• Sweden's news in English

Annika Östberg walks free after 30 years

TT/The Local/pvs · 2 May 2011, 11:59

Published: 02 May 2011 11:59 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

"This day is the end of a long journey and a dream realised," she told the TT news agency.

For the past year, Östberg has been held in a rehabilitation centre in Basta, south of Stockholm. She has been working at a day nursery for dogs as part of the preparations for her release.

Östberg spent 28 years imprisoned in the US after being convicted in 1983 for her role in two murders.

She was transferred to Hinseberg prison, near Örebro in central Sweden from a California jail in the spring of 2009.

In October 2009 she was moved to Färingsö prison in eastern Sweden, a lower security facility.

In November 2009, the district court in Örebro reduced her life sentence to 45 years, ruling that there was no major risk she would revert to violent crime.

Under Swedish law, convicted criminals are eligible for release after serving two-thirds of their sentence. In Östberg’s case, this corresponded to a May 2011 release and that timetable has now been kept.

Östberg had difficulty explaining her feelings on becoming a free woman, saying that she has felt free since returning to Sweden.

"The same second that I set foot on Swedish soil I felt free, and especially when I came to Basta," she said.

She told TT that it felt nice not to have to be monitored by the Swedish Prison and Probation Service (Kriminalvården) and said that she planned to celebrate with a cake.

"I have been given a Princess Cake which is my favourite. I am going to go out into the woods and then some friends are coming to visit," she said.

Story continues below…

Östberg moved to California with her mother in the 1960s. Having suffered from serious drug problems she later started a relationship with a drug dealer, Brian Cox.

In April 1981, Cox, accompanied by Östberg, shot dead two people in separate incidents.

Cox hanged himself in his cell prior to the trial, while Östberg was convicted and sentenced to life in prison for the murders.

TT/The Local/pvs (news@thelocal.se)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

12:56 May 2, 2011 by Roy E
Sweden has just reinforced is reputation as being a fantastic country for perpetrators. The flip side of that, of course, it that it's a horrible place should you ever find yourself a victim (of a real crime, that is)
12:59 May 2, 2011 by Nemesis
Why was she convicted if someone else shot the people?
13:09 May 2, 2011 by Jes
She should celebrate with a blood-cake instead .
13:34 May 2, 2011 by HYBRED
I hope her friends watch their backs while they're in the woods.

Oh it's such a beautiful day, why don't we take a convicted killer for a walk in the woods.
13:59 May 2, 2011 by jamesblish
She was the girlfriend of the killer and the court apparently felt that she could have done something to stop it. She apparently also helped reload guns etc, if I remember correctly.

Nevertheless, 30 years is a long time and prison IS supposed to be a rehabilitation process. You've got to let people out at some point. I'm not the least bit worried that Annika will cause trouble now that she's free. I'm happy for her and her mother.
14:07 May 2, 2011 by Syftfel
Thuis should never been allowed to happen!!! Östberg is a murderer! Did you hear that Östberg?? The courts both in the US and here have said that yuou are despicable killer of the highest order. A lowlife! A killer of a law enforcement officer no less!!! If justice had been served we would have been spitting on your grave right now Östberg! For what you did there is no remedy but one. And it's not "rehabiliation". May your dogs eat you for breakfast!
14:33 May 2, 2011 by Kstock
Once again @Syftfel take a chill-pill. You seem really angry at the world and others. She did the crime and paid here time. I'm going to recommend for you angermanagementseminar.com give it a go.
14:47 May 2, 2011 by Jes
She was not simply the "girlfriend of the killer" for she took part in the planning and execution of 2 murders . That is why she was given a life sentence .

Who ever gave her a Princess cake needs their head examined too. Its is for such insensitivity that victims of crimes such as vicious murder prefer that devils like Östberg are hanged and their files are closed for good .

just imagine what the chidren of the 2 murdered officers would feel looking at their Dads killer walking about with flowers in her stupid hair .

Jamesblish , it should be obvious to you that this bitch is anything but rehabilitated ... otherwise , she should have walked quietly to her mother and refused to ever use the words " a dream realized ..." The only result of her activity are 3 dead bodies !!!!!!!!
14:54 May 2, 2011 by jamesblish
The families of the victims will never get their loved ones back no matter what happens to Östberg. We don't use capital punishment in Sweden, nor do we incarcerate people for life. And I'm very pleased that that's the case. You're welcome to join us out of the dark ages any time you want.
15:02 May 2, 2011 by HYBRED

"You've got to let people out at some point"

Well, no you don't. Sorry.

