Swedish tourists' murder: What the pathologist found

by Donna Chisholm / 10 September, 2017

Urban Höglin.

RelatedArticlesModule - tamihere

The murders of Urban Höglin and Heidi Paakkonen will be revisited in the memoir of forensic pathologist Timothy Koelmeyer, due out in coming months. It’s why Koelmeyer, now retired, still has his files at hand.

He was one of three pathologists who examined Höglin’s skeletal remains and initially found no sign of any damage to the bones to indicate how he might have died. It wasn’t just those three who found nothing, he says. “Every pathologist who came through the lab looked at them.”

Koelmeyer, the pathologist for the Crown, had been called down to the Wentworth Valley when the remains were being painstakingly recovered, with each bone marked.

A couple of pig hunters had literally stumbled on the body when one of them went into the bush to have a pee, says Koelmeyer. The body was facing down, the arms outstretched above the head.

Stab wounds were found on the front of Höglin’s black sweatshirt and the pink T-shirt he wore underneath. There were also cuts in the waistband of the shorts and his underpants.

Back at the Auckland mortuary, the skeleton was reconstructed – only a few phalanges (bones that make up the fingers and toes) were missing. There were more than 200 bones laid out on the dissecting table, and Koelmeyer says he examined each one.

The pathologists found a hole in the middle of Höglin’s breast bone that excited them for a time. Had he been shot through the chest? It was, however, a rare congenital disorder and not a bullet hole.

Weeks after the first report was signed off by the pathologists – two worked for the defence – Koelmeyer says he was preparing the bones to return to Höglin’s family in Sweden when he decided to take one more look. What he found was down to sheer chance, he says.

Maybe it was because the bones of Höglin’s neck had dried out during those weeks in the dry, controlled atmosphere of the dissecting room, but when Koelmeyer next looked at them, the deep cut in the fourth cervical vertebra was suddenly very clear to see. It was a centimetre long and 3mm deep.

Not only had Höglin been stabbed in the neck and belly, but his killer had tried to cut off his head.

“If the idea is to dismember him and dispose of the body, you’ve got to start somewhere and the head is as good as any.”

Chillingly, Koelmeyer says the cuts to the waistbands of Höglin’s shorts and underwear only matched up if the underpants had been put on back to front.

“Most people, when they put their underpants on, put them on the right way around. Unless you’re in a state of terror or fright… It means you’re in a disturbed state, for want of a better term. If this boy was being threatened, or had already been subjected to some sort of violence and is then putting on his clothes again… it could be after this happened that he then was stabbed.”

Koelmeyer says he has examined the bodies of more than 100 murder victims and has testified in nearly 200 murder trials for both the prosecution and defence.

He hopes his book will be out by Christmas.

This was published in the August 2017 issue of North & South.

MostReadArticlesCollectionWidget - Most Read - Used in articles
AdvertModule - Advert - M-Rec / Halfpage

Latest

Wild Eyes: The website connecting Kiwi kids with the outdoors again
80369 2017-11-22 00:00:00Z Life in NZ

Wild Eyes: The website connecting Kiwi kids with t…

by Sharon Stephenson

A website that creates “backyard missions” for Kiwi kids is dragging digital natives back outdoors.

Read more
New casual fine-diner Lillius opens in Eden Terrace
83392 2017-11-21 09:11:50Z Dining

New casual fine-diner Lillius opens in Eden Terrac…

by Kate Richards

Hospitality pros Shannon Vandy and Fraser McCarthy offer a new fine-dining eatery with a no-waste approach

Read more
Why #MeToo isn't taking off in Asia
83353 2017-11-21 00:00:00Z World

Why #MeToo isn't taking off in Asia

by Anna Fifield

Making sexual harassment unacceptable in Asia will require huge cultural shifts.

Read more
The rise of the social enterprise
83384 2017-11-21 00:00:00Z Business

The rise of the social enterprise

by Sally Blundell

A new breed of business, the social enterprise, is more intent on benefiting the community and protecting the environment than on maximising profit.

Read more
Best for who? The pressure on school leavers to choose university
83358 2017-11-20 15:22:07Z Education

Best for who? The pressure on school leavers to ch…

by Nicole Barratt

Thousands of school leavers will make big decisions this month, but a pressure brewing for years has skewed the decision-making process for some.

Read more
Dominatrix: The Renee Chignell story
83339 2017-11-20 12:58:50Z Crime

Dominatrix: The Renee Chignell story

by Donna Chisholm

Former teen dominatrix Renée Chignell was once NZ's most infamous woman. She talked to Metro in 2009 about one of the country's most notorious murders

Read more
Drugs in small town NZ: 'It's easier to get meth than cannabis'
83326 2017-11-20 11:23:30Z Crime

Drugs in small town NZ: 'It's easier to get meth t…

by Tim Brown

Meth is no longer a big city problem. Otago's sleepy Clutha District is awash with the drug - but there aren't enough addiction services to help.

Read more
Rebecca Gibney’s thriller Wanted is heading for our hills
83324 2017-11-20 11:19:10Z Books

Rebecca Gibney’s thriller Wanted is heading for ou…

by Russell Baillie

The second season of Wanted comes to NZ as the creators find out whether the show has won the International Emmy Award for best drama series.

Read more