The Strange Unsolved Mystery Of The Atlas Vampire

History is riddled with unsolved murders, and many have captured the fascinations of true crime buffs to a degree that rivals the frustrations of those who desperately want the cases to be solved. Whether it's armchair detectives trying to discover the identity of Jack the Ripper or modern Italian investigators desperately working to uncover The Monster of Florence, cold cases can at times compete with recent ones when it comes to the public interest.

For one such case that continues to remain unsolved, we turn back time to Stockholm, Sweden, in 1932. Though not known for a reputation for grisly murders or predatory serial killers that lurk the streets, one neighborhood in Stockholm was the location of a grisly killing nearly a century ago that yielded virtually no leads and resulted in no arrests. Who the Atlas Vampire was, whether or not he killed again, and what his motives were remain a mystery.

The Atlas neighborhood

Tucked away in the densely populated Vasastan district in Stockholm is the Atlas neighborhood. This formerly industrial area is flanked on one side by the Sankt Eriksbron (St. Eric's) bridge, which crosses over the bordering Barnhusviken River. The eastern side of the bridge that encompasses the entirety of Atlas was at one time home of the AB Atlas company's massive workshops. The Swedish multi-national company still produces industrial tools and pneumatic equipment for a variety of companies under Atlas Copco.

When AB Atlas was first located in the neighborhood that became its namesake, it was a quiet neighborhood surrounded by wide streets. Today, the narrow streets are lined with the Neo-Renaissance architectural style that was popular when the area was being constructed. Modern boutiques and cafes are sprinkled throughout (per The Culture Trip).

But nearly a century ago, this neighborhood was home to a popular call girl named Lilly Lindström.

Lindström was a sex worker in 1930s Stockholm

Thirty-two-year-old Lilly Lindström was a career sex worker who carefully plied her trade in the Atlas neighborhood where she also resided. Sex work was not legal in Sweden, and officials began to take a firm stance against the women they caught soliciting their wares on the streets in the post-World War I era (via "Prostitution in Stockholm"). Using her apartment to entertain clients, it's assumed that Lindström made the entirety of her living doing sex work, as jobs for women were sparse in Stockholm during the global depression that served as the backdrop for 1932.

Lindström was known as the "call girl," as she was one of few people in her building to have a telephone installed in her apartment. She was known to use this phone to arrange appointments with her clientele (per Mysterious Universe). It's believed that one of her clients was the cause of her gruesome demise, a death that still baffles investigators and true crime aficionados to this day.

Lindström was killed by blunt force trauma

Lilly Lindström was last seen alive on May 1, 1932, by her downstairs neighbor Minnie Jannson (per Gizmodo). A fellow sex worker, Jannson later told authorities that Lindström had approached her on that date and asked if she could have some condoms. On the following morning, Jannson was a bit worried when Lindström did not appear from her apartment. After several days of Jannson's knocks on Lindström's door going unanswered, the police were contacted (via Mysterious Universe). 

When police arrived at Lindström's apartment on May 4, no one responded to their knocks, either. Letting themselves into the apartment, they saw nothing out of the ordinary in the living room, which was neat and clean, without any signs of a struggle. But when they advanced into the bedroom, they were greeted by a horrifying sight — Lindström was lying face down on her bed with signs of blunt force trauma to the back of her head. It appeared she had been dead for several days.

A soup ladle with Lindström's blood on it was found at the murder scene

Police took notice of the condom that was protruding from Lilly Lindström, giving them the impression that she was killed in the middle of intercourse (via Mysterious Universe). When her body was removed and examined, it was determined that she was killed by repeated blows to the head. The exam also revealed that her body was almost completely drained of blood.

No puncture wound was discovered on her body that would have allowed for so much blood to be drained from it, and the relative lack of blood found in her apartment raised some interesting questions. A soup ladle discovered near her body had traces of blood on it, and investigators concluded that whoever killed Lindström also drank her blood. But how much of it was drunk at the scene of her murder? There were no other traces of blood in the small apartment. Did her killer sit there next to her body and drink it all? Or did he drain it off into containers and sneak it away unseen?

When details of the case were revealed to the public, the media began to refer to Lindström's unknown assailant as the "Atlas Vampire." Adding to the haunting name was the fact that no usable fingerprints were left behind, there were no signs of robbery or any missing items, and no witnesses reported seeing anyone coming or going from Lindström's apartment. No one recalled hearing any signs of struggle or unusual noises.

The Atlas Vampire case remains unsolved

Mysterious Universe tells us that police interviewed nine of Lilly Lindström's clients in hopes of a break in the case or even a lead. But none materialized, leaving the case open and investigators stumped. As far they knew, no other crimes of this type were committed, making it impossible to link her death to any other open case.  Was she killed by one of her regulars? By someone unknown to her that she solicited on the street? Or was she the victim of a real vampire? These questions continued to plague police and the Stockholm media. As of today, the case remains unsolved, with scant hope that the identity of Lindström's killer will ever be revealed.

With so much DNA evidence left at the scene of Lindström's murder, it's highly probable that if the technology we have today existed in 1932, her killer would have been swiftly brought to justice. But with so few tools to work with at the time, Stockholm police were forced to relegate the Atlas Vampire case to the unsolved pile.