VICTIM NAME (LAST, FIRST, MIDDLE): CHRISTENSEN, JOHN R.
RACE/ETHNICITY: W SEX: M D.O.B.: 21.03.34 AGE: 49
VICTIM ADDRESS: 2398 Keith Road, Vancouver, B.C.
OFFENSE DATE - FOUND:
HOUR: 1743 D-WK: THU MO. 07 DATE: 28 YR: 83
OFFENSE DATE - LAST KNOWN SECURE:
HOUR: 1530 D-WK: SUN MO. 07 DATE: 24 YR: 83
PERSON(S) REPORTING CRIME: Alfredson, John A.; Lindqvist, Thomas
LOCATION OF CRIME: 482 m. SSE from Trail Marker 082, Stråisjön Lake, Tyresta National Park
PREMISE TYPE: n/a
HOW ATTACKED OR COMMITTED (M.O.): SUBJECT RESTRAINED AND BITTEN IN RIGHT SIDE OF NECK, SEVERING CAROTID ARTERY
WEATHER: clear, 14.5 C.
#OF SUSPECTS: 1 CAN SUSPECTS BE IDENTIFIED: Y/N See Below
WAS EVIDENCE FOUND: Yes
NAME/ADDRESS OF WITNESS(ES): n/a
VEHICLE INFO: n/a
LAB TECHNICIAN CALLED: Sgt. Judit Lunde
REPORTING OFFICER NARRATIVE: Officers were contacted at 1815 on 7/28 by Tyresta National Park officials who had been notified by two hikers re/discovery of body. Body recovered from shallow grave in clearing approx. 85 m. from campsite. Positive identification obtained from photo I.D. found in wallet recovered next to victim. Victim’s family notified 7/28 at 2130 hrs. Victim last seen alive approx. 1530 hrs on 7/24 at campsite. Personal effects recovered from campsite: see attached inventory (Supp. 00572-01). Absence of cash in wallet suggests perpetrator absconded with same following victim’s death.
Summary of autopsy findings: Ht. 190 cm, Wt. 90 kg. Date/time of death est. 7/23 @ 2300. Cause of death: massive exsanguination due to neck wound severing carotid artery. Wound believed to be bite wound, although finding unclear due to severe trauma to spinal column and supporting structures as a result of torsion applied to head, which had been rotated 360 deg. Secondary injuries: incomplete fractures of sternum and third, fourth, and fifth ribs bilaterally and bruising of surrounding muscle wall suggestive of constriction injury. Injuries suggest victim may have been restrained and/or immobilized prior to infliction of death wound.
Footprint recovered at crime scene 1.7 m. from body (see diagram; photos) matches child age 10 to 12 yrs; however, depth of print indicates child’s weight as only 20 – 30 kg (10th percentile for age). No other physical evidence related to perpetrator recovered from scene. No eyewitnesses to crime have been identified.
Victim legally separated at time of death; survived by mother, age 72, and daughter, age 15 yrs. Victim has no known criminal history. Phone interview of former spouse (McCullough, Barbara) 7/29: victim on solo backpack tour through Europe that began in Warsaw, Poland on 7/17. Victim was expected to return to Vancouver via Berlin, Germany on 7/27.
Victim’s death is believed to be related to deaths of Joakim Bengtsson; Lacke Sorensson; Virginia Lind; Conny Forsberg; James Forsberg; Martin Ahlstedt; and an unidentified white male known as “The Ritual Killer” (TRK). Victim’s death may also be related to death of Verdner Jensen, suspected to have been murdered by TRK in Vällingby on 10/21/82.
Joakim Bengtsson (Case No. 1982-01302)
The body of Joakim Bengtsson (age 51) was recovered from Mälaren Lake near Blackeberg on 11/5/82. Bengtsson was last seen alive on 10/24/82 at approx. 2150 hrs by Gösta Bohman, and at 2145 hrs by Morgan Sundquist, and Larry Wiese. Autopsy findings demonstrated human bite wound on left side of neck immediately below jaw line and massive trauma to neck in pattern identical to torsion injury sustained by victim. Bite pattern analysis indicates Bengtsson’s assailant was child, age 9 to 11. Bengtsson’s body bound in rope and weighted with stones at time of discovery. White, child-sized shirt with blood stains on front was retrieved from inside of Bengtsson’s own shirt (see photographs in #01302). Cause of death believed to be blood loss from bite wound which tore jugular vein, although disposition of body following death precludes confirmation. Bengtsson also sustained constriction injuries to chest in pattern identical to victim’s.
Eyewitness Bohman (Björnsongatan 56, #302, Blackeberg) identified following interview of M. Sundquist on 8/8/83 and interviewed by Lt. M. Lundgren same date. Bohman stated he was standing on balcony of apt. at approx. 2150 hrs and observed Bengtsson entering footpath under Björnsongatan when he was assaulted by single assailant described as a “kid.” Lack of sufficient lighting precluded further identification and Bohman unable to confirm whether assailant was wearing shirt recovered with Bengtsson’s body. Bengtsson observed to be grappling with assailant before being overpowered; duration of struggle estimated to be less than 1 minute. Assailant fled scene shortly thereafter. Reliability of Bohman as informant: fair to poor (Bohman is reclusive and suspected alcoholic); reluctant to report attack due to fear of police. See attached interview notes for further details (Supp. #01302-02).
