When 12-year-old French girl Lola was raped and murdered in Paris by an Algerian migrant, the story was initially ignored by the mainstream press, but outrage grew so great that the story eventually gained international attention. In contrast, few outside of Sweden know of the case of the 9-year-old girl Luna, which Remix News originally covered in July of this year. She is one of the many who blink across the headlines and then fade from memory, like countless other victims of Europe’s open borders policy.
Now, Luna’s family has given an exclusive interview to Swedish newspaper Expressen about the daily disaster they are living with after the young girl was stripped naked, molested, strangled with her own shoelaces, tied to a tree, and left for dead in the woods as she traveled home from school.
In a case that has played out countless times across Europe, the perpetrator was a foreign national, this time a 15-year-old from Ethiopia with a history of sexual assault and viewing strangulation pornography on school computers. Although officially listed as 13, it would later be revealed that he was actually two years older than his parents had originally told school authorities.
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“Should such a person be allowed to go unpunished? Should that one remain in the country?” asked one parent
Luna’s day at school on July 7 ended like many others. The little girl put on her backpack and helmet, said goodbye to the staff at the school, and got on her bike to ride home to Morö Backe in Skellefteå.
What happened next destroyed a family and left Luna without the ability to speak or move her limbs.
Authorities do not know how the migrant teen got Luna to stop her bike or how he managed to drag her naked body through the rough terrain of the woods where she was later found strangled by a shoelace — moments away from death.
The parents do know what happened next though — in fact, they have to live with it every day.
The girl was found alive, but the teenager’s efforts to strangle her had deprived her of oxygen, leaving her with permanent brain damage.
Now, she cannot speak and cannot move her arms or legs. She is trapped in her own body, unable to express herself or move her limbs. After months of rehabilitation, the only word the girl has ever said was “mother.”
“It’s like a black hole we’re falling through. There is no bottom,” said Emma, the girl’s aunt, who was authorized to speak on behalf of the entire family.
Emma told Expressen that a week after the murder trial, she experienced the same dream night after night — or what she said was more like a vision — that jolted her awake in the early morning hours.
In the dreams, Emma is flying directly above Luna, who is alone on the ground of the forest floor with a noose around her neck. Her aunt wants to lie down next to her niece but cannot bring her body down from the air. All she can do is look at Luna from above.
“I felt that I wanted to go down to her on the ground, I didn’t want her to lie alone in the forest and be afraid,” she said.
Police are unaware how long Luna lay on the forest floor naked with her own shoelace wrapped around her neck. When she was discovered, she was tied to a tree, and her breath was little more than rasps. Medical services raced to save her life, with a police officer forced to drive the ambulance as the two paramedics worked on the girl at the same time in the back. Doctors managed to keep her alive but were unable to save her from catastrophic brain damage.
For Luna’s closest family, all energy has gone into taking care of the young girl. They are speaking to the press now, six months after the attack, to let the world know what the family and Luna have gone through.
Warning signs, a troubled boy
The Ethiopian teen had been a menace nearly from the moment he arrived in Sweden and had been transferred in and out of neighboring schools due to his behavior. He also had a history of documented sexual assaults, viewing graphic pornography on school computers, and assaulting a woman near an underpass where Luna’s body would later be found. More of the details of these incidents will be covered later in this piece.
On the day of the murder, the boy ripped off Luna’s own shoelaces and strangled her. He then used the other shoelace to tie her hands around the tree so tightly that it damaged the bark. There is no indication he knew who Luna was or interacted with her before the incident.
The boy returned to the schoolyard shortly thereafter to raise the alarm. He even participated in the ensuing search.
Luna was found first by a woman near the side of the road in the forest near the school.
Police noticed what they said was strange behavior from the Ethiopian teen and questioned him about the case that evening. It was then that he told the police he was 15, although the school had him listed as 13. Remix News also had initially reported that the boy was 13 but wrote there were doubts about his true age when the attempted murder first took place.
