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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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CRIME

Swedish Green leader: ‘Easter riots nothing to do with religion or ethnicity’

The riots that rocked Swedish cities over the Easter holidays were nothing to do with religion or ethnicity, but instead come down to class, the joint leader of Sweden's Green Party has told The Local in an interview.

Swedish Green leader: 'Easter riots nothing to do with religion or ethnicity'

Ahead of a visit to the school in Rosengård that was damaged in the rioting, Märta Stenevi said that neither the Danish extremist Rasmus Paludan, who provoked the riots by burning copies of the Koran, nor those who rioted, injuring 104 policemen, were ultimately motivated by religion. 

“His demonstration had nothing to do with religion or with Islam. It has everything to do with being a right extremist and trying to to raise a lot of conflict between groups in Sweden,” she said of Paludan’s protests. 

“On the other side, the police have now stated that there were a lot of connections to organised crime and gangs, who see this as an opportunity to raise hell within their communities.”

Riots broke out in the Swedish cities of Malmö, Stockholm, Norrköping, Linköping and Landskrona over the Easter holidays as a result of Paludan’s tour of the cities, which saw him burn multiple copies of the Koran, the holy book of Islam. 

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More than 100 police officers were injured in the riots, sparking debates about hate-crime legislation and about law and order. 

According to Stenevi, the real cause of the disorder is the way inequality has increased in Sweden in recent decades. 

“If you have big chasms between the rich people and poor people in a country, you will also have a social upheaval and social disturbance. This is well-documented all across the world,” she says. 
 
“What we have done for the past three decades in Sweden is to create a wider and wider gap between those who have a lot and those who have nothing.” 

 
The worst way of reacting to the riots, she argues, is that of Sweden’s right-wing parties. 
 
“You cannot do it by punishment, by adding to the sense of outsider status, you have to start working on actually including people, and that happens through old-fashioned things such as education, and a proper minimum income, to lift people out of their poverty, not to keep them there.”

This, she says, is “ridiculous”, when the long-term solution lies in doing what Sweden did to end extreme inequality at the start of the 20th century, when it created the socialist folkhem, or “people’s home”. 

“It’s easy to forget that 100 to 150 years ago, Sweden was a developing country, with a huge class of poor people with no education whatsoever. And we did this huge lift of a whole nation. And we can do this again,” she says. “But it needs resources, it needs political will.” 
 
 
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