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Death of Four-Year-Old Kevin Hjalmarsson

Sunday, August 16, 1998

Investigation into the death of Kevin Hjalmarsson reopened - NZ Herald
Credit: NZ Herald


4-year-old Kevin Hjalmarsson is jogging around playing near the schoolyard and by the bay in the shorter income neighborhoods of Dottevik, in Arvika, Sweden.
It’s the final day of the summer holiday and a lot of kids are outside on this warm summer dusk.
At around 8:30 pm Kevin’s family grows worried, they haven’t noticed him for more than 4 hours. His grandparents start looking for him as the sun sets on this little town of 26.000 people.
At 9:15 pm his grandfather makes a bone-chilling finding. He discovers Kevin laying on top of a pallet that’s floating in the reed in Kyrkviken bay. He’s missing his shoes and one of his socks.
He holds up the little boy and carries him to shore and hands him over to his grandmother.
She provides Kevin mouth to mouth resuscitation as his grandfather runs home and calls disaster dispatch. But it’s too late, Kevin is lifeless.

THE INVESTIGATION STARTS

On the morning of Monday, August 17 two policemen are standing watch outside the barricaded region waiting for CSI to examine the spectacle when they are approached by two kids.
They had been notified by an older boy where to discover Kevin’s missing sandals and his sock and retrieved them from behind a shed near the bay and hand them over to the police. The crime spectacle is expanded.

On Tuesday, August 18 soon after 8 am the pathologist in charge of Kevin’s autopsy contacts captain Sandberg with the outcomes.
Kevin’s reason for death is suffocation and he has to bruise on his neck. He also has to bruise on his genitals implying that he has been sexually attacked.
A murder investigation conducted by Sandberg commences.

Over the next few days, police earn tips about Kevin’s whereabouts during the afternoon and evening of August 16. One man admits to the killing but is taken to a psychiatric hospital since he could not be the perpetrator. Others leave tips that vary from a wild goose chase to highly interesting.
Founded on these tips the police formulate 3 main theories.

THE THEORIES

The Family
Since most killings, particularly killings of kids are committed by a relative, the police examine the apparent involvement of family members in the demise of Kevin.

The Pedophiles
Three known pedophiles were living in the region at the time of Kevin’s demise. A tip comes into the detectives that one of them had been spotted clasping Kevin’s hand and assisting him to cross the road around mid-day on August 16.

The Children
A lot of tips point to kids and teenagers as probable suspects. A group of teenagers was noticed in the schoolyard with Kevin at around 5 pm on August 16. Other kids have also been noticed playing in the region around the same time. Among others, a 13-year-old boy has been glimpsed buying candy with Kevin sometime after 5 pm. This exact boy said the two children were to discover Kevin’s sandals and sock the day after the killing.

A week into the inquiry Sandberg decides that the theory of kids as sinners is the one he wants to pursue since Kevin’s mum, dad, grandparents, and other relatives all have alibis and can be ruled out as suspects. And the pedophile that carried Kevin’s hand can be ruled out as doubtful and so can the other two as all three have also had alibis for the evening of August 16.

The detectives begin by interrogating the 13-year-old. To assemble rapport with him the query is performed with one police officer while out on a rowboat in Kyrkviken bay. The 13-year-old doesn’t explain how he realized where Kevins’ sandals and socks were but clarifies that he was in the library on the evening of August 16. He is ruled out as a suspect.

On August 22, 7-year-old Christian Dahlén says to his father Weine that he has glimpsed Kevin with an older child on the day of the killing. Weine, realizing this is the sort of information the police are glimpsing for packs his family in the car, and drives down to the police station. While driving, Christians’ younger brother Robin, age 5, says he also has something to inform the police. Kevin was his best friend and he wishes to help. He says he saw Kevin be killed.

THE SUSPECTS

At the police station, Christian clarifies what occurred on August 16. He was staying at his mama’s home and was going to his father to have a feast and then go fishing.
At around 4 pm he reached his dad’s and stepmom’s home, after he goes inside the doorbell rings, outside is Kevin and another boy, age 7.

He inquires if they wanted to come out and play. But Christian family have company over and they’re just about to have a feast before going fishing. Christian says Kevin they can’t.
After the feast, at around 5 pm the two brothers go outside and play in the street with the three kids of the other family, at this point anonymous boy asks Christian if they’ve glimpsed Kevin, but they haven’t.
The 5 kids then go back inside and change their clothing and quickly before 6 pm the two families get in their cars and go fishing. They came back home late in the evening.

Christian’s story is substantiated by Weine and by members of the other family.

Next to be interrogated is Robin. He tells the police that he saw the killing. He saw an anonymous boy whack, Kevin, in the stomach with a knife and then hit him into the water off a bridge into Kyrkviken bay.

