Inside The Mysterious, Unsolved 1967 Death Of 13-Year-Old Alvar Larsson

One of life's most terrifying realizations is that people slip through the cracks of society and go missing every day. According to The Free Library, an estimated eight million children go missing worldwide each year. When it comes to unsolved disappearances, particularly those regarding missing children, few are as eerie and perplexing as the 1967 unsolved death of 13-year-old Alvar Larsson in Sundslätt, Sweden.

Often obscured and overlooked by history, the lesser-known disappearance of Alvar Larsson is an intriguing tale of every parent's worst nightmare brought to life. This mysterious disappearance gripped the nation, sparking an intense search of the remote Swedish island he called home that saw the Swedish army recruited to help in the rescue mission.

Who knew that this strange case would still have investigators tangled in knots regarding the truth five decades later? How did Alvar Larsson vanish from the face of the earth only to re-emerge years later?

It Started as a Day Like Any Other

According to several Swedish true-crime blogs, the morning of Sunday, April 16th, 1967, began in the Larsson home as it did many Sunday mornings before church. The family had just awoken to prepare for the weekly Sunday service at their local church on the secluded island of Sirkö, where they lived in Sweden's Småland region.

Alvar awoke at 7:30 a.m., ate some food, and got dressed on what appeared to be a routine morning. However, all critical clues to solve this mystery lie within this seemingly innocuous Sunday morning. Alvar asked his mother if he might go for a walk before they left for church. His mother let him do it, thinking little of it, on the condition that he pick up some firewood from the woodshed on his way back. Alvar would never be seen again alive.

His family grew increasingly concerned when he did not return. Finally, his mother called the neighbors, asking for signs of Alvar. After a while, his father alerted a small group of neighbors, and they set out to look for the youngster — perhaps he lost track of time?

Anxiety quickly reached a fever pitch, and the islanders called the police at 2:30 p.m. Hours, days, weeks, and eventually, years would pass with no sign of Alvar. The search party would thoroughly comb the island and its surroundings in the days and weeks ahead by boat, helicopters, and, at its peak, a 150-person search party, yet to no avail. The 13-year-old Alvar Larsson was nowhere to be found.

He left his bike and pocket money behind, so could he have run away from home? Did something happen to him? Was he kidnapped? How could a young man from such a small, tight-knit community vanish into thin air?

A Grim Discovery in the Woods Ignites Further Questions

After 15 years, investigators learned the tragic truth that Alvar died at an unjustly young age. On the small, deserted island of Klasö in Åsnen, roughly 3.7 miles from Alvar's homestead on Sirkön, three hunters made the gruesome discovery of a skull on a bed of leaves in November 1982. There was a massive gaping hole in the back of the head from where the skull had been broken.

His cranium was in such bad shape that Alvar was identified only through using his dental records. So naturally, this gruesome revelation did not bring anyone solace; instead, it left many more disturbing questions in its wake. As years had passed between Alvar's disappearance and the discovery of this vital clue, forensic investigators could not determine whether the skull crack was caused by blunt force trauma or exposure to adverse weather conditions.

Furthermore, how did it get there in the first place, and where was Alvar's body?

Possible Explanations

This disturbing clue into Alvar Larsson's fate makes the case more enigmatic. Early in the search for Alvar, investigators assumed that he had an accident or drowned while borrowing a boat from a nearby lake (according to this true-crime blog).

Investigators swiftly debunked this theory when all the boats on the lake were accounted for. Furthermore, Alvar had never learned to swim, making it unlikely he would venture into the water. Second, the drowning scenario was questioned when the boat-based search party couldn't find Alvar's body. Finally, as more time passed between Alvar's last sighting and his abduction, it seemed more likely that Alvar had been kidnapped.

Since Alvar's bones were never found, theories that he fled or had been the victim of an accident seemed increasingly unlikely. Given how close knit his island community was, it was unlikely that a stranger abducted Alvar by car. The islanders would have certainly noticed strangers in an unfamiliar car.

Thomas Quick, the Swedish "serial killer" who falsely claimed responsibility for 30 murders and was later confined for pathological lying, adds a bizarre twist to this cold case. He told investigators that he killed Alvar Larsson (via the Guardian), though his track record of mental illness and lying for media attention made this admission less-than-credible. He later recanted all of his confessions in 2008 (per BBC). 

Unfortunately, due to a lack of concrete sources and background information on this case, it's hard to comprehend what life was like for Alvar's family during their quest for truth. Alvar's father died in 1979 without finding his son or solving the 1967 murder mystery. His mother died at 91, never fully understanding what happened to her son. The troubling conclusion of this harrowing case is the grim realization that we will almost certainly never know who abducted and killed Alvar Larsson.

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