Today we’re heading to Scottsdale, Arizona to hear about the life and death of Bob Crane, an actor best known for his role in Hogan’s Heros. Then, Emily heads to Reykjavik, Iceland to talk about the Reykjavik Confessions – a listener suggestion! Hopefully, you’re horrified.
Hi, welcome to horrible history. I’m Rachel Everett.
And I’m Emily Barlean. How was your day? Guess what I did today? I cut off part of my finger.
I didn’t even get to answer it. But, it was not that bad. I procrastinated a lot to do my story. What were you making, something that looked delicious?
I was just like chopping some herbs because I was making a marinade for my chicken because I made like a chicken shawarma bowl.
It was really yummy. I don’t know if it was yummyenough that I’m okay with the fact that my fingers deformed now, but…
I did not send you a picture because you would have fainted.
I would have.
Yeah, but I sent a picture to several other people who I know aren’t squeamish and they were all like, OH MY GOD. So, I was like, damn.
Emily texts me and she’s all, “I don’t have time to go into Urgent Care today!”
Yeah, no, my day was not that bad. My kids are sick a little bit. So my daughter’s fever finally broke. She’s had a fever for like two days, just a low grade 99.8 something like that. My son. I mean, they’re both full of boogers. They’re both super clingy. And of course, like I said, last week, I had procrastinated writing my story for today… did not even know what I was going to do. So please forgive me.
We didn’t end up. We end up taking a little drive to my parents house. I was going to borrow mattress from them. As it turns out, it does not fit in the van – Measuring Man strikes again.
Yeah, my dad is like, “it’s not a burrito. We can’t fold it up!” And so then obviously, I had to get Mexican food in the way job. That’s a very good fish tacos are a place where a mother house so that sounds good. It was real good. And I got the kid a kids quesadilla, which by the way could feed like three children. But that came with French fries and Capri Sun. So when they woke up, we were almost home and then it was like perfect. But then we had to like I pulled into the garage and got the notification from Target like “Your order is ready!” And I’m like, we can’t eat this now. I’ll just keep throwing french fries back there. Like I’m just like HERE tosses fries. Yes, I now I’ve got an air mattress in my master bedrom.
Very nice. Just colleging it up over there.
The sheets are pretty.
Yeah, one time Measuring Man struck and I so I moved into this apartment. I mean, this is like a decade ago and it was this two story, no, a three story apartment and I had a three seat couch, you know, not a loveseat an actual couch. And it had one of those stairwells where it was like a complete turn in the stair, you know what I mean? So you have to go up and then up again to get to the next level. I don’t know if that makes any sense to our listeners. But the landlady was like oh, yeah, a couch will fit up there.
She’s like, “yeah, the people who rented before had a couch up there!” and I was like, “a big couch or a small couch?” She’s like, “No, no, like a regular couch.” I was like, “I’m looking at… and I was like, “Even me as someone who can’t measure for shit is pretty sure this isn’t gonna work. But whatever. I don’t know measurements. It’s fine.”
No, we had to put the couch through the window on the second floor. I have this picture of my dad, my brother like standing on a table beneath the window, like hoisting it up through the window. Like, thank God, the windows were big.
Oh, man. That’s amazing.
Crazy. Anyways, where are you headed today? You didn’t know until like, NOW.
I did not know! Someone sent me a story that I was going to do. But I realized that have to listen to a podcast to do it. And also it takes place on Valentine’s Day. So I’m like, “Listen, I will do this on Valentine’s Day. Give me six months and this will happen.”
Travel Tips: Scottsdale, Arizona
So last minute decision. I’m going to Scottsdale which I believe is where you were going (on vacation). And why we are recording twice in one weekend!
Literally when this comes out. I will have just returned from Scottsdale. But as of right now, I have no Scottsdale stories.
You’re welcome. So we’re gonna do it. Obviously, I was feeling inspired by your upcoming trip to Arizona with Carson. Fun facts about Scottsdale.
Oh my gosh, I can’t wait.
It has more spas per capita than any other US city.
That’s why we’re going.
You’re like “I knew that.” And since this is a hypothetical trip that you and I are taking, we’re going bougie. So first, we’re gonna check out Joya Spa, which is pretty busy, but also there’s some hippie stuff so they have tarot card readings and no therapy and private meditations. And of course, facials, massages, body treatments, the whole nine.
One time I had my tarot cards friend at a bar with my friend Tricia. And we had been drinking, obviously, and then these girls were doing tarot cards and we’re like, “Will you read our tarot cards for us??!” They did… I cried.
What did they say!?!?
I don’t even know. I just know that it impacted me a lot. Tricia was like, “what’s happening?!?”
You’re like, I was very drunk. Don’t drink tequila.
I was very moved by it.
We could also get our hair and nails done or hang out on the adults only rooftop pool. Right? I googled like the top five spas in Scottsdale. I do not think it’s cheap.
So less bougie. I want to go to the Butterfly Wonderland, which is exactly what it sounds like. So it’s a rain forest themed conservatory that has 1000s of butterflies. Apparently, they also boast koi fish, tiny birds, and a couple of… and this is a direct quote from their website… “Amusing chickens.”
I don’t know. They did not elaborate. Maybe that’s the amusing part is they can’t fly. They’re trying to jump.
There’s a butterfly house in St. Louis. And they have a feature of hissing cockroaches. So I’m glad that they don’t have that in Scottsdale because ICK
Hard, hard, hard pass.
There are also a lot of wineries in Scottsdale. So I think we would head to the LDV Winery. They have wine flights for tasting of course or you can order a glass or a bottle. And they have patio seating, which is my favorite, obviously gorgeous views… Scottdales pretty.
Oh my gosh, actually you are inspiring me right now because Carson and I get into Scottsdale at like 9am on Friday. And I’m pretty sure check in isn’t until four … which I bet we can get an early check in but probably not 10am early. So yeah, we’ll have 9:30am drinks at a winery. Sounds good?
It’s vacation. Whatever.
Yeah, vacation wine.
You can drink at the airport on a vacation at nine in the morning.
It’s I mean, you can drink at the airport on a business trip. The airport doesn’t fucking ask. They’ll just take your money.
The airport is the Wild West they’re like we don’t know what time it is… drink here. It’s fine.
What happens at the airport stays at the airport.
And so will you if you drink too much!
Do you know my brother’s one time… This is a total aside has nothing to do with my story. But they one time were too cheap or too broke. I don’t know they were in their 20s to go to a hotel. So they like camped in an airport. On the floor. They just laid with these blankets. Apparently it gets very cold at night on the floor of an airport which tracks.
I’m kind of surprised they allow that…
Maybe they were hidden in a secret corner. In a fort.
Chapter 1: Bob Crane’s Murder
All right. Today I am taking us back to June 29, 1978. Police respond to a call from a Scottsdale apartment complex. Not a bougie one. It’s a big juxtaposition to most places in the city. When they open the door to the dimly lit apartment on the first floor. They are greeted by the body of a shirtless 49 year old man. He is physically fit with salt and pepper hair. But the crime scene is so gruesome. That’s really all police can tell about him. He is sprawled out on the bed. There is an electrical cord knotted around his neck and huge gashes above his ears. And there was so much blood. It was spattered on the ceiling on the walls. Even his pillow was completely soaked through with red blood.
I’m picturing that scene from Dexter where he falls into the blood.
It’s exactly like that. Police could not find any identification on the victim. But they were able to find out that the apartment had been leased to a local theatre, the Windmill Dinner Theater, they asked the manager Ed Beck to help identify the body. Ed will later tell the press that there was no way for him to identify who it was from one side because the corpse was so badly mutilated. But from the other side, he could make a positive ID. It was Bob Crane aka the leading character from Hogan’s Heroes. And his murder is still technically unsolved…. until tonight.
Let’s do it!
Let’s solve this shit!
Okay, Bob Crane found fame…. Oh, I didn’t realize that rhymed till I said it out loud.
Don’t judge me!
Crane = fame. I guess. I’ll give it to you.
Listen. It’s been a long week, Emily, just give this one to me.
You got it. You got it.
She gave me the sad pity eyes… Like, “oh honey!”
My daughter when we were driving and I was throwing french fries at my children, you know as one does as one does Vera was she was so sleepy because she had they both fall asleep in the car. They’re kind of sick. They were asleep the they didn’t realize we had gone to my parents house. They just slept through the whole ordeal.
