Interview conducted with Wulvaricht, Feb-Mar, 2021.
A Swedish version of Manhunter: The Story of the Swedish Occultist and Serial Killer Thurneman was originally released in 2013 by yourself under the Alruna imprint. What can you tell us about Alruna? How did you come to publish your own writings and how many books have you published?
(Original Swedish edition alongside English hardback edition)
I do not think it is appropriate that people who have less competence than me in my research area should sit and judge whether my books should reach the public or not. Therefore, I have not been so interested in contacting publishers in Sweden and ask if they want to read through my script. In addition, as a private publisher, I have more control over everything from book production to sales. Large publishers in Sweden do not give much in royalties to authors unless they are well-known ones.
When it came to the first book that I wrote, there were no plans at all on how it would be printed or come onto the market. I thought it'd be all right later on. When the book script was ready, I met a person by chance who in turn had contact with another person who was a book designer and had good contacts within Sweden's largest printing house. This allowed the book to come out. It is a unique local history book that deals with hauntings, paranormal phenomena, crime scenes, gallow hills and executioners in the Swedish city of Gothenburg.
The book called Spökhus i Göteborg (Haunted Houses in Gothenburg), and includes a biography of Elizabeth Stride who lived in Gothenburg before she moved to London and became a victim of Jack the Ripper.
The second book I wrote before the book about Thurneman deals with secret agents, spies and secret military activities in Gothenburg during World War II. This book is called Spionage i Göteborg (Espionage in Gothenburg).
(First book published on the case)
When you wrote your Thurneman book, were you aware of the 1970 movie, Den magiska cirkeln (The Magic Circle)?
I knew about the movie "The Magic Circle" when I wrote the book. I have not seen it and probably will not do so as it is difficult to get hold of this movie in Sweden. It has got a 4.8 rating on IMDb which does not give indications that it is a serious movie.
It is from the 1970s and is loosely based on the operations of The Magic Circle. All names are changed, etc. The film is a typical product of the Swedish 1970s, because it is based on materialistic, social-psychological explanatory models to explain Thurneman's criminality. This is despite the fact that Thurneman had spiritual ideologies as a motive for his activities.
(Some DMC paraphenalia: henbane, syringe, DMC pin and related stamps)
Why do you think this movie and other books on Thurneman have chosen to ignore the spiritual aspects of the story? One would think that the spiritual aspects would have been perfect for the movie, considering the 1970s were a time when all kinds of exploitation type films on the occult and witchcraft and magic were being pumped out.
The fact that the authors of previous books have not immersed themselves in the spiritual aspects of Thurneman's activities is due to the fact that they have had no insight into such subjects.
When it comes to the absence of spiritual aspects in the film about Thurneman, it is because, in Sweden, there has been no tradition of movies dealing with the occult. Sweden is one of the world's most secular countries.
(Guns seized from the Sala gang)
True crime has become quite "mainstream" in America with the advent of podcasts. Do you have a similar sort of public fascination in Sweden, too?
It is very popular in Sweden. Both with books and podcasts. Unfortunately, not many of them who run podcast do their own research. They read some books and Wikipedia articles about any case which they then recount completely uncritically in their podcast. Usually with many factual errors.
In the case of Thurneman, it seems that even the authors of true crime books write off previous books in an uncritical way with all factual errors included. A common factual error that is usually repeated in all frivolous books is that Thurneman's last victim, Pettersson, was shot on his own birthday. This is not true at all because there are several months between Pettersson's birthday and the day he was shot. This factual error has been written in some early book about Thurneman. Then this error has been repeated in book after book where the authors have only written of previous books with no additional research.
(Thurneman on right leading detectives to a stash in the woods)
In the last 7+ years since you wrote your Thurneman book, how much more about Thurneman and The Magic Circle has come to light? Have there been other books published in Sweden about the case?
My book says that Thurneman was a practitioner of the Left-Hand Path and black magic. Thurneman's own statement and the orientations of tantrism he exercised clearly point to this. Even the Theosophical Society singled out Thurneman as a black magician in letters they sent to both the court and the newspapers.
The new thing that has emerged since the book was written is that Thurneman himself told the court that he practiced black magic and that the murders were part of black magic rituals. These statements are included in the American edition of the book.
Another interesting fact that has come to light is that Thurneman was a skilled remote-viewer and that in this way he spied on several of Sala's residents.
There have been about five books written on Thurneman before my book. These are of varying quality. Two were only crime novels. My book is the only one that goes into depth when it comes to Thurneman's spiritual ideology. Unlike the other books, it has extensive footage. Several of the images are rare and have never been published before.
