Sweden: man goes on trial for 2004 murder after DNA matched to genealogy site


A 37-year-old Swedish man has gone on trial for double murder after two killings that went unsolved for more than 15 years until police matched his DNA on a popular genealogy website.

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

The two victims – who were unrelated – were stabbed in a random act in the quiet southern Swedish town of Linkoping.

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 weapon that was used, 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 former 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%,” 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 both killings.

Aged 21 at the time of the incident, 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, 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 Linkoping after the killings.