The Killing of Josephine
“I wanted to know how it felt“
Josephine lived in a small, rural town in the south of Sweden. There she attended the Montessori School in mixed classes with boys and girls between the ages of 13 and 15 years. On the morning of this May date, Josephine walked to school as she has every other morning since school began. There was nothing remarkable about that Tuesday morning. However, that day has become quite remarkable in minds of all who live in Sweden.
Josephine failed to return from school. Fear gripped the hearts of her family. By that evening, her parents asked the police to help them locate their missing 13-year-old daughter. Their efforts were of little comfort as they found no trace of Josephine. In another part of town, a woman was walking her dog in a nearby field when she found a stone covered with blood.
The next day, of this May date, Josephine is found. She has been brutally killed just outside her hometown. She had been beaten to death on the spot where she was found. The murder weapon was the bloody stone.
The day after she was murdered, her school held a Memorial Service for Josephine. Over 500 parents, students and teachers attended. One of them was especially eager to comfort his fellow classmates in mourning Josephine’s death. It was her murderer.
At first the police were looking into similarities with another case from two years earlier, but that produced no leads or suspects. Then just a few weeks after the killing, they announced that they had taken a 15-year-old boy into custody. He was her friend and classmate.
“I wanted to know how it felt” [to kill someone]. These words of confession were splashed across the pages of tabloids. The police investigation contains 1,360 frightening pages. It is a document about a seriously mentally disturbed person, lacking empathy and inspired by violent movies. The killer confessed that he had killed his classmate. They had been biking outside their hometown in the woods. The boy wanted to show Josephine some hills he had gone biking through when he was in the fourth grade, Josephine watched the beautiful scenery. On their way up to the hill, he was struck by the thought, “I wonder…” He saw a stone on the ground, later it was found to be 2.6 kilograms. He took the stone and threw it at the back of Josephine’s head, knocking her to the ground. She screamed. He then repeatedly hit her in the head with the same stone until she was quiet. He threw away the murder weapon, and rode his bike back to town. That night, he joined the search party that the police organized to look for Josephine. For the next three weeks, the murderer continued to attend school and comfort his grieving classmates and no one suspected his dark secret.
During the hearing the boy admitted thinking “what the hell am I doing” while hitting the girl. The boy faced murder charges.
Reading through the articles about this terrible incident makes one wonder – could this have been prevented? [Assessment Certification Training of At-Risk Students] Some of the boy’s school-teachers call him cuddlesome, while others call him frightening.
It is a fact however, that he was very much inspired of violent movies. During a reading assignment about the cycle of nature, the class was asked to illustrate their feelings. While other members of the class were drawing flowers and other plants, this future killer was drawing a picture of a man sitting on top of a victim, killing the victim with a knife.
At a glossary test two days before the arrest, the boy had been writing the wordFEAR in big letters, also the word JUDGMENT was written.
One of his teachers admits that she saw the boy as “a ticking bomb”. If she said something to him, i.e. “go to your place”, his eyes turned black.
Another teacher told about the boy’s big interest in weapons. When he had the chance, he searched the Internet for different weapons.
We will never know if this incident could have been prevented. We have to learn from it – to stop future terrible actions. The last three – four years Sweden have seen the development of child killers, from 4-5 years and up. From brutal knife stabbings, to fatal school shootings, to gang wars. We are a part of the violent world now, and it is not with happy eyes one can see this fact.
Bo Munthe,School Safety Professional
Safe Schools Europe.org
Member of IASSP-International Association of School Safety Professionals-First Prime AB
Uppköparvägen 7 S-120 44 Årsta
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