And I go Veera, do you want some french fries? And she goes, “Sure, honey.” Because I talk like that to them. I’m like, “Oh, honey.” And I heard her calling Lincoln honey today, and I don’t want a correct her and be like, it’s not just something we call everybody. Cuz I kind of want her to be that kid at preschool.
Hey, honey. Girl. Is she from the south?
So cute. No, her mom just uses constant pet names and it’s fine. So he found fame and Hogan’s Heroes, which was a sitcom in the mid 60s, based in World War Two. Apparently it’s about funny Nazis. laughs uncomfortably
I’ve heard of those. Nope.
No. He had been previously a radio host and pretty charismatic one. He interviewed many big names at the time, including Bob Hope, Charlton Heston and Marilyn Monroe. In my opinion, Bob Crane has a nice face. Like not necessarily that he’s good looking. But he has the kind of face that seems nice and trustworthy. You know what I mean?
I know what you mean. I totally do.
Like a nice face. Yeah. Do you know what he looks like?
I don’t think so.
I’m gonna text you a picture real quick.
You recognize him? Right? He has a nice face.
I do. Yeah. It’s like, he doesn’t look like I wouldn’t be like, “Daaaaammmmmn.? But I would want to talk to him. And probably date him. You know, and be like, you’re a good person.
He looks like the kind of guy you take home to mom.
Yeah, he just looks a happy, kind.
Yes. But his face and his fame proved to be a lethal combination. In the mid 60s, Bob was married to his high school sweetheart, AnnTerzian. And they had three children together, Robert, Deborah and Karen. But this did not stop from using his celebrity status and his charming face, to meet women, sleep with them, and take nude pictures of him.
Okay, I take it back. He’s not a kind guy.
That’s how they get you. They have sneaky nice face!
So when you’re like, he has such a kind face and that he’s like, but also I’m going to take nude photos without your consent. Sneak attack with this camera. He was pretty high tech about it. So he would take pictures and videos which like, Listen, I’m not here to judge if there’s explicit consent. Whatever you want to do is cool.
Make yourself a porno. Whatever.
Totally do it. So but there’s some there’s some gray area there.
Yeah. Gonna need some written consent.
Yeah. Like if you’re gonna film me… written consent. Yeah. Yeah. And so he got a lot of his techie hookups from John Carpenter, who was a manager for Sony and then I think moved to some other you know, techie companies at the time. The pair had a lot in common, including liking to take pictures and videos of naked ladies. So come on, what all solid friendships are built on. That why are you rolling your eyes Emily?
And for the record, I’m not trying to victim blame here. It’s a really big part of this story. Some sources say that Bob crane wrote down or videotaped everything in his life included his sexual including his sexual experiences, which again, fine if you have consent. Yeah. So, although I don’t think his amateur porn was common knowledge, his lack of faithfulness to his wife definitely was he cheated with multiple Hogan’s Heroes caskmates starting with Cynthia Lin, who played a secretary in season one, then Cynthia was replaced by Patricia Olson, who Bob Crane then started an affair with like, even though they had played the same character, maybe he’s just really into that character, I don’t know.
He’s like, “cycle through different ladies so that I can have doubles!”
Every season a different affair. Perfect. So Bob ended up leaving in his wife for Patricia Secretary number two, and they were married in 1970. They had two kids, Scott and Anna Maria. After Hogan’s Heroes, Bob was filming a Disney movie called Super Dad. This plot stinks of the patriarch, okay, it is about a super white bread dad. And his super white bread family but his daughter runs away within “unsavory type”
Which I googled to make sure it did not mean person of color but it was just like some James Dean looking white dude, because I was like if this is a black savory I swear to god I’m cutting right now. But I haven’t I haven’t seen the movie so I don’t know exactly what they meant by unsavory. Regardless, Bob Crane was allegedly showing pretty much everybody on set photographs of naked women, which of course started some big rumors. The big Disney executives found out and Bob’s face was all over the National Enquirer.
You’re just shaking your head at me like, “no words.”
I just hate this guy, I don’t know why!
Is it because his nice face tricked you?
He tricked me!!!
He tricked me with his nice face!
Ugh, I thought I couldn’t be tricked again.
Never trust a nice face. Life advice.
Apparently so. I never trust a good face. Now I can’t trust the nice face either.
Yeah, don’t trust anyone.
Time to marry Slender Man. Or Voldemort.
I guess you’re gonna have to… Well, he’s gonna face just go for Slender Man, for sure. He was a big story. It’s like when any Disney star goes through puberty and they’re all Oh my god. They’re an assault with desires that are unsuitable for the Disney Channel
That’s what they get for making 25 year olds trying to play high schoolers on TV. Yeah, yeah.
Bob Crane’s oldest son Robert thinks that all of his father’s sexual encounters were consensual. But like I said, from my research, it seems like maybe Robert was the only one who thought that because at least one woman came forward after Bob Crane’s murder and said like, Yeah, I did not realize he had taken pictures of me.
So grain of salt. Make your own decision. I’m going to say that probably they weren’t talking sexual. Regardless, this scandal(s) tanked Bob’s career. And Bob didn’t seem to care. In 1972, he took that son Robert to the premiere of.. Deep Throat.
Jesus! How old is this kid?
He was like 23 years.
But still, it’s your kid.
Do you have any idea how hard I actively avoid talking about sex with my parents, like, like, Hey, I don’t want to see any sort of any sort of thing like that with mom or dad. Like, no, thank you.
I’ll never forget, like watching Titanic with my mom in theaters and just being like, I’m pretty sure I left the theater. I was like, I’m going to go to the bathroom. And then I stood in the like hall next to it like watching like a creep. Yeah, even it’s like a 34 year old. I was like with my parents last summer, we’d watch stuff on TV and it’d be like, just awkward if there was a sex scene. Yeah.
I vividly remember I was probably 11 and my parents decided that I could watch Liar Liar with them. And it’s so good, but it was pG 13 and I was like, Ooh, look at me. I’m 11 watching a pG 13 movie?
Yeah, if you’ll remember in Liar Liar. There is a lot of Jim Carrey just telling this woman with giant breasts, like how much he loves her giant breasts. In the elevator he’s trapped with her and he’s like “I want to squeeze them!” Watching that with my parents as an 11 year old. It was so uncomfortable. My dad’s like, should we turn off the movie? I’m like, I kind of want to see what happens. I’m invested in the plot, but like, I’ll be like not do this.
And we all just not look at each other during this.
Maybe for a couple of days afterwards. It was very uncomfortable.
I just remembered the other the time that was so awkward. I was with my parents. And we went to the theater, I think or it might have been at home. I don’t know doesn’t matter to see Wedding Crashers
Oh, good movie, but not want to see it with my parents. Right away there’s tits out!
The very, very first part. It’s all those girls falling onto a bed with
Yeah at first they have the bras and then all of a sudden there’s no bra and you’re like, Mom, Dad, no!
I was like AGH!!!!
No, never ever, ever.
Stare straight ahead. Do not make eye
Oh, okay. Is it weird to you. This is an aside, but is it weird to you that porn films had premieres? Like a theater of people just “what do you want to see tonight? You’re all dressed up.” “Deep Throat.”
It was literally a porn???
Okay, ready.. straight from Wikipedia. “Deep Throat. It’s a 1972 American pornographic film that was at the forefront of the Golden Age of porn.” Which apparently if 1969 Hey, oh to 1984 guys.
Okay, so Bob’s career continued to deteriorate and eventually he started taking jobs working in dinner theater. That’s how he ended up in Arizona. So traveling dinner theater, like, Oh my god, what’s that word? It starts with a V.
Thank you like a vaudeville. I think that I don’t really know. But that’s what comes to my head. When Bob was in Phoenix, he did a few guest spots and he bought the rights to a play and then started starring in it two weeks before he was murdered. Robert says his father called him told him that he was divorcing Patty and wanted to get space from seedy friends like John Carpenter.
