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Agency ‘lacks tools’ to assess exorcist killer

Sweden's National Board of Forensic Medicine (Rättsmedicinalverket) has admitted that it lacks the tools to fully assess the risk of relapse for the 52-year-old man convicted of killing his seven-year-old stepdaughter during an "exorcism".

Agency 'lacks tools' to assess exorcist killer

According to the board’s assessment of the case the crime was “committed in an imaginary cultural context where the influence of evil spirits, witches’ spells and the power of curses are by no means strange, and are instead problems of an everyday nature.”

The board concluded therefore that existing risk assessment methodology is insufficient to assess the case and that it “lacks any experience of phenomena of this kind”.

The board however was able to observe that the 52-year-old has demonstrated exemplary behaviour while in detention with a complete absence of “aggressive reactionary behaviour”.

The board also observed that the man has in interviews, held to consider whether his life sentence should be commuted to a fixed term penalty, “completely distanced himself from his previous world-view which incorporated witchcraft, evil spirits and obsession”.

The case dates back to 1999 when the man’s seven-year-old step-daughter died during an attempt to drive evil spirits from her body.

The child had arrived in Sweden during the summer of 1999 with two other relatives and were in the care of the man and his wife.

Shortly after their arrival in the couple’s home, they began to suspect that their home had become haunted. According to the board’s report, the man has told of having heard noises that could not be explained.

When one of the children awoke one morning with scratches the man interrogated the children about his suspicions that he they had brought with them a curse from their home country, the Congo, and that perhaps the man’s uncle was responsible.

After a prolonged attempt to beat the feared evil spirits from the children’s bodies, the seven-year-old girl died from her injuries on Christmas Eve 1999.

The man, his wife and a further adult present at the “exorcism” were convicted in connection with the girl’s death. After undergoing a psychiatric assessment, the man and his wife were sentenced to life and fours years imprisonment respectively.

While the board has concluded that it lacks the methods to assess the man’s criminal past, due to the man’s exemplary behaviour in prison it is concluded there is a low risk of a repeat offence.

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ALMEDALEN 2022

Attacker ‘severely disturbed’ during stabbing at Swedish political festival

Theodor Engström, the 33-year-old man who stabbed psychiatrist Ing-Marie Wieselgren to death at the Almedalen political festival in July, was seriously psychiatrically disturbed at the time of his attack, forensic psychiatrists have ruled.

Attacker 'severely disturbed' during stabbing at Swedish political festival

According to the Hela Gotland newspaper the Swedish National Board of Forensic Medicine has ruled that the man was so disturbed at the time of his attack he had lost the ability to understand the consequences of his actions, and has as a result recommended that he be given psychiatric treatment rather than a prison term.

The agency said that Engström had still been disturbed at the time he was given psychiatric assessment, and warned that there was a risk that Engström would commit further criminal acts. 

“This is a question which has relevance at a future stage,” said prosecutor Henrik Olin. “It means he cannot be sentenced to jail, but will instead receive psychiatric care. But it is not going to change how the investigation is carried out.” 

READ ALSO: What do we know about the Almedalen knife attack?

Engström stabbed Wieselgren, who worked as psychiatric coordinator for the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions, as she was on the way to take part on a discussion at the Almedalen political festival. She died in hospital later that day. 

Engström has admitted to carrying out the attack, telling police that he intended to make a protest against the state of psychiatric healthcare in Sweden. 

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