The suspect: Stig Engström (Image via BBC)
The suspect: Stig Engström (Image via BBC)

Who was Stig Engström? All about Swedish graphic designer who inspired Netflix's 'The Unlikely Murderer'

Shruti Kotiya

It took 34 years, 10,000 interviews, and 134 confessions to solve the murder mystery of Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme.

Stig Engström was a suspect in the Swedish Prime Minister's assassination in 1986 but was not found guilty until 2020 as the investigation was botched. A man named Christer Pettersson was wrongly accused and convicted of murdering Palme in 1989.


Who was Stig Engström?

Stig Engström during the 1980s (Image via BBC)

Stig Engström, or Skandia Man, was a graphic designer and a suspect in Sweden's Prime Minister Olof Palme's assassination. Engström had a military background and had alcohol and money problems. He was also a member of a shooting club. His so-called nickname was given by the Swedish Mafia as he worked for the Skandia insurance company.

According to the BBC, Stig Engström's office was near the crime scene and he was working late the night of the assassination. The very next day he called the police and media claiming he was one of the first people to help resuscitate Palme, which was later found to be a lie. Engström changed his story several times but was always dismissed as a suspect.


Stig Engström was claimed to be the assassin by Swedish writers Lars Larsson and Thomas Pettersson, separately. According to Pettersson, Stig Engström's appearance matched the description of the gunman and even the witnesses didn't agree with his story.

This investigation went on and on and after 18 years, the police took the claim seriously and started looking for him. Stig Engström eventually died by suicide in 2000 after the dissolution of his second marriage. In June 2020, he was identified as being Olof Palme's murderer.

Book and movie adaptation of the infamous murder mystery


This interesting case on the assassination of Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme and the suspect's (Stig Engström) side of the story got adapted into a book by Swedish author/journalist Thomas Pettersson in 2018. The Unlikely Murderer became the book that closed the Palme case as it renewed the police investigation, leading to Stig Engström and his truth.

The book is the result of 12 years of research and consists of Pettersson's findings of the case. The Unlikely Murderer presents several previously unknown facts and the many mistakes made during the criminal investigation that spanned three decades.

Thomas Pettersson on writing The Unlikely Murderer:

"When I started looking into the Palme murder in 2007 and discovered 'The Skandia man', I could barely believe my eyes. His testimony seriously deviated from every other testimony at the crime scene. It was so obvious 'The Skandia man' could be the murderer – why hadn't he been arrested and interrogated?"

Netflix announced The Unlikely Murderer, a five-part limited series that revolves around Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme's murder and how Stig Engström became a suspect in the case. The trailer for The Unlikely Murderer was released earlier this month on Netflix's YouTube Channel.

It is directed by Swedish filmmakers Charlotte Brändström and Simon Kaijser, and is written by Wilhelm Behrman and Niklas Rockström. The Unlikely Murderer stars Robert Gustafsson, Peter Andersson, Mikael Persbrandt, Björn Bengtsson, Joel Spira, Shanti Roney, Torkel Petersson, Emil Almén and Eva Melander.

The Unlikely Murderer is set to release on November 5 at 12.30 PM (IST) with all of its five episodes available to stream on Netflix the same day.

Edited by Prem Deshpande
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