Interview of Sundquist on 8/8: friend of Bengtsson, Sorensson, and Lind for approx. 8 years (Supp. #01302-03). Last saw Bengtsson alive on 10/24/82 at 2145 hrs at the Mandarin House restaurant on Holbergsgatan; Bengstsson and Sorensson departed restaurant together. Sundquist confirmed that Bohman reported attack to Sundquist, Sorensson, Wiese and Lind on evening of 10/25. Bohman then led same individuals to scene, where blood was found under fresh snow. This information was not reported to police on 10/25 and remained unknown to authorities until 8/8. Photographs of underpass have been obtained (Supp. #01302-03), but no physical evidence could be identified at this time.
Sundquist reported that on evening of 11/6/82, he witnessed assault on Virginia Lind (age 50) in Blackebergsplan by female child. Sundquist came on scene immediately following attack and did not observe assailant. Sorensson arrived at scene shortly before Sundquist and observed assailant, described to Sundquist as female child age 11 or 12, slender build with black hair and wearing pink sweater. Sorensson kicked assailant in side and off of Lind. Sorensson told Sundquist that he believed child was the same individual who had attacked Bengtsson. Sorensson did not relate this information to investigating officer A. Sandvik.
Lind sustained bite wound to right neck and was examined, treated, and discharged to home from Danderyd Hospital at 1230 hours 11/7. No precise measurement of wound was made by hospital staff. Lind interviewed at hospital 0930 hrs on 11/7 by A. Sandvik but unable to describe assailant to investigating officer.
At 1745 hrs on 11/8, Lind, accompanied by Sorensson, was readmitted to Danderyd in hysterical condition after suffering multiple “cat bites” in Bohman’s apt. Lind’s condition required physical restraint, and she was admitted for observation and intravenous antibiotic administration. Lind received supportive care and was thought to be improving; however, at 0730 hrs on 11/9, she spontaneously burst into flames after a nurse’s aide (Hedman, Liam) raised blinds of her hospital room, admitting sunlight. Spontaneous combustion with resulting death was observed by Hedman and Sorensson. Medical records related to Lind’s admissions of 11/7 and 11/8 are attached hereto (Supp. 00572-01).
Lind was employed by ICA Store on Arvid Mornes Road in Blackeberg at the time of her death. Store manager (Hegstrom, Lennart) and surviving family member (daughter, Kronberg, Lena) were interviewed, but had no information relating to above-described events. Lind had no known criminal history. A search of her apt. (with consent from L. Kronberg) was negative for drugs or any physical evidence that could be related to assault on Lind or subsequent death.
Lacke Sorensson (Case No. 1982-01375)
Sorensson (age 59) was last seen alive on11/9/82 by Wiese and Sundquist, who took Sorensson from Danderyd to Wiese’s apt. in Blackeberg before Sorensson could be interviewed by police re/Lind’s death. Wiese was interviewed on 8/7/83 and stated that Sorensson was in a state of shock over Lind’s death (Supp. #01375-01). Both Wiese and Sundquist confirm that Sorensson and Lind had an on-again, off-again “relationship” but had never married. Sorensson drank heavily and became intoxicated at Wiese’s apt., told Wiese and Sundquist that he was convinced that Lind had been attacked by a “vampire,” and said that he was “going to kill it.” He left Wiese’s apt. at approx. 1500.
Sorensson was found dead in a Blackeberg apt., 75 Ibsengatan. The cause of death was exsanguination from a severe bite wound on neck with avulsion of external jugular vein. Precise measurement of bite wound to determine match with Bengtsson was not possible. Sorensson also sustained a twisting injury to neck and fractured ribs. Liver biopsy of Sorensson showed chronic alcohol use.
Sorensson’s body was found supine in bathroom of apt. Blood stain patterns on bathroom walls and door/doorjamb from blood matching only Sorensson establish that death struggle occurred in bathroom; no other bloodstains found in apt. A paring knife bearing Sorensson’s fingerprints was recovered on bathroom floor and on drawer of a cabinet with cooking utensils in kitchen. Bathroom door open but noted to be locked at time body was discovered.
Partial or complete fingerprints of nine persons (excluding Sorensson) were recovered from 75 Ibsengatan (4 adults and 5 children). Prints matching TRK were confirmed by L.F.S. on 8/8/83 (see attached analysis); no other positive matches were made.
Rental agent of apt. (Jonsson, Erik) stated to reporting officer on 8/8/83 that lessee may have been TRK, although complete certainty was not possible due to passage of time and facial self-disfigurement of TRK. Fictitious name was provided on lease and no other family members noted on same. Sundquist and Weise unable to positively identify TRK.
Sorensson had no known criminal history and left no next-of-kin. A search of Sorensson’s apt. was negative for drugs or any physical evidence that could be related to his death.
“The Ritual Killer” (Case No. 1982-01353)
Case file on TRK was reviewed for pertinent details.
