Who Murdered This Swedish Immigrant And Stole The Lower Half Of Her Body?

The unsolved murder of Karina Holmer is one of the most frustrating cases of the 20th century. Aside from the fact that this young Swedish au pair who lived in Boston was sawed in half on June 21, 1996, no one knows what happened to Karina Holmer. There are theories that throw blame on her employer, a musician who lived in the area, and even mysterious men in a gray car, but the lack of substantial physical evidence has lead to this cold case lying unsolved for more than two decades.

In American true crime lore there are a few major murders that have never been solved and that no one will ever be able to fully piece together. There are people who simply disappeared without a trace like Maura Murray and bodies that were never identified, but the murder of Karina Holmer feels like it’s waiting for a piece of evidence that can connect all of the dots. Take a look at these Karina Holmer murder facts, maybe you’ll be able to make some sense of this senseless crime.


  • The Top Half Of Karina Holmer's Body Was Found In A Dumpster

    The Top Half Of Karina Holmer's Body Was Found In A Dumpster
    Photo: flickr / CC0

    On the morning of June 23, 1996, two days after she was last seen, the body of Karina Holmer was discovered in a dumpster in an alley by Zanzibar, a club where Holmer had been at before her disappearance. Her body may have never been discovered if it weren't for a homeless man digging through the trash for bottles and cans. As he tore through the black trash bag hoping to find the mother lode, he unexpectedly discovered the severed torso of a 20-year-old Swedish au pair. According to investigators her, body was cut in half expertly. Only one bone, her spine, had to be severed to separate the body. 


  • Holmer's Bottom Half Was Never Found

    The most sadistic part of the murder is that no one has ever found Holmer's lower half. Two decades later it's unlikely that it's ever going to turn up and if it does, it won't be in a state that lends itself to collecting evidence. A theory has been floated that Holmer was a victim of a serial killer that spent some time in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, murdering prostitutes. The serial killer's M.O. was to find a young, slender, woman with blonde hair and cut her body in half before leaving them in the dumpster. It could be a coincidence that Holmer's murder fits this description like a glove, or it's possible that a Florida serial killer went up to Boston for a long weekend. 


  • Holmer's Mysterious Murder Led To One Creepy Theory

    Unsolved murders lead to all kind of unchecked theories, but many amateur detectives have come to a similar conclusion since the 1996 discovery of Holmer's upper body: they think her boss was behind the murder. The prevailing theory is that Holmer's boss allegedly allowed her to stay in the loft he owned so they could hook up when she wasn't working. He may have gotten her pregnant, had her murdered and then had the lower half of her body removed and destroyed in order to hide the evidence. This is a farfetched theory that makes a better fit for a B-Movie starring Nicholas Cage, but in this case where nothing makes sense, it's not crazy to assume that Karina Holmer found herself working for a Jack the Ripper wannabe. 

  • The Night Of Her Disappearance

    June 21, 1996, the night of Karina Holmer's disappearance, was like any other Friday night in Boston. The bars were busy, people were everywhere, and no one was paying close attention to a young drunk woman who was out with her friends. Holmer and her friends met up at the loft where she stayed on weekends before going out to the Theater District to get rowdy. After losing her friends when the bars closed, Holmer was seen by multiple people in different areas of the district - although it's entirely possible that witnesses either misremembered seeing Homer dancing with a homeless man in the street or walking up Tremont street outside of Zanzibar where her body was later found. At least one eye witness recalls her getting into a car with a mysterious group of people. 

  • Holmer's Case Is An Impossible Investigation

    Multiple investigators in the Holmer case have noted that the reason no one's been charged in the murder is that there's no crime scene. There may be suspects, but without the physical evidence that can be obtained at a crime scene, there's no way to pin anyone down. The only piece of evidence that the police were able to snag was a partial fingerprint found in the garbage bag that held her upper body, and the rope marks on her neck which caused her strangulation. David Meier, a partner at the law firm Todd and Weld spoke to The Boston Globe about how this case still haunts him: "There’s no crime scene. There’s no ability to determine with any definite basis how she was killed, why she was killed, where she was killed. Never mind who killed her.”

    The best that investigators (professional and amateur) have been able to come up with in terms of the lack of evidence at the spot where Holmer's body was discovered is that she was kidnapped from the area, then strangled and dismembered in another place before being dropped off in the dumpster. 

  • Boston Was Rife With Suspects

    While there may have been a lack of crime scene in Holmer's murder, there was no lack of suspects to tangentially tie to the case. As Holmer had been out clubbing on the assumed night of her murder, she talked to a lot of people. There was a man with a dog who wore matching Superman shirts that was known to cruise the neighborhood and an electronic musician with a drug problem who was unlucky enough to live near the spot where Holmer's body was found. Her employer, who owned the loft where she lived, was also questioned in her murder although he was never formally charged. Despite another suspect in the case later committing two homicides where the victims were beheaded, no formal arrests were ever made.