The brothers are questioned 5 times over the course of 4 hours on August 22. Each time Robins’s story is varied and both internally unpredictable and inconsistent with Christians. They vary from Kevin being stabbed, to being shoved into the water and drowning, to Kevin falling in accidentally and drowning. When their stepmother listens that Robin has seen the killing she is so choked that she has to be taken to a psychiatric clinic later that evening.

Between August 23 and September 1 Christian and Robin are questioned 7 more times and Weine is inquired to speak to the boys about the case at home and take remarks and call the police with the data he gathers.
At one point Robin tells that he knows where the killer lives. He walks the detectives to a home. But nobody who resides there could be deemed a suspect.

On September 1, Sandberg holds an interview with Robin that would form the rest of the inquiry. Up until this point the brothers have been deemed probable witnesses but all of a sudden Sandberg indicates to Robin that the one he saw kill Kevin was his big brother Christian. When the question is inquired Robin says yes. Sandberg shocked by the reply asks him a total of 15 times if he saw Christian kill Kevin. 8 times Robin says yes and 7 times he says no. After a 40 minute talk where Sandberg talks in a very severe tone and towers over 5-year-old Robin dressed in full costume, other police officers step in to stop the talk.

Christian and Robin are not interrogated again for the whole month of September.

Since Sandberg’s intuition says him that kids are the culprits the detectives decide to look into a group of teenagers that were hanging out in the schoolyard around the time of the killing.
Two of them are recognized as probable suspects. Marius, 13, and Mathias, 14.
The police investigate both of them and wiretaps are placed on their phone to surveil them to glimpse if they speak about the killing. The phone surveillance gains no results, the boys never tell anything incriminating.

In their final of many inquiries at the end of September both the boys start to cry because of the aggression of the detectives. But they sustain their innocence and are finally ruled out as suspects.

In September psychologist Sven Åke Christiansson is reached by the detectives. He has helped the police in various high-profile cases in the past and his art is in repressed memories.
He says, founded on the interviews, that the two brothers have data that they haven’t shared and the inquiry switches back to concentrate on them as suspects.

THE PRIME SUSPECTS

Kevin saken - Psykisk helse
Credit: Klikk

During October, the police boost the pressure on the brothers. They’re investigated 9 more times and make more and more confessions. But the situations described are unreliable with the evidence.
Sven Åke Christiansson clarifies that from a psychological standpoint this makes real sense. The boys want to admit but they have to think like they are in a stable environment to do so. The mental block will release when they feel safe.
That’s why their admissions don’t align with the evidence of the case.

When Weine comprehends that his two sons are no longer considered observers but suspects he has a mental breakdown and is committed to a psychiatric clinic for evaluation. The tension put on him by the detectives over the past couple of months has been too much. With taking remarks and making reports to the police only to discover that his sons are now suspects.

While in the psychiatric hospital Weine is heavily medicated and said he cannot see his family. Then he is questioned by Sandberg. He asks if the boy’s clothing were damp when they returned from playing in the street before going fishing on August 16. Weine, after a lengthy interview with police, tells they might have been. On a similar night, he writes entries in a diary that interpret the boys notifying him about the killing and drawing pictures of it. Totally unreliable with his testimony months earlier.

But the detectives still have an issue, the 10-year-old boy and his parents that were touring the Dahlén family on the day of the killing has given the brothers an alibi. After the two families had a feast together the five kids went outside to play at around 5 pm.

The mum was seeing them through the window and the 10-year-old was in charge to make sure nobody ran off. After around 30 minutes the kids went inside and altered their clothing es before going fishing at 6 pm.

The family is questioned again. And again. And again between August and October.
The 10-year-old boy has been questioned a total of 14 times but he never alters his story. The boys were with him the entire time and never went down to the bay and their clothing was not wet.

But Sandberg has a clue. He dismisses their testimony and the earlier testimonies of Waine and his spouse and chooses to think of Weine’s interview in the psychiatric hospital.
Sandberg is confident of the boy’s guilt and the police set up a crime reenactment. Christiansson thinks this will accelerate the repressed remembrances and instructs the investigators via an earpiece.

The situations encircling Kevin’s demise were not reviled, as such the public didn’t realize anything about his injuries, his reason for death being suffocated, or where he was discovered.

The detectives nonetheless understood that Kevin was never shoved into the water since his clothes were dry when he was discovered. The pathologist discovered no scrapes on his corpse that would imply that the corpse was pulled 30+ yards from the bridge to the pallet where he was discovered and it was inferred that the brothers would not be tough enough to carry Kevin that distance.

As such he contended that the killing could not have taken place on the bridge if the brothers were guilty.
For the most part, the brother’s confessions largely include the bridge and drowning.

