Marked for Life – Emelie Schepp

Sunday, April 15 “EMERGENCY SERVICES 112, what has happened?” “My husband’s dead…” Alarm operator Anna Bergström heard the woman’s shaking voice and quickly glanced at the corner of the computer screen in front of her. The clock showed 19:42. “Could you give me your name, please.” “Kerstin Juhlén. My husband is Hans. Hans Juhlén.” “How do you know he is dead?” “He isn’t breathing. He’s just lying there. He was lying there like that when I came home. And there’s blood…blood on the carpet,” the woman sobbed. “Are you hurt?” “No.” “Is anybody else hurt?” “No, my husband is dead.” “I understand. Where are you now?” “At home.” The woman on the other end of the phone took a deep breath.

“Can I have your address please?” “Östanvägen 204, in Lindö. It’s a yellow house. With large flower urns outside.” Anna’s fingers worked quickly across the keyboard as she sought out Östanvägen on the digital map. “I am sending you the necessary help,” she said in a calming voice. “And I want you to stay with me on the telephone until they come.” Anna didn’t get any answer. She pressed her hand against the headset. “Hello? Are you still there?” “He really is dead.” The woman sobbed again.

The sobs immediately turned into hysterical crying, then all that could be heard in the alarm service’s telephone was a long anguished scream. * * * Detective Chief Inspector Henrik Levin and Detective Inspector Maria Bolander stepped out of their Volvo in Lindö. The cold sea air from the Baltic caught Henrik’s flimsy spring jacket. He pulled the zipper up to his neck and put his hands in the pockets. On the paved driveway there was a black Mercedes together with two police cars and an ambulance. Some ways from the cordoned-off area stood another two parked cars, and judging by the lettering on their side doors, they belonged to the town’s competing newspapers. Two journalists, one from each paper, were leaning so hard against the police tape to get a better look that it stretched tautly across their down jackets. “Oh hell, what an upscale place.” Inspector Maria Bolander, or Mia as she preferred, shook her head in irritation. “Statuary even.

’’ She stared at the granite lions, then caught sight of the huge urns next to them. Henrik Levin remained silent and started to walk up the lit pathway to the house at Östanvägen 204. Small heaps of snow on the gray edging stones bore witness that winter had not yet given up. He nodded to the uniformed officer Gabriel Mellqvist who stood outside the front door, then he stamped the snow off his shoes, opened the heavy door for Mia and they both went in. Activity was feverish inside the magnificent home. The forensic expert worked systematically to find possible fingerprints and other traces of evidence. They had already lit up and brushed the doors and door handles. Now they were focused on the walls. Occasionally the flash of a camera lit up the discreetly furnished living room where the dead body lay on the striped carpet. “Who found him?” Mia asked.

“His wife, Kerstin Juhlén,” Henrik said. “She apparently found him dead on the floor when she came home from a walk.” “Where is she now?” “Upstairs. With Hanna Hultman.” Henrik Levin looked down at the body that lay before him. The dead man was Hans Juhlén, in charge of asylum issues at the Migration Board. Henrik stepped around the body, then leaned down to study the victim’s face—the powerful jaw, the weather-beaten skin, the gray beard stubble and graying temples. Hans Juhlén had often been featured in the media, but the archive photos they used did not reflect the aged body that now lay in front of them. The dead man was dressed in neatly ironed trousers and a light-blue striped shirt. Its cotton material soaked up the growing bloodstains on his chest.

“Look, but don’t touch,” forensic expert Anneli Lindgren said to Henrik and gave him a meaningful look as she stood next to the large windows. “Shot?” “Yes, twice. Two entry points from what I can tell.” Henrik glanced around the room, which was dominated by a sofa, two leather armchairs and a glass coffee table with chrome legs. Paintings by Ulf Lundell hung on the walls. The furniture didn’t appear disturbed. Nothing was knocked over. “No signs of a struggle,” he said and turned toward Mia, who was now standing behind him. “No,” Mia answered without taking her eyes off an oval sideboard. On it lay a brown leather wallet with three five-hundred-kronor bills stuck out.

She felt the sudden urge to pull them all out—or at least one, but she stopped herself. In her head she said, enough was enough; she had to pull herself together. Henrik’s eyes wandered to the windows which looked out onto the garden. Anneli Lindgren was still brushing for fingerprints. “Find anything?” Anneli Lindgren looked up at him from behind her spectacle frames. “Not yet, but according to the victim’s wife, one of these windows was open when she came home. I’m hoping I’ll find something other than her prints on it.” Anneli Lindgren continued her slow, methodical work. Henrik ran his fingers through his hair and turned back to Mia. “Shall we go upstairs and have a few words with Mrs.

