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Anders Eklund in a Falun courthouse.

Police In Murder Investigation Under Fire

Police in the western region of Dalarna have received harsh criticism for their investigation of the June 2000 murder of 31-year-old Pernilla Hellgren in Falun. As a result of their failing to follow up on a tip, murderer Anders Eklund was free to kill again, this time a 10-year-old girl in April 2008.

According to news agency TT, the report from the National Swedish Police Board cites unpreparedness, insufficient resources, and lack of experience as the main reasons behind the failure. The commission also points out that their police work was lacking in continuity, and that the police neglected the search for a culprit who did not know the victim.

Anders Eklund was arrested after a picture linked him to 10-year-old Engla Höglund’s disappearance; later, his DNA placed him at the strangling death of Hellgren. He confessed to both murders, and was sentenced to life in prison in October 2008.

The report describes how Eklund’s name appeared at least twice in connection with Hellgren’s death—once in a list of potential culprits, and once after a tip came in. Neither incident was followed up on.

The National Swedish Police Board also writes that the inadequacies in the Falun investigation are “by no means” isolated to that police force or that case. Similar observations have been made about other police agencies, especially smaller, regional ones.

The Board has in response set forth a number of recommendations designed to increase preparedness and effectiveness, including a national education course for violent crimes investigators and better computer databases.

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