The SMS Murders
How a Pentecostal religious sect brainwashed a member to kill.
This is a story of a religious cult, manipulative pastor, murder, and attempted murder in the village of Knutby, Sweden.
People have asked “What kind of person falls under the spell of a cult?” But the reality is, there is no type of person. Sure some characteristics may be a common theme, like naivety, disillusionment, or lack of self-confidence, but research shows that the majority of members lie within the normal range of behavioral characteristics. Tennessee State University found that just like an effective sales organization, cults adjust their pitch to the personality and needs of their prospects. That’s why it feels like this sect was made just for you and that these are your soul people. Cults aren’t always bad or dangerous, some people live just fine and fulfilled in their small bubble. But it’s organizations like Heaven’s Gate, The Manson family, and The People’s Temple that contort their messages, often so far removed from spirituality, into weapons against their very own followers. In a small Swedish village lives a story of manipulation and brainwashing through sex and through religion that left the world in awe.
Sara Svensson arrived in Knutby, Sweden in 1999 as a bright eyed, ambitious 22 year old woman. She had grown up in the Swedish Bible belt and tried nursing school before transitioning over to a Bible university. At school, she met pastor Åsa Waldau, leader of the Pentecostal Congregation of Knutby, and because of this new mentor, Sara joined her congregation, famous already for it’s more modern teachings. Her role in the organization was designated as performer of the intercessory prayer, praying on behalf of Pastor Waldau. In this church, Sara met another pastor climbing up the ranks, his name was Helge Fossmo.
Helge had been married for 11 years now to Helene, had 3 young children, but when Åsa arrived in the congregation 6 years ago, Helge had been starstruck. She recalled him saying that it was the first time he’d ever listen to what a woman had to say.