Cover story Misc

The grandchildren of Bodom

{mosimage}In the summer of 1960 three teenagers were savagely murdered while
camping by the shore
of Bodom Lake, in Espoo.
47 years later, the case is still unsolved, but not at all forgotten by the
Finnish public opinion.


Catchy name for a metal band

For most of the people, especially the non-Finnish readers and those
living outside Finland, the tragedy of Lake Bodom is known mainly by the huge
popularity of Finnish metal band Children of Bodom; while searching for
an adequate name in the offices of Spinefarm, their record label, in
Helsinki, somebody advised them to relate the band’s name to Bodom (the band
members lived near the area and had heard stories about the Bodom legend since
their childhood). Of course the quality of the music did the rest, but it
cannot be denied that their particular name got them immersed in a much
appropriated mystic aureole that would involve their music in a dark and
mysterious spirit. The band dedicates in every album at least one song to the
events happened almost 5 decades ago, and amazingly they had never been sued or
received a formal complaint by any relatives of the victims about the use of
such a macabre name. 

But probably, many of you cannot have much clear idea of what really
happened there, apart from the fact that some youngsters were killed. The
number of victims was 3:  Maila Irmeli
and Anja Tuulikki Mäki, both 15 years old at the time and Seppo
Antero Boisman
, 18 years old at the time. There was a fourth young guy camping
there: Nils Wilhelm Gustaffson, 18 years old at
the time, who survived with notable wounds, and did not remember much of what
happened when woke up at the hospital days later.


Many hypothesis, not clear answers 

Police never was able to solve the case, and there have been theories
for all tastes: a person who was working in a kiosk near the murder scene
alleged just before dying that he had committed the crime, but he had a clear
alibi that night. In 2003 Jorma Palo, who had worked at a hospital when
the murderers took place, published a book where he accused Hans Assmann,
a German spy with residency in Finland
that appeared with some strange injuries and blood in his clothes some days
after the Bodom´s tragedy, and whose guilt was never investigated by an
overwhelmed police corp.

Some others have developed even weirder ideas just like the hand of more
than one killer, or the participation of non-human creatures that would inhabit
near the lake. The bomb really exploded when in 2004, 44 years after the
murderers, Nils Gustaffson was arrested on the suspicion that he committed the
crime. But the accusers could not prove anything, and it was hardly to believe
that he was able to self-inflict so many injuries as he had when being found
just without losing consciousness first. The trial was massively followed by
the yellow press, as it could not had been otherwise, and at the end the
Finnish state had to pay a big sum of money to Nils for the damage and pressure
he had to face being trial for something that (supposedly) he did not commit,
far from his previous quiet life as bus driver in Espoo.


{mosimage}The legend of Bodom once more 

End of the Bodom case? Not a chance. Not guilty killer has been found,
no soul of the victims can rest in peace. The last approach to the case has
just been released in DVD under the title Bodomin Legenda (literally: The
Legend of Bodom
). A Finnish film in black and white directed by Tapio
and produced by YLE. Not the greatest film in Finnish history,
since sometimes looks more like a parody than like a real representation of
true events (the characters look so over-stereotyped: the bald mean Russian
spies from the Embassy, the ambiguous German Hans with mental problems who
seems to be drunk during half of the movie… ), but it serves you to jump back
to the 60s and live an unique period in Finnish history with president Urho
feeling the breath of the Communist neighbours behind his neck. Forget about finding much veracity and clarifications for the Bodom Lake´s case, and focus 
better on some special and very Finnish details, like the friendship expressed with
just a few words but strong actions between Police Chief Oiva Keto (Juha
) and his partner Ilmari Hallanheimo (Pekka Huotari), or the
simplicity of decorations and dialogues that can make you feel for some moments like watching a new Aki Kaurismäki´s movie. The DVD counts with
English subtitles, so it is easy to follow for the non-Finnish speakers, but
probably it will be not so easy to understand for those foreigners who have not
lived a period of time in Finland. A movie mostly aimed at the local Finnish market.

For those of you who live near Helsinki
area, Lake Bodom is quite an accessible point, just
22 kilometres from the centre. If not for the macabre happenings that took
place more than 4 decades ago, it can be worthy to visit just to spend a
relaxing camping day (with no knives disturbing the peace). The tragedy of
Bodom marked forever a nation that during many decades, never saw safe enough
again to let their young children camp and wander the lakes and forests without
the fear settled deep inside their hearts. Probably, as in most of the
mysterious killings all over the history, the real murderer will be never
revealed, unless that the science will prove the opposite, but what is
undeniable is that Lake Bodom killed not only 3 children, but a big part of the
Finnish nation’s innocence.

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