Real Names: Marie Lilienberg and Maria Birgitta Wahlén
Nicknames: No Known Nicknames
Location: Redwood City, California
Date: July 22, 1983
Details: Twenty-three-year-old Marie Lilienberg and twenty-five-year-old Maria Wahlén were two Swedish maids who met in Vail, Colorado, in January 1983. After the skiing season ended in the summer of 1983, they went hitchhiking throughout California. For several weeks, they went across California, hitching rides with strangers. Although friends had told them that hitchhiking was dangerous, they claimed that they could "size up" anyone who picked them up and could defend themselves, since Maria carried a knife with her.
Several truck drivers gave the women rides, all the while telling them about the dangers of hitchhiking. Mark Hanson drove the women from San Diego to Compton. While there, he had one of his friends give them a ride to Oakland, near San Francisco. The women were last seen alive on July 22, while hitchhiking near Redwood City. They were heading back to Los Angeles, so that they could catch their flight to Sweden on July 24.
Two days later, their backpacks, passports, and other items were found in a dumpster in the City of Commerce, a Los Angeles suburb. A travel diary was also found which helped investigators determine where they had gone and who they had gone with.
After they vanished, both of their fathers came to the United States, hoping to find their daughters through widespread media attention. Several leads came in, but no trace of them were found. Four weeks later, on August 18, two deer hunters found their decomposing bodies in Los Padres National Forest near Santa Barbara, California. Both victims had been sexually assaulted and stabbed to death. Dental records and jewelry confirmed their identity.
Police had few leads in the case until eight years later, when a caller contacted the Swedish consulate, claiming that a woman-hater named "Loren" was responsible for the murders. He has never been identified and the murders remain unsolved.
Suspects: On September 26, 1991, an anonymous caller contacted the Swedish consulate in San Diego, claiming that a man named "Loren" was responsible for the murders. The caller claimed that Loren was from Canada and that he apparently hated women. He also drove from Canada to Mexico during the summer in a white van with a green canoe on top. Loren apparently told the caller that he had come through San Diego and had met two Swedish women who had tried to con him. According to the caller, he confessed to killing both women. He was over 6'0", slight build, 175 pounds, protruding nose, and red hair.
Extra Notes: This segment originally aired on the April 8, 1992 episode of Unsolved Mysteries.
Some sources spell Maria's last name as "Whalen" and "Walhen".
Results: Unsolved. As a result of the broadcast, investigators were able to identify and locate Loren. They were also able to identify the anonymous caller who provided additional information about Loren. Police searched Loren's apartment and found evidence that they believed might implicate him in the murders. They continued to investigate him; however, there was not enough substantial evidence to arrest him. It is not known if he is still a suspect.
There is speculation that "Loren" may have been serial killer Loren Herzog. He and Wesley Shermantine were dubbed the "Speed Freak Killers." They were suspected of murdering up to fifteen people. Herzog died of suicide on January 16, 2012, and Shermantine is currently on death row.
- Fathers of missing Swedish hitchhikers ask for help - August 5, 1983
- Fathers try to trace missing Swedes - August 8, 1983
- Hitchhikers still missing - August 8, 1983
- The fathers of two young Swedish women missing for three weeks posted reward - August 8, 1983
- Officer thinks he saw missing Swedish women - August 8, 1983
- Swedish fathers offer big reward - August 9, 1983
- Fathers identify jewelry of missing Swedish girls - August 19, 1983
- Bodies tentatively identified as missing Swedish women - August 19, 1983
- An Anguished Search by Two Fathers Ends in Tragedy - August 20, 1983
- Searchers Find Arm - August 21, 1983
- Search ends; missing women's bodies identified - August 21, 1983
- The fathers of two Swedish girls identify their bodies - August 21, 1983
- Fathers identify bodies - August 22, 1983
- Hope For Missing Girls Ends With Discovery - August 22, 1983
- Swedish girls' bodies identified - August 24, 1983
- Swedish hitchhikers identified - August 24, 1983
- Young tourists take chances - August 28, 1983
- Trust leads to tragedy for youthful Europeans - August 29, 1983
- Visitors have false sense of security - August 31, 1983
- Deaths of Swedish girls go unsolved - August 20, 1984
- Killing of Swedish women remains a mystery - September 5, 1984
- Murder of Swedish girls in '83 still haunts Det. Correll - September 6, 1985
- TV yields hundreds of tips on murder mystery - April 9, 1992
- SM mystery to appear on TV show - July 21, 1992
- History: Colossal dreams, profound loss - December 12, 1999
- Marie Lilienberg and Maria Wahlen at Find a Grave