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'Bones' in serial killer trial were wood and glue

TT/The Local · 8 Apr 2010, 09:56

Published: 08 Apr 2010 09:56 GMT+02:00

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Osteologist Ylva Svenfeldt, an independent researcher specialising in the analysis of cremated Iron Age skeletal remains, was deeply critical of the testimony provided against Quick by two professors in 1988.

"If you've worked with burned bone material you can immediately see that this is not bone. I can only interpret this as scientific fraud," she told newspaper Aftonbladet.

During the investigation into the murder of the 9-year-old Norwegian girl Therese Johannessen, professors Per Holck and Richard Helmer concluded that the small particles presented as evidence were "most probably from a human, probably from a younger person."

The conclusion that the bones were human was based on an ocular inspection, meaning the professors analysed the material only by looking at it.

But a fresh analysis by the National Laboratory of Forensic Science (Statens kriminaltekniska laboratorium – SKL) concluded last month that the remains were not human.

"This was one factor, among many, which secured the conviction of Quick for the murder. I would like to add that it was not without significance," senior physician Björn Ericson told news agency TT in March.

Therese Johannessen's mother has slammed the Swedish police investigation as "a scandal" and argues that the police have been arrogant and have not considered the possibility that there could be further suspects other than Thomas Quick.

"This is a victory for me. It is now proved that these (the claimed bone samples) did not come from Therese. I have fought for this for a long time," she told the Norwegian newspaper VG last month.

Christer van der Kwast, the prosecutor in the trials against Quick, has previously said it is too early to draw any new conclusions regarding the forensic evidence.

But Quick's lawyer Thomas Olsson countered that the "bone fiasco" was symptomatic of the slipshod nature of the investigation.

"Several scientists have put their reputations on the line to have Quick convicted," he told Aftonbladet.

Story continues below…

Thomas Quick, who has changed his name to Sture Bergwall, has retracted all previous confessions and is petitioning for retrials in all cases against him.

Quick was convicted in six different trials for the murders of eight people. During police questioning, he confessed to committing more than 20 murders, which he claimed he committed in Sweden, Norway, and Finland.

The Local reported in December that Quick had been granted a retrial in the case of the murder of 24-year-old Yenon Levi, an Israeli tourist who was found dead near the side of a deserted forest road in Dalarna in 1988.

TT/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

11:53 April 8, 2010 by planethero
Lord save us from experts.
11:53 April 8, 2010 by Kevin Harris
It seems clear the prosecution and police saw the then pliable Quick as an opportunity to close as many cold cases as they could. The scary consequence is the real culpits are still wandering about out there.

Can we have a public enquiry so this rather shoddy affair can be investigated, those who have behaved unprofessionally exposed, and those cases that don't seem connected to Quick reopened and properly examined by competent investigators.
12:13 April 8, 2010 by Vitas
Ha Ha.. Faimous swedish police, swedish army and all swedish goverment. For all of them on first place - fikapaus!!!
15:58 April 8, 2010 by Nemesis
What sort of people gave evidence?

How many other cases have they made a mess of?
16:37 April 8, 2010 by sissygirl
How outrageous! This is an absolute mess. If anything the guy is a wackjob and should be put away for causing so much trouble.
16:56 April 8, 2010 by mjennin2
It seems to me that the more I read about the Swedish judicial process, the more I come to the realization that people are convicted of crimes based on very little (and poorly-examined) evidence, including heresay. Perhaps now I am understanding why such short punitive sentences are given to the convicted; so that when it is later revealed that these people were falsely charged, at least they didn't lose 25 years of their life as they would have in the states, etc.

Still, I concur with Kevin Harris above - I think this was a case of a man who HAS, indeed, murdered at least SOME people, but prosecutors were trying to get as many cold cases out of their files as possible. The problem is, the truth is always exposed at some point. And meanwhile, the *true* culprits roam free.
03:40 April 9, 2010 by Davey-jo
OK, so who glues the wood together to look like bone? It takes less than 1 minute to tell if it is bone or not by a very simple chemical test. Why was this not done? How come the defendants lawyers did not raise this at the trial? Why is Swedish judicial system apparently so dumb? Is this why Wallander is allowed to prowl the streets of Ystad even when he should be retired?
09:56 April 9, 2010 by DamnImmigrant
OK, everybody who is shocked by this needs to get a grip on REALITY!

The reality is that "Forensic Science" is more of an ART than a science. Many people ARE in prison and even have even been put to death because of "expert" forensic testimony that has NO basis of reality nor even scientific FACTS!

The CSI TV shows are all (mostly) FICTION - that means fantacy. The reality is that we (the human race) have not progressed much farther than the same logic that was used to determine if a person was a witch. Witches are lighter than wood and wood floats on water so if a person sank to the bottom of water they were not witches!
14:19 April 10, 2010 by believe
I agree with Nemesis. In this day and age they can test the bone for DNA. Why wasn't that done? A simple test would have proven it was not bone of any type of animal. Wow. All I can say is, don't get yourself caught up in any type of drama with the law. It appears to take very little to be convicted of God knows what. Wonder who the guilty really are?....pray for the innocent.
18:22 April 10, 2010 by Puffin
I think that some of you have been watching way to much CSI and have forgotten what the state of forensic science was 20-25 years ago before DNA testing became the norm - remember this case was tried in 1988

The same sitation occured in many other countries - I saw a programme for USA about a man released recently from death row for a rape that DNA has proved that he did not commit - after over 20 years on death row!

I think also that what one of the posters said above about cold cases was probably true as well. Remember that these murder charges were on the basis of his own confessions - not cases where he denied the crimes.

It's also important to remember that this is not a case of a totally innocent person locked up for crimes that he did not commit - Qvick is a long time career criminal with crimes dating back to 1969 - includin

- child sex crimes committed on a hospital childrens' ward where he worked in Falun

- attempted murder where the vitcim survied a vicious stabbing in Uppsala

- these 'confessions' came after he was incarcerated most recently a nasty kidnapping and bank robbery of a bank manager's family.
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