Precious little information exists about what’s known as the Atlas Vampire Murder, so named for the neighborhood in Stockholm where it took place in 1932 ... and for the gruesome crime-scene details left behind by an unknown assailant. Quite obviously, the latter is why this long-cold case is still so tantalizing.
The victim was Lilly Lindström, a 32-year-old prostitute who entertained clients in her apartment; if her spot was typical of apartments in the Atlas neighborhood, it was a small and dark abode. Her downstairs neighbor, Minnie Jansson, was a fellow sex worker who was the last person to see Lilly alive — a few days before her body was discovered, Lilly had stopped by Minnie’s apartment in search of condoms. Minnie began to worry when her friend didn’t reappear the next morning.
When the Stockholm police, alerted by a concerned Minnie, entered her apartment, they found a shocking scene:
Lilly’s body [was] face down on her bed. She was naked and her clothes were neatly folded on a chair next to the body. It was clear to the police that Lilly had been dead for 2 or 3 days, and furthermore Lilly had engaged in sexual activity right before being murdered, as police found a used condom still in Lilly’s anus.
The cause of death had been repeated blows from a blunt object to Lilly’s head. Disturbingly, later investigations revealed that most, if not all of Lilly’s blood had been drained. Saliva was also found on Lilly’s neck and body, and police soon began to fear that the blood-stained gravy ladle found in Lilly’s room had been used to drink her blood. Thus the “Atlas Vampire” got his name.
In the days before DNA evidence, investigators weren’t able to do much despite the abundance of bodily fluids left at the scene. Since it’s likely Lilly’s last customer was also her killer, some of her regular clients were questioned, but nobody was ever charged with the crime — and the question of where all her blood went remains unanswered.
The Atlas Vampire case is still intriguing enough to occupy a display case in Stockholm’s Police Museum; that’s a shot of some evidence (are those old-timey condom wrappers?) at the top of this post.
In 2007, Swedish musician Eric Malmberg released an intrumental (Hammond organs ahoy!) track whose title translates to “In Memory of Lilly Lindström.”
Image credit: “Vampirmordet 1932 Polismuseet” by Holger Ellgaard licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons