Karina Holmer

Karina Holmer was born, and lived in Alaryd, Sweden for all of her life.

In 1996, Karina won the equivalent of $1,500 (£1,074.31) on a lottery ticket, and decided to use the money to travel to the US. Karina decided that she would become an au pair, and work for a family in Boston, whilst enjoying the vibrant city life in her spare time. Coming from a small village, Karina was excited to see the rest of the world and explore.

Karina worked for Frank Rapp and Susan Nichter, where she would take care of their two young children. Frank and Susan were based in Dover, Massachusetts. Karina had not been in the US long before she started to write home, saying that she was tired from cleaning all the time, and that her adventure to the US was not what she pictured it to be. In one of her letters home, Karina said that she had “seen something terrible”, and that she would tell her friend when she was back in Sweden. During the week, Karina would stay home with the two children, but at the weekends, Frank would let her stay in his Boston studio, which was in an idyllic location to the city and allowed Karina to explore the city’s clubs at night.

Karina Holmer

On Friday, 21st June 1996, Karina was heading out with some friends in Boston. The friends had all met at the studio Karina was staying in, and from there went to a bar named Zanzibar, a popular club on Boylston Place. Karina and her friends all drank, and were having fun dancing together. Karina did split up from her friends, but various people still saw her in Zanzibar. In the early hours of the 22nd June, Karina had gone to the bathroom in Zanzibar. She had passed out, and was then kicked out of the club.

By now, it was around 3am. Karina was drunk and alone, walking down a place which is known as “The Alley.” She did dance with a homeless man for a while, but after this the sightings of Karina are all over the place. Some people say they saw her being forced into a car with a group of men, others say that they saw Karina get into a taxi, whilst others say that they saw her walking along different streets close to Zanzibar. None of these sightings ever amounted to anything.

One person who witnesses are certain Karina was talking to was a man named Herb Whitten. He was distinctive due to his large size and his tendency to put superman t-shirts on his dog, as a way to attract women. After this, the sightings become unclear, and it is most likely that Whitten was the last person to see Karina alive.

Although reports vary about the time Karina was found, it was between 12hours – 2days later. A homeless man was digging through a dumpster in the Fenway neighbourhood of Boston, which is about 0.2 miles (321 meteres) away from Zanzibar club, where he stumbled upon a human arm. After alerting authorities, the police discovered the arm belonged to the upper body of Karina Holmer.

The Dumpster where Karina’s upper body was found.

Only the upper part of Karina had been found, and to this day, the part of Karina from the waist down have still not been found.The part of Karina that had been found was in immaculate condition, it had not had any dirt on and her makeup had been scrubbed off. The cut that separated her body was very precise and clean, so most likely done by a professional. Karina had died due to strangulation, which was appear to due marks on her neck. It is also suspected that Karina’s hands had been tied, due to redness on her wrists. Other than this, there were no other marks on Karina.

The first suspect was Herb Whitten, as he was the last known person to have seen Karina alive. However, he explained that after speaking to Karina he drove home to Andover. During his drive, he had received a speeding ticket, and investigators ruled him out because he would not have been able to kidnap, kill, and dispose of Karina then drive home and get the speeding ticket in the same timeframe. A year after Karina’s murder, Herb Whitten killed himself.

The next suspects the police looked at where Frank Rapp and Susan Nichter, the couple who Karina was working for. Other nannies had referred to Frank as “creepy”, and the couple had no solid alibi for the night Karina was killed. Adding to this, the police were called to a dumpster fire that had started on their property the Monday after Karina was found dead. The ashes of the fire were searched for human remains, but none were found.

John Zewizz, who was an industrial musician, was also considered a suspect in Karina’s murder. Zewizz lived close to where Karina was last seen at the time of the murder, and his heroin addiction was becoming worse. The music and performances of Zewizz’s band, Sleep Chamber, were controversial and contained themes of S&M and bondage. No charges were ever brought against him.

Over the years, several theories have emerged about who may have killed Karina. One is that she was killed over the “something terrible” that she saw. However, no-one knows what that was and Karina was never able to divulge more into that.

A strong theory in the case is that she was cut in half because her killer sexually assaulted her, and did not want his/her DNA to be found.

At the time of her murder, Karina was dating a police officer. Some people think that he killed Karina and used his position in power, along with his colleagues, to cover it up. There is no evidence to support this claim.

Whilst we may never know who killed Karina, it is safe to assume that the person that did it had a background in either surgery or butchering, as the cut was precise and clean. Could it have been the work of a serial killer? Or, was it related to the “something terrible” that she had seen? Were Frank and Susan behind it, and if so, why? And where is the other half of Karina’s body?

Karina Holmer


Unsolved, true crime, USA

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