TRK (age est. 45 yrs) was apprehended on 10/29/82 at 2125 hrs in a private changing cabin at the Vällingby Pool following attempted murder of Mattias Eriksen (age 13). TRK rendered Eriksen unconscious with a portable canister of halothane (Fluothane), an inhaled general anaesthetic. Eriksen was then bound and hung upside down before he awoke from anesthetic and was rescued by other patrons of pool. A large knife, 5-liter plastic container, funnel, flashlight, and a black bag were recovered at scene with TRK’s fingerprints. TRK was wearing a plastic rain poncho and disfigured his face with concentrated acid immediately before his apprehension.
TRK is strongly suspected in the 10/21/82 murder of Verdner Jensen in Vällingby due to similarities in modus operandi with attempted murder of Eriksen 8 days later. Jensen’s body was also found hung upside down. A funnel stained with blood and a large plastic jug with 1.2 liters of Jensen’s blood was found under body. It is believed that TRK was interrupted in process of draining Jensen’s body of blood.
TRK was last observed alive and under security at Danderyd Hospital in hospital bed at approx. 2230 hrs on 11/7/82 and was found dead 2.5 m. from front steps of hospital at 2252 hrs, having fallen from window of hospital room. Open window and detached tracheostomy tube found in room. Autopsy determined that decedent sustained bite wound to left side of neck and had only 40% of normal circulating blood volume. Spinal column of TRK broken (severance of spinal cord and multiple fractures of C3 – C4 vertebrae), most probably caused by impact of head with metal lobby awning during fall.
Witness Maud Carlberg, hospital lobby receptionist, interviewed 11/7; reported encounter with white female child, age 11 or 12, approx. 5 to 7 min. prior to decedent falling from hospital window. Child described as being of slender build, approx. 1.6 m. tall with shoulder-length black hair, round face and brown eyes, wearing turquoise-colored sweater and gray pants. Witness specifically recalled that child was wearing no winter coat or shoes. Child requested information re/whereabouts of her “father” who was “sick” and had been brought in by police. However, child refused witness’ offer to call secure floor for escort and departed lobby. Witness followed child out lobby doors due to concern for being barefoot in snow, but was unable to locate child.
Lobby floor dusted for footprints of child within 45 min. of TRK fall from hospital window. Partial print of left foot obtained and is similar to print of right foot recovered from Christensen death scene, but not conclusive (see comparison photos).
Conny Forsberg/James Forsberg/Martin Ahlstedt (Case Nos. 1982-01378, 1982-01379, 1982-01380)
Case files on these deaths were reviewed for pertinent details. Conny Forsberg (age 12), James Forsberg (age 17) and Martin Ahlstedt (age 12) were killed at Blackeberg Pool on 11/12/82 at approx. 2013 hrs. Eyewitness Andreas Siskov (age 12; deceased) described seeing a “black-haired angel with teeth” that broke through a plate-glass window, and attacked and killed all three victims in less than one minute. The assailant decapitated the Forsberg brothers (“ripped their heads off”), and severed right arm of James Forsberg immediately distal to elbow. The assailant was also observed to drag Ahlstedt across surface of pool before depositing him at edge of pool and was described as “flying” at this time; this account was at least partially collaborated by bloodstain analysis, although latter was subsequently challenged by a 3-member panel of L.F.S. In any event, the physical description of the assailant closely resembles female child described by Carlberg and Sorensson/Sundquist.
The assailant left Blackeberg Pool after pulling Oskar Eriksson (age 12) from pool. Interviews of Siskov and others indicate that J. Forsberg was attempting to drown Eriksson in retaliation for an injury inflicted by Eriksson to left ear of C. Forsberg some days earlier. Eriksson was noted to be blue and nearly unconscious at time that he was removed from water.
Eriksson has no arrest record or criminal history. He reportedly has not contacted his parents since his abduction and his current whereabouts are unknown.
No person interviewed, including Eriksson’s mother (Nilsson, Yvonne) admitted to knowledge of a relationship between Eriksson and assailant. Nilsson admitted, however, that she permitted Eriksson to play unsupervised in apt. complex after school and in evenings. It should also be noted that 75 Ibsengatan, the apt. wherein Sorensson’s body was recovered and which was rented by TRK, was immediately adjacent to apt. then occupied by Y. Nilsson and Eriksson (73 Ibsengatan). In fact, the bedroom occupied by Eriksson shared a common wall with a bedroom in 75 Ibsengatan.
Conclusion The undersigned investigator strongly suspects that the female child described by Carlberg and Sorensson/Sundquist is the prime suspect in the death of John Christensen, and is also responsible for the death of Bengtsson, Sorensson, Ahlstedt and the Forsberg brothers. Analysis of the Bengtsson, Sorensson, and Christensen cases indicates a pattern of immobilization by constriction of sufficient force to fracture the bones of the chest, and biting attacks to the throats of victims of sufficient severity to cause the victim to suffer massive blood loss and rapid death.
The undersigned investigator is also of the belief that the suspect resided with TRK at 75 Ibsengatan for a period of time in October-November 1982; that TRK’s motive for the death of V. Jensen and attempted murder of M. Eriksen was the procurement of blood for the suspect; and that, although the means are unclear, the suspect murdered TRK so as to prevent disclosure of information re/suspect to authorities.
