DNA hit brings Swedish double murder suspect to trial after 16 years

The trial of a 37-year-old man is under way, after police matched his DNA on a popular genealogy website – 16 years after a woman and boy were killed in the town of Linköping in Sweden.

DNA hit brings Swedish double murder suspect to trial after 16 years
A drawing of the suspect, right, in court. Image: Johan Hallnäs/TT

Daniel Nyqvist, who confessed to the killing shortly after his arrest in June, has been charged with the 2004 murder of a 56-year-old woman and an eight-year-old boy.

Unrelated to one another, both were stabbed in a random act one morning in the quiet central Swedish town of Linköping.

The crime shocked the nation, with investigators unable to come up with either a perpetrator or a motive, despite finding the suspect's DNA at the scene, the murder weapon, a bloody cap and witness descriptions of a young man with blond hair.

Police even called upon the FBI for help, but to no avail. Over the years, the case file grew to become the second biggest in Sweden's history, after that of the 1986 murder of Prime Minister Olof Palme.

The case was finally cracked when new legislation in January 2019 allowed police to search for matches to suspects' DNA on commercial genealogy websites, which are popular among Swedes seeking long-lost relatives.

Investigators used the databases of GEDmatch and Family Tree.

“We received a match almost immediately. And several months later, the suspect could be arrested. His DNA was taken and matched 100 percent,” police said in a statement the day after his arrest.

Nyqvist, whose brother was also briefly a suspect based on the DNA match, later confessed to the double killing.

Daniel Nyqvist has confessed to killing the woman and boy. Photo: Polisen/TT

'Obsessive thoughts'

Aged 21 at the time of the murders, he admitted during police interrogations to obsessive thoughts about killing and that he chose his victims randomly, first stabbing the boy and then the woman, who had witnessed the boy's stabbing.

Medical experts have concluded Nyqvist suffers from a serious psychiatric disorder and did so at the time of the crime. If convicted, he will be sentenced to psychiatric care.

His lawyer Johan Ritzer on Tuesday told the court that while his client admitted to the actions, he rejected the charge of premeditated murder and insisted he should be tried for manslaughter.

“Daniel was suffering from a serious psychiatric disorder at the time of the murder. It caused obsessive thoughts about killing two people and he acted on these thoughts. He had limited ability to control his actions,” Ritzer told the court, media reported.

Nyqvist, who was due to take the stand on Wednesday, told police investigators that he expected to get arrested or die immediately after the killings.

“I remember that I didn't brush my teeth because I was just going to die or get caught that day. But I had to do it. I did it mostly on automatic,” he said during the police interrogation.

An unemployed loner who liked to play computer games, Nyqvist seldom ventured out of his parents' house, where he was living at the time of the murders.

According to investigators, he continued to live a secluded life near Linköping since the killings.

The trial continues.

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Sweden breaks yearly record for fatal shootings

A man was shot to death in Kristianstad, Skåne, late on Thursday night. He is the 48th person to be shot dead in Sweden this year, meaning that the previous record for most fatal shootings in one year set in 2020 has now been broken.

Sweden breaks yearly record for fatal shootings

“Unfortunately we can’t say more than that he’s in his twenties and we have no current suspects,” duty officer Mikael Lind told TT newswire.

According to police statistics, this most recent deadly shooting means that 48 people have been shot to death in 2022, meaning that Sweden has broken a new record for deadly shootings per year.

Earlier this week, Sweden’s police chief Anders Thornberg said that this number is likely to rise even higher before the end of the year.

“It looks like we’re going to break the record this year,” he told TT on Tuesday. “That means – if it continues at the same pace – around 60 deadly shootings.”

“If it ends up being such a large increase that would be very unusual,” said Manne Gerell, criminiologist at Malmö University.

“We saw a large increase between 2017 and 2018, and we could see the same now, as we’re on such low figures in Sweden. But it’s still worrying that it’s increasing by so much over such a short time period,” he said.

There also seems to be an upwards trend in the number of shootings overall during 2022. 273 shootings had occured by September 1st this year, compared with 344 for the whole of 2021 and 379 for the whole of 2020.

If shootings continue at this rate for the rest of 2022, it is likely that the total number for the year would be higher than 2021 and 2020. There are, however, fewer injuries.

“The majority of shootings cause no injuries, but this year, mortality has increased substantially,” Gerell explained. “There aren’t more people being shot, but when someone is shot, they’re more likely to die.”

Thursday’s shooting took place in Kristianstad, but it’s only partially true that deadly gun violence is becoming more common in smaller cities.

“It’s moved out somewhat to smaller cities, but we’re overexaggerating that effect,” Gerell said. “We’re forgetting that there have been shootings in other small cities in previous years.”

A report from the Crime Prevention Council (Brå) presented last spring showed that Sweden, when compared with 22 different countries in Europe, was the only one with an upwards trend for deadly shootings.

Temporary increases can be seen during some years in a few countries, but there were no countries which showed such a clear increase as Sweden has seen for multiple years in a row, according to Brå.

The Swedish upwards trend for deadly gun violence began in the beginning of the 2000s, but the trend took off in 2013 and has continued to increase since.

Eight of ten deadly shootings take place in criminal environments, the study showed. The Swedish increase has taken place in principle only among the 20-29 year old age group.

When police chief Anders Thornberg was asked how the trend can be broken, he said that new recruitments are one of the most important factors.

“The most important thing is to break recruitment, make sure we can listen encrypted and that we can get to the profits of crime in a better way,” he said.