The teenager initially told police he had nothing to do with the attempted murder, but the next day admitted to his parents what he had done. The father then called the police. An investigation by Sweden’s Forensic Agency also confirmed that the teen was 15 at the time of the attempted murder.
Under subsequent police questioning, the boy expressed surprise that Luna survived. Although, he admitted to the assault, the details of the story changed time after time, and he had difficulty explaining why he attacked the girl.
A brutal trial
Luna’s aunt told Expressen that the trial was extremely difficult, saying, “Time stood still, the air ran out of the room.” The details of the trial were “brutal,” and both lawyers and prosecutors apologized to the family for the details they were exposed to over the course of four days. However, Emma said that not being there was never an option, and she knew she must bear witness for her niece.
“I wanted to be her witness, to be her eyes and ears. Maybe one day she will want me to tell her,” says Emma.
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On Oct. 19, the Skellefteå district court handed a guilty sentence to the 15-year-old for attempted murder and aggravated rape. On Nov. 30, a forensic psychiatric investigation determined the 15-year-old “suffered from a serious mental disorder both when he assaulted Luna and now.”
The investigation also concluded that there is a high chance the 15-year-old could commit another serious crime if he were released.
On Dec. 14, the 15-year-old was sentenced to forensic psychiatric care with a special discharge examination by the Skellefteå district court. It is unclear how long he will be detained at the facility.
If the teenager had committed the crime as an adult, he would have faced life imprisonment.
“You had silk ribbons in your hair, a stray ray of sunshine dancing on your cheek.
Luna could once do many things. She sang a solo in the Christmas choir in the local church. Her aunt describes her as artistic, “a child that loved to sing and dance.”
She rode her bike to school and watched her little sister while playing outside. She had a dream of becoming a Youtuber.
On Ascension Day this year, she went to Stockholm with her two cousins and saw the pop band Mares. The concert and the bus from Djurgården was full of young people. Emma described it as a happy crowd, one that stood up for those who needed a seat on the bus and sang loudly.
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Emma said the crowd of older teens sang Mares’ hit song “Sunnavind,” which translated to English reads:
“You had silk ribbons in your hair, a stray ray of sunshine dancing on your cheek.
You were the most beautiful thing in spring, you were the most beautiful thing in spring.
And it’s easy to understand
That we were happy,
That we were happy,
That we were happier then.
Emma describes how Luna and her cousins watched with wide eyes as the teenagers sang aloud. She then said to the children, “One day maybe you’ll be the ones standing and singing on the bus.”
‘It feels as if we are walking barefoot on a sharp knife with a precipice on each side’
Luna was on a respirator for 11 days. Her brain damage is irreversible. Emma described to Expressen that when Luna woke up, many people told the family how lucky and nice it was.
“Sure, she’s alive, but it’s far from good. She is alive in the sense that she breathes on her own but she can’t move, can’t talk, can’t do anything,” Emma said.
During another interview, Emma tried to express the daily horror the family finds itself in.
“It feels as if we are walking barefoot on a sharp knife with a precipice on each side,” she said.
A short time later, before the indictment and trial, the family learned that Luna’s brain damage was irreversible, a message that sent shockwaves through the family.
“We really understood that it was like that, but when we got it in black and white, it hurt so much,” said Emma.
The girl is confined to a wheelchair, must take medication for epilepsy, and cannot express herself verbally.
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However, Luna can still express fear and sadness. At times, Emma said Luna becomes “inconsolable, sad and upset.” The family believes she can remember what happened to her in the forest. They then drop everything and try to calm her.
“We know. We know what happened to you, you don’t have to struggle to tell us,” they say.
Emma says she is gripped with anger, and she wakes up in the middle of the night biting through her bite guard, which she uses to protect her teeth while she sleeps.
She says she does not direct her anger at the 15-year-old — she cannot even think about him.
Instead, her anger is directed against the adults in the schools and the social services — the same ones who knew the boy’s problems and past record but did nothing to protect the children. She said there were “signals” that authorities could have acted upon.
