In english

Introduction

da Costa-arkivet/The da Costa archive is a collection of documents connected to the infamous Swedish legal case ”Styckmordet” or ”the cutting-up murder” or ”dismemberment case”,  a series of trials in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Two doctors, Thomas Allgén and Teet Härm, were accused of killing and dismembering a 28-year old prostitute, Catrine da Costa in 1984. The first trial, in the Stockolm District Court took place in January-March of 1988, a second in May-July 1988 and a third trial in 1991, this time in the Administrative Court, in which the doctors were deprived of their doctors’ licenses. Today it is widely believed that the two doctors were innocent, and victims of a miscarriage of justice.

The archive
The archive includes over 7,000 documents, articles, essays, material from the police investigation, legal papers and much more. It is open to students, journalists, researchers, or anyone who wishes to learn more about the case. Some sections of the archive however, are closed to the public in order to protect the privacy of individuals. A majority of the material is in Swedish language only, some articles written in 1984-1991 in English and other languages can be read in the foreign articles section of the archive.

Any questions regarding the material can be directed to dacosta.arkivet@gmail.com
Contributions to the archive, in the form of articles and other documents, in Swedish or non-Swedish is also welcome.

The blogg
The blogg which uses the same name as the archive, is updated almost on a weekly basis, and describes the current developments of the case and new updates to the archive.

The dismemberment case/Cutting-up murder

  1. Catrine da Costa
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Catrine da Costa, unknown date.

Catrine was born in Luleå in 1956, her family later moved to Solna outside of Stockholm. During her school years she began using soft drugs, and by the mid 70s Catrine was a homeless heroin-addict who worked as a prostitute in Stockolm City, at the infamous Malmskillnadsgatan.

In 1979 Catrine travelled to Coimbra, Portugal, where she met a Portugese man, ”J” da Costa with whom she married and had a child with. The marriage begin to fall apart as Catrine is unable to quit her drug habits. It was agreed that Catrine should move back to Sweden with their son, but in Sweden social authorities quickly took custody of the child.

Catrine returned to Portugal in 1983 and came back in early 1984, she is in somewhat better shape, but the marriage to JdC is definitely over and a divorce is planned.  During the next few months Catrine descends into drug abuse and prostitution, she overdoses on several occasions and seems to accept customers other women would avoid. In mid June 1984, Catrine disappears, and on July 18th 1984, two black plastic bags with human remains are discovered in a parking lot near Karlbergparken at Talludden in Solna, hidden under tree foliage.

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A neatly folded towel was found next to the plastic bags at Talludden, of the Irish brand ”Green Hills Fashion Towels”. It was only sold in a few places in Sweden.  Several strains of hair were found on it, one belonging to Catrine da Costa, the others to unknown men. An Irish worker is known to have been employed at a company near the second finding, but the ownership and background of the towel is still a mystery.

In August more body parts in dark plastic bags were discovered along a road in an industrial area about 2 kilometers from the first findings, hidden under tall grass close to a fence. Although the head was never found, the body was identified as Catrine, and the search for her killer would lead to the greatest legal scandal in modern Swedish history.

2. The ”general practitioner” and the ”Pathologist”

The ”pathologist”

 

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The ”Pathologist” Teet Härm (b. 1955) and his wife Anne-Catherine.

In August 1984, the police came in contact with a man who suggested that they should investigate his former son in law, the 30-year old forensic doctor Teet Härm. Härm had been married to Anne-Catherine, who tragically ended her life in 1982 by suffocating herself by tying herself to a bedpost. Her father implied to the police that Härm might be Catrine da Costa’s murderer, he was also convinced that Härm had staged his daughter’s suicide. Among some policemen at the Stockholm Våldsrotel, or Murder Commission, suspicions also still lingered that he had killed his young wife. According to Anne-Catherines father, Teet had contacts with prostitutes, after some sporadic investigations Teet was arrested at work in early December of 1984. The media attention reached great heights, the arrest was described as ”sensational solution in the dismemberment murder”. For a few weeks details about the arrested doctor and rumors flourished in the press, but the police had nothing and Teet was released from jail.

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British tabloid press: ”Vampire doctor”.

Teet was now suspended from work, images of him had been printed in Nordic newspapers, it was easy to identify the man who supposedly prowled the streets for victims among scared prostitutes. This madman, a modern ”Jack the Ripper”, now had a name created by the press, ”obducenten”, or the ”pathologist”. Among those who believed Teet was guilty was Professor Jovan Rajs, Teet’s own supervisor at the Station. Rajs wrote a statement in which he believed a pathologist or expert had cut Catrine. He would play an important role in the future of the case. In 1985 the Teet, now dubbed the ”pathologist” tried to committ suicide, he survived but lost much of his hearing.

