For Jonas Ericsson, a junior prosecutor with the Swedish Prosecution Authority, the story began in Stockholm on Valentines Day, 2012, and ended a week later in New Orleans, USA, on the twenty-first day of February.
At short notice Ericsson asked his secretary to cancel a number of upcoming appointments. He then booked two weeks leave.
Five days later he landed in the United States.
The day before Mardi Gras.
Ericsson’s precise movements up to the moment he boarded a Scandinavian Airlines flight out of Stockholm Arlanda Airport, bound for New York, are not known. Not thought pivotal to the ongoing investigation.
There were no leads to his whereabouts. No witness to his murder in New Orleans.
A passer-by thought they saw a figure in the midst of fire-cracker smoke, close to the murder scene; a secluded spot behind a row of dumpsters in a dead-end alleyway some distance off the main drag.
Their testimony came to nothing.
A year on there have been no arrests. No charges.
I became very familiar with the Ericsson case whilst working for Aftonbladet.
I’m working on a book now. I reckon Hämnande Ängeln has a ring to it. Most folk love an avenging angel story.
It’s no more than a sketchy synopsis at present. A few thousand words that serve as a reminder to myself, my prose is at times, too florid. Take for example the following passage.
No sooner seen the masked figure was lost to the crowd. One of thousands disguised. Swept along. Revellers. Drinkers. People dancing. Women baring their breasts.
Men, drawn by the promise of baroque-like pleasure become easy prey.
Rapt by the impromptu blink-or-you’ll- miss-it flesh-fest. A small army of pickpockets never slack at boon time.
Mardi Gras in the deep south. A carnival that only really gets going after dark. Where streets heave and roll with alcohol and drugs and the prospect of sex. Where balconies throng, bursting with cash replete all-night party-goers looking down on the cash-poor pot-pourri of the hoi polloi below.
Hedonistic thrill-seekers on the lookout for the next high.
Every orientation acting out on this the most iconic of nights. A night to cast care aside. A short night of freedom followed closely by a long morning of regret…
I know. I need help. Last time I phoned my former mentor; Sweden’s most feted investigative journalist, he said to me, “Anders, focus on the facts. What you know. Cease your lurid fantasising. Speculation. You’re writing an exposé for God’s sake!”
Now I stick to facts and gather paperwork. Reams of it. Only a few days ago I got my hands on a copy of the New Orleans Chief Medical Examiner’s report.
Jonas Ericsson, it says, bled for around fifteen minutes before his heart stopped.
Within a week of his catastrophic cardiac arrest news broke about the late government employee. The authorities announced Ericsson would have served twenty years minimum, had he boarded a flight back home to Stockholm that is.
A file so thick it got dubbed Fettisdagen (Fat Tuesday) landed with a thud on the desk of the Rikspolischefen, believe it or not, on Fat Tuesday.
It arrived at Police HQ by courier. Courtesy of an unknown source.
Ericsson’s assassin it was presumed.
Twenty plus years behind bars for Jonas had he not had his hands and feet bound. His neck constricted by a garrotte. His throat plugged with a fatty ball of pancake-like material (forensic analysis later showed the grease ball was in fact, pancake).
Pancake held in place by a gag.
Twenty years inside, running the gauntlet, had Ericsson not had his testicles removed, bled out. His heart run dry.
I have learned from an inside source at some considerable expense that a few days earlier, on 14th February 2012; Valentines Day to be precise, Ericsson picked up a bundle of post at his Stockholm apartment in the fashionable district of Kungsholmen. His mail that day consisted of four items. Three were easily identifiable.
The fourth looked and felt like a greetings card.
The pink envelope with whimsical grey teddy bears on it contained a Valentines card.
The message read:
Roses are red
Violets are blue
I kill pervs
God help you
The Swedish National Bureau of Investigation discovered the Valentine Day card in Ericsson’s apartment.
The card bore no postmark.
Closed Circuit Television cameras trained on the foyer, where mail boxes are located along the length of one wall, indicated the sender was a slim blonde woman, wearing heels and dark sunglasses.
A disguise they assumed.