Finally, it is believed that the suspect possesses extraordinary strength, may possess the ability to “fly,” and may believe herself to be, or may in fact be, a “vampire.” Support for this conclusion rests upon: (i) the above-mentioned pattern of death at night by bite wounds causing exsanguination; (ii) decapitation and torsion injuries inflicted to multiple victims solely by physical exertion; and (iii) death of V. Lind, who is believed to have been bitten by the assailant and subsequently consumed by fire when exposed to sunlight. Irrespective of whether this conclusion is correct, however, the suspect should be considered extremely dangerous. It is recommended that an artist’s sketch of the suspect based on the Carlberg description, together with a photograph of O. Eriksson, be immediately circulated and posted to aid in detection and apprehension of suspect.
OFFICER’S NAME/I.D.: /s/ Magnusson, Kurt
DATE/TIME SUBMITTED: 8/9/83 17:30 hrs
CASE STATUS: Further Inv.
9 August 1983 – 6 p.m.
Flora was preparing salads for dinner when the phone rang. She wiped her hands on her apron and started to reach for the phone before Kurt called from the living room.
“I’ll get it.” He had been unusually quiet since he came home from work, and Flora could hear the tension in his voice. She glanced at him as he came into the kitchen and picked up the receiver. He looked haggard and unhappy. She kept tearing up the lettuce and pretended that she wasn’t listening.
“Yeah. I figured you’d be calling.”
He shifted on his feet as he stood next to the counter and appeared to be looking out the window. “I tried to call you around one, but you weren’t available. I left a message, but I didn’t hear back, and I knew how urgent this investigation is. So I went ahead and filed it.”
Kurt shook his head. “I can’t do that.”
There was a pause.
“I have no basis to amend it unless there’s new evidence.”
He frowned. “My conclusion is based on twenty years of experience in homicide investigation. I understand that there are weaknesses in the evidence, but that’s the only theory I could come up with that made sense of all the evidence, Chief.”
“Oh--Persson told you that? Well, he told me that he believes the wound is a bite.”
Kurt turned away from the window and crossed one arm across his chest. “No, I can’t prove that it was consumed. But I can prove that The Ritual Killer’s was.”
Flora looked at him out of the corner of her eye. She had heard a lot during her marriage to Kurt, but never anything like this.
“True, but only if you exclude the Jensen slaying.”
Kurt bent over the counter and leaned on it with his free hand. “I think we can connect them. Sorrensen identified the girl and died in The Ritual Killer’s apartment three days later. The Ritual Killer has gotta be Jensen’s murderer. Blood procurement is the only theory that anyone has come up with for why he did that to him and later tried to do the same thing to Eriksen.”
Now Flora could see the flushed anger in his face. “I’ve been your top homicide inspector for the last fifteen years, Chief. With all due respect, don’t call my work crap.”
“I agree the age and weight on that footprint don’t match up. But that doesn’t mean that--”
“I don’t think the rain was a factor.”
“Well, I disagree. I have an eyewitness who saw a child overpower Bengtsson, and he was sure as hell no wimp.”
“I know he didn’t report it at the time . . . he said he was afraid of the police. But he told the others—”
“Yeah, I know they didn’t either. But still, you’ve got the receptionist’s statement. She got a good look at this girl and five minutes later, The Ritual Killer was dead. And what she saw matches what Siskov said he saw.”
She could tell he was beginnng to lose his temper. “The prosecutors will find a hearsay exception for it.”
“I won’t take it out. I’m very afraid that there’s an extremely dangerous person at large here, Chief. And I—”
“Okay, I’m off. What should I tell Lundgren?”
“That’s not right. He was following my lead.”
“Fine. You tell him.”
“I don’t care if you’re disappointed or not. Are you at least going to put up flyers?”
“That’s no good reason not to make some effort to protect the public.”
“I’m not trying to tell you your business.”
“So the whole report is shit, then, is that what you’re saying? You’re not going to do anything?”
“Keep investigating, then. Just don’t come back to me when the next guy has his fucking head twisted off.”
Kurt slammed the phone down in its cradle, then looked at her. “Sorry. I’m officially off the Christensen case.”
She didn’t know what to say to him, and for a few seconds there was silence in the kitchen. Then he said, “I need a breath of fresh air. Go ahead and eat. I’ll be back in a little bit.”
10 August 1983 – 4:30 a.m.
Eli helped Maria take the last of her textbooks out of a cardboard box and stack them in a pile next to the wall of their new living room, looking with interest at some of the titles: Sociology; Introduction to Psychology; European Civilization; Statistical Methodology. It was a rainy, early morning, and dawn would soon arrive.
Maria smiled as she watched Eli; then she sat down on the couch, exhausted. She was not used to staying up all night, let alone packing and driving for hours on end through the dark and the rain.
The previous Saturday she had, using an assumed name, subleased a one-bedroom apartment in Hageby, Norrköping from a young attorney who lived in the same building. Then, over the night just passed, they had brought the kids’ stuff and her household belongings to Norrköping with a van that Maria had rented.
When they had gotten back to Sundbyberg to clear out her things, the light on her phone had once again been flashing. Maria pushed the play button with much trepidation, afraid of who would begin to speak while Oskar and Eli watched. One of Miguel’s drug-dealing cronies? Or worse, the crisp, hard voice of a Stockholm police officer, stating that she was wanted for questioning? How would Eli react if it was the police?
