Knutby – mistress betrays pastor

When "Knutby - The Movie" is made, most of this week will end up on the cutting room floor. A string of witnesses, the supporting cast in Sweden's bizarre murder drama, appeared in court to give their version of the events leading up to the murder of Alexandra Fossmo and attempted murder of Daniel Linde in January this year.

Much of what they had to say merely repeated what the court had already heard. But a few key revelations kept the headline-writers busy – and did nothing to help the case of the pastor of Knutby. He is struggling to stay afloat in a tide of allegations and this week neither his mistress nor a former friend seemed inclined to throw him a lifeline.

On Monday the pastor’s mistress – who is the wife of Daniel Linde – took the stand. She explained that she met the pastor ten years ago but that they did not become lovers until last autumn. They began to meet every night, firstly on walks around Knutby but then in the pastor’s guest room while his second wife, Alexandra, slept upstairs. She said that they discussed the future and at the beginning the pastor talked of divorce.

“Then he said that he knew that Alexandra would not remain on Earth much longer, that she would die.”

Linde’s wife said that the first time he said this was 2-3 weeks before Alexandra was attacked with a hammer by the other defendant, the nanny with whom the pastor was also having an affair.

“Later he said that he didn’t think Daniel would remain on Earth either. He said ‘This is like a bad film, so it wouldn’t surprise me if they were shot.'”

The prosecutor then asked Linde’s wife about the night of the murder, the 9th-10th January. She said that she met the pastor a couple of hours before the shootings, at about 1.30am, for a short liaison in the guest room but apparently the pastor complained of a pain in his chest. After the murder of his wife, the pastor still wanted to continue the relationship with Linde’s wife but she said he had changed.

“He couldn’t control himself. He became angry easily. He never said that he was sorry that Alexandra had gone.”

And, according to Linde’s wife, the pastor was frustrated that Daniel Linde had survived the shooting, apparently complaining that the bullet hadn’t gone one millimetre further into his chest.

Later that day, the pastor’s ‘good friend’, Peter Gembäck, another pastor in the Knutby church, was questioned about a conversation he claimed they had shortly before Alexandra Fossmo’s murder. According to Gembäck, the pastor asked him how professional killers use mobile phones without being tracked down. Gembäck said that they use cash cards.

So far, so incriminating. But the pastor’s lawyer, Ola Nordström, called Gembäck’s reliability into question.

“I regard that as a made-up story,” he said. “I find it hard to believe that he has really experienced this conversation. Although it’s possible that he thinks he experienced it.”

Meanwhile, the ‘did-she-fall-or-was-she-pushed’ debate about the death of the pastor’s first wife, Hélène Fossmo, continued. She was found dead in their bathtub in December 1999 and at the time her death was recorded as an accident. Now, however, the pastor is accused of her murder.

Last week, evidence from expert witnesses failed to resolve the issue, so on Tuesday a video reconstruction was shown to try to clear up the matter. It didn’t.

“This gives no support for the theory that it was an accident,” admitted Lars Eriksson, the pathologist who is the expert witness for the defence. “But one cannot absolutely rule out that it was an accident.”

Professor Olle Nilsson, the prosecution’s expert who ealier declared himself “100% certain” Hélène Fossmo was murdered, disagreed:

“It is absolutely out of the question to get the kind of skull injury that the woman had from a fall.”

The big news on Thursday was that the other defendant in the trial, the children’s nanny who has admitted shooting Alexandra Fossmo and Daniel Linde, is likely to escape prison on the grounds that she is ‘seriously psychologically disturbed’.

That was the conclusion of the National Board of Health’s judicial committee, and it supports an earlier analysis of the nanny’s mental state. Five of the committee’s six members were agreed that under the pastor’s influence she was exposed to “an extreme psychological terror which led to psychological breakdown.”

Although the committee said that there was a risk that she would commit another serious crime, she will almost certainly face a sentence in a secure psychiatric ward rather than prison.

The trial is adjourned until 8th July.

Talking points

  • A key witness for the pastor’s legal team is refusing to appear in court. The 26 year old, who is the foster daughter of Åsa Waldau, the leader of the Knutby congregation, has already been fined 2,000 crowns and risks arrest. The defence hoped she would support the pastor’s statement that Waldau truly considers herself ‘the Bride of Christ’ and undermine her claims that the pastor elevated her and manipulated her. The woman is said to have gone underground to avoid testifying.
  • A member of the Knutby congregation who testified against the pastor was attacked after Sunday’s church service by another Knutby resident. Marina Westman, who is pregnant, still made it to court on Tuesday despite having been punched in the face. A man was arrested.
  • The pastor’s house is for sale – and estate agents have already found a buyer willing to overlook the fact that both of the pastor’s wives met violent ends in the building. Both the buyer and the price are being kept secret but the deal is expected to be concluded by the end of June.
  • Tuesday’s Expressen reported that ‘the Bride of Christ’ and Daniel Linde have become sought-after celebrities. Party organisers such as Anders, a DJ in Borås, want them to attend as compères or guest bar staff: “It’s a fun thing. People would probably decide to get married if the Bride of Christ was at the party.”