The minister, his wife, their nanny and a double murder

 

SWEDEN:Since January 10th, Swedes have been glued to their television sets and the country's tabloid newspapers following the murder of a Pentecostal minister's wife and the attempted murder of the minister's neighbour.

The minister's nanny has admitted shooting dead the wife and shooting the neighbour but claims she was directed to do so by the minister. It has since emerged that the minister was having an affair with the neighbour's wife while simultaneously having an affair with the nanny.

This week, the court case began and a story of manipulation through sex and religion in the small village of Knutby, north of Stockholm, has started to unfold. The Swedes are talking about little else.

The nanny, 27-year-old Sara Svensson, arrived in the sleepy village of Knutby in 1999. She married soon after but the marriage lasted only two years. In that time, she began seeing more and more of the minister, 32-year-old Helge Fossmo.

In court this week, Ms Svensson described how Mr Fossmo had found jobs for her so that he could be closer to her. Mr Fossmo had three children from an earlier marriage and Ms Svensson eventually became their nanny.

In time, she began sleeping with the minister but Mr Fossmo assured her that they were not being unfaithful since their love was another kind of love, a "heavenly love" and that they were carrying out acts of God.

In the summer of 2001, Mr Fossmo claimed to have a mysterious illness which he believed was the devil attempting to attack his soul. Ms Svensson seemed to be the only one who could calm him from his uncontrollable fits and she moved in to live with the minister.

Mr Fossmo's wife, Alexandra Fossmo, moved into the guest room while Ms Svensson slept with Mr Fossmo every night to help him in his battle with the devil. "Each night we were winning a victory for God's will through sexual intercourse," Ms Svensson told the court.

The Pentecostal congregation did not approve and blamed Ms Svensson for tempting Mr Fossmo from his wife. She was isolated from the rest of the congregation.

Ms Svensson broke down in tears in court on several occasions while describing how Mr Fossmo slowly and methodically manipulated her.

"In the evenings, I was with the minister in the bedroom where we had a sexual relationship," she said. "Otherwise, my relationship with him was that I was a slave and he was my master. I had no will of my own. During almost all of 2003, I was locked away because I was so incorrigible. God had turned his back on me and I sought mercy."

Only Mr Fossmo loved her, she believed. She told the court that in late 2003, Mr Fossmo had told her that he had spoken to God and that it was God's wish that his wife Alexandra be taken to heaven. Ms Svensson then received a series of anonymous text messages on her mobile phone claiming that she should kill Mr Fossmo's wife.

Police investigations have revealed that the text messages came from Helge Fossmo himself.With the village of Knutby against her, Sara Svensson was perplexed. Mr Fossmo reassured her that carrying out the deed would be her salvation. He then added another victim's name to the list - Daniel Linde. Mr Fossmo had begun having an affair with Mr Linde's wife.

On January 10th this year, Sara Svensson went into Alexandra Fossmo's room and shot her dead while she was sleeping. She then went next door and shot Mr Linde in the face. The bullet split his jaw and four teeth but he survived the attack.

Helge Fossmo has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him but the story doesn't end there. Mr Fossmo's first wife died in 1999 in what was then described as a bathtub incident. Police reopened the case and discovered that the blow to her head could not have been caused by a fall and that she had a potentially lethal dose of the drug Dexofan in her system when she died.

Mr Fossmo has also been charged with her murder but the trial hasn't got that far yet. The public is also waiting with much anticipation to hear the evidence of Alexandra Fossmo's older sister, Ms Åsa Waldau.

Ms Waldau is the leader of the Pentecostal congregation in Knutby and is known in the village as the Bride of Christ. While she hasn't been charged with any crime, her name consistently appears in the police's investigation and residents speak of her enormous influence on the village. Some residents claim that she even determines the sexual conduct of many villagers.

The speculation continues as to what link she may have to the tragic events on January 10th. The court case is expected to take three more weeks - and the Swedish population will be following every word.