Dying man’s confession in 1989 Swedish tourists cold case


The first book to thoroughly investigate the 1989 murders of Swedish tourists Heidi Paakkonen and Urban Hoglin will name a new suspect – a mentally unstable and violent man who escaped into the Coromandel bush around the time the Swedes disappeared.

Missing Pieces by investigative journalist Ian Wishart, goes onsale this coming weekend, and is the first book dedicated to the case, which saw David Wayne Tamihere convicted of double murder in 1990. [Extract of book available here]

Tamihere’s 1990 conviction came despite no bodies being found, and was based on a Crown argument that 21 year old Heidi and 23 year old Urban were murdered at Crosbie’s Clearing, near Thames on Saturday 8 April 1989, and that Tamihere had stolen Urban Hoglin’s watch from the body and given it to his ten year old son.

In the two decades since the conviction, much new evidence has emerged, including the discovery of Hoglin’s body in 1991, 73km from where police said he died, and still wearing his watch.

Heidi’s body has never been found.

Wishart says Missing Pieces is the first time all the evidence in the cold case has been brought together and published, allowing the public to analyse the strengths and weaknesses of both the Crown and Defence cases.

Significantly, however, the book provides evidence of a new suspect.

“We now have information from two separate sources – including effectively a deathbed confession given to a District Nurse – which implicates this man in the murders of Heidi Paakkonen and Urban Hoglin,” Ian Wishart said today.

“The man, who is named in the book, fled into the bush at Waihi after the attempted robbery of a church.

“The man’s route through the bush would have taken him through or close to the areas where the Swedes were last seen and where Urban’s body was found. When he later emerged from the bush shortly before the Swedes were reported missing, he stole a car at Whitianga after threatening to smash the owner’s head with a baseball bat, before having a head on collision where he lost his right arm.”

Wishart said the book contained interviews with a number of witnesses to the man’s activities, including an alleged confession, but new corroborative information he has obtained this week confirmed the suspect was dying of renal failure when he confessed to medical staff.

The confession was sufficiently shocking that a District Nurse tried to report it to police but was told, “the case is already closed”.

The 1989 murders have attracted much controversy, as David Tamihere has always maintained his innocence, and refused to admit guilt in order to qualify for early parole. Instead, he spent nearly 21 years behind bars until his release in 2010.

Tamihere is facing charges in February of breaching his parole by allowing TVNZ’s Sunday programme to fly him over the Coromandel for a documentary it was making.

The book is being released on Friday