He’s like, Look, I’m in Arizona, things are going better for me. I want to get a clean slate. But alas, a clean slate was not in the cards for Bob crane. He tried to have a friend break up with John Carpenter. Oh, I’m going to go ahead and make the claim that John Carpenter was a messy bitch. Allegedly. John had followed Bob to Phoenix. And when Bob told him that he didn’t want to hang out anymore, John was pretty upset. He’s like, but I followed you to Phoenix. I didn’t ask you to do that. He like hid in his suitcase.
Phoenix and Scottsdale are the same. Yeah, they’re like they’re the same city.
Close enough. Yeah.
Maybe back then there was a little bit of land between them.
Yeah, but like, not too much. Now. The frenemies had a big blow up argument at a nightclub in Scottsdale that had a bunch of witnesses.
As one does.
I know these guys weren’t dating. But have you ever seen a couple get angry and fight like that at a club?
Oh, yeah. You remember the Dane Cook sketch where he’s like when you’re at the grocery store and a couples fighting and you’re in the next aisle, like,
With your popcorn and you want to just be like, Yeah, tell her.
Yes. It’s like a train wreck though. You’re like, I can’t look away. I love when people live tweet people’s arguments at the airport or wherever. What’s gonna happen, Deborah, what’s gonna happen?
I’ve been that person but not with a boyfriend, with my old roommate who I went to China with. We got in like a blowout fight in a mall in Beijing. And she stormed off and then wouldn’t answer her phone. And we were in fucking China.
You can’t do that in a foreign country!
And so then I was like, mad. When I get mad, I cry. So I was like, crying. Then she finally came back. We like, fought a little bit and then made up and like, how did we were, you know, we’re having like, Girl Talk, where it’s like, you’re just like, “you just hurt my feelings!!!” or whatever, you know. And then we looked over. And it was one of those things, where like, in the very center of the mall, I had one of those jumbotron that like shows what’s going on in the middle area, and WE WERE ON IT. We were on it, crying and fighting and like the Chinese are like stupid Americans, you idiots.
White people. Am I right?
Am I right? Yeah. So yeah, I’ve been there.
A few hours after their very public blow up. That was not on a jumbotron. But like did have a bunch of witnesses. Bob Crane had been murdered. Obviously, Bob’s family was notified. So Robert had said the investigation into his father’s murder was fucked up in a big way. I’m paraphrasing. But Robert Crane did write a book about all of this. So if you’re into that, you can check out his perspective. Like I said, I wrote this in like two hours, did not have time to read that book. But he alleges that along with Bob, Bob’s business partner, Lloyd Fon and Bob’s attorney Bill Colestein he walked through the crime scene touching shit, leaving footprints, et cetera, in in front of the detectives, and nobody did anything about it.
And there’s more. Bob’s co star Victoria Berry was allowed in and out of the crime scene at the apartment to make phone calls. I guess she was the one who initially found his body. She went over to check on him. He didn’t come to rehearsal. And so then she’s like, sobbing, like making phone calls to everybody. I know.
And they’re like, I got to walk through the blood again.
Okay, but my very favorite WTF moment. The County Medical Examiner climbed over Bob crates body to shave his head and you know, examine the wound!
What…. was he in a very precarious spot as to where someone would need to crawl over him?? LIke, walk around!
I’m just imagining him straddling him like trying to shave his head.
You really need to do that at the crime scene, bud?
Wait till they just move his body away. And then you can exam head like, this guy went to the cheapest medical examiner school ever. They’re like, we’ll give you a two year degree in 30 days. He’s like, I’m sold!
Dr. Death season four, here we come.
So now we’ve got in allegedly contaminated crime scene. This is also in 1978. So there’s no DNA testing. But obviously john Carpenter is the primary suspect. It is no secret that john has been Bob’s technology partner and recording all the amateur porn. And police know that john and Bob had been fighting. There’s also no sign of force entry in the apartment suggesting that Bob Crane knew his murderer.
Police also found blood on the back of the exit door as well as the front door and the doorknob. All Bob’s blood, the entire bloodbath that I described in the beginning of the story, all of it belonged to Bob Crane. They know this because it was all Type B, all Bob’s blood. Police also found type B blood inside John Carpenter’s rental car. And on the passenger side door, that’s all they found. There’s no murder weapon. And the county attorney would not issue an arrest warrant for John Carpenter because it is only circumstantial evidence and there’s no murder weapon.
It’s circumstantial evidence?? It’s his blood in his car like is that circumstantial?
Well, it’s not… it’s somebody’s blood. But it’s not necessary. It’s type B, there’s not a DNA. We can’t say Bob Crane’ blood, we can just say like “that’s weird that there’s blood in there!”
He’s like, I know a lot of people and they all have type B blood and they all bleed. They bleed all the time.
Nobody makes me bleed my own blood. Nobody! Then, in 1990, 12 years later, whoa. A Scottsdale detective named Jim Raines found a previously unseen photo of John Carpenter’s car. I just picture him opening up a little file cabinet with a beam of light coming out going, AHhhhhhh!
Like, Where was it hiding for 12 years??
It fell behind the couch.
Anyhow, this photo showed it tiny bit of brain tissue that had been in the car as well. Of course, that shit had been cleaned up over a decade ago. But a judge still determined that the photo was admissible in court. So they didn’t have the brain matter. But they did have the photo with the brain matter in it.
How do they like, how do you see that in a grainy ass photo from the 70s? Like, that’s definitely brain matter right there.
Let’s bring our brain matter analyst, Brian.
So John Carpenter was officially charged with Bob cranes murder in 1992. Nice. At this point, we did have DNA testing, but it was in its infancy, very, very new. Testing the blood, which again, almost 15 years at this point, was inconclusive. witnesses testified that john and Bob were having an amicable dinner the night before Bob was killed. There was some speculation that their murder weapon could have been a tripod that had been missing because they were filming all that porn together. Or as I wrote, because remember, john and Bob are porno pals
sings Porno Pals!!!
What would that sitcom theme song be like? “Come and knock on our door!!!”
“Our secret cameras are waiting for you!”
But John’s attorney shut this down by being all “How do we know there even was a tripod? Have you ever seen a tripod before? I haven’t? I don’t think so.” Like,
Had tripods even been invented yet?
And because there was really nothing aside from circumstantial evidence in this case. JOHN Carpenter was acquitted in 1994. And then he died in 1998. Yeah, it’s it’s interesting. I read a quote from the jury that I, in hindsight, probably should have written down, but it’s something like, we all thought he probably did it, but we couldn’t say that he did it because there wasn’t enough evidence, like we couldn’t say beyond a reasonable doubt that this guy was guilty.
Have you ever been a juror on a criminal trial? I have. And that is like, it is a really horrible feeling to realize that like, this guy, probably definitely did it. But they have not laid out a case that covers every, like, every level of everything where it’s like, it could have been this and they did not prove that it wasn’t this, you know, like, it feels shitty. It’s like that guy’s probably going to go burglarized some other house but yeah, he didn’t put him in jail.
But you can’t do anything about it!
Yeah, most people who are close to the case still believe that john Carpenter murdered Bob crane. Robert crane thinks it could have been john but also thinks it could have been Patricia, Bob’s second wife, his stepmom, and he says that the divorce would have been a primary motivator for murder.
A lot of gruesome and blood and stuff for a woman
For a lady, yeah. And like as somebody’s going through a divorce, like, like, it’s not worth it, like you’re gonna get something if you have a decent lawyer or go to mediation or whatever, anyway, like not to kill anybody. Yeah, you know, but like, Bob’s Bob’s these detectives, they never gave me any sort of merit to Roberts claims. The case was reopened in the mid 2000s. But honestly, nothing new really happened. DNA of the blood linked it to an in determined male, so they’re like, it’s not Bob crane, but it’s like some other penis somewhere. I don’t like. Great helpful. Yeah, obviously, it was a dude, this violent kind of crime.
But there’s no way to tie it to john carpenter. Definitely. Bob’s funeral was held in California, and was attended by over 150 people. And I wish I could say that was the end and that Bob was able to rest in peace after such a gruesome death. But there was some family drama, so I’m gonna spill the tea.
So Patricia, aka the second wife, I accused stepmother I co was I had to write in an all caps, moved Bob’s crane, Bob cranes body to a different cemetery without telling the rest of the Crane family.
You go to put flowers on your dad’s grave, and it’s just a hole! It’s like, “What the hell!”