But to her relief, it was only Marta, sounding quite concerned that Maria hadn’t returned her call from last week or gotten in touch over the weekend. They had talked about whether it would be best to ignore Marta’s message, or call her back; eventually, they had decided to call back and tell Marta the same story she had told the University. Maria had been relieved when she had only gotten the answering machine, and was able to leave a message without speaking directly with Marta. She didn’t want to answer any questions.
Because her apartment had come furnished, they had not needed to move the couch, bed, or other large pieces of furniture. After the last of her things were in the van, Eli had, to Maria’s surprise, produced a large amount of cash to pay the balance due on her old lease. They had put the money, Maria’s key, and a note explaining her unfortunate circumstances into an envelope and put it into the rental agent’s dropbox.
Much to her relief, dealing with Mr. Samuelson, her new landlord—Liam, as he insisted she call him—had turned out to be the easiest part of her solitary Saturday task of finding a new place to live. Having come to his apartment to meet him, he had invited her in for a cup of coffee, and had been altogether pleasant, easygoing and courteous. His apartment, a little place on the third floor of the same building on Formaregatan that Maria wanted to see, was very neat and orderly; along one wall, where most people would have put a TV, he had a large bookcase that was crammed with lawbooks, and a small desk with an electric typewriter.
In their brief conversation at his kitchen table, she learned that he was unmarried and had graduated from law school in Uppsala only a few years ago. He was obviously very bright, and his appearance and mannerisms were oddly endearing. He had a thick crop of brown hair that kept flopping down over his forehead, a disarming smile, and expressive hands that moved constantly when he talked. Perched in apparent perpetuity on the end of his nose were a pair of horn-rimmed glasses that seemed destined to slip down despite his continuous efforts to push them up. Because of this, he tended to look over the top of his glasses, making him appear older than he really was.
To her surprise, he had only asked her a few questions as he showed her the rental. She told him that she was new in town from the Stockholm area, and was going to try to get a job with the county social services agency. She said that she would be living alone, although once in awhile her sister’s son and step-daughter might be staying with her for a few weeks at a time. He seemed very accepting of her story, and did not even ask to see any identification before she signed the lease and gave him the security deposit and first month’s rent.
Then he had asked about her need for furnishings. Learning that she had no furniture, he had offered to let her use an old couch, chairs, and a bedframe he had in the basement that some former tenants had left behind. Together they had moved the items up from the storage area and into her new space. Once everything was arranged to her satisfaction, he had given her the key and told her to please call him if she needed anything else. And that had been that.
Before returning to Tensta, she had gone out and purchased some heavy drapes with some of the money Eli had given her. The apartment had come with miniblinds that did a fair job of blocking out the light, but the drapes were even better, and certainly more pleasing to her eye than the old blankets and cardboard that the kids had been using.
Oskar and Eli seemed very happy with the new place. The building was of more recent vintage than their old flat in Tensta; the appliances had recently been replaced, and the walls and cabinetry were fresh and clean. They particularly liked the new tub, which had sliding plexiglas doors that seemed to turn the space into their private sleeping cabin.
Once the children had settled into their tub, Maria bedded down with some blankets and a pillow, surrounded by cardboard boxes. Her fascinated attention was drawn to the amazing puzzle egg that Oskar had pulled out and sat incongruously on top of his record player. Maria had never seen it until he had unpacked it.
She reached out and stroked its complex surface, which she was fairly sure was made of pure platinum, and thought about the trip in the van with the children. In her mind the conversation had overshadowed all of the recent events. It was so old and mysterious, this egg; just like Eli—only Eli was probably older still. And Maria had begun to understand something of the darkness and the horror locked up inside this beautiful, calm, self-contained yet often vulnerable little girl. Incredible . . .
“So what, exactly, are you two looking for in Norrköping?”
The clumsy black wipers thumped noisily back and forth to the monotonous hum of the engine for what seemed like a very long time, swishing the raindrops to the edges of the big windshield. Maria glanced over at them; saw their uneasy faces illuminated in the faint green glow from the dashboard instruments.
Oskar ventured an answer first. “Well, something happened to Eli there a long time ago--something bad. And I—I told Eli that I wanted to go back there, to see if maybe we could find something that would help us to just be normal again.” “I’m not sure I understand that.”
Eli spoke. “I was born in Östergötland. A long time ago. And a man there turned me into what I am now. He lived in a castle. And Oskar and I want to go back and see if we can find his castle; maybe find something that he left behind that will tell us more about who he was, and how he became a vampire. We’re hoping that maybe if we do that, it could help us change ourselves back to normal.” Somehow, Maria did not get the feeling that Eli was convinced that they would have any luck with their plan. “Do you remember where this castle is?” “I . . . I think so. We’ll have to see—it’s been such a long time.” Oskar glanced uneasily at Eli, who shifted in her seat, then turned to look out the passenger window. “How did this man get ahold of you? Did something happen to your parents?” “He tricked my mother into bringing me to his castle with a lot of other moms and their kids. He said it was a game. Then he rolled some dice and chose me. And that’s—that’s just about all I want to say about it right now. Because I can’t . . . it’s hard for me to—I just don’t want to talk about it.” “Okay.” Privately, Maria thought that their whole plan sounded shaky. She had uprooted herself, turned her life upside down for this? What useful thing could they possibly find after two hundred years? But she didn’t want to say anything. They seemed fragile enough as it was, clinging to their little thread of hope; expressions of cynicism and doubt would not help anything.