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A previous investigation from Expressen found that the boy had a long record of issues with various schools and social services. In 2019, he was reported for three separate incidents where he grabbed girls’ breasts and buttocks in school and called the girls a “whore.” While the school addressed the issue with the parents, no reports were ever made to Swedish social services.
In June 2021, the teen assaulted a woman at an underpass at Moröhöjden, not far from where Luna’s body would eventually be discovered.
The woman said she and the teen were in a “wrestling match” when she managed to break free. Police investigated the attempted assault and believed there was a sexual motive behind the attack. The woman pointed out the boy from a lineup, but he was too young and had no official criminal history, so the case was simply sent to social services. It was never reported to the school district.
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The teen came from Ethiopia in 2018 and received a temporary residence permit with his mother and three siblings. At the time of the murder, the boy had just received permanent residence. Since then, the family has added a fifth child.
The boy’s age was listed incorrectly when he came to the country, and although staff at the school knew his age was incorrect, they did nothing to fix the situation despite the severe problems he presented in school settings with younger children.
The trial revealed that the boy had also surfed the computers inside the school, where he viewed violent websites and pornography, and appeared to watch a number of pornography videos featuring strangulation. The school traced the content back to the teen, but only warned him that he would no longer be able to use school computers if he continued to view such content.
“Society could have prevented this,” says Emma.
Expressen writes, “The boy has also met with psychologists and the municipality’s rehabilitation team to get help. But when his parents did not want to participate in the investigation, the social services stated that they ‘found no reason to investigate against the parents’ will.'”
The Social Welfare Board in the district admits no wrong-doing and “has not discovered any shortcomings” in how the teen’s case was handled.
‘The only thing that remains is the love for Luna’
Luna remains in the hospital, but will be sent home for Christmas — the whole family gathering to be with her. However, she faces an uncertain future, and she will only be allowed a short leave from the hospital. Once she is eventually sent home, she will need around-the-clock assistance.
People in Sweden have sent money to the child and her hospital room is overflowing with donated stuffed animals, but it is unclear what standard of living she will have over the long-term if donation money dries up.
Luna has shown some progress but at the same time, her anxiety is increasing, which affects the whole family. Despite these struggles, the family says Luna must not be hidden away. They share updates on her progress on Instagram, and they are indicating they are willing to speak to the press.
Expressen writes that “of all the feelings of hatred, anger, hopelessness and deepest sorrow that Luna’s family has gone through and still struggles with, there is still one feeling that rises above the others. Like when Emma in the dream floats above Luna’s body in the forest.”
“The only thing that remains is love for Luna,” says Emma.
Luna is one of many
Sweden is dealing with a massive crime wave related to its immigrant population, reaching a record high of gun-related firearm murders in 2022 after breaking a previous record in 2021. Bild newspaper has now labeled Sweden the “most dangerous country in Europe.” Numerous young people have been gang raped and murdered in tandem with the country’s growing migrant population, and these cases have crept their way onto the front pages and evening news as the cases become more and more unavoidable. In fact, the issue of mass immigration was perhaps the number one defining issue of this year’s Swedish elections.
As 2022 comes to a close, the rape and murder of 12-year-old Lola in France by an Algerian migrant along with the trial over four Afghan migrants for the rape and murder of 13-year-old Leonie in Austria’s Vienna are the type of cases that have fueled anti-immigration sentiment. While Luna’s family has up until now made no comment on the immigration situation facing Sweden, many conservatives see the case as a wake-up call for the country.
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There is no way to say whether any of these cases are connected to the growing support for anti-immigration parties in Europe, as these cases only play a limited yet tragic role in Europe’s growing migrant crisis. But in France, National Rally finally has a strong force in parliament while in Sweden, conservatives have taken control after national elections gave them a slight majority. In Austria, the patriotic Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ) is now the strongest party, and analysts are predicting that the party’s leader, Herbert Kickl, could be the country’s next prime minister.
It is unclear what 2023 will bring, but the murders of Lola, Leonie, and the attempted murder of Luna — who are only a small sampling of the children who have lost their lives to migrant violence — are unlikely to be the last such cases seen in Europe.