I mean, I’m sure they filled it back…
Then, she and their son together, Scott set up a memorial website for Bob, which is like really nice. Except that some of the porno that Bob and john had made ended up on this website way. Like, what kind of way to honor your biological father.
Like look at dad go. He’s got some stamina.
The site has since been shut down. She writes optimistically. And it was actually Scott, who was like, maybe this wasn’t such a good idea. He destroyed all the photos and videos. Yeah, he’s now focused on honoring his dad by trying to get him into the radio Hall of Fame. Because remember, he’s a radio broadcaster first and I’m like, that is legitimate. Sharing dad’s cock with the world not so much. Robert Crane does not talk to either of his step siblings, but he does obviously still talk with his mom and sisters. And he said they just never talked about what happened to BOb.
Yeah, I was gonna say what happened to Karen and whoever.
Yeah, they just don’t talk about it. They just pretend it never happened. A lot of sweepig it under the rug, which asyour friendly neighborhood therapist. I’m going to just go ahead and say is a tiny bit unhealthy. But that’s it. That’s the still technically unsolved murder of Bob Crane. WHO DID IT!
I think it was John Carpenter. Like 100%
seems pretty like 99.9%. But he smashed him in the head while he was in his car and then like, drugged him in somewhere, I guess.
Yeah. And then like, finish the job and the apartment like Yeah, yeah, that’s what it seems like to me too.
Wow. Well, that was awesome.
Travel Tips: Reykjavik, Iceland
So I am going today to Reykjavik, Iceland. Yes, I really, really want to go.
Can we put it on our European tour, please? Iceland looks so beautiful. And my friend who lives down the street for me. Leenic is Icelandic. So she will give us the the info on all the good places to go. I’m sure.
That’s amazing. Yeah, it’s been on my list for a long time. And a few years ago, I actually almost went because you remember that WOW Air that had like the purple airplanes. Like they were around for a little while.
Jennifer Aniston do their commercials, or am I thinking of something else.
Probably she does a lot
She’s still working.
They had a poor or whatever, in St. Louis. And they have $200 round trip tickets to Iceland. I knew some people who went there because of that. So it was on my list. I was gonna do it. And then WOW airlines closed so….
probably because there’s no way that they would have made money off somebody going from St. Louis to Iceland for $200.
It was one of those things where it was like the ticket was really cheap. But if you wanted anything extra at all costs extra,
like bags or leg room or snacks.
Air to Breathe. Yeah, exactly.
Oh, you want oxygen. That’ll be 100 extra dollars.
Like somehow this flight was $1000! ANywho. Iceland is a small Nordic island country, it’s just below the Arctic Circle circles. So the entire country has like 360,000 people, and about 125,000 of those people live in Reykjavik. So that’s like a good, almost half of the population is in the capital city.
Now, because Iceland literally has ice in its name, I think it’s safe to say that it’s pretty cold there. But interestingly enough, from what I could see the average temperatures are not like Minnesota in the dead of winter temperatures. Like they, they’re pretty consistent. So it’s cold all the time, but it’s not very, very cold, and then very, very hot the way it might be elsewhere. So it’s like, generally ranges between 41 and 77 degrees, with the majority of the time at being closer to like 50 to 55. Guys will say though, I found some weather data from like, 1990. And back then it said that it rarely reaches above 60 degrees. So climate change… a whole 17 degrees difference there.
For this reason, timing is kind of important for our visit to the land of ice and fire, especially because there’s a lot we want to see outside. So we would not want to go when it was in the 40s. And so we’d likely go in like June or July. Okay, our tour would likely be mostly on but because the city is so small, and most of the main attractions are kind of like within one area. And knowing our love for architecture and cool churches, there is no doubt that one of the first things we’d want to do is go see the iconic Hallgrimskirkja Church.
Now this is a big massive church that looks like a rocket ship that is like taking off and has like smoke coming out of it. Like it was so cool looking also kind of looks like the tip of an arrow. I’ll be sure to have you post a picture. But it kind of like echoes some of Iceland’s landscapes and it’s the tallest church in the country. It’s so funny. It was supposed to be shorter. And then the catholic church built a church and they wanted to be taller than them. So pretty funny.
Yeah. And you can go up to the top of the tower and look out and see all of Reykjavik, which is pretty cool. That is cool. ALso, we’re pretty mature. So we might also want to go to one of Reykjavik’s most unusual attractions. The Iceland Phallogical museum. Yeah.
The leaning tower of Let’s hope not.
They have over 200 penises from animals native to Iceland, and its waters, so there are specimens from whales and seals and a polar bear, and all kinds of other stuff like that.
I don’t know that I want to see that many animal dicks.
I went to the sex Museum in New York. And it started with like, people, people stuff on the first level, there was like, a porno playing and stuff. Then as you went up, it got to the animal section. That’s the section I was I enjoyed the most I was like, well, it’s just because they have every penis is so different.
Sometimes the quotes just write themselves.
Well, like, some, like turtles are really long or whatever. And like snakes have a double penis like it’s no yeah, it’s like,
As if I didn’t have a big enough reason to be scared of snakes, double penis. The hand motions that Emily is making right now are just nightmare-inducing.
Well, to get you out of your nightmare, we would also want to go to the Golden Circle, which is outside of Reykjavik, but it’s a must see, it’s like kind of the nature area. And that’s where we’re going to see the full beauty of Iceland. It is one of the most geologically fascinating areas, especially the Rift Valley, which is where when you go there, you can literally stand between the tectonic plates of North America and Eurasia, back and like, see where they start to like, have their edges and stuff. Whoa, I know crazy. That’s cool. I’m honestly usually more of a museum gal than a nature gal. But it all sounds like so incredibly cool. That I think if we were really there, we’d want to go do those things. Yeah.
If we’re gonna do Iceland we do Iceland like that.
yeah and I’ve if we’re really lucky we’ll find the time and the right tour guide and the like location to see the northern lights which is something I want to see before I die for sure.
Um, another thing we definitely want to do in nature is the Blue Lagoon, which is a man made lagoon turned luxury spa.
Yes, girl. Yes.
So it’s a geothermal pool. Pale Blue Water set amongst all the big like volcanic black rocks and is warmed to 99 to 102 degrees steam rises up off of it, and you can like sit snugly in the pool, even when it’s freezing cold outside.
That sounds amazing. I love a hot springs situation.
You do live in Colorado Springs.
There are not hot springs in Colorado Springs… you’re thinking of Glenwood Springs.
It’s a stupid! Don’t put springs in the name if it doesn’t have springs.
I didn’t name it Emily. I just live here.
Also at the Blue Lagoon, they have spa like activities. So you can go to the mask bar and like they have this silica and algae mask. That’s a facial treatment that’s really good for your your skin apparently. And there’s a swim up bar. So no, I’ll be there. And of course, we can go on any trip without chatting about the food for a hot minute. So apparently, traditional Icelandic foods. There’s a lot of like fermentation happening, which I am not a fan of… hate sauerkraut. Like I am not a fermenting person.
No, no kombucha, but sauerkraut. I like.
I just don’t like it. It’s too.. vinegary or something? Some of the fermented foods include include rotten shark.
Roasted sheep skull like hard pass hard pass for me.
I’d try it.
I mean, I’d have to because I can’t say no. Like I I’d have to try a little bit. I mean, I famously famously ate ox penis when I was in China. So like, everybody knows about it. I know that I would definitely try it. But I’d be like BLECH.
Luckily, they do have other things there. And so I think we’d want to go to The Food Cellar, which is located in 160 year old building in the center of Reykjavik. And apparently, it will have our attention as soon as we step into the elegant atmosphere. In the evenings, they have live music, and you have cocktails, and they have a secret menu. So you don’t know what’s on the menu. But you go in, it’s a six course Chef’s Choice meal. You have to have it for the whole table. And then the kitchen basically like takes you on a mysterious Food Adventure where diversity is key part of the website.
And then one final thing food wise, apparently when we’re there, we have to have an Icelandic hot dog. Okay. And what sets Icelandic hotdogs apart is that they are made from lamb, pork and beef. Yeah. And they’re apparently all free range and grass fed, which I’m like, Okay, sure. I’m sure every single hot dog in Iceland is?
Oh, yeah. Not of this just like whatever’s left over the pig in Iceland.