It's a shame she wasn't put into the electric and fried like a cheap strip of bacon.
15:30 May 2, 2011 by swedejane
I'm confused. According to many of The Local's readers, only immigrants commit violent crime. Very odd to see a lilly white, blue-eyed swede convicted for violent crime. Must be a mistake.
15:33 May 2, 2011 by flintis
Didn't she get sentenced to something stupid like 180 yrs in the US?

Unfortunately we don't have capital punishment in Sweden, we have the do-gooders slapping peoples wrists & telling them to be a good person & don't murder people again.

@jamesblish: we will shortly be returning to the dark ages, with all the criminals walking free, raping, murdering, molesting children etc
15:37 May 2, 2011 by prince T
You have a point there@swedejane and the murder must have been a mistake as you suggested. but when it is invandrare that committed the same crime, that immigrant should not be treated like Annika because the immigrants are not one of us. It is okay for us to kill ourselves or others. Immigrants must alway be whiter than the whites.
15:47 May 2, 2011 by HYBRED
She was a immigrant to the US, does that count?
16:06 May 2, 2011 by jamesblish
The idea that Sweden has a "sloppy" judicial system that "condones" crime, is a gross exaggeration and factually incorrect. It's a very common misconception among people who do not know how to (or don't wish to do) their homework.

Regarding capital punishment and "real" life imprisonment; the whole idea is to rehabilitate people, not to do to them what they've done to others. That would be pure barbarism. No one stands to gain anything from keeping people in prison for 75 years, especially not the taxpayer.

Unfortunately, many people are completely unable (and unfit) to have a serious conversation about this due to the fact that they get overpowered with their own emotions. This why we have courts in the first place. If we allowed our own emotions to influence our courts, people would be executed for shoplifting.
16:07 May 2, 2011 by J Jack
Prince T, you don't make any sense at all, color does not define an immigrant or anyone except to a racist. Sweden is a Nation, not a race, sorry.
16:17 May 2, 2011 by prince T
Jo, så är det i mitt Sverige
16:20 May 2, 2011 by Tanskalainen
Maybe she can get high in the woods with some drugs, she likes that.
16:21 May 2, 2011 by prince T
Whither than white does not refer to race. I could have said holier than thou. they all mean the same thing. Does it make sence to you now
17:57 May 2, 2011 by jamesblish
Not a question of being sorry or not, it's strange that you seem unable to understand this. Whether you are rehabilitated or not is up to psychologists etc. to decide.
18:35 May 2, 2011 by Swedesmith
She has served her debt to society and hopefully has learned to behave.

Just to be on the safe side, I wouldn't let your cat crap in her rose bushes.
18:39 May 2, 2011 by HYBRED

I do understand what you say. And it is a very old concept. But it has a lot of flaws.

Take this case for example, based upon the facts presented, the woman was sane at the time of the crime. She new what she was doing and new it was wrong. So how can a shrink believe that she has been rehabed? By her admiting she did wrong and saying she was sorry? If it was like that all convicts would do it just to get out. And there is no test to validate that they actually are rehabed.

Don't look at it as being imprisioned for life. Look at it as them being under observation to make sure they are not a danger to someone else.
18:47 May 2, 2011 by Rick Methven
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
19:01 May 2, 2011 by jamesblish
"I do understand what you say. And it is a very old concept. But it has a lot of flaws."

Yeah, it's a pretty old concept. About 3 000 years or so. The principle doesn't have flaws though, it is we, the people who have flaws. We, and our society. There will always be crime, but there are ways of preventing it and whenever it happens, we should deal with it in a civilized manner. Simple "eye for an eye" type reasoning gets us nowhere.

Yes, of course you have criminals who know what they're doing is wrong. For example, loads of thefts are carried out by good people who just happen to be really hungry. But that is (or should be!) taken into consideration in court.

A woman who kills her husband to protect herself will, for example, get a much less severe penalty than one who kills him to get his money. Both women are doing pretty much exactly the same thing - killing their man. But the woman in the first case is not in need of the same care as the second one. And all this will be investigated prior to the sentence and taken into consideration in court.

"And there is no test to validate that they actually are rehabed."

Are you crazy? Of course there are tests like that. What the eff do you think the "shrinks" do?

"Don't look at it as being imprisioned for life. Look at it as them being under observation to make sure they are not a danger to someone else."

Calling it something else doesn't change what it actually means. Sure, there are a few people like that out there who probably are impossible to change, but they make up a VERY small minority of the total amount of people.
19:06 May 2, 2011 by HYBRED
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
19:14 May 2, 2011 by koolwind

Why most of them here are mocking about her. Wish her a good life ahead. What ever happened in he past, she completed her punishment. She would be different.

