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Lake Bodom Murders: We visited the location of Finland’s most famous unsolved murder

In the summer of 1960, four teenagers decided to camp on the shores of Lake Bodom, one of the many lakes around Espoo in southern Finland. Unfortunately, only one survived the night in what became known as the Lake Bodom Murders.

In 2015, we visited the location of Finland’s most famous unsolved murder, and we’re here to share the story with you.

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When we were figuring out our plans for NBE Finland, something caught our eyes, and it wasn’t the helicopter ride over Helsinki or the fact that we would feed reindeers in Espoo. Instead, something else caught our eyes, and it was Lake Bodom, the place where the notorious Lake Bodom murders happened. We didn’t have anything planned on the lake, but we went there, and it was more interesting than expected.

If you know your fair share of heavy metal bands, you know what we’re talking about. Children of Bodom, one of the biggest heavy metal bands from Finland, is named after this place. The band comes from Espoo and, the legend says that they’re looking for cool names on the phone book, and they stumbled upon Lake Bodom. But they didn’t choose the name since Lake Bodom is a beautiful place a few kilometres away from Helsinki. It was something else.

Some people say that it was death itself that came for the kids that died on that night in June 1960. To this day, nobody knows for sure what happened, and we believe nobody will know. But, this is the story from the Lake Bodom Murders.

Is Lake Bodom based on a true story?

On June 4, 1960, four teenagers decided to camp on the shore of the beautiful lake near Espoo known as Lake Bodom. Maila Irmeli Björklund and Anja Tuulikki Mäki were fifteen back them and Seppo Antero Boisman and Nils Wilhelm Gustafsson, their boyfriends, were eighteen. Sometime before dawn, three of them were brutally stabbed and bludgeoned to death.

Nils Wilhelm Gustafsson, the only survivor, sustained a concussion, fractures to the jaw and facial bones, and bruises to the face but he lived. And, in a state of shock after everything that happened, he claimed to have seen a vision if black and bright red eyes coming for them.

Nothing was found on the murder site. No weapons or anything and some of the victim’s belongings were missing but nothing was ever found. Finland was in shock but, despite an intense search by the police, the case remains unsolved to this day. Nobody knows for sure what happened and the memory of the murders never faded away.

Read more: Everything you can do in Espoo

A few years after, in 1972, some unexpected news come to public attention and they came through a suicide note. Karl Gyllström was dead and, on his suicide note he said that he was the one who killed the teenagers. He used to work on the nearby kiosk and was known for hating campers. But the police discarded this confession since his wife told them he was asleep with her during the time of the murders.

Another lead came in 2003 when Dr. Jorma Palo, who used to work in the local hospital, claimed to have treated a suspicious man shortly after the murders happened. Hans Assmann was the name of this allegedly KGB agent. But he had a solid alibi and nothing went further than that. But, his story is really weird since he has also been linked another unsolved murder case in Finland: Kyllikki Saari murder in 1953.

More than 40 years after the Lake Bodom Murders happened, the story took another turn. At the time, Nils Wilhelm Gustafsson, the only survivor, was arrested for murdering his friends. According to the Finnish police, new evidence was acquired through new investigative methods unavailable in the sixties.

Did Nils Gustafsson do it?

Based on some new analysis of bloodstains found at the scene and DNA testing, the police thought they knew what happened. And this new evidence indicted that Gustafsson, now a bus driver, had an alleged outburst of jealousy and went crazy, stabbing his girlfriend, Irmeli Björklund, fifteen times that night.

The new trial started in August 2005, and the prosecution called for a life sentence against Gustafsson. But nothing was proved in the three months of trial. Gustafsson was acquitted of all charges and awarded €44.000 in damages for his time in prison and the mental anguish he suffered in being accused of the Lake Bodom Murders so many years after it happened.

Until today, nobody knows what really happened on that night in June 1960, and we believe nobody will ever know for sure. What we can say is that visiting the place where everything happened was a weird experience. It is not every day that you can walk around a place where something as infamous as the Lake Bodom Murders happened. Luckily we had an axe with us, and we even took some pictures there. This is what metalheads do.

Fotostrasse was at Lake Bodom to do cross-country skiing but, one of us was unable to do that. Since we were already there, we needed to see the murder site. But, if you are around Espoo, don’t go to Lake Bodom just for the murder site.

Oittaa is a beautiful recreation center close to the lake where you can try your lucky with winter sports during the cold days and enjoy the lake during the summer. There is even an Angry Birds playground area and we know you are going to love it.

Fotostrasse visited Lake Bodom and Oittaa in Espoo after NBE Finland, and together with us, there were the amazing people from Viagem Criativa and our beloved host Katrin.

Lake Bodom Murders: We visited the location of Finland’s most famous unsolved murder

60°14′30″N 24°40′30″E
Espoo – Finland

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Felipe Tofani

Felipe Tofani is a passionate designer with a penchant for crafting unique experiences and a mixed taste in music. As the curator behind this blog's explorations, he takes pride in discovering fascinating destinations. Whether unearthing hidden gems or sharing captivating historical narratives, Felipe is the creative force driving the stories you find here. Join him on a journey of design, discovery, and the delightful rhythm of unconventional tunes.View Author posts