I mean, maybe that’s just America. But yeah, they’re all like no, actually, when we say it’s organic, it’s actually organic. But in terms of condiments, Icelandic hot dogs are served on a warm steamed bun topped with raw white onions, crispy fried onions, ketchup, and a sweet brown mustard called pyulsisnap and a remoulaide which is made with mayo, capers, mustard and herbs so wow that’s a sauces and stuff Yeah, I’m for. I like a lot of condiments.
And see I’m very much less on the condiments like I I don’t want a ton of condiments
like I on a burger want mayo and ketchup and maybe some mustard too. And sometimes barbecue sauce.
A little barbecue sauce and cheese and that’s all I really want.
I love it. Okay, now they’ve talked for like frickin 30 minutes about Iceland, but it’s like a very unique destination. We’ve never gone to, deal with it.
I loved it. I loved every delicious second of it.
ALL the rotten shark meat we can eat!
All the free range rotten sharks… I’m into it.
I’m pretty sure all sharks are free range.
Have you seen there’s this thing on tik tok right now that people are responding to I don’t know if I sent it to you because Emily and I, we’ve talked about this before we share tik tok. So for the podcast and so we usually will send each other videos that we find especially hilarious, but I’m gonna send you this. It was this, I think woman who like walked up on what looks like a group of co workers taking a break together. And this guy is chatting with the group. He goes, isn’t it so crazy that sharks and camels have no idea that the other exists? And nobody’s talking?
Okay, I haven’t seen that. But I’ve seen the follow up video where this kid like debunks it and he’s like, actually, camels can swim and they swim out into the ocean a lot. It’s like, Why what? Like, totally strange.
That is the weirdest mansplaining I’ve ever heard. Well, actually a camels swim out into the ocean. Like do they do it? No.
He’s like a fact…. He’s like a science guy or whatever. And he’s like, actually fill in here like pictures of them like they swim far out into the ocean. Why? Why do you need to do that camel. Okay.
Trust no camel.
Trust no one. Okay. Anyways, let’s get on with the story. So, this was a story suggested to us by @elessup. Probably pronouncing that wrong, but they are from tik tok. Um, but thank you so much for the recommendation. I had definitely vaguely heard about this story before, but I had never done a deep dive and I’m really glad that I did. So today I’m going to be talking about the Reykjavik confessions. Do you know anything about them?
I don’t know much about it. I’ve heard of it briefly, but I don’t really remember.
That’s how I felt too. I was like, I feel like I’ve heard of this. And as I researched it, I was like, vaguely familiar, but not enough that I remembered much. So let’s dive in.
So as I alluded to earlier, Iceland is known as the land of ice and fire. Ice we’ve discussed obviously, but why fire? Well, that comes from the fact that Iceland is covered with lava fields. So lava fields are like miles and miles of hardened lava that cooled as it was running across the ground and like, created lava rock formations. I kind of looks like brains, in my opinion, like, just the way that the it’s got that look. And then there’s like big crevices between them, sometimes that lead down to caves or whatever. So these were mostly created in the late 1700s when this massive volcano erupted and like it was a cataclysmic event for Iceland back then. But whatever, like,
Whatever. That’s not the horrible thing we’re talking about right now.
Deal with it. It left behind some incredible formations. They look really cool. Okay.
Thank you for your sacrifice.
sings Sarah McClaughlin, In the Arms of Angels
Chapter 2: Reykjavik Confessions
I tell you that to tell you this back on the night of January 26 1974. A storm had blown in from the Atlantic with snow falling in thick clumps on the lava fields. Nonetheless, 18 year old Guðmundur Einarsson had been partying at a dance hall in the Harbor Town of Hafnarfjörður which is south of Reykjavik. Now he was pretty drunk. So he decided he was gonna walk despite the fact that it was six miles away, and it was winter. And I don’t know not a smart choice. Not a smart choice now. And I mean, he paid dearly for it because apparently, as he was walking home, a few people spotted him.
One driver said they saw him walking like super unsteadily with another man trying to hitch a ride. A little while later, someone else saw him almost alone, or he was now alone. He almost fell in front of another vehicle. Like they left him there. They weren’t going to pick up a drunk.
Gudmunder… never seen again. Disappeared off the face of the earth. No idea where he went.
So the people of Reykjavik start to search. And for several days, they searched the lava fields hoping to find the young man because there’s this cracks and crevices and it’s like dangerous terrain. So it’s also possible that someone could like fall while intoxicated and hurt themselves and just need help. But the snow is super thick. It was like a foot deep at this point. And after a few weeks, the hunt got called off.
But like the thing is, is that Iceland disappearances aren’t really all that strange. Like I said, it’s dangerous terrain and – this is so strange to me – there are these legends that over 50% of the people of Iceland still believe to this day, that there are mythical elves that live in the dark spaces under the lava. And when they get upset about someone walking on the lava or like encroaching on their territory, they like, do bad things and kidnap people and stuff.
It was so funny. The article I was reading was like, “it sounds like something that a crazy lady would say!” Which I’m like, HEY!
You’re like I believe it. I would. I’m the 50%.
NO. But yeah, I’m like, why lady? Like it sounds like something a crazy person would say, but then they’re like, they literally do surveys and over 50% of people in Iceland are like, it’s possible. It is possible that these elves are out there.
Why is it always a lady? You never hear “crazy cat man.”
Cats never came into this situation!
I was just thinking, Crazy Cat Lady. Not crazy cat. SIR. There’s no equivalent there.
There really isn’t is there? It’s because if a man did it they’d be like, “He’s such a caring person.”
Listen, though, like that would get us both and you fucking know it.
Oh, every time I see a guy with a cat on his dating site I’m like swipe right! Yes, yes. I don’t care what they look like. No, I’m just kidding. Okay.
We dot care what you look like. Definitely.
So basically, Gudmundur became a statistic, one of the dozens of people that have vanished in Iceland. And he probably would have faded from the public’s memory. If it weren’t for the fact that 10 months later in November of 1974. Another man, Geirfinnur Einarrson also disappeared. Now, Geirfinnur did share the same last name as Gudmundur, but they were not related. Just a weird coincidence.
Okay, so Geirfinnur was a 32 year old construction worker. And he lived kind of near like Iceland’s main airport. He had two young children and a wife. And here’s where the story gets a little weird. So on the night of November 19, he was at home. And he received a phone call, and drove to this Harbor Cafe in Keflavik and parked his car a little distance away from the cafe, and then left his keys in the ignition and and walked away. Never seen again. disappeared.
Crazy, right? Yes. So if you’ll remember, this is not a massive city, they have about 120,000 people. In the in the 70s, probably a few less than that. Two men disappearing in the same year, like nowhere to be seen ever again sparked some interest. Especially the interest of one lawyer. Valtyr Sigurdsson, and he was like, “You know what, we did not do anything when that first man disappeared. This time, we’re going to actually do some freakin investigating and get to the bottom of this!”
So they start combing through Gierfinnur’s life. They check his bank accounts, his letters, they talked to his wife. And although there were some rumors that he had been involved in some, like illegal alcohol smuggling, they couldn’t really find any evidence of this. So then they turn their focus on the man who had made the phone call to Geirfinnur, apparently, who had called him to, like come to the harbor or whatever.
Could not find him, like did a nationwide hunt for the person who had called, came up with nothing. And so after months of effort, there was no body, no forensic evidence, no witnesses. And basically in the summer of 1975, they started to wind down the investigation and just kind of like, “I guess we’ll never know.” But of course, people still talk. People are still curious what the hell happened to these guys. And they’re a little bit irritated that the police couldn’t seem to figure things out. Apparently, the cops had bungled a case a few years prior and the city folks were still upset about it. And so the cops were under a lot of added pressure to get someone arrested for these issues and apparent murders, even though there’s no body, and put someone behind bars.
And then this little break in the case happened. A rumor started to circulate about a petty criminal who word on the street claimed to know something about the disappearances. This man was named Saevar Ciesielski and Saevar was known to the police so he was already a small time crook. He been caught importing cannabis from Denmark and until now his crimes had not gotten him in jail at all but his luck was about to run out unfortunately.
So one day the police were actually investigating another like unrelated crime and they happened upon Saevar apartment in Hafnarfjordur. And based on this crime, they arrested him and his girlfriend Erla Bolladottir – and pretty distressing to me is that they had an 11 week old daughter that they had to leave behind, presumably with a family member, I hope. I mean, obviously.