(Handmade grenades seized from the Sala gang)
Speaking of the court documents, how many of these have you been able to investigate? Obviously you have uncovered some details not presented before, but you have any idea how many files are not accessible? I am also reminded of the fact that you have been unable to find files related to Hans Link and his connections to the intelligence service there in Sweden.
I'm sure there are a lot of documents about Thurneman that I haven't been able to read because I don't know of their existence. To search Swedish archives, you need to know exactly what documents you are looking for. Ideally, you should have the indexing numbers. But sometimes there may be archivists in the staff who are themselves interested in the subject you are looking for and then they can usually help find the documents that you want to obtain.
In any case, I have tried to find as many documents as possible about Thurneman, but am convinced that there are more interesting documents about him in the archives that I have not read.
(Thurneman's crystal ball)
Did Thurneman show how his murders were “ritual” in nature? They seem to lack all common characteristics of “black magick” or “ritual” murders: meaning no occult symbols or paraphernalia left at the crime scenes, no ritual disfigurement, no blood drinking.
In court, Thurneman was forbidden from talking about esoteric things. But according to reliable sources, he was given one day to share his spiritual orientation. This was to bribe him so that he would start talking about his criminal activities. Thurneman explained that several of the murders were carried out according to special sacred days and rituals of black magic. What Thurneman said about black magic in this court hearing may have been transcribed. But to go to different archives around Sweden and read over 5000 pages from the investigation to possibly find transcriptions is not practicable. It is not even certain that what Thurneman said on this day in court has been transcribed or preserved.
Daggers, cups, demonic figurines, etc. used in magical rituals are symbolic tools used by the magician to structure and channel the spiritual energies. Some experienced, high-level magicians say they no longer need to use ritual tools for their magical practice. Thurneman himself believed that personified images of the gods were more illustrative images for those who did not have the ability to think abstractly. He claimed that the gods were basically spiritual energies. It is therefore unlikely that Thurneman, who was an advanced magician, used much occult paraphernalia in his magical practice. There are different techniques for the practice of magic. From traditional ceremonial magic to more modern chaos magic techniques. The most important thing is not how to invoke, but who you invoke.
So the absence of occult paraphernalia or occult symbols at the crime scene does not mean that the crimes were not linked to black magic. It would not have been very practical to bring daggers, cups, and put up an altar if they were to carry out a crime in secret without attracting the attention of the victim and witnesses. If there was traditional ceremonial activity, it should have been carried out some time before Thurneman and his associates sought out the victim dedicated to the dark forces.
The killing of the victims in accordance with the black magic does not have to be made in accordance with traditional ceremonies.
However, Thurneman said in his interrogations with the psychiatrist that he intended to develop traditional ceremonial human sacrifices. He had read about ritual human sacrifices in Tibet and felt a strong attraction to wanting to carry out such sacrifices in Sweden.
In modern times, the new owners of Thurneman's house found a skeleton of a dog in the building that Thurneman used as a ritual chamber. This could possibly have been a ritual sacrifice.
(Fabricated license plates for use on stolen vehicles)
We know that Thurneman stayed focused upon his spiritual practices after his arrest, but did any of the members of The Magic Circle continue to practice any spiritual practices once they were charged with crimes and Thurneman was sent away?
It was like the magic spell was broken when the inner, more crime-active members were arrested and separated from Thurneman. They then tried to distance themselves from Thurneman, claiming that they had been under his hypnotic influence. It is difficult to say whether any of the members of the inner circle of The Magic Circle practiced spiritual practices after their release. There is not much information about their private lives after release.
However, there may have been spiritual activities among the younger members of the outer circle. It consisted of 20-30 members. Several of them waited all morning outside the court to catch a glimpse of their leader Thurneman as he was taken there from the police station in Sala.
(Pettersson memorial in Sala)
The book includes many photos taken from the Police Museum. Is any of this material on display to the public currently (or before Covid lockdowns took place?) If not, is there any place in Sala where one to view original items related to this case besides the memorial for Pettersson that is featured in the book.
About 10 years ago, objects from Thurneman's activities were on display at the Police Museum in Stockholm. But this closed and a new modern museum was established a few years later. This new Police Museum has a different, more politically correct direction where instead of showing objects from criminal cases, they now have exhibitions about what it is like to work in the police as a woman and similar issues. In 2020, there opened an exhibition that includes a booth with text and images at the Stockholm Police Museum dealing with Thurneman and DMC, along with some original objects from Thurneman's activities.