Juhlén?” “You go up. I’ll stay down here and keep an eye on things.” * * * Upstairs, Kerstin Juhlén stared hollowly as she sat on the bed in the master bedroom with a cardigan draped around her shoulders. As Henrik entered the room, police officer Hanna Hultman took a respectful step backward and closed the door behind them. On his way up the staircase Henrik had imagined the victim’s wife as a delicate woman in elegant clothes. Instead she appeared heavyset, dressed in a faded T-shirt and dark stretch jeans. Her blond hair was styled in a blunt cut, with dark roots that revealed she was overdue for a visit to the hairdresser. Henrik’s eyes searched the bedroom with curiosity. First he studied the chest of drawers and then the wall of photographs. In the middle of the wall hung a frame with a large faded photo of a happy wedding couple.

He was aware that Kerstin Juhlén was looking at him. “My name’s Henrik Levin, and I’m the Detective Chief Inspector,” he said softly. “I’m sorry for your loss. You will have to excuse me for having to ask you a few questions at this time.” Kerstin dried a tear with the sleeve of her cardigan. “Yes, I understand.” “Can you tell me what happened when you came home?” “I came home and…and…he just lay there.” “Do you know what time it was?” “About half past seven.” “Are you sure?” “Yes.” “When you entered the house, did you see anybody else here then?” “No.

No, there was only my husband who…” Her lip quivered and she put her hands on her face. Henrik knew this wasn’t the right time for a more detailed interrogation so he decided to be brief. “Mrs. Juhlén, we have some support coming for you, but I must ask just a few more questions in the meantime.” Kerstin removed her hands from her face and rested them on her lap. “Yes?” “You told someone a window was open when you came home.” “Yes.” “And it was you who closed it?” “Yes.” “You didn’t see anything strange outside that window before you closed it?” “No…no.” “Why did you close it?” “I was afraid someone might try and come back in.

” Henrik put his hands in his pockets and pondered a moment. “Before I leave you, I wonder if you’d like us to call anyone in particular for you? A friend? Relative? Your children?” She looked down, her hands trembling, and whispered something in a barely audible voice. Henrik couldn’t make out what she was trying to say. “I’m sorry, could you repeat that?” Kerstin shut her eyes for a moment, then slowly raised her pained face toward him. She took a deep breath before she answered him. * * * Downstairs still in the living room, Anneli Lindgren adjusted her glasses. “I think I’ve found something,” she said. She was examining the print of a hand that was beginning to take form on the window frame. Mia went up to her and noted the very clear form of a palm with fingers. “There’s another one here,” Anneli pointed out.

“They belong to a child.” She fetched the camera to document her find. She adjusted the lens of her Canon EOS to the right focus and was taking photos just as Henrik came into the room. Anneli nodded to him. “Come here,” she said. “We’ve found some fingerprints.” “They’re small,” said Anneli and held up the camera in front of her face again, zoomed in and took yet another picture. “So they belong to a child?” Mia clarified. Henrik looked surprised and leaned close to the window to get a better look. The prints made an orderly pattern.

A unique pattern. Clearly from a child-sized hand. “Strange,” he mumbled. “Why is it strange?” said Mia. Henrik looked at her before he answered. “The Juhléns don’t have children.” CHAPTER TWO Monday, April 16 THE TRIAL WAS OVER, and Prosecutor Jana Berzelius was satisfied with the result. She had been absolutely certain that the defendant would be found guilty of causing grievous bodily harm. He had kicked his own sister senseless in front of her four-year-old child and then left her to die in her apartment. No doubt it was an honor crime.

Even so, the defendant’s solicitor, Peter Ramstedt, looked rather surprised when the verdict was announced. Jana nodded to him before she left the courtroom. She didn’t want to discuss the judgment with anybody, especially not with the dozen or so journalists who stood and waited outside the court with their cameras and cell phones. Instead, she made her way toward the emergency exit and pushed the white fire door open. Then she quickly ran down the steps as the clock read 11:35. Avoiding journalists had become more of a rule than an exception for Jana Berzelius. Three years earlier, when she started in the prosecutor’s office in Norrköping, it was different. Then she had appreciated the coverage and praise the media gave her. Norrköpings Tidningar had, for example, titled a story about her Top Student has a Place in Court. They used phrases like comet career and next stop Prosecutor-General when they wrote about her.