They didn’t just they don’t just like leave her to fend for herself??
Give her a rattle. She’ll entertain herself! So in custody, Erla opened up to whatever minor crime that they had her in for and she was about to leave the interrogation room, when the police slapped a photo of Gudmundur onto the table. And Erla actually recognized the young man. She said she had actually been at parties and he was there.
Sure, it’s not that big of a city, right?
And she said they had talked and it seemed like he kind of liked her. So she remembered his face because he was cute and flirty. But she had a boyfriend, Saevar, so she didn’t like make anything of it, but she remembered him. And I’m not totally clear why they showed Erla the photo, like maybe they honestly just showed it to anyone who came through the station because they’re still like, set on finding whatever happened to Gudmundur. But they really latched on to Erla’s memory that she said that she was with him that night, because they came to find out that the party that she saw him at was that party, that last night he had gone missing. So they’re like, Uh huh. Like you were with him that night. And she’s like, I mean, I was at the same place….
She’s like, “I too like to party. That’s why I wore my tuxedo t shirt.”
I’m here to party. So she recounted to them, like what she remembered from that night. You know, the handsome suitor, the fact that it snowed, it was really cold that night. But she also remembered having kind of a memorable dream that night. Must have been memorable that it stuck out like several months later, but she she told him she had had this dream that she heard Saevar and his friends whispering outside of her window. And like in the dream, it freaked her out, I guess. Doesn’t sound like a scary dream to me, but it must have it just really freaked her out.
Whispering can be very scary.
Yeah, it’s like, What are you planning?
Well, like, you know, like an angry mom when you’re in church, the whisper fighting? Like, they give me the crazy eyes.
Yes… the “we’ll talk about this when we get home.” Exactly. So the police latch on to the fact that she had this dream. And they’re all like, I bet it wasn’t a dream. I bet you witness something traumatic, the aftermath of a murder and you’ve been blocking it out.
That is some interesting interrogation and definitely not leading a suspect in any way whatsoever.
So get ready to use that sarcastic tone for the rest of this story.
Yes, this is basically when the investigation took a turn. And the police officer gets up in her face and is like we’re going to help you recall everything and you are not going to be able to leave here until you tell us what happened to Gudmundur Einarsson. They also warned Erla that this was a very serious crime. And they had every right to keep her in solitary confinement indefinitely if she did not cooperate
What is with you and these solitary stories!
I was like, we just talked about this!
And I am sure with an 11 week old at home. This is pretty distressing, like yeah, she’s just trying to get home to her kid. The threat of being in solitary confinement is terrifying. And so alone in her cell at night, apparently Erla like laid awake and worried and tried to figure out in her head, like, what was real. And what was her imagination. She’s already starting to think like, Well, did I hear them whispering? Or was it a dream? I can’t quite remember. And this thing, this thought is just nagging at her. Like, is it possible that her boyfriend killed someone in their apartment and she saw the whole thing and just like blocked it out?
Feels unlikely but that is what the police thought happened. And over the course of a few days, she was put through long interviews. All without a lawyer present. And finally, after one interview that went on for 10 hours, the police prepared a statement for her, which she signed, saying she had seen Saevar and three of his friends with a body wrapped in a bedsheet and it was definitely the body of Gudmundur Einarsson. So then the police go to get Saevar, and they’re like, “your girl said you did this thing.” And surprisingly enough, he’s just like …maybe I did. Yeah, he’s like, I guess. It’s like, I don’t understand why he caved so fast.
This has a very satanic panic vibes. When you’re like, Did this happen to you? And you’re like, sure. I mean, I guess
Oh, yeah. He’s like, I guess maybe I know something about the death of this guy. And he like, basically starts talking, admits that he was part of it, and goes even further to implicate his closest friends as helping which I’m like, you fucking asshole. I’d be like, don’t you pull me into this!
If I somehow get led to think that I committed a crime that I didn’t actually do. I’m going to tell them someone I hate. I’m not going to throw you under the bus. Right? You have to carry on my legacy as a chance to get me out. You’re going to be making posters. You got to be out there using that communications degree!
I’m going to Michelle McNamara this shit hard.
McNamara the shit out of that.
Oh, that needs to be a verb. That woman is a hero.
Love her. RIP.
She’s the best … Italian Kiss. Okay. So the first friend that he implicated was Kristjan Vidarsson. Kristjan was this big dude with a tough guy rap. But apparently he was a super gentle soul and kind of like looked after Saevar who was super scrawny. But he did have a pension for drugs and burglaries. So you know, he was on the police’s radar.
So he’s like a teddy bear… No, he’s not a regular teddy bear. He’s like Ted, like from the movie.
FUCK YOU, THUNDER!! hahaha
The second friend that he threw under the bus was Tryggvi Leifsson. And apparently Tryggvi was a fighter type of type of guy that gets in a bar fights a lot, you know, trying to be a tough guy.
So no fun to drink with him.
No. He’d served time before again also for petty crimes. The police are basically like, “Perfect! Criminals we already know! Perfect, we’ve already got them in this system less paperwork.! So they arrest the two men and keep them in isolation. Where they’re only human contact is with their interrogators basically told if they refuse to cooperate, they’re solitary confinement would be extended from weeks to months. And it could go on for years.
You can’t Rapunzel people as a police officer.
Apparently they can in Iceland, I don’t know,
*in the 70s. Big asterix there.
Yes, asterix. So after several weeks of continuous lengthy interrogations, Kristjan and Tryggvi admitted to killing Gudmunnder.
Yeah, I bet they did if they were in fucking isolation.
Exactly. And they’re like, it was over a fight over payment for a bottle of alcohol. Like, very odd. Yeah. And then last but not least, the final accomplice that Saevar was like, “Oh, don’t forget, Albert!” Albert Skaftason, who was this like kind of gentle man whose only previous contact with the police had been because he had some weed on him. And so he was kind of like the sidekick of the group and he really struggled to cope with like the isolation and the interrogations. So he pretty quickly admitted to transporting the body to the lot of fields and hiding it in one of the gaping cracks. So the cops are like, boom, salted, and they close that good murder case.
Great work, great work, everyone. Isolation.
Applause, get these men the key to the city. And then they’re like a high on all of the lauding and magnifying that’s happening to them. And so they’re like, ah, could we kill two birds with one stone? Have we stumbled upon a murderous gang of young men? That also definitely killed Geirfinner!
“OH, I heard if we keep them away from all other people and things and basic necessities for human survival and whatever, they’ll confess!”
Yeah, apparently there were some rumors that Saevar knew about this disappearance, too. He had been heard, saying that Geirfinner had a big mouth. And so the investigators are like, we should look into this. And they knew that the best way to get to Saevar was through Erla. Home girl already implicated her boyfriend and his friends once before, so like, why not?
So one day, out of the blue, an officer calls Erla up and asks if she thought Saevar might know something about the second disappearance. And she had a one word response.
Maaaaaybe. And they were there, like, “Good enough!” The very next day, they showed up and told her they had reasonably that she had experienced something traumatic, again, concerning Geirfinnur’s disappearance, and they were going to help her remember.
Wow, nice guys.
Nice way to reuse the plan from last time.
We’re helpers we’re here to help you remember?
Yeah. This time, unfortunately, it kind of backfired on Erla, because in January of 1976, the police began questioning Saevar and his friends about Geirfinnur’s disappearance, and then soon she was also a suspect.
But here’s one problem they keep running into the accomplices’ stories keep changing. At first, they say that Geirfinnur died after falling off a boat. And then it was that there was a fight on board the boat. Then it was all these other stories, and it took a year and a half for them all to agree on like a final version that was presented to the court. By the way, the final version is the Geirfinnur was killed on dry land among some empty rustling halls of a fishing boat. Then his body was taken to Reykjavik hidden in the cellar of Kristjan’s grandmother’s house for several days, and then taken to the lava fields where it’s put in a shallow grave and burned. Sure. So quite a far cry from falling off a boat, which was the first thing they came up with.
Yep, seems legit. Right?
It’s like the game telephone!
Or it’s like the tin can! World tours worst scavenger hunt.
Just adding to it, where it’s like, just add to the story.
