An 81-year-old Arvidsjaur resident took his dog out walking when he encountered the younger man just a few hundreds yard from his home.
The younger man, who witnesses say had been spotted along the road earlier in the day wearing “odd clothing” and carrying a backpack and what appeared to be a drum, went to attack.
A passing motorist who tried to intervene had his car windshield smashed with the axe before the attacker disappeared into the forest.
His elderly victim died after being brought to hospital. His 82-year-old wife was told of the attack by a neighbour.
The attack has shocked the small community of 4,500 residents.
“This is a small place and everyone known everyone,” father-of-two Peter Rydfjäll, 43, told the Aftonbladet newspaper.
“It feels safe to live here, but it isn’t Bullerbyn any more, and if there is a lone lunatic stalking the village there is little you can do to protect yourself.”
(Editor’s note: Bullerbyn is the idyllic country village in one of Swedish children’s book author Astrid Lindgren books.)