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Engla's killer admits to a second murder

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19:26 CEST+02:00
The 42-year-old man suspected of kidnapping 10-year-old Engla Höglund from Stjärnsund confessed on Sunday to killing the girl and hiding her body.

During questioning the man also admitted to the murder of 31-year-old Pernilla Hellgren in Falun in 2000.

After being told he was suspected of Hellgren's murder, the 42-year-old broke down and confessed.

“They presented strong evidence against him and he knew what it was about. After that he chose to confess,” said the man's lawyer, Jan Kyrö, to the TT news agency.

After confessing to the murder of Hellgren in 2000, the man was asked what he could tell investigators about the missing 10-year-old girl.

“It was then that he explained that he met her and took her life. He didn't give any details, but during the evening he pointed out the place where the girl could be found,” said Kyrö.

The 42-year-old was very relieved by the confession.

“In a minute, his whole demeanor changed and he was almost happy to have confessed--it has been weighing heavily on him,” said Kyrö.

The place in Gästrikland where the girl was found lies just outside the area in Dalarna where police and volunteers were searching. Search leader Mast Nygårgs wouldn't give the exact location, nor would he say if the suspect confessed after being confronted with forensic evidence, such as DNA.

“That's what we've working out, but we'll discuss later where the breakthrough came,” said Nygårds.

“It feels extremely good [to have the confession] even if what's happened to the girl is extremely tragic,” he continued.

On Sunday evening, forensic specialists from the police were examining the spot in Gästrikland where Engla's body was found earlier in the day. The body will later undergo an autopsy to determine the cause of death, said Nygårds.

The girl's relatives were informed of the confession on Sunday afternoon.

The police's cold-case unit has long theorized that the man who killed Hellgren in 2000 was a truck driver--which the 42-year-old is.

Ten-year-old Engla disappeared Saturday a week ago as she was cycling home from football practice.

By sheer coincidence, a man testing his newly purchased camera took a picture of her as she rode past. Less than a minute later, he took a new picture of the 42-year-old man's car, which came speeding down the country road.

When police saw the pictures and realized to whom the car belonged, they took a great interest in investigating the man further.

The man's criminal record includes three cases of violent, unwanted sexual advances toward young women. Two of the victims were only 16-years-old.

In 1995, he was sentenced to prison for attempted rape. When he tried to drag the woman into his car he said that it was because he “never got any girls”.

The same year he attacked and abused a highly intoxicated 16-year-old girl by putting his hands around her throat and covering her mouth.

Three years later, in 1998, he tried to force another 16-year-old girl to have sex with him, later being convicted for sexual coercion. The man has also been convicted for having exposed himself and for a number of other minor offences.

The truck driver was arrested two days after Engla disappeared at a roadside pub near the border of Halland and Skåne counties in southern Sweden.

On Friday, the District Court in Falun issued a detention order for the man on probable cause of having kidnapped 10-year-old Engla.

By that time, police had witnesses who said they had seen the 42-year-old in the area where the girl was last seen for a longer time than the man was willing to admit.

As of Sunday evening, it was unclear what information police had received from various forensic investigations. Police had secured tyre markings from near the spot in Stjärnsund where the girl's bike was found. Both the bike and the man's car have been handed over to the National Laboratory of Forensic Science (SKL) for examination.

SKL is also analyzing the man's DNA in order to compare it to traces found in connection with the unsolved murder of Hellgren from 2000.

Engla's fate has touched many people. Every day since her disappearance, hundreds of volunteers under guidance from the police have searched in vain for the missing 10-year-old.

The 42-year-old is due for another round of questioning early on Monday morning.

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