“Is the castle still standing? If it is, I’m sure it will be easy to find. It would have to be some kind of local landmark, or maybe even a tourist attraction.”
Eli answered without looking away from the window. “I don’t know if it is or not. I’ve never been back to it since I was set free.” A cold finger ran down Maria’s spine. ‘Set free’? My God—what had happened to her? Frightening, medieval images came to her mind; a man resembling Bela Lugosi or Christopher Lee, chaining Eli to the wall of a dungeon somewhere. It was so hard to believe; almost ludicrous. How could it have happened? She glanced over at Eli, not for the first time wondering if the child just had a mental illness, and that all of this was some weird fantasy. She wanted to probe further, but didn’t want to upset her or Oskar. “Well, I’ll do whatever I can to help you two find this place, wherever it is.” She adjusted the speed of the wipers as the rain subsided. “Maybe the library there will have some information. We’ll have to see.” Maria had slept for what seemed to her like only a few hours when she was awoken by a sound coming from the bathroom. She had been lying on her side facing the egg, and when she heard the soft thump she rolled over to face the doorway leading to the back hall.
There was a soft scraping sound, followed by a tiny creaking noise. The bathroom door had been opened. She glanced at her watch; it was 7:18 a.m. She frowned. Didn’t they both have to sleep during the day?
She sat up a little; spoke quietly in the shadowy apartment. “Oskar? Eli?”
Eli’s head suddenly came into view in the bedroom doorway at floor level. She was crawling. She paused and looked into the bedroom, seemingly straight at Maria. Her eyes were open, but Maria wasn’t sure whether Eli really saw her; there was no recognition, and her face was slack.
She repeated her call; softly, not shouting. Then she turned and began to crawl into the bedroom. Maria realized as she came in that she was wearing no clothes.
“Eli? What’s wrong, honey?”
Maria stood up. She’s sleepwalking. Or sleepcrawling—or . . .
She wasn’t sure what to do. Weren’t they supposed to be stone-cold dead during the day? She quickly glanced at the window and was relieved that there was virtually no daylight coming through; it must still be cloudy and dark outside, because she could hear the rain’s faint patter on the glass.
She wondered whether she should wake Eli up. At some point a long time ago, she had been told that you should not wake up people who were sleepwalking, but she didn’t know why. Just that something bad might happen. So . . .
Eli slowly crawled around the edges of the room. She moved past a few more boxes and headed toward Maria’s makeshift bed. Maria squatted down in front of her.
“Eli, it’s all right. Come here.”
She looked up at the sound of Maria’s voice. “Mama?”
Slowly she continued to crawl toward her. As she came near, Maria hesitantly attempted to embrace her. “Eli, Eli . . . it’s okay. Come here.” Eli accepted Maria’s embrace. And when they lay down together on the blanket, Maria saw.
Saw that Eli had nothing between her legs.
Fear lept like lightning through her chest. She had never seen anything like it. She wanted to disengage herself from Eli; get as far away from her—him?—it?—as possible. But she couldn’t, because now Eli was clinging to her like an infant. So hesitantly, stiffly, she embraced the child.
Eli laid her head against Maria’s chest. When Maria looked down, she saw that Eli had put her thumb into her mouth and was sucking it gently. She uttered one more muffled, somehow satisfied “mama,” and then closed her eyes and was silent. The fingers of one hand found a patch of Maria’s cotton nightgown and pulled it close to her face, rubbing it between them.
Maria thought about how cool Eli seemed. Carefully, without disturbing her, she pulled the blanket up over them, adjusted her pillow, and tried to relax.
Guess I’m just going to have to sleep a little longer. She closed her eyes, stroked Eli’s hair, and thought about how strange all of this was. This child . . . was she really a child?
Maria saw it as she was leaving a grocery store in Hageby Centrum, a big banner headline on the day’s copy of the Expressen: TOP COP SAYS VAMPIRE ON LOOSE. And subtitled below that, right above a picture of Oskar and the detective: Stockholm Detective Believes Vampire Responsible for Multiple Murders. She had almost dropped her bag of groceries. Instead, she had bought a copy and rushed home to read it.
Maria sat in stunned silence in the darkened living room, unable to move. The story, based on parts of a confidential report leaked yesterday evening to the Expressen, was unbelievable. Or at least, would have seemed unbelievable to just about everyone in the whole world, except her. Those murders at the pool last year in Blackeberg . . . now she understood why Oskar and Eli were together. Eli had killed those three kids to save Oskar, and the two of them had then fled together. Then Eli must’ve accidentally bitten him.
She trembled as she thought about the trail of bodies that, according to the article, and been left behind by the “bloodthirsty creature”: at least six people slaughtered, the most recent one barely more than two weeks ago. Had Oskar helped kill that camper, too? The description of how most of them had been killed made perfect sense to her, given what Oskar had done to Rafael. Grabbed from behind and squeezed like a rat in the coils of a snake, then bitten. It all fit.
