Lake Bodom murders

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
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 (Finnish: Bodominjärven murhat, Swedish: Bodommorden) were multiple homicides that took place in Finland in 1960. Lake Bodom is a lake by the city of Espoo, about 22 kilometres northwest of the country's capital, Helsinki. In the early hours of June 5, 1960, four teenagers were camping on the shores of Lake Bodom.[1] Between 4AM and 6AM, an unknown person or persons murdered three of them with a knife and blunt instrument, while wounding the fourth. The sole survivor, Nils Wilhelm Gustafsson, led an otherwise normal life until 2004, when he became a suspect and was subsequently charged. In October 2005, a district court found Gustafsson not guilty on all charges against him.

As the paradigm of a cold case, the Lake Bodom murders have remained a notorious topic in the Finnish media and public discourse, and commonly return to the headlines whenever new information or theories, conspiratorial or otherwise, surface.

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. In a state of shock after everything that had transpired that night, 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 bird-watching some distance from the murder scene had reportedly seen the tent collapsed and a blonde man walking away from the scene.[3][4]

The bodies of the victims were discovered at about 11:00 AM by a carpenter by the name of Risto Sirén. Sirén had been jogging and, upon his discovery of the bodies, he subsequently alerted the police. The police arrived on the scene at noon.[3]

Initial investigation[edit]

The tent is being investigated right after the murders.

It was later found that the killer had never entered the tent, but instead had opted to attack them 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 stolen several of the victims personal items, including their wallets and some of their clothes. Some of these clothes, and Nils Gustafsson's shoes, were later discovered partially-hidden approximately 500 meters from the murder site. Other items of the victims, for instance Seppo Boisman's leather jacket, were never located. The tracks of blood and footprints had shown that the killer was wearing Gustafsson's shoes.[4]

Maila Irmeli Björklund, Gustafsson's girlfriend, was found undressed from the waist down and was lying on top of the tent, she had 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.

Pauli Luoma[edit]

Luoma was a runaway from a nearby work department. Police caught him soon after the murders and questioned him. They found out that he had a valid alibi. He was reportedly in Otaniemi at the time of the murders.

Pentti Soininen[edit]

Pentti Soininen, a maintenance man, was convicted of several property and violent crimes in the late 1960s. At the age of 24, while in jail in the county of Kuopio, he confessed that he had committed the Lake Bodom murders. On the fateful night, Soininen, aged 15, resided near the site of the Lake Bodom murders. The police interrogated him, however his confession was not given much weight. Soininen was a psychopath who could be incredibly cryptic, especially while under the influence of alcohol and drugs. Soininen's long criminal record included theft, assaults, and robberies. In 1969, Soininen hanged himself at Toijala, in a prisoner transport station.

Valdemar Gyllström[edit]

One of the prime suspects of the murders was Karl Valdemar Gyllström, a kiosk keeper from Oittaa. He was known to have hated campers and behaved aggressively. In Oittaa Gyllström was known as "Kiosk Man". He drowned in Lake Bodom in 1969, and while drunk he confessed the murders to his neighbor before his death, saying: "I killed them." Gyllström filled the well in his courtyard a few days after the murders and therefore Gyllström's house and the courtyard were studied in depth. Nothing incriminating, however, was found. On the other hand, it is possible that all of the articles were hidden or destroyed. For example, Gyllström's relatives have said that the murder weapon is in the filled-in well. According to the police, Gyllström had an alibi for the night of the murders, which was given by his wife. Gyllström's wife said that she was awake the whole night and that her husband had not been away from home. However, the wife had said before her death that her husband had threatened to kill her if she told the truth.

Hans Assmann[edit]

Most suspicion has focused on the alleged KGB spy, Hans Assmann. On 6 June 1960 he came to the Helsinki Surgical Hospital. Assmann's behaviour in the hospital was particularly odd. The patient appeared dishevelled, with black fingernails and his clothes covered in red stains. Assmann may have lied to hospital staff about the cause of his appearance. He also pretended to be unconscious and was aggressive and nervous. Assmann's clothing matched the description of the Lake Bodom murderer. Assmann cut off his longish blond hair after details regarding the appearance of the murderer were revealed on the news. Assmann lived within five kilometres of Bodom, which was only a short distance from the shore of Lake Bodom. His behaviour could have suggested guilt at the time, especially as was noted by Surgical Hospital Curator Jorma Palo, as well as other hospital staff. The police had only a brief meeting with Assman, but found little since they did not want to cross-examine doctors and did not take Assmann`s stained clothing for examination; in spite of the fact that the doctors in attendance were certain that the stains were composed of blood. Later Palo wrote three books about Assmann and the murders. Former Detective Chief Inspector Matti Paloaro also suspected that Assmann was responsible for five other murders. Assmann has been linked to unsolved Finnish homicides such as Kyllikki Saari's murder in Isojoki and the Tulilahti double murder in Heinävesi.

Arrest of Nils Gustafsson[edit]

In late March 2004, almost 44 years after the event, Nils Gustafsson was arrested by the police on suspicion of having murdered his three friends. In early 2005, the Finnish National Bureau of Investigation declared the case was solved based on some new analysis on the blood stains. According to the official statement, Gustafsson erupted in jealous anger over his feelings for Björklund, his new girlfriend. She was stabbed multiple times after the fatal blow, while the two other teenagers were killed less savagely. Gustafsson's own injuries, while notable, were less severe.

The trial started on August 4, 2005. The prosecution called for life imprisonment for Gustafsson. It argued that the re-examination of the old evidence using modern techniques such as DNA profiling raises suspicion towards Gustafsson. The defense 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. On October 7, 2005 Gustafsson was acquitted of all charges.[5]

On his acquittal, the State of Finland paid him 44,900 for mental suffering caused by the long remand time.

See also & in pop culture[edit]


Bodom (film)

Children of Bodom

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.