Her cell phone vibrated in the pocket of her jacket, and she stopped in front of the entrance to the garage to look at the display before answering. At the same time, she pushed open the door into the heated garage. “Hello, Father,” she said directly. “Well, how did it go?” “Two years’ prison and ninety in damages.” “Are you satisfied with that?” It would never occur to Karl Berzelius to congratulate his daughter on a successful court case. Jana was accustomed to his taciturnity. Even her mother, Margaretha, who was warm and loving during her childhood, seemed to prefer to clean the house rather than play games with her. She’d put in a laundry rather than read bedtime stories, or clean the kitchen rather than tuck her daughter into bed for the night. Now Jana was thirty and she treated both her parents with the same unemotional respect with which they had raised her. “I am satisfied,” Jana answered emphatically.

“Your mother wonders if you’re coming home on the first of May? She wants to have a family dinner then.” “What time?” “Seven.” “I’ll come.” Jana clicked off the call, unlocked her black BMW X-6 and sat down behind the wheel. She threw her briefcase onto the leather-upholstered passenger seat and put her mobile on her lap. Jana’s mother also frequently phoned her daughter after a court case. But never before her husband did. Such was the rule. So when Jana felt her cell vibrate again, she immediately answered as she expertly maneuvered her car out of the tight garage space. “Hello, Mother.

” “Hello, Jana,” said the male voice. Jana braked and the car jerked to a halt in the reversing movement. The voice belonged to Chief Public Prosecutor Torsten Granath, her superior. He sounded keen to hear the case results. “Well?” Jana was surprised at his evident curiosity and briefly repeated the outcome of the trial. “Good. Good. But I’m actually calling about another matter. I want you to assist me on an investigation. A woman has been detained after she called the police to report finding her husband dead.

He was the official in charge of migration asylum issues in Norrköping. According to the police, he was shot dead. Murdered. You’ll have a free hand in the investigation.” Jana remained silent, so Torsten continued: “Gunnar Öhrn and his team are waiting at the police station. What do you say?” Jana looked at the dashboard—11:48 a.m. She took a short breath and got her car moving again. “I’ll drive straight there.” * * * Jana Berzelius quickly walked in through the main entrance of the Norrköping police station and took the elevator up to the third floor.

The sound of her heels echoed in the wide corridor. She looked straight ahead and gave only a brief nod to the two uniformed policemen that she passed. The head of the CID, Gunnar Öhrn, waited for her outside his office and showed her to the conference room. One long wall was dominated by windows which overlooked the Norrtull roundabout, where the lunch traffic had already become noticeable. On the opposite wall a whiteboard of considerable size was mounted, along with a film screen. A projector hung from the ceiling. Jana went up to the oval table where the team sat waiting. First she exchanged greetings with DCI Henrik Levin, then she nodded to the technician Ola Söderström, Anneli Lindgren and Mia Bolander before sitting down. “Chief Public Prosecutor Torsten Granath has just put Jana Berzelius in charge of the preliminary investigation of the Hans Juhlén case.” “Right.

” Mia Bolander clenched her teeth, crossed her arms and leaned back. She distrusted the woman she considered her rival, who was about the same age as she. The investigation would be arduous with Jana Berzelius at the helm. The few times Mia Bolander had been forced to work with Jana Berzelius had not made her feel friendly toward the prosecutor. Mia felt Jana just had no personality. She was too stiff, too formal. She never seemed to relax and enjoy herself. If you are colleagues, you ought to get to know one another more. Perhaps share a beer or two after work and just chat a bit. Be social.

But Mia had relatively quickly learned that Jana was a person who didn’t appreciate such friendly moments. Any question, no matter how small, about her private life was answered with just an arrogant look. Mia considered Jana Berzelius an arrogant fucking diva. Unfortunately, nobody else shared Mia’s opinion. On the contrary, they nodded appreciatively when Gunnar presented Jana now. What Mia detested most was Jana’s status as an upper-class girl. Jana was old money, while Mia, with her working-class background, was mortgaged. That was as good a reason as any for her to keep her distance from Jana and her airs. Out of the corner of her eye, Jana noted the disdainful looks from the female inspector but chose to ignore them. She opened her briefcase and pulled out a notepad and pen.

Gunnar Öhrn drank the last few drops from a bottle of mineral water, then handed out packets to everyone which contained copies of everything they had documented about the case so far. It included the initial report; photos from the crime scene and immediate vicinity; a sketch of the Juhlén house where the victim, Hans Juhlén, had been found; and a short description of Juhlén. Lastly came a log with times and investigative steps that had already been taken since the victim had been discovered. Gunnar pointed to the timeline that had been drawn on the whiteboard. He also described the initial report of the conversation with the victim’s wife, Kerstin Juhlén, which had been signed by the police officers in the patrol car. They had been the first to interview her. “Kerstin Juhlén was, however, hard to talk to properly,” said Gunnar. She had initially come close to being hysterical, had screamed loudly and talked incoherently. At one point she started to hyperventilate. And all the time she had repeatedly said she didn’t kill her husband.

