The Serial Killer Has Second Thoughts: The Confessions of Thomas Quick
July 30, 2013 7:04 PM   Subscribe

In a remote psychiatric hospital in Sweden, there is a man known as Thomas Quick who has been convicted of unspeakable crimes. Over the course of multiple trials, he would tell his brutal stories—of stabbings, stranglings, rape, incest, cannibalism—to almost anyone who would listen. Then, after his eighth and final murder conviction, he went silent for nearly a decade. In the last few years, though, he has been thinking about all he has said and done, and now he has something new to confess: He left out the worst part of all.
posted by porn in the woods (32 comments total) 43 users marked this as a favorite
 
I look forward to the day when Bergwall sues the state for millions and millions of kronor. One of the absolutely worst legal scandals in Sweden's history where pretty much all professionals involved - lawyers, police, prosecutors, judges, media, psychiatrists, etc - failed at their jobs. Säter, the institution where Sture Bergwall is being held (I doubt that they are offering him actual treatment), still insists on diagnosing him as a sexual deviant and danger to society on some very shaky grounds.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 7:20 PM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've seen enough movies that I figured out the twist before reading the article. It was very predictable. Note: not being snarky.
posted by Justinian at 7:32 PM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Seems appropriate to be reading this while dealing with this season of The Killing.
posted by Flashman at 7:33 PM on July 30, 2013


Just think of all the murderers who got away with it because "Thomas Quick" took the rap. THAT'S the scariest part.
posted by oneswellfoop at 7:35 PM on July 30, 2013 [18 favorites]


still insists on diagnosing him as a sexual deviant and danger to society on some very shaky grounds.

He might not be a murderer, but what definition of sexual deviant doesn't include serial sexual assaults on children as young as nine?
posted by winna at 7:41 PM on July 30, 2013 [15 favorites]


Thomas Quick's lawyer, the one that let him confess to all those murders he didn't commit, has since become the lawyer of the two women who accused Julian Assange of sexual assault.

I'm not really sure what to make of that, if anything.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:47 PM on July 30, 2013 [10 favorites]


That was an amazing read. Thomas reminds me of myself in a lot of ways, and it makes me thankful that I don't have access to benzos.
posted by Teakettle at 7:50 PM on July 30, 2013



I look forward to the day when Bergwall sues the state for millions and millions of kronor. One of the absolutely worst legal scandals in Sweden's history where pretty much all professionals involved - lawyers, police, prosecutors, judges, media, psychiatrists, etc - failed at their jobs. Säter, the institution where Sture Bergwall is being held (I doubt that they are offering him actual treatment), still insists on diagnosing him as a sexual deviant and danger to society on some very shaky grounds.


He did rape some children and almost stab a man to death, even assuming he didn't actually murder anyone (which I am not at all sure of, based on that article).
posted by empath at 7:57 PM on July 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


That was a crazy story. Every part of it surprised me (but I'm not good at detecting twists). I'm surprised it's not a movie yet.
posted by bleep at 8:03 PM on July 30, 2013


Just got done reading this, pretty crazy stuff.
posted by turbid dahlia at 8:16 PM on July 30, 2013


makes me thankful that I don't have access to benzos

Hear that Metafilter? Do not feed the troll benzos!
posted by Mr. Yuck at 8:53 PM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Previously on Metafilter: "Thomas Quick: the Swedish serial killer who never was"
posted by andoatnp at 9:00 PM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Thomas Quick's lawyer, the one that let him confess to all those murders he didn't commit, has since become the lawyer of the two women who accused Julian Assange of sexual assault.

I'm not really sure what to make of that, if anything.


Something's rotten in the state north of Denmark.
posted by jamjam at 9:07 PM on July 30, 2013


Nice piece, thanks for linking. Felt like the writer was fair, and ambiguous about the whole thing.
posted by smoke at 9:09 PM on July 30, 2013


This story is also covered in John Ronson's book The Psychopath Test.
posted by gentian at 9:12 PM on July 30, 2013


still insists on diagnosing him as a sexual deviant and danger to society on some very shaky grounds.

He might not be a murderer, but what definition of sexual deviant doesn't include serial sexual assaults on children as young as nine?


Yeah, word. Plus the attempted murder.
posted by Diablevert at 9:32 PM on July 30, 2013


Fascinating story. Thanks for the link.
posted by brundlefly at 9:46 PM on July 30, 2013


That was truly fascinating.

After this, plus the Stieg Larsson trilogy, I'm intrigued by the machinations of the Swedish criminal justice system.
posted by Salamander at 9:56 PM on July 30, 2013


Salamander: "After this, plus the Stieg Larsson trilogy, I'm intrigued by the machinations of the Swedish criminal justice system."

Scandinavian justice systems are actually very good. That's precisely the reason why we get so good at detecting when they fail. Americans, on the other hand, just live with and don't even notice the massive daily failures of their justice system.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 10:13 PM on July 30, 2013 [16 favorites]


Farnsworth says it best.
posted by smallerdemon at 10:31 PM on July 30, 2013


One thing that bothered me about this story that I kept waiting to be addressed:

Bergwall confessed to eight murders all over Sweden and Norway. According to the story, he found out about them while in a mental institution by researching at the library and through newspaper accounts.