Oh, yeah. It’s like an icebreaker you play at church camp, where they’re like, Okay, everybody does one sentence at dand you’re gonna have to get there.
It’s like, the boy threw the ball. And then the next one is like, the boy threw the ball and the girl caught it. Then it like you It keeps going and going. It’s so stupid. Okay, yeah.
So they put all these people into solitary confinement again, and they’re basically hoping that putting them in solitary confinement, they’re going to keep opening up more and cooperating even more, maybe tell them where the bodies are hidden.
They’re gonna solve all the murders and disappearances in Iceland!
Right? Like, let’s also figure out what happened to Amelia Earhart!
What’s up with the Bermuda Triangle??
But the cops are getting really annoying, because instead of basically like copping to a bunch of things, they’re not helping, they’re not getting any more information, because there’s no information in their brain to be able to give them.
So the Icelandic government brings in this cop from Germany that has this like stellar reputation. Like, everyone thought of him as Super cop. He was incredible at his job. His name was Karl Schuttz. I guess he had taken on and like broken up a gang in the 70s. They were like, he’ll be able to solve this in no time.
So he set up a task force and took like a third of the Iceland detective squad, and they start looking, first and foremost for another suspect, because I guess Saevar and Kristjan kept implicating this sixth man, like there was a sixth guy as part of the killing group. They kept calling him “the foreigner.”
You know, the other guy. He’s real. We swear. We just can’t remember his name.
It’s, it was foreign and we don’t remember it.
Yeah. It was like Mike. They all have these complicated names and they’re like “Mike” over there.
Well, unfortunately for Mike, aka the foreigner. The police did a search and found Gudjon Skarphedinsson, who is a 32 year old former teacher and teacher or not, he was not an angel by any means.
They never are. Sorry teachers.
We know your secret! We went to a Teachers College.
Yeah, we did.
He was like very embracing the 70s had a lot of sex did a lot of drugs. And apparently one of his former students was Saevar and he had let Saevar smuggle drugs into Iceland using his car.
Cool teacher. I’m not a regular teacher. I’m the cool teacher.
Smuggler those drugs!
Sneaky sneaky. So the police decide makes total sense. That Saevar called on his teacher to help drive and kill Geirfinnur. So apparently, they brought in Gudjon and told him like you’re the only one who knows about this and can tell the truth like you are the chosen one. And he wanted to help. He’s like, I want to help like solid murder, I guess. But his memory was fuzzy. And he couldn’t even remember what he was doing in November of 1974. Remember the drugs or whatever.
So sure enough. So for a lot of that year, this Karl Schutz, the German detective was not deterred by the fact that Gudjon did not remember anything from 74. He was quite an effective interrogator. And he would basically tell people that if they confessed, they’d feel better. God’s gonna look upon you with a blessing. Yeah. And he was very, very convinced that these six people work together to kill these two men. So he was like, I am going to make back ensure that they all give consistent confessions because that’s the only way to lock this in. Right?
Yeah. So I am not going to lead them because I know that they will all tell me the same thing, even if I give them no information whatsoever.
Erla was the first to fold. DAMN IT Erla you’re making us look bad.
Erla, the one woman in the story… we’re like stay strong bitch!
She’s like, I’ll fold. But she was told that if she signed this report that they created, she’d be released and she desperately wanted to get back to her daughter, who was now a toddler.
Oh, she was in. She was away from her daughter that long?
Yeah. Because they’re all in jail. And like in solitary confinement.
I don’t think I realized they held her that entire time, I thought she had to go back for a little bit. And then they pulled her again. Oh, God!
She might have gone back for a little while when they were like between the first guy in the second guy, but the second guy, they’ve been like, all incarcerated. So she basically signed her confession and told them that she helped dispose of the body.
Oh, Erla…that’s not gonna get you back to your kid.
I know, right? Well, in after months of solitary confinement, this girl decided like, it’s easier to say yes. Then to hold out and like, I can’t be in solitary confinement anymore. And so they’re like, Okay, well, you helped hide the body or dispose of the body, where is it? And so she’s like, uhm… in the lava fields. And so they would take her to the lava fields, sometimes on her own sometimes with Saevar and they would ask like, “Could it be here?” And she would say, “Maaaaaybe” like, I don’t know, you know,
Thanks for letting me out and around human people.
Seriously, over two year period, the police took all six of the alleged killers on at least 60 separate occasions to look for the two victims.
Oh my god, sixty… like 6-0
Yep! The teacher Gudjon actually said he started to look forward to the trips because at least he got to leave solitary and go outside.
They also did a lot more than just like walk them around the lava fields. They would set up scenes with like a dummy laying on the ground and act the ask them to like, is this what the scene looked like? Can you reenact this or whatever. And there’s this picture of one of the people like reenacting killing someone with one of the detectives, so they’re like leading them into like, Okay, why don’t you reenact slicing my throat?
Oh, my God.
Psychologists say this is super dangerous strategy because you’re taking someone to a crime scene and reenacting it. Then you’re supposed to have allegedly have done this, but you don’t have really clear knowledge of what took place, contaminates the entire case. Like, once you’ve enacted something, it becomes more of a reality. So once they’ve like gone and seen the scene or like, acted it out, their brains not going to be able to continue differentiating between what someone’s telling them and what they did. Because now they’ve done it. Yeah.
Essentially it’s kinesthetic learning, you’re learning by doing and then they’re like, yeah, I mean, I remember that happening. And our memories are weird. We can remember things that I sometimes there was this, this is not the same, but you know how my brain works? Yeah. Have you watched that show on Netflix? It’s like Love on the Spectrum, or something?
I haven’t. But I know you’re talking about
It’s cute. It’s very cute. But I had this incredibly vivid dream that there was one more episode, where it came out that all of the people who are on the spectrum were actually actors, and none of them had autism. And I was convinced, and I had to go back to Netflix and double-check. But really, that didn’t happen. It was just a dream. But I remember it vividly. Like, I watched that. And I was like, I was convinced you had autism. That’s a really good idea. And also, why would you make me watch they said that it not be true,
My subconscious is real weird. Seriously.
I’ve definitely had dreams and stuff before where I’m like, the next day, I’ll think it it actually happened. And I’m like, No, I guess it didn’t, you know, but yeah, well, and what’s the Mandela effect? Like, our brains can fuck with that people!
I just saw TikTok on that, where it’s like, everyone remembers Jerry Maguire as him running in with the white shirt and the sunglasses. You rewatch it, his shirt is not white, and he does not have sunglasses on. But collectively, everyone thinks of it with sunglasses in the white shirt.
Have you seen that thing with the Berenstein bears versus the Baronstein bears?
It’s Berenstein!! I cannot believe it’s actually Baronstein. It blows my mind.
No, it’s definitely Berenstein like, did we go through a time vortex? What? Oh, wait, no, you’re right. It’s like I remember Berenstein.
Yeah. But then other places say it’s BerenSTAIN or something like
Oh, that’s right. It’s like spelled differently like,
I’m like, but you look at the books and it says Bearenstain and I’m like, I don’t understand it. So our brains are weird.
Either that or we’re now through the portal on the other side of the universe.
Could be that for sure. Yep. Okay. Yep. So of course, the suspects are not able to help them locate any bodies because the suspects aren’t even sure if they’ve ever even been there before. Luckily, a prison doctor was there to help. And they gave Gudjon some drugs to help him sleep. And relax. Fantastic. You know what after that he finally confessed.
Yeah, it was such a pleasant dream where you took me to the crime scene and reenacted it, and then I remembered it all.
Yeah, funny how that works. So here’s where we’re at: All six have now confessed to their involvement to the two murders. There’s no physical evidence. All the suspects memories are super hazy. But they’ve all told the police and signed statements to say yes, they killed Geirfinnur and Gudmundur or help dispose of their bodies. So on the second of February 1977, after all these confessions were made, the Minister of Justice finally said like, “AH! The nation’s nightmare is over!” Which I’m like, two guys disappeared. That’s the nation’s nightmare? Like I’d love to live there. Geez, jeez.
You’re like try living in America right now.
Oh, God, I feel everything.
