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Ingeborg’s trial took place at the Gäsene courthouse. On September 3, 1929, she was found not criminally responsible.


In 1774, by royal decree, the farmers of Ljung district began building the Gäsene courthouse under the direction of Nils Lundgren, a farmer and sheriff from Bodagärde in the parish of Vesene. The building was completed and the first trial took place there two years later. In 1823 a second story was added to accommodate a larger courtroom and two rooms for judges and jurors. When the building was renovated in 1898, a two-story glazed porch was added. Until the early 1940s, the young men of the district were required to report to the courthouse to enlist upon reaching the age of 20.


The courthouse, which remained in use until 1947, survived three demolition orders by the district council thanks to the efforts of local history enthusiasts. It is now designated as a heritage building.


This rail wagon was used between 1868 and 1930 for transporting prisoners on the Uddevalla–Vänersborg–Herrljunga line.


The wagon features in the novel, but it is not known for certain whether it was used to transport Ingeborg to Vänersborg prison. The wagon has been preserved at the Swedish Railway Museum in Gävle since 1935.

Swedish Railway Museum


Ingeborg was arrested and taken to Vänersborg prison on the day of the murder, March 22, 1929, at 10:10 p.m.


Sweden’s first prisons were built in the mid-19th century to replace the former houses of correction. Each county was to have a jail with cells.


Vänersborg prison, now converted into condominiums, is a short distance from the town’s railway station.


At the first hearing on April 5, 1929, the court decided that Ingeborg should undergo a psychiatric examination, which was performed by Dr. Goldkuhl at Växjö women’s penitentiary on June 30, 1929.


The purpose of the examination is threefold: First, to determine the subject’s mental state at the time of the offense. Second, to determine the current need for psychiatric care. Third, to predict the future risk the offender is likely to pose to herself and society.


Sections 5:5 and 5:6 of the Swedish criminal code refer to the absence of mental faculties in whole or in part. In these circumstances, the doctor performs an examination based on the letter of the law: Does the offender have the mental capacity to grasp why criminal acts are prohibited, reprehensible, immoral?


From Sanningen om brottslingen–Rättspsykiatrin som kartläggning av livsöden (“The Truth About Criminals–Charting Life Stories Through Forensic Psychiatry”) by Mats Börjesson (Stockholm 1994).


Växjö women’s penitentiary has now been converted into condominiums.


On April 1, 1930, Ingeborg was committed to the Vänersborg hospital and asylum, which was renamed Restad hospital that same year. By November 5, 1931, she was deemed fit for release on a trial basis. However, she was to spend long periods of her life back in the hospital, right up until her death on September 15, 1978.


Restad hospital was designed by Axel Kumlien, the architect responsible for around half of the hospitals built in Sweden in the early 20th century. Believing that a beautiful setting would help patients convalescence, he strove to “endow the building with all the dignity and amenities it ought to have, even though it is intended to house poor invalids.”


The Restad hospital building is now used as business premises and as a reception center for refugees.

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