I wish her a good life ahead. and pray for the commentators here.
19:18 May 2, 2011 by HYBRED
Personally I'm a commenter, not a commentator.
19:29 May 2, 2011 by Syftfel
Methven, it is interesting, albeit with flawed logic, to ask me to "get a life". How about the police officers she coldbloodedly murdered, and whose lives she took, should they "get a life" too?
19:36 May 2, 2011 by HYBRED
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
20:16 May 2, 2011 by calebian22

Accessory to murder in the US is a big deal. However, the fact that one of the victims was a cop didn't help either. The fact that her scumbag boyfriend killed himself before trial, which cheated the victims family of justice didn't help either. The prosecution focused on her, the only remaining perp. People make poor choices in life. She made the poor choice of being involved in two murders in the US, where prison sentences are more about justice for the families of the victims, than rehabilitation of the miscreant. It probably came as quite a surprise to a liberal Swede to actually serve a sentence that was more than a few months.
02:01 May 3, 2011 by GLO
Killer set free. NUTS !!!
02:23 May 3, 2011 by Swedesmith
And I'm just a common tater.
02:34 May 3, 2011 by Da Goat
seems like she got locked up for a long stint for being a silly blonde chick. The best bit is they have kept her long enough so as she will not breed up any more of the same !
03:56 May 3, 2011 by Tdye
Why was she convicted if someone else shot the people?

im not sure if this has been answered yet... but In America we have what called party to the crime and in some states ( like mine Georgia) there is n party to the crime or "accessory" charge...under US law, she got charged with the same crime because sh e was there..so she got charged with murder i would imagine ..shes lucky she only got 30 years not death
08:22 May 3, 2011 by Jack123
All you idiots that just criticized, without understanding the problem can just pay for a one way ticket to hell. Everybody deserves a second chance, dont you think 30 years is enough. I am not saying that she didn't deserve the punishment, but the girl was between 17-19 when she was convicted of murder.
09:13 May 3, 2011 by HYBRED
I see some like to twist this around a bit to make this woman the victim.

I will agree that 30yrs is enough only when the true victims agree to it.

She is actually very lucky. Laws have changed since her conviction. By federal law it is mandated that a cop killer automatically gets a natural life sentence.
09:15 May 3, 2011 by cogito
"Everyone deserves a second chance."

The cop had stopped to help her and her boyfriend, who were having car trouble. She handed bf the gun. The cop was the father of two small kids. He did not get a second chance.
12:10 May 3, 2011 by Grindsprint
Disgusting comments above. The eye for an eye mentality is so primitive and nasty.
13:45 May 3, 2011 by Matewis
"I am going to go out into the woods and then some friends are coming to visit,"

Hmmm, sounds innocent enough...
10:04 May 4, 2011 by cogito
@#38. Oh, climb down from your moral high horse. An eye-for-an-eye is what you get in the absence of judicial system. She was tried and convicted.

And for all the sociology types here repeating the silly mantras about rehabilitation. Prison is not a rehab center. Prison is about punishment for a crime. It's about justice for the victim of a crime. It's what the state does to prevent eye-for-an-eye revenge.
16:15 May 6, 2011 by eovti
Only the U.S., Iran, China and some other countries still have the death penalty. Russia has had a moratorium on it for years, and it's frown upon in the EU states.

The "eye for an eye" philosphy is so Old Testament :-(
17:24 May 6, 2011 by tadchem
Cox was the killer. He was dangerous to others, even strangers, and the planet is better off without him.

Ms. Östberg was mainly guilty of allowing such scum to dominate her. For being weak-willed enough to stay with Cox, sha has paid her price.

This case should be a warning to all, especially women, who choose to remain in a relationship with a potentially dangerous partner.
21:08 May 6, 2011 by Observant
Oh my goodness! Just listen to the "Holier than Thou" comments.

All those without sin cast the first stone.

Strange! I hear no noise.
08:50 September 23, 2011 by Karlygirl
Wow, Matewis...your comment about the woods gave me the shivers. I'm in close contact with a good friend who is a "client" at Basta, and he's often joked about the walks in the woods. Seems to be a very popular past time at the place...mind altering mushrooms grow wild and plentiful there, and I've heard some interesting stories about it. I imagine if she was going out into the woods...it wasn't just to commune with nature. From what I understand, many of the resident there were unimpressed with her celebritism...and special treatment she was lavished with, throughout her "sentence". I bet the icing on that Princess Cake was "special", too. I never personally had any contact with her, but from what I was told...I never had good vibes about her. Check out her shifty eye contact in video interviews....
Today's headlines
'I want to see women priests in the Catholic Church'
Archbishop Antje Jackelén meeting Pope Francis earlier in 2016. Photo: L'Osservatore Romano/AP

'I told the pope last year during a speech it is time to no longer speak for women about women, but to speak with women,' Sweden's Archbishop says.

