty of 1960 Bodom Lake triple murder Archived June 28, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.