(Thurneman in foreground with hat with detectives retracing steps)
Has Sala and Sweden done what other cities have done regarding major crimes like this: turned them into a tourist attraction and re-evaluated Thurneman in context of the history of the area? You can see this with Al Capone in Chicago, for example, or the FBI Museum in Las Vegas (as it focuses so much on the Mob that it’s easy to make a case for it being a Mob Museum more than an FBI Museum).
There used to be a museum in Sala that described the history of the silver mine that existed in the city. In one of the rooms of this museum there was a small exhibition of objects linked to Thurneman. But this museum has now been closed down because it was not financially worthwhile to run it. I myself visited this museum when I did research in Sala.
Politicians in Sala have recently talked about starting a crime museum in Sala that is largely dedicated to Thurneman and his group. The idea is that such a museum could attract tourists to the city.
(One of the books from Thurneman's collection.)
Your book does a good job and showing how different society was in the 1930s in Sweden. Today many “occultists” would look at the list of books that were in Thurneman’s possession (a partial list is presented in the book), and conclude that he was into new age, white light sorts of magic. Maybe you can speak a bit about this 90-year shift in occult studies for those who don’t understand how things have changed?
One has to bear in mind that in Thurneman's time there was not so much literature about black magic to get hold of, especially not in Sweden. Had Thurneman lived in our time, his library would, of course, have looked different with darker literature from more sinister groups.
The books he read don't feel like “new age” books but more neutral. Most of the books he read are about strengthening one's own psyche and exerting influence over others through hypnosis and mental techniques. These mental power techniques, combined with Thurneman's own darker and more extreme ideological convictions, constituted, as it turned out, a deadly mix far from “new age.”
(The defendents in court)
Some people suggest that Thurneman was not an anagram for manhunter. How do you respond to this charge?
On the question of whether Thurneman is an anagram for manhunters, it has never been disproved that he used Thurneman as an anagram for manhunter. The investigators never asked Thurneman what his name meant.
One person attacked my usage of the term based upon a statements that, "People who interviewed him…," but Thurneman only did one interview. So, there aren't several people who have interviewed him.
Again, to the accusation of him using the manhunter anagram, “To state that he did, without mentioning this fact, is to twist or distort the history and makes this release less credible.” We don't say anywhere in the book that it's a fact that Thurneman used the name because it was an anagram. That Thurneman is an anagram for the word "manhunter" is 100% certain. That Thurneman himself took the name Thurneman because it is an anagram for manhunter is not possible to be 100% certain of. But there is much to suggest that this was the case.
The name Thurneman is a unique name in Sweden and something that he himself invented. The word/name Thurneman is gibberish and has no meaning in the Swedish language. Thurneman was interested in languages and codes. He spoke over 7 languages and claimed that he had worked to crack foreign military codes for the Swedish intelligence service during WWII. Given that, him not knowing that the name Thurneman was an anagram for the word manhunter does not seem very likely.
That Thurneman used this name because it was an anagram for "manhunter" is something that was talked about in Sala and has come to be deeply rooted in the collective consciousness of the population in Sweden.
The fact that it did not come to light in the investigation against Thurneman that he used the name because it meant "manhunter" is because the investigators never asked Thurneman about this name.
However, I put this question to an old friend of Thurneman's whom I interviewed. He said that Thurneman used his name because it was an anagram for "manhunter." Since I cannot say with 100% certainty that this is the case, I have therefore chosen to present the subject in the book in the following way, where I in no way claim that it is an absolute truth that Thurneman uses the name because it was an anagram for "manhunter."
“Two years later, Sigvard changed his name from Nilsson to Thurneman. The surname is said to be an anagram for the English word “manhunter,” which was a name that Thurneman—with certainty— would live up to over the years.
”During the forensic psychiatric investigation following the arrest, it was confirmed that Thurneman had fully taken on the role of a manhunter:
(Forensic psychiatric investigator)- But, to stand and shoot a person, is it enjoyable?
(Thurneman)- Yes, it’s like a hunter chasing his prey.
(Forensic psychiatric investigator)- You felt like a hunter?
The book's Swedish title is in direct translation Thurneman: Occultist and Serial Killer. But since Thurneman is almost unknown abroad, I chose to allude to the fact that the name is an anagram for "manhunter," which of course makes the title illustrate what the book is about. The book's title Manhunter is also more in line with how the book’s protagonist is usually presented in American true crime books.
It's the same with books dealing with serial killer Jack The Ripper. These books usually have Jack the Ripper in their title even though there is no 100% evidence that this serial killer used the name Jack the Ripper.