Karina Holmer was a young woman from Sweden who was found murdered after a night out with friends just months after moving to Boston, Massachusetts. Her case has been unsolved for over 27 years.
Karina E. Holmer was a 19 year old young woman from Skillingaryd, Sweden. After purchasing a lottery ticket and winning $1,500, Karina decided to use her money to move to America and work as an au pair.
In March, 1996, Karina worked with an unlicensed agency to get to America using a tourist visa. Karina moved to South Boston and lived in a basement apartment on A Street, and was in charge of caring for 2 children living in Dover. Karina often spent her free time exploring her new home and making new friends who also worked as au pairs. She also often wrote letters to her family back in Sweden.
On July 21st, 1996, the Summer Solstice, also known as Midsummer, began. This is a popular celebration in Sweden and America, so to celebrate, Karina went out to the Theater district, known for its many bars and nightclubs, with 3 friends. Karina became incredibly inebriated and was last seen at the Zanzibar nightclub, which is now closed, around midnight.
The following day at around 1:30 p.m., a homeless man was rummaging through some dumpsters behind an apartment building at 1091 Bolyston St. when he discovered something horrifying. Inside the dumpster was the upper torso of a female that had been wrapped in black trash bags. The woman’s body was cut right at the waist. The bottom half of the woman’s torso has never been found. Her cause of death was determined to be strangulation, noted by the ligature markings on her neck.
The body was soon identified as 19 year old Karina Holmer by her friends. The police did not release news of her identification to the public until after her family in Sweden was notified. Upon learning of their daughter’s gruesome murder, Karina’s father Ola asked the lead detective, “What am I getting back?” in regards to her remains. The detective replied, “You’re getting her upper torso. You’re getting her beautiful face.”
Investigators believe that because of the gruesome nature of the crime, easy access to the dumpster, and the fact that Karina was new to the area, her killer(s) must have known her or been familiar with her. Several people where looked into, including Karina’s host family from work. Investigators ran into difficulties with this, as the family would not talk or give any information regarding Karina. This has made some believe that Frank Rapp, the father, may have had more to do with Karina’s murder, believing that a secret relationship may have occurred between the two, but none of this has been confirmed.
It was also found that the family, who was very much wealthy, used the unlicensed au pair agency to get at least 6 other nannies before they hired Karina. This has raised the question that if the family is so well off, why did they use this illegal agency to get several au pairs? The video by The Misery Machine (linked below) covering Karina’s case brings this up as they explain that these unlicensed agencies are borderline human trafficking, as many of these au pairs are brought to these homes and often treated horribly, even abused. Because they are through these illegal agencies, they aren’t documented, therefore there isn’t an actual record of them being there for work in legal agencies. This can be very dangerous for the women working in these situations, like Karina unfortunately. Had she not been found, she would have likely remained missing and her family in Sweden wouldn’t even know.
Though Karina’s case has gone cold, investigators are still looking for evidence and accepting tips as to who could have done this to her.