Can’t can’t can’t can’t. Yeah, craziness. And so Karl Schutz that German detective guy announced that the killers had been found. He even told the press conference that the crimes had been committed by a small group of petty criminals who used every opportunity they could to get their hands on money. It is beyond a reasonable doubt that as criminal experts like to put it, it’s safe to assume that this is an open and shut case. This is what he told reporters. So now, the community is also like, yep, they did it. Awesome.
A nation’s nightmare finally over
Finally. So in December, two years after the first arrests, the court delivered its verdict sidebar, Shia sinskey was given the harshest sentence life in prison for the two murders. The five other suspects were giving sentence were given sentences ranging from 12 years for Gudjon to three years for Erla. The End? Not quite, obviously.
I’m like, please, no
No. So nowadays, and obviously we’ve just been saying this throughout, but like we’re all able to see all the red flags going up. When we’re talking about the way that these interrogations went. We know that despite the fact that from the outside looking in, it’s like if you didn’t do it, how could you ever confess, like, it happens? It happens a lot.
Yeah, put me in solitary confinement …like I’m an extrovert. I’ll be gone. like two days, like, I’ll tell you whatever you want.
Give you like 37 minutes. Yeah, people crack under the scenarios. Like just last week. If you go listen to happy hour with horrible history from last week, we go into the details of what happens to your brain when you’re in solitary confinement. And these six people were placed under insane circumstances. Yeah.
Tryggvie spent 655 days in solitary confinement. So like two years, that is the longest recorded stint of solitary confinement outside of Guantanamo Bay. Erla herself, spent 242 days alone. And they had barely any access to lawyers throughout this entire time. Erla was interviewed later, and she said, it’s almost like you’re a split personality. She was like, deep down. I knew that it didn’t happen. But somehow I wasn’t sure at the same time, she said she became so distrusting of her own memory, that she began to doubt that she even had a baby. She said she would try to like picture her daughter’s face, and she couldn’t see it. But she didn’t want to ask anybody.
Because she was 11 weeks like, right, you’re so sleep deprived. And the first few months after having a baby, that you’ll look down one day and be like, this isn’t a newborn. How do you handle this ever? Yeah, it’s it goes so fast. Even when you are with them every day. They’re changing so rapidly, like yeah, and you’re sleep deprived? You’re hallucinating, basically. And, and as you talked about on Happy Hour, also happens when you are in solitary?
Yeah, hallucination. She was so terrified she’d never see her daughter again. She said that she would just wait and wait for someone to say something that would like confirm to her that she had a daughter because she was so like, Oh, did I have a kid like I am losing it.
So she now and all of them now really think that these are obviously symptoms of what some people call memory distress syndrome, which was originally identified by Gisli Gudjonsson, who’s a professor of forensic psychology.
And essentially, it’s like, the condition where people develop this like profound distrust of their own memory. And then because of that becomes super susceptible to relying on external cues and suggestions from others. Which is great when you have investigators suggesting things to you constantly, right and not great, awesome. Yeah, there’s like a series of factors that contributed to this. And especially for these six people becoming victims of memory distress syndrome, the most prominent being all the psychological effects of the interrogations. So, this generally is like the police undermining their memory of their alibi until they’re no longer certain what they did or didn’t commit.
Erla was left in confinement, wondering whether the events she remembered were in her imaginations, or imagination or not. Saevar coped really badly in solitary confinement because he had ADHD. No, but despite this, his interrogations frequently exceeded the six-hour legal limit. And he remained in confinement for for long stretches of time, his lawyer was rarely present during his questioning. And for two months, the light in his cell was kept on 24 hours a day. No. So sleep deprivation,
Oh, my God, that’s actual torture.
It’s torture. Gudjon kept a diary during his detention. And that diary now provides some super interesting insight into the mental state. And the thought processes of the suspects
Probably helped keep him sane, too. Writing out his thoughts like that.
His mental health was already kind of not in a great place before confinement. I guess his wife was really concerned with his mental state, as early as like the spring of 1974. But he kind of refused to see a psychiatrist at the time. But then, when he started being interviewed about the murders and his connection to this all, and then he denied knowing anything. After extensively being interviewed for 25 hours, he began to contemplate his role, and kind of was like maybe I maybe I did travel there on that day, like, I can’t even remember it.
But I must have, you know, and the police just totally took advantage of his mental state and used it to cultivate this confession. Yeah. And then his diary, as you read it, it just shows like further deterioration of his mental health. One quote that he wrote in his diary, as I’m all breaking down and hardly recognize my name with certainty. So Later, it also came out that there were other aspects of the interrogations that were really horrible. Prison officers were recruited to befriend the inmates in order to extract more information. There was one man, Helina Thor Magnuson, which I’m like, Yes, your male name is Thor. That’s incredible.
Sexy. Go on.
And he was handpicked to to do this. He said that Saevar was singled out as the ringleader and given special treatment, aka His head was put into a washing bucket full of water. He was told if he didn’t confess he would be drowned.
Yeah, that’s torture.
Helinner was like, of course, he wasn’t drowned. But this, this is torture. Of course. Like, for even 40 years later, he’s just like, this guy was interviewed. And he was like, I feel so ashamed that I was part of that, like, obviously doing his job, but that he didn’t like say, like, I’m not doing that, you know, right, right haunts him. So, eventually, like 40 years later, aka, recently, in 2016, I reporter received copies of the diaries that Gudjon had kept, and was reading through them and was appalled by what was in them. So they took them to the courts. And this opened up an inquiry. That inquiry spent 18 months looking at all the available evidence. The report produced a really damning conclusion that the confession confessions were totally unreliable and therefore false. Yeah.
So basically, having looked at all of this evidence, this Gisli Gudjonsson guy who was the psychiatrist who kind of developed the mental distress syndrome, he was like these individuals had absolutely no idea what happened. They were just trying to appease the police. They’re trying to be cooperative, because they knew if they were not cooperative, they’d be given more solitary confinement like that is the long and short of it. Luckily, in September of 2018, Iceland Supreme Court acquitted the five men who are jailed for the murders. Oddly enough, Ariela is still campaigning to try to get her perjury conviction overturned. But I mean, all of them moved on with their lives eventually, as you’ll remember. Other than sidebar, none of them had long prison terms rightly. So a lot of them are out and about.
Here’s where all of them ended up.
Saevar Ciesielski: spent years trying to overturn his conviction. He moved to Copenhagen after he was released from jail and ended up on the streets where he died in 2011 at the age of 56.
Erla Bolladottir: remained in Iceland with her daughter. She trained as a language teacher and now teaches Icelandic to newly arrived migrants.
Kristjan Vidarsson: got married and had two children. He had a string of manual jobs, and he now lives alone in Reykjavik and rarely talks about the case.
Tryggvi Leifsson: became a decorator. He had three children, one sadly whom died in 2002. And after developing cancer. Tryggvi, died in 2009, at the age of 58,
Albert Skaftason: settled down and has a stable family life. He works with disadvantaged children. But he never talks publicly about the case since its release. Yeah, I don’t blame them for not talking publicly, right.
Like you don’t owe that to the public talk about their best talk with your support system.
Mm hmm. And last but not least:
Gudjon Skarphedinsson: moved to Denmark where he married and started a family. He trained to be a Lutheran minister and returned to Iceland and he just recently retired that day.
So all in all, the Reykjavik confessions tend to serve as a really hard lesson for the Icelandic police. And this particular case, certainly allows psychologists outline, hopefully some preventative measures so that this stops happening, like yes, not just in Iceland, but everywhere.
Like a lot of the psychologists that have been reading about this and weighing in are like, here’s what needs to happen. Police interview training improvement has to happen. They have to be trained better.
Yeah, recording of all the interviews has to happen and they have to be scrutinized. And like watched, and they need to really figure out how memory distrust works. So that cases of false confession can be minimized in the future like has to be something that people are more aware of. More and more prison systems or whoever can say, all of the like elements are right here for them to have this issue. We need to, you know, take it with a grain of salt or whatever. Yeah, so the Gudmunnder and Geirfinnur case is definitely a tale of mystery and mental torture.
We love alliteration here.
And, sadly, the truth behind the demise of those two men still unsolved, they were never found.
Wow, two unsolved mysteries in one episode.
It’s a twofer!
It’s a twofer. Wow, so good. Crazy, right.
Thank you. Thank you, @ELESSUP for recommending that to us.
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Transcribed by https://otter.ai