Was Notorious Assassin Hiding in Plain Sight?

Three decades after Sweden's PM was murdered, a new theory emerges
By Janet Cromley,  Newser Staff
Posted May 28, 2018 7:31 AM CDT
Was Notorious Assassin Hiding in Plain Sight?
Sweden Prime Minister Olof Palme was assassinated on Feb. 28, 1986.   (AP photo/Scanpix Sweden/Tobbe Gustavsson, file)

Has a notorious international murder mystery been solved? Maybe not, but there is a compelling new theory in the case of Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme, reports the New York Times. On Feb. 28, 1986, Palme went to a movie in Stockholm with his wife and was shot point-blank from behind as they left. He died at the scene. A minor criminal, Christer Pettersson, was convicted of the crime shortly after, but won release on appeal, and died in 2004. Over the years, the police questioned an estimated 10,000 people in connection with the crime, and according to the BBC, 134 people have claimed to be the killer. An assortment of shadowy factions—including the CIA, arms dealers, apartheid loyalists–were suspected of the crime at various times. Enter freelance journalist Thomas Pettersson, who has been investigating the murder for 12 years.

He has a new theory, as reported in Filter Magazine (link is in Swedish). Pettersson lays out considerable circumstantial evidence that Stig Engstrom, who happened upon the scene within minutes of the crime and testified as a witness in Pettersson's trial, murdered Palme. Engstrom appears to have had opportunity and motive, Pettersson says. He also had weapons training and access to a firearm similar to the one used in the crime, lied to investigators, fit the police profile of the killer, and seemed to bask in the attention his proximity to the case brought. Engstrom can’t defend himself—he committed suicide in 2000. But his former wife (they divorced in 1999), believes he’s innocent. "He was not that kind of person, that's for sure,” she told Expressen, per the BBC. “He was too much of a coward. He wouldn't harm a fly." Pettersson has delivered his findings to the police. (More unsolved mystery stories.)

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