Most disturbing to her was the tie-in to “The Ritual Killer.” A man living with Eli who, at some point, had begun getting blood for her. Going out and killing young boys to drain them of blood for food; it sounded like something straight out of a pulp fiction novel. But here she was, sitting not eight meters away from them. Eight meters from what was probably the greatest mass murderer in history, if this was just the tip of the iceberg.
Would she become the next ritual killer? Persuaded, cajoled, pressured, threatened to go out and murder for them?
She got up off the couch, went to her purse on the kitchen counter, and retrieved the handgun; walked down the hall to the bathroom, entered, and quietly slid the shower door open.
Eli had fallen asleep in her arms after her sleepwalking. Maria had carried her back into the bathroom, and gently laid her down in front of Oskar not two hours ago. Now the two of them were once again together.
Two hundred years. How many people had died, looking at those angelic features? Must be thousands, she thought. And now Oskar, too. Eli’s apprentice.
Would it kill them? If she used it? Or did she need . . . a stake?
She thought about all the suffering Eli must have experienced; about all the suffering she had brought into the world. Wouldn’t she be better off dead? Wouldn’t the whole world be better off, if both of them were dead?
Yet the love between them was the most beautiful thing Maria had ever seen in her life. And they wanted to get rid of their vampirism; were trying to find a way out, however childish and ill-conceived their plan seemed. They didn’t want to be what they were.
She suddenly felt the weight of the world bearing down on her: an enormous, ponderous mass of humanity balanced upon her, as if one of those Egyptian pyramids had been flipped upside down and set on the top of her head. She was in a unique position, at a pivotal moment. No one else knew what she knew, and no one else was in a position to do anything about it. She could stop all the bloodshed right now--just by pulling a trigger.
If you had any sense of decency, you’d do it. Regardless of how beautiful they are. They’re death, plain and simple. She had seen the look in Oskar’s eyes, just before he had buried his teeth into Rafael’s neck: they had not been human. The eyes of a rabid dog.
She raised the pistol and aimed it at the center of Eli’s chest. One bullet would probably pass completely through her and kill both of them. A complete amateur, she jerkily thumbed the hammer back. Now all she had to do was squeeze.
Mama . . . Mama. A naked child, curled in her arms, sucking her thumb.
Oskar looking up at her in earnest as he gave her some freshly plucked daisies. These are for you. . . .
Tears sprung from her eyes and spilled down her cheeks, making it hard for her to see. The gun wobbled as her arm trembled. Angrily she wiped her eyes with her free hand; and with this simple action, her will dissolved.
Fuck it. Someone else is going to have to kill them. I can’t--I won’t. I’d rather kill myself first, than do that. They’re innocent. Somehow, they’re innocent. She carefully lowered the hammer and backed out of the room; turned and walked like a marionette into the bedroom and collapsed, weeping, onto her blanket.
But she knew that however innocent they were, their need for blood was like a rising tide, slowly coming in to destroy their will to avoid doing evil, as surely as the ocean washed away a child’s sandcastle on a beach. It was unavoidable, inevitable. How often did they need to eat, anyway? It had been almost a week since Rafael and Miguel had died . . .
She looked down at her own forearm, at the spot, the inside of the elbow, where the nurses always drew their blood samples. Would they take hers, if she offered? Would she get infected if they did? She didn’t know how it worked, but if it could be done safely, she would do it.
If it would help stave off the murder and bloodshed awhile, she’d do it.
A knock at Kurt’s door. Standing on the stoop in the fading afternoon sunlight by the trellis full of honeysuckle was Lt. Lundgren. His bronze-colored BMW gleamed in the driveway.
Kurt pulled open the door a crack and looked out. “Martin?”
He was dressed in civilian clothes. His face was full of worry; he looked like he’d aged quite a bit since Kurt had last seen him.
Kurt opened the door wide. “Come in, come in.”
“Are you sure it’s okay? I’m not interrupting dinner, am I?”
“No, no. Flora’s not even here right now. She’s gone to see Britta and Gabe. He’s in the hospital.”
Martin raised his eyebrows in surprise as he stepped through the door. “Oh? He’s sick again?”
Kurt shut the door behind Martin, then went to the refrigerator. “Yeah, I’m afraid so. He hasn’t been eating. Been crying a lot, too, and sorta sleepy. So Brit and Jon took him to the hospital, and they admitted him for the night. They just called, so Flora’s gone over to be with them.”
“You didn’t go?”
“No, I . . . I just don’t feel like going out right now.”
“Well, I can understand that.”
“Sit down. You want a beer?”
“Sure; that’d be great.”
They sat on opposite sides of Kurt’s kitchen table and sipped their beers.
“This is the first time you’ve been put on adminstrative leave, isn’t it, Martin?”
“Yep. I couldn’t believe it.”
“You talk to the Internal Affairs guy? Koch?”
“Yeah. He called me about an hour after I got the call from Norby. You?”
“What did you tell him?”
“What’d I tell him? I told him what I knew: nothing.”
Martin grunted. “That’s what I told him, too. But I don’t think he believed me.”
“Guys like Koch aren’t paid to believe what they’re told, Martin. You know that.”
“Yes, I suppose you’re right. I’m just not used to being questioned like that, I guess. I mean, challenged on every little thing. As if I’m some kind of criminal.”