She only found him in the living room. Dead. “So do we suspect her, then?” said Jana and noticed that Mia was still glaring at her. “Yes, she is of interest. We have detained her. She hasn’t got a verifiable alibi.” Gunnar thumbed through the packet of papers. “Okay, to summarize then. Hans Juhlén was murdered some time between 15:00 and 19:00 yesterday. Perpetrators unknown.

The forensic experts says the murder took place in the house. That is, the body had not been transported from anywhere else. Correct?” He nodded to Anneli Lindgren to confirm. “That’s right. He died there.” “The body was taken to the medical examiner’s lab at 22:21 and inspectors continued to go through the house until after midnight.” “Yes, and I found these.” Anneli put down ten sheets of paper with a single sentence written on each. “They lay well hidden in the back of the wardrobe in the victim’s bedroom. They appear to be short threatening letters.

” “Do we know who sent them and to whom they were addressed?” asked Henrik as he reached across to examine them. Jana made a note about them in her notepad. “No. I got these copies from forensics in Linköping this morning. It’ll probably take a day or so before they can get us more information,” said Anneli. “What do they say?” said Mia. She pulled her hands inside the sleeves of her knitted sweater, put her elbows on the table and looked at Anneli with curiosity. “The same message is on each one—‘Pay now or risk paying the bigger price.’” “Blackmail,” said Henrik. “So it would seem.

We spoke to Mrs. Juhlén. She denies any knowledge of the letters. She seemed genuinely surprised about them.” “They hadn’t been reported then, these threats?” said Jana and wrinkled her brow. “No, nothing has been reported by the victim himself, his wife or anybody else,” said Gunnar. “And what about the murder weapon?” said Jana, switching the topic. “We haven’t found one yet. Nothing was near the body or in the immediate vicinity,” said Gunnar. “Any DNA traces or shoe tracks?” “No,” said Anneli.

“But when the wife came home, a window was open in the living room. It seems fairly clear that the perpetrator gained entrance that way. The wife closed it, unfortunately, which has made it more difficult for us. But we did manage to find two interesting handprints.” “Whose prints?” said Jana and held her pen ready to note down a name. “Don’t know yet, but everything points to their being the prints of a child. The strange thing is that the couple don’t have any children.” Jana looked up from her notepad. “Is that really significant? Surely they know someone who has children. A friend? Relative?” she said.

“We haven’t been able to ask Kerstin Juhlén more about it yet,” answered Gunnar. “Well, that must be the next step. Preferably straightaway.” Jana took her calendar out of her briefcase and flipped through to today’s date. Reminders, times and names were neatly written on the pale yellow pages. “I want us to talk to her as soon as possible.” “I’ll phone her lawyer, Peter Ramstedt, right away,” said Gunnar. “Good,” said Jana. “Get back to me with a time as soon as you can.” She put her calendar back in her briefcase.

“Have you questioned any of the neighbors yet?” “Yes, the nearest ones,” said Gunnar. “And?” “Nothing. Nobody saw or heard anything.” “Then ask more. Knock on all the doors along the entire street and in the immediate vicinity. Lindö has many big homes, a lot of them with large picture windows.” “Yes, I imagine you would know that, of course,” said Mia. Jana looked directly at Mia. “What I am saying is that somebody must have seen or heard something.” Mia glared back, then looked away.

“What more do we know about Hans Juhlén?” Jana went on. “He lived a fairly ordinary life, it seems,” said Gunnar and read from the packet. “He was born in Kimstad in 1953, so he was fifty-nine. Spent his childhood there. The family moved to Norrköping in 1965, when he was twelve. He studied economics at university and worked for four years in an accounting firm before he got a position in the Migration Board’s asylum department and worked his way up to become the head. He met his wife, Kerstin, when he was eighteen and the year after that they married in a registry office. They have a summer cottage by Lake Vättern. That’s all we’ve got so far.” “Friends? Acquaintances?” Mia said grumpily.

“Have we checked them?” “We don’t know anything about his friends yet. Or his wife’s. But we’ve started mapping them, yes,” said Gunnar. “A more detailed conversation with the wife will help fill in more detail,” said Henrik. “Yes, I know,” said Gunnar. “His cell phone?” Jana wondered. “I’ve asked the service provider for a list of calls to and from his number. Hopefully I’ll have that tomorrow latest,” said Gunnar. “And what have we got from the autopsy results?” “At the moment, we know only that Hans Juhlén was both shot and died where he was found. The medical examiner is giving us a preliminary report today.

” “I need a copy of that,” Jana said. “Henrik and Mia are going straight there after this meeting.” “Fine. I’ll tag along,” said Jana, and smiled to herself when she heard the deep sigh from Inspector Bolander.

.

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