 

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A typical front page of the 1980s: ”Stop the pathologist”.

The general practitioner/Allmänläkaren

A second doctor was added to the investigation in the mid 1980s, Thomas Allgén, a general practitioner who had met Teet Härm on a couple of occassions in the 1980s. His wife, seemingly unhappy with the marriage, levelled serious accusations against her husband. According to her,  Thomas had sexually abused their young daughter, as time passed the allegations became even more serious, Thomas and Teet Härm had participated in a ritual butchery in which Catrine da Costa had been severed and cut up at the Forensic Station in Solna, including bizarre sexual abuse, homosexuality, and even cannibalism. The event had been photographed and Thomas young daughter had witnessed it all, at an age of 1 1/2 years. The mother allegedly began hearing strange things from her daughter in the mid 80s, an ”Uncle Tomt” seemed to be a strange and sinister person, soon ”Uncle Tomt” (Tomt is ”Santa” in Swedish”) evolved into ”Uncle Teet”, according to the testimony of the mother.

Some policemen doubted the credibility of this story, but others saw new evidence to convict Teet Härm, or the ”pathologist”. Two hired experts, a child psychiatrist and psychologist, Frank Lindblad and Margareta Erixon wrote a statement in which they claimed that the child could have witnessed a cutting up murder.

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Frank Lindblad and Margareta Erixon.

In late October 1987, Teet Härm was once again arrested, with his former colleague being held in custody a few weeks earlier. Once again media coverage was immense, with many parts of the investigation leaking to the media. Swedish readers could divulge in bizarre details about clandestine societies who traded images of dismembered bodies, or how perverted the two men were.

The trial

During 1987 and 1988 several new witnesses made contact with the police, a ”photo-couple” who claimed that Thomas Allgén had visited their photoshop in Solna and wanted to develop images of a cut up body received nationwide attention. An elderly lady who  claimed that she remembered how the doctors entered a building near the Forensic Station with a small child. A policewoman who claimed she had seen Teet with Catrine da Costa on a subway train. These testimonies, of dubious quality, were presented during the trial which began in January 1988. No technical evidence was ever found or presented, but the court found the doctors to be guilty.  Several critial mistakes forced a mistrail, when Svea High Court intervened.

A second trial began shortly afterwards, with a few new witnesses, among them ”The Diary Witness”, a friend of Catrine who claimed that Catrine had told her of two perverted doctors, supposedly Teet and Thomas. She presented a diary that since then is lost, later doubts were risen about the authenticity of the diary. During both trials, feminist activist and author Hanna Olsson got involved and criticized the Chief Prosecutor Anders Helin, for not including testimonies by prostitute women, Teet Härm had according to himself visited prostitutes on a small number of occasions in the early 1980s. Olsson later wrote a famous book called ”Catrine och Rättvisan”/”Catrine and the justice”, in which she claimed that the doctors were guilty and were acquitted because of their upper-class status.

Hanna Olsson

Hanna Olsson (b. 1944), in 1992 she was made Honorary Doctor at Umeå University.

The doctors were found not guilty, but in the grounds of the verdict it was mentioned that the court had found ”beyond any reasonably doubt” that the doctors had cut up Catrine’s body. In Sweden it is impossible to overturn an acquitall. The grounds for verdict basically implicated that they had cut up a body, and in the mind of the public also murdered the victim. As a result, Teet and Thomas were de-legitimized as doctors in 1991, when Kammarrätten, or the Administrative Court ruled against them.

 

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”Death is a man”

In 1999 the book ”Döden är en man”/”Death is a man” by author and journalist Per Lindeberg was published after 5 years of research, he argued that the doctors were innocent and victims of miscarriage of justice. Much of the evidence was fabricated he claimed, and a great debate followed, which would last decades. A new police-investigation was launched but failed to find any new evidence as to what happened to Catrine. Several new trials took place, as the doctors tried to receive compensation for their sufferings, but to no avail.

More than 30 years have passed since the summer of 1984, when the murder of Catrine was unveiled, since then thousands of articles, several books, plays, documentaries, art, songs, poems and essays have been inspired by the case. However, still no justice has been given to Catrine or the doctors.

Links
Author Per Lindeberg’s summary at Mediemordet.com
”Swedish ”slasher-doctors out of luck” article by Patrik Nyberg
Murder of Catrine da Costa at Wikipedia
”Children of the Ripper” by Jan Bondesson
”A case of alleged cutting up murder” by Lennart Sjöberg
”The real life murder that inspired Stieg Larsson” by Julie Bindel