You’ve probably seen this short clip on Youtube showing two 40-year-old identical twin Swedish sisters who deliberately threw themselves into traffic in a failed suicide attempt. The bizarre clip entitled shocking footage: two demented insane women run in front of oncoming traffic, went viral for obvious reasons. Most people scratched their heads and wondered wtf? It was the previous 72 hours that would explain the sisters’ crazed behaviour, sparked not by drugs as you might expect, nor even that mysterious (and bezerk) bond twins seem to share, but by something far more sinister.
Ursula and Sabina Eriksson grew up in Summe, Varmland, in abject poverty. They came to national attention in the United Kingdom in May 2008 after an episode of folie a deux (or “shared psychosis“), a rare psychiatric disorder where delusional beliefs are transmitted from one individual to another. Never heard of that one before. In this case, the sisters’ actions resulted in a series of bizarre incidents on the M6 Motorway and the subsequent murder of Glenn Hollinshead of Fenton, Staffordshire. The twins had been in Ireland before travelling to England and boarding a train for London. Their odd behaviour after exiting the coach at a service station on the M6 caused the driver not to allow them back on the coach. They were later seen on the central reservation of the M6. The pair began to walk down the central reservation of the M6 motorway before attempting to cross the motorway, causing chaos to the traffic and picking up minor injuries in the attempt. Their elder brother claimed in a Swedish newspaper that his sisters were fleeing from maniacs who were chasing them
When Highways Agency Traffic Officers arrived to assist the women they bolted across the busy motorway and were struck by oncoming vehicles. Ursula suffered serious leg injuries and Sabina received a head injury that left her unconscious for several minutes. When Sabina regained consciousness the petite woman refused medical aid and attacked a police officer, at which point she was arrested. One officer commented, “I still don’t understand how two people can act to such a degree to get together in a join venture like this.” Their possessions included multiple mobile phones. It took some time to discover personal i.d. Interesting that their obsession centered on communication. Before their somersault into traffic, the sisters had held their bags tightly to their chests as if they were very reluctant to part with them.
Sabina later told an officer at the police station, “We say in Sweden that an accident rarely comes alone. Usually at least one more follows – maybe two.” She winced. At the hospital Sabina grew quite concerned about her hospital gown and how she looked. She didn’t inquire about Ursula. She laughed, joked and flirted with police, a completely different woman from the uncontrollable banshee on the highway. “It’s as if her sister didn’t exist anymore. It’s all about Sabina.” When asked to remove her jewelry she pouted, “no, not the earrings.” A police officer comment, “all she appeared to be was a bit odd. Everybody thought she was odd. Being odd isn’t a crime.” No surprise there. In a later conversation, Sabina’s common-law partner told police the sisters became inseparable then disappeared. She was processed by police in Stoke-on-Trent and was therefore released from custody.
Shortly afterward she was taken in by local man, Hollinshead who had no idea about the traffic incident. He offered to house her until she could locate Ursula and find a new place to stay. He and a friend named Peter brought her belongings to Hollingshead’s home. A friend of Hollingshead commented whenever they asked about her sister, Sabina “she became slightly defensive. She just always went cold whenever you asked about what was up with the sister.” At times Sabina was paranoid, pulling open the curtains to look outside then jerking them back again. Although the three had been smoking for some time Sabina suddenly grabbed Peter’s cigarettes from him and stated, “you can’t have them! They might be poisoned!” Peter admitted, “there was this growing fear inside me. Who is this woman? She’s hiding from someome…Glen was quite relaxed and comfortable with it. I think he was just dismissing it off as quirky.” For his part, Peter left the situation, “as calmly as possible.”
The following day Sabina stabbed the Hollinshead to death in an apparently unprovoked attack. Imagine Glen’s experience: one minute his odd guest is calmly seated nearby, the next she has a knife in her hand, a wild look in her eyes and has jumped on his chest, stabbing him relentlessly. After the ambulance was called, Hollinshead never made it to the hospital.That’s a story worthy of a Halloween horror flick. A driver named Joshua Grattage saw Sabina running along a roadway, holding a hammer and smashing herself in the head with it. “I just felt a sickening feeling in my stomach. I remember seeing lots of blood on her head. Her hair was matted with blood.” Grattage jumped from his car and pulled the hammer from Sabina’s hand. Sabina hit Grattage on the head with a roof tile, pulled away from him and ran.
Sabina was pursued by police on foot until she ran onto a bridge and without taking the time to tie the bungee cord to her ankle, she jumped. Suffering two broken ankles and a fractured skull, Sabina (who must have been a cat in a previous life) survived. Three months later, Ursula was discharged from the hospital and relocated to Sweden, eventually moving to the United States. (aren’t they lucky?) Sabina pleaded guilty to manslaughter with diminished responsibility. Two psychiatrists testified that although Sabina was mentally ill when she murdered Glen she was no longer a threat to public safety. Go figure. She was sentenced to five years imprisonment and released on parole in 2011. The two sisters “stay in touch” as they say. Hopefully not too closely.