As of today, 15th February 2013, the identity of this woman, the Bureau’s number one suspect in the Jonas Ericsson murder case, remains a mystery. Ostensibly for domestic consumption, but nevertheless vital for reasons of Cross-Atlantic diplomacy, Swedish serious crime fighters are said to be keeping an open mind. Cooperating on a number of lines of enquiry with their counterparts in the NOPD.
No official statement from the investigators since April of last year, when, at a press conference, Senior Prosecutor, Beatrice Sjöström, made a short statement.
The Bureau was currently following up leads, she told journalists, in counties as far afield as
Norrbotten and Södermanland, Uppsala and Jämtland.
Not a word since. Not even a sound-bite on SVT1.
Sjöström has a working theory; Jonas Ericsson was not murdered by some local crazy (as favoured by the NOPD) but executed by a Swedish national or at the very least, Ericsson was slain by someone who followed him to the US from Stockholm.
I concur with the Senior Prosecutor.
Sjöström refuses to comment on the ‘justice’, as some of the newspapers would have it, metered out to Jonas Ericsson for his alleged sex crimes. Crimes which have subsequently been meticulously investigated and substantiated to the satisfaction of the National Bureau.
“I am not paid to pass judgement,” Sjöström was quoted as saying.
Off camera that is.
Svenska Dagbladet ran a story headlined ‘Hämnande Ängeln’ a phrase now synonymous with the case and hence the working title of my book. Subsequently the online edition of Svenska Dagbladet was forced to close its comments section when the volume of comments posted could no longer be adequately moderated.
Such was the strength of feeling in favour of the avenging angel.
One wag remarked, whoever had dispatched Jonas Ericsson was a national hero because they had single-handedly saved Swedish tax-payers a smorgasbord of krona.
I have no interest in this angle to the story.
I write about serious crime. I investigate unsolved murders.
Wind forward almost one year.
Stockholm, 10th February 2013.
I had by then got the push at Aftonbladet and said se dig omkring to my long-suffering girlfriend, Agnetha.
It was the start of the Chinese New Year. Fettisdagen and Valentines Day were around the corner and oh yes, there was an asteroid heading for Earth.
So they said.
Portents some might argue.
Something bad is bound to happen.
Today is the 15th February 2013.
The bad thing happened yesterday and all the news channels are still headlining the story.
On Valentines Day, former television presenter, Stefan Wilander, died of a broken heart.
Snake poison, it seems, is not good for cardiac function.
When handlers from Skansen Zoo had removed seventeen venomous snakes from Wilander’s apartment, officers of the Bureau stepped in. Removed Stefan’s trussed, bound and gagged corpse from the murder scene.
Whilst these facts are being repeated ad infinitum on live news channels, Dagens Nyheter has this morning’s newsprint exclusive.
Five days ago a woman walked into a tattoo parlour in the Old Town, asked for a snake tattoo on her calf muscle. She wants the snake done in red, she says to the Tattooist, the legend ‘Kill Nian’ inked in an oriental typeface woven in and out of the serpents coils.
The tattooist asks his new client who is Nian?
The beast, the woman replies and adds, a red snake will be her good luck charm. Help protect her from all the evil.
The woman is blonde. She is wearing light-reflecting sunglasses. She matches the description of Jonas Ericsson’s mystery Valentine.
There is more. My inside man at the Swedish National Bureau of Investigation, Henrik Svensson, recently forwarded me, in return for another hefty back-hander, a witness testimony taken by the New Orleans Police Department. Bubba Mason, a Tattooist in New Orleans claimed that on the morning of Mardi Gras 2012, a blonde woman with a Scandinavian type accent, wearing dark sunglasses, came into his shop and leafed through some design books before she helped herself to one of his business cards.
She spoke to him briefly but did not return.
Mason told the NOPD the ‘cute looking lady’ who said her name was Pippi Longstocking, left the design catalogue open at page twelve.
Dagens Nyheter knows nothing about the New Orleans Tattooist, so I have a head start.
I might use this scoop as leverage to get my old job back at Aftonbladet. I don’t think this freelance game is ever going to work out.
First though I need a quote, a cherry to top the cake when I go seal the deal with Aftonbladet.
I phone my old mentor, Mikael Blomqvist.
The call goes straight to answer phone.