Sweden one of world's easiest places to do business: report
A meeting at a Stockholm office. Photo: Simon Paulin/imagebank.sweden.se

It is easier to do business in Sweden now than it was last year, according to a World Bank report.

This Swede has built a procrastinator's dream
Anders Åberg has built a website that allows you to hear what’s going on above the Earth. Photo: Personal & NASA

Ever wondered what's going on in the sky above the earth and in space? Now you can hear for yourself.

Presented by Malmö Tourism
Seven reasons why Malmö is the football capital of Sweden
Players from FC Rosengård, Sweden's most successful women's football team. Photo: Hangsna

It’s official, and anyone who tells you otherwise is wrong.

Fake police car driver seized after confronting real police
File photo of a police car. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Three men in a fake police car were left red-faced after they tried to stop a man in southern Sweden who turned out to be an off-duty officer.

This tiny bird can fly for ten months straight: scientists
The common swift while not in flight. Photo: Madis Veskimeister/Wikimedia

Swedish scientists have found that this bird stays in the air for almost a year without landing.

Why the Pope is visiting Sweden next week
Pope Francis in the Vatican. Photo: AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino

Pope to nail reconciliation agenda to Lutherans' door in southern Sweden.

The Local Recipes
How to make no-knead sourdough bread like a Swede
No-knead sourdough bread. Photo: John Duxbury/Swedish Food

Swedes love their sourdough bread. Food writer John Duxbury shares his favourite Swedish recipe for a no-knead loaf.

Meet Sweden's lonely Donald Trump voter
A Donald Trump campaign button. Photo: Rogelio V Solis/AP

The Local talks to an American Donald Trump supporter on what it is like living in progressive stronghold Sweden.

Forgotten Ingmar Bergman script to be made into a film
It's thought the script was part of an ill-fated collaboration between Bergman (left) and Federico Fellini (right). Photo: AP

Written in 1969, the script is 'up to the standard of his best', according to the Ingmar Bergman Foundation.

Sponsored Article
Top 7 tips to help you learn Swedish
People-watching: October 26th
Sponsored Article
‘Extremism can't be defeated on the battlefield alone’
Sweden cuts 2016 refugee forecast
Is Game of Thrones coming to Sweden?
Blog updates

6 October

10 useful hjälpverb (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! I think the so-called “hjalpverb” (auxiliary verbs in English) are a good way to get…" READ »


8 July

Editor’s blog, July 8th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hej readers, It has, as always, been a bizarre, serious and hilarious week in Sweden. You…" READ »

Sponsored Article
One expat's strategy for making friends in Stockholm
Property of the week: Kungsholmen, Stockholm
Sponsored Article
Nordic fashion in focus at Stockholm University
Will Swedes soon be looking for fairtrade porn?
The Local Voices
'I simply don’t believe in nationality'
Why we're convinced Game of Thrones is based on Sweden
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
People-watching: October 21st-23rd
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Fury at plans that 'threaten the IB's survival' in Sweden
Analysis & Opinion
Are we just going to let half the country die?
Sponsored Article
This is Malmö: Football capital of Sweden
Angry elk chases Swede up a lamp post
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
The Local Voices
'Alienation in Sweden feels better: I find myself a stranger among scores of aliens'
People-watching: October 20th
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
The Local Voices
A layover at Qatar airport brought this Swedish-Kenyan couple together - now they're heading for marriage
Sponsored Article
Swedish for programmers: 'It changed my life'
Swede punches clown that scared his grandmother
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Fans throw flares and enter pitch in Swedish football riot
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Could Swedish blood test solve 'Making a Murderer'?
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Swedish school to build gender neutral changing room
Sponsored Article
One expat's strategy for making friends in Stockholm
People-watching: October 14th-16th
Sponsored Article
Nordic fashion in focus at Stockholm University
Man in Sweden assaulted by clowns with broken bottle
Nobel Prize 2016: Literature
Watch the man who discovered Bob Dylan react to his Nobel Prize win
Record numbers emigrating from Sweden
People-watching: October 12th
The Local Voices
'Swedish startups should embrace newcomers' talents - there's nothing to fear'
How far right are the Sweden Democrats?
The Local Voices
Syria's White Helmets: The Nobel Peace Prize would have meant a lot, but pulling a child from rubble is the greatest reward
jobs available