Was he actually in these places when the murders occurred? Some of these locations are 1000+ kilometers apart. Does he have an alibi for any of them? Even if he was a loner, it would be quite a coincidence to have been doing nothing, by himself in the vicinity of all 8 murders.
posted by justkevin at 11:15 PM on July 30, 2013


Just think of all the murderers who got away with it because "Thomas Quick" took the rap. THAT'S the scariest part.

I've always felt that cops and prosecutors who frame or participate in framing an innocent person ought to be tried as accomplices after the fact to the original crime. Withhold evidence? Fabricate evidence? Ignore evidence? To jail with you.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:21 PM on July 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


I've always felt that cops and prosecutors who frame or participate in framing an innocent person ought to be tried as accomplices after the fact to the original crime. Withhold evidence? Fabricate evidence? Ignore evidence? To jail with you.

But in cases like this, are the prosecutors and psychologists, etc., really to blame? They should have been better at their jobs, sure, but maybe they are just victims of this guy's delusions and their own desire to figure things out. Knowing nothing about the story except what's in the GQ article, I have to wonder whether they were framed by Quick/Bergwall or whether he was framed by them?

Also, even if what he says is completely true, he seems to still be certifiably crazy.
posted by gjc at 3:12 AM on July 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


Previously.
posted by arcticseal at 8:05 AM on July 31, 2013


Charges dropped.

Now he's going about securing his release from the psychiatric wing where he's being held.
posted by Talez at 8:42 AM on July 31, 2013


It sounds like this is a case of accidental collusion on the part of law enforcement, rather than deliberate.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:19 AM on July 31, 2013


Bergwall did molest children while working at Falu Hospital in 1969; he did stab a man in 1974 while still being in the care of the Swedish mental health care system; and he did commit a robbery (amongst other things) in 1991. But it's important to keep in mind that Bergwall hasn't been institutionalized for 23 years because of these crimes, but rather because he was found guilty of multiple murders, which he has now been completely acquitted of. As bad as his actual crimes have been, he's paid for those crimes. No need to further punish him for crimes that he didn't commit. I'm not saying that Bergwall must be released this instant, just that he deserves an unbiased evaluation - one which I doubt Säter can provide - promptly.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 9:58 AM on July 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


It sounds like this is a case of accidental collusion on the part of law enforcement, rather than deliberate.

Agreed. There's a vast difference between what seems to have happened here and the actual framing of an innocent person based on a coerced confession, falsified evidence or exclusion of exculpatory evidence, etc.
posted by scody at 12:22 PM on July 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


Just think of all the murderers who got away with it because "Thomas Quick" took the rap. THAT'S the scariest part.

In America., more now than in the old days.
posted by IndigoJones at 2:49 PM on July 31, 2013


No need to further punish him for crimes that he didn't commit.

I'm a little confused on this point. Is he being held in a mental hospital because he is insane and has a history of violence (e.g., the knife attack, the pedophilac assaults) or because he was sentenced to the place after being found guilty of murder(s)? How does this work in Sweden? Also, is there a Swedish version of "not guilty by reason of insanity" and, if so, did this factor at all in any of his trials or sentencings?

(Also, I am reminded of Henry Lee Lucas.)
posted by CCBC at 3:42 PM on July 31, 2013


Salamander: Scandinavian justice systems are actually very good

We used to think so, but this affair has shaken people's faith in the system a bit. When smaller scandals surfaced, we used to think of them as isolated accidents, fixable by replacing a few people. The Quick case, however, is probably the most prominent and well-reported criminal case we've ever had. Several badly tainted people belong to the country's utmost legal elite, a small group where many of the members have close personal ties, also extending into the political sphere:

Claes Borgström (Quick's attorney) used to be the national Ombudsman against gender-based discrimination. Göran Lambertz (who made a sloppy post-trial investigation and sided with the prosecution) sits on our Supreme court and was the Chancellor of Justice (something like State's Attorney) 2001-2009.

gjc: But in cases like this, are the prosecutors and psychologists, etc., really to blame?

Yes, because they went against protocol and good practice, suppressing dissenters and counter-evidence, conflating treatment with criminal investigation, and asking so many leading questions that Quick was able reconstruct a convincing testimony in each of the eight cases. The descriptions in Hannes Råstam's book are frightening. This was the ultimate career case, and the prosecution invested enormous amounts of prestige in one particular outcome.

The ones who shouldn't be blamed too heavily are the courts that first convicted Quick. They were given rotten investigation reports and testimonies, and there wasn't any defense to speak about.
posted by springload at 6:08 PM on July 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


Salamander: "After this, plus the Stieg Larsson trilogy, I'm intrigued by the machinations of the Swedish criminal justice system."

Scandinavian justice systems are actually very good. That's precisely the reason why we get so good at detecting when they fail. Americans, on the other hand, just live with and don't even notice the massive daily failures of their justice system.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 10:13 PM on July 30 [15 favorites +] [!]


Oh, I didn't mean that in a critical way - I've studied criminal justice so I have a general interest, and these books and article have piqued my curiosity.

(I'm not American, either.)
posted by Salamander at 7:46 PM on July 31, 2013


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