Swedish Karina Holmer won the lottery and decided to follow her dream of living in America for the summer. She didn’t know her dream would turn out to be her nightmare.
Karina used the $1500 she won to buy herself a flight to Boston in March of 1996 and worked as a nanny to fund her party lifestyle.
Karina worked for an artist Frank Rapp and his wife who lived outside the city. Karina looked after the couple’s children and did the daily chores. During the weekend she often went into Boston, and Frank Rapp let the young nanny stay overnight in his studio in the city. By all accounts, she was having the time of her life in Boston. Until she wasn’t.
In May 1996, only a few months after Karina arrived in America, she sent a cryptic note to her family. She’d abruptly decided to cut her trip short, writing “Something terrible has happened. I’ll reveal more when I get home.” A friend of Karina’s knew that something was bothering the young nanny, but she never found out the source.
On June 21st of 1996, Karina was out with friends at a popular club called Zanzibar. She was dressed to the nines, in a black top, tight silver pants and a necklace boldly emblazoned with the word BITCH. That’s 1996 for you. She was witnessed out all night, drinking and having fun. Evidently, Karina had too much fun as she passed out in a bathroom stall and was subsequently thrown out of the club. Alone in the alley by the club at 3am, Karina tried to get back into the club to find her friends but was denied. It looks like Karina didn’t let this ordeal get the best of her, as she was was next seen dancing merrily with a homeless man in the alley.
What happened after this is hazy. There were multiple conflicting witness reports, including that Karina had got in a car with a group of men, that she was travelling to a private party, and that she wandered down the road on her own.
Less than twelve hours later, two men rooted through a dumpster on a sunny afternoon, looking for cans. They picked up a black garbage bag and looked inside, but they didn’t find what they were expecting. Inside the bag was the upper half of Karina’s body. She was nude and scrubbed clean, including her makeup. Her neck had marks indicating she had been strangled with a rope. Her body was cut cleanly and precisely. The lower half of Karina’s body has never been found.
Police never found the crime scene either. The only evidence was a partial fingerprint on the garbage bag. Police had their suspects and ideas, but all suspects were eventually eliminated and the case has been cold for over twenty years.
My thoughts? I think Karina was the prey of a random attack. She was a beautiful drunk girl stumbling around the streets of Boston. While researching this case, I was reminded of the case of India Chipchase, a British girl who last year was murdered after getting into a taxi with a man she didn’t know. It does happen. While many people have looked at Karina’s employer, I just don’t think he could have gotten away with it. Additionally, the precise cutting of Karina’s body makes me think this murderer has killed before. Because cutting a body cleanly in half with no hesitation marks would be difficult. Also, her body was cleaned – a sick fetish or a way to hide evidence?
I’ll leave you with this poem, written by Karina when she was fifteen: “The richest gift you ever got is LIFE. Don’t throw that away or ever step on it. But hold it high in your hands.”