Some of the summaries the boys give aside from several versions of them not being involved comprise but are not limited to Kevin being stabbed by a boy, stabbed by an old man, shoved into the water by a boy, pushed into the water by another boy, shoved into the water by an old man, pushed into the water by Robin, Kevin falling in himself by accident.

They never once mention suffocation, or the traumas, or the pallet during any of the 22 inquiries up until this point. So besides having an alibi they’re not even near to clarifying how Kevin perished. Also, the idea of repressed memories has pretty much been disproved as unscientific.

THE FINAL INTERROGATIONS

On September 26 the last queries are held. A new method suggested by Christianson is implemented. Investigator Ingrid Harrysson says to Robin everything about the inquiry, she shows him an image of where Kevin was discovered and then draws pictures of Kevin’s injuries and tells him about the scrape on his neck. Then she gets to work attempting to get Robin to tell that they did it.
In total Harrysson asks Robin over 100 times to clarify the bruising on Kevin’s neck. He can’t. Eventually, he tells that Christian pinched Kevin on the neck. He never tells that Kevin perished and says he wasn’t there when the corpse was transported to the pallet.

12 times during the query he says that he’s notified them of everything, but Harrysson persists. Eventually, After 2 hours and 245 questions, Harrysson gives up without getting an admission even though she has told Robin exactly how Kevin perished.

Later that day Christian is investigated. The exact method is utilized on him. After surveying him for a while in their ordinary fashion the Detectives Harrysson and Forsman notify him about the bruise on Kevin’s neck but despite warnings and encouragement, he doesn’t come up with a reasonable justification. He just doesn’t realize what to tell to make the investigators happy.

In total Christian is asked 1 246 questions. 61 times he screams that he is too exhausted to go on and wants to see his mum but the detectives persist. They tell him that if he wants to see his mum he first has to tell them what occurred.

Ultimately they bring out a picture and point out where they discovered Kevins’ corpse. Christian now appears to understand what he is presumed to do. He tells them that he and his brother shifted the corpse from the bridge to the pallet and left him there. But he yet can’t give them the exact details about how Kevin perished or how they transported him through the dense shrubbery and trees.

The investigators halt the interview after 4,5 hours without ever getting an admission.

Later that evening Sandberg held another query with Robin where he eventually admits and illustrates in detail that it was Christian that murdered Kevin by suffocating him with a stick and they then transported the corpse from the bridge to the pallet. This query was not videotaped and no audio recording exists. Only a brief written report authored by Sandberg.
This super cop has eventually gotten the admission that no other detective could get during the 25 queries held with the brothers.

Another try is made the next day to get Robin to tell what he told Sandberg, this time on camera. He can’t and doesn’t appear to recall his admission from the day before. It must be just another repressed remembrance.

EPILOGUE

In November of 1998, Sandberg held a press conference declaring that the case was solved but since the sinners were kids no trial would be held.

The inquiry is categorized because of the age of the sinner and the family was shifted from Arvika to a treatment facility created particularly for them. While there, efforts were made to place the brothers into foster care since Weine was considered to be a bad impact on them. He was querying if his sons were guilty. No foster home wanted to adopt them as they had murdered a kid and the brothers were authorized to continue living with their parents.

19 years later, in 2017 the case was re-opened after investigative journalist Dan Josefsson was given entry to the private police inquiry by unidentified sources. His research into the case disclosed glaring shortcomings with the way the inquiry was performed.

In 2018 Christian and Robin were official cleared of the killing of Kevin.
They have earned no compensation for being falsely accused of 20 years.

There are now two major assumptions as to what occurred to Kevin on August 16.

An accidental demise.


The injuries Kevin had sustained, crime spectacle detective now theorized could have been affected by another pallet falling on top of him. He could have been playing and while lifting a pallet he accidentally got caught underneath it and was choked. Because of the weight of such a pallet, it’s uncertain that he was alone when lifting it.

Alternatively while roughhousing with an anonymous individual, he or she could have sat on top of Kevin pushing his neck on the edge of the pallet and accidentally strangled him.

The 13-year-old boy.


He was the one who alerted the other kids to where to discover Kevin’s sandals and socks, it’s never been established how he realized where they were or how he realized they were Kevins.

The shed where the items were discovered is only 20 yards from where Kevin was discovered and sand discovered on Kevin’s corpse fits sand from around the shed making this a probable crime spectacle.

His alibi on the evening of August 16 was him being in the library. But the library was shut on Sundays.

9 months after the demise of Kevin, this 13-year-old was caught red-handed sexually attacking a 3-year-old boy about 100 yards from the place Kevin was discovered.
He has rejected to answer any questions after the case was re-opened.

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