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Backpacking tourists Sven Höglin and Heidi Paakkonen vanished near Thames in 1989. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Swedish reporter researches Thames murder case

A Swedish investigative journalist is asking questions about a New Zealand murder case that he says has “connected” the two countries since the late 80s.
Love Lyssarides, 27, is travelling throughout Aotearoa for the next few months and, while here, he’s looking into the murder case of backpacking tourists Sven Höglin and Heidi Paakkonen, who vanished near Thames in 1989.
One year later, David Wayne Tamihere was convicted and imprisoned for their murders.
“This is one of those things that people just remember,” Love told The Profile. “I started reading into [the case] and realised that it is much more complicated than I thought; there’s so many twists and turns, and it’s a big thing that happened here.”

Love works for Third Ear Studio, a scandinavian podcast production company doing investigative journalism, based in Stockholm.
He said telling the story of Sven and Heidi for a Swedish audience was his main motivation for digging into the case.
“This thing has created a bond between our two countries… and the story is also naturally going to be about how it affected Thames, and I’m hoping, when I get back to Sweden, to portray how it affected Storfors [Sven and Heidi’s hometown].”
On April 8, 1989, Sven and Heidi went into the bush near Thames. The couple vanished and were reported missing in May.
Police, local residents, search and rescue, and military personnel carried out the largest land-based search undertaken in New Zealand, performing grid-searches centred on Crosbie’s Clearing, 12km from Thames.
Sven’s body was found in 1991, but Heidi has never been located.

Swedish investigative journalist Love Lyssarides, 27, is looking into the murder case of backpacking tourists Sven Höglin and Heidi Paakkonen. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

David Tamihere, who maintains his innocence, was granted a royal prerogative of mercy by the then-Governor General Dame Patsy Reddy in 2020.
The case will be brought back to the Court of Appeal later this year.
Love had just left Thames when he spoke to The Profile, and said he talked to “a lot of different people” in the town.
He’s considering making another visit to conduct further interviews.
“It was incredible talking to the people who were part of the search and rescue; people who got together in Thames. I don’t think a lot of people in Sweden know that – know how people were so engaged with it in Thames,” he said.
“It was heartwarming to see how the community got together to look for these two Swedes.
“It really says something about a town.”
Love said New Zealanders and Swedes both deserved to get closure following the controversial case, and it was problematic to have so many “unanswered questions”.
To contact Love Lyssarides if you have information to share, email him at or phone: 022 403 2743