“Don’t worry about it. They know you and I would have to be total idiots to leak that report.”
“I overheard some guys in the rank and file talking after roll call. They think you had something to do with it.”
“Mmm—doesn’t surprise me. I knew when I signed that report that I’d become a pariah.”
“Is anyone in your corner?”
“Oh . . . yeah, a few. Hallberg actually called, if you can believe it. Said they had no right to put me on leave like this. I told him not to worry, that I’ll be back after the seven days. And, let’s see . . . Petersson called. Of course, I’ve known him for years, so . . . .”
“But none of the new guys.”
“Someone wants your job, Kurt. You know that’s what this is about.”
Kurt nodded slowly. “Yup, I think so.” He shrugged. “And maybe they’ll get it.”
Martin shook his head. “No. No, they won’t. You’ve solved too many murders over the years, Kurt. Everyone knows you’re the best.”
“Uh huh. Until now, that is.”
Martin took a long pull on his bottle, then folded his napkin in two and sopped up the water ring before it ruined the table’s finish. “Did we really need to put that in the report, Kurt? The Canadians announced that the Stockholm P.D. is incompetent.”
“Let me tell you, Martin. That was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my whole career. That one sentence. And I knew when I wrote it what the ramifications would be. But you know what? The facts are what they are--they dictate the result. You and I both know that you can’t solve a murder by ignoring or distorting the facts. When they point to the improbable explanation, you gotta follow them there—wherever they might lead you. You know that old saw: ‘When you’ve eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?’ It may be Sherlock Holmes, but there’s truth in that statement.”
Martin nodded. “Yes, of course you’re right. But still . . . we could have just listed the facts and let them draw their own conclusions.”
“Martin. You and I both know that no human being can pull a head off or twist it like that. It’s unheard of in the annals of medical science, and in criminology as well. And that thing with Lind burning up. Now these are facts, and there is no natural explanation for them. And if that’s true, then that leaves only the supernatural. Now, I’m not the kind of fellow to believe in ghosts, or anything like that. But when these things are laid before my eyes like this, then . . . .” He lifted his glasses and rubbed the bridge of his nose; wished mightily that his lower back pain would go away. Christ, he felt tired.
“It’s too bad those folks in Blackeberg hadn’t been more forthcoming.”
“Yeah. I don’t know what they were thinking, not to report that. Especially after they found that blood. Stupid.”
Kurt looked directly at Martin. “Do you believe it, Martin?”
Martin sat back in his chair and sighed. “I don’t know. I agree with you that as crazy as it sounds, it seems like the only rational explanation. And I’m not the kind of guy who believes in this sort of thing, either. You know—nothing weird has ever happened to me. But you know what? More people than you might think do believe in ghosts and the supernatural. In fact, my own mother is convinced that she saw her sister’s ghost on the day she died in a plane crash. This was . . . more than twenty years ago; I was eleven at the time, I guess. Aunt Ella was flying from London to Stockholm to spend Easter with us, and her plane crashed en route. And my mom swears that she saw Ella come into the kitchen at the exact moment of the crash, as we learned later. She said that Ella told her not to worry—that she didn’t suffer. So while I’ve never seen a ghost, I tend to keep an open mind, I guess you could say.”
Kurt nodded. “That’s quite a story. Anyone else see her?”
“Nope—just mom. She said it was the scariest thing that’d ever happened to her. But yet, it proved to be a source of comfort, too. Just knowing that her sister was at peace.”
There was a lull in their conversation as both of them polished off their beers. Then Martin belched and said, “So, what are you going to do?”
“What do you mean?”
“You know what I mean, Kurt. About catching this girl, or thing. Or whatever it is.”
“What more can I do, Martin? We need something new. A break in the evidence, maybe an eyewitness who will come forward and say that they’ve seen her recently. Or maybe we could set a trap for her.”
“A trap? What do you mean?”
“Well, if we’re right, then she feeds at night, on solitary people. So we get a volunteer to be the bait, and we do a stakeout.”
“Hmm. Do you think we’d have trouble finding a volunteer?”
Kurt pondered the question for a moment. “No, I don’t think so. In fact, I think we’d have quite a show of hands right here in our own department.”
“Why do you say that?”
“Well, if we’re right, then whoever volunteered and helped capture or kill her would be a hero. And if we’re wrong, then it would be the perfect opportunity to demonstrate my incompetence. You know---help bring down the old man who’s past his prime.”
“Could get killed, too.”
“Yup. I’d say that’s a real risk in this case. Killed real quick.”
“Do you think she really can fly, boss?”
Kurt chuckled. “Well, if we believe she’s a vampire, why not go whole hog? It would explain how she got up to ‘The Ritual Killer’ and took care of him.”
“Do you think she killed that woman over in Sudbyberg last week?”
Kurt was quiet for awhile. “It’s possible.”
“I don’t know if a stakeout would work, Kurt. She seems pretty far-ranging.”
“Well, optimally we’d have several running simultaneously at different parts of the city.”
“We’d need to persuade the Chief to do that. Which is damn unlikely at this point.”
“I agree. And of course, you or I can’t do anything.”
Martin offered a small grin. “Officially.”