Urban Höglin and Heidi Paakkonen (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Just after I arrived in NZ there was quite a sensational murder mystery that unfolded. The “Swedish Backpacker Murders” And the Starring role was taken by one David Wayne Tamihere. Today I was reading an “exclusive” article in Metro Magazine, adn so it’s time I got my thoughts together on this. For me.
David TAMIHERE was convicted of the 1972 Murder/Manslaughter of Mary Barcham, 23 (stripper), by Hitting her on the head with a rifle.
Also assaulted a 62 year old woman in her home in 1985.
Also has some other sexual assault and assault convictions on record, including a conviction for assaulting another woman in her home in the 1980s
And so to the 1989 conviction of Murder of Sven Urban Höglin, 23, and his fiancée Heidi Birgitta Paakkonen, 21, both from, Sweden, travelling in NZ as tourists. For which he was sentenced to life imprisonment with a 10-year non-parole period in December 1990.
The body of Heidi Birgitta Paakkonen remains missing at this time.
Some of the background;
On 8 April 1989, backpacking tourists Höglin and Paakkonen from Storfors, Sweden went into the bush near Thames. They vanished and were reported missing in May.
The disappearance led to an intense police investigation under the name Operation Stockholm, and attracted substantial media interest. Police, local residents, search and rescue and military personnel carried out the largest land-based search undertaken in New Zealand, performing grid-searches centred on Crosbie’s Clearing, 12 km from Thames.
Tamihere, a fugitive for skipping bail for a 1986 rape, admitted stealing the Subaru car belonging to the couple. There was only one known key to the car that was found in the possession of David Tamihere, and he claims to have broken into the car with a bit of #8 wire and found the key in the glovebox. It would seem that there are 3 “experts” who were unable to replicate the feat of getting into the car with the same method.
He was arrested, and tried for their murder starting in October 1990. At the trial three witnesses (fellow inmates of Tamihere’s, granted name suppression by the court) gave evidence that Tamihere had confessed the murder to them.
Two trampers also identified Tamihere as a man they saw with a woman believed to be Paakkonen in a remote clearing. The court also heard Tamihere tied Höglin to a tree and sexually abused him before raping Paakkonen.
In October 1991, ten months after the conviction, pig hunters discovered the body of Höglin near Whangamata; Paakkonen’s body has never been found. Höglin’s body was recovered 73 km from where police alleged the murders took place.
With the body was a watch which police claimed at his trial Tamihere had given to his son following the murders. Discovery of the body also contradicted the testimony of a (Secret) prosecution witness who said Tamihere had confessed to cutting up the bodies and throwing them into the ocean.
I understand from reading an article in Metro Magazine that in prison David Tamihere told various stories and variations on a theme to various people in an effort to cath outr anyone who “ratted on him”.
In the book Hard Cases, the theory Tamihere did not act alone is forwarded, on the basis that as there were no defensive cuts to the bones of his hands, Höglin may have been held from behind while being stabbed from the front.
Most bizarrely is this contention:
Documents obtained from the estate of a deceased Investigate reader have thrown new light on a 23 year old cold case – the disappearance of Swedish tourists Urban Hoglin and Heidi Paakkonen.
The couple disappeared in April 1989 on the Coromandel peninsula, and David Wayne Tamihere was arrested soon after on suspicion of their murders. The body of Urban Hoglin was subsequently found by pig-hunters at the foot of a bluff in the Coromandel ranges in 1991, but Heidi’s body has never been found.
For years it has been presumed Heidi Paakkonen is also buried somewhere in the Coromandel bush, but the documents passed to Investigate suggest that is not the case – she was last seen alive north of Auckland.
The story begins on Kawau Island in Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf, and a Christian couple’s suspicions in the mid 1980s that a local criminal with drug and organised crime connections had constructed a house complete with a large underground facility. The couple, who’d accidentally discovered the facility while visiting the property on business, felt the complex could have been used to hold people against their will, and because of its remote position primary access to the outside world was via the sea and a private jetty.
Well yes of course, secret underground lair. Having said that undoubtedly the Police did botch up parts of the case. But I would be very surprised if David Tamihere was not responsible for the killings or has other knowledge that for reasons unknown he hasn’t or will not share.
David Wayne TAMIHERE Released on parole on November 15, 2010, currently denies involvement in these murders. Current a cause célèbre with Metro Magazine and some other media outlets.