'Pray, Obey, Kill' Episode 5: Why was Helge Fossmo jailed when Sara Svensson killed his wife and neighbor?

Helge Fossmo was charged with the murder of his first wife in 1999 before he was convicted of instigating the murder of his second wife in 2004

                            'Pray, Obey, Kill' Episode 5: Why was Helge Fossmo jailed when Sara Svensson killed his wife and neighbor?
Helge Fossmo and Sara Svensson (HBO)

With the ever twisting case of the Knutby murders that plays out on HBO's 'Pray, Obey, Kill', Episode 5 introduces to us Helge Fossmo's side of the story. So far we have seen the Knutby, Philadelphia pastor's wife get brutally murdered by Sara Svensson, who claimed she had acted upon mysterious text messages from 'God'. Sarah had brutally shot both Alexandra Fossmo and her neighbor, Daniel Linde, in the chest and in due course of the investigation, it was outed that Helge and Sarah, who had been a nanny in the Fossmo household, were lovers.

Helge and Linde's wife were also alleged to be sexually involved, but the latter was never charged. In the end, it was Helge who was sentenced to life imprisonment, while Sarah was just put away in psychiatric confinement. But in Episode 5 titled 'Don't Be Afraid to Go Close', journalist Terese Cristiansson argues that Sarah did murder the pastor's wife and attempt to kill Linde as well. But why is it that only Helge was charged for the murders?


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Public records of the case reveal that during court trials, Sara had claimed that these messages from 'God' were forwarded to her by Helge. Deleted texts from her phone also made her testimony sound more credible and Helge alleges in Episode 5 that Sara had a gift with knowing what to tell people and saying the exact things the people would like to hear - thus convincing the court that she wasn't right in the head.

For the most part of the HBO documentary, until the penultimate episode, Helge is certain there's a bigger conspiracy behind pinning the blame on him. He believes Sara did not reveal full details of what led her to commit the heinous murders in the 2004 trial, but he says he doesn't blame her for that, instead the people who drove Sara to those testimonies are to be blamed, says Helge.

Asa Waldau in a still from the docuseries (HBO)

The former pastor insinuated the involvement of Asa Waldau, Alexandra's sister and his sister-in-law, who ran a cult-like community church that both Alexandra and Sara were a part of. But it wasn't just Asa's involvement or alleged manipulation that put Helge behind bars, it is worth noting that the pastor's first wife, too, had died rather mysteriously even though her death was initially ruled as an accident. She was found in her bathtub, with a hole in her head and suspicious amounts of dextropropoxyphene in her blood, and it was only much later that Helge was charged with her murder.

The former pastor had denied all charges made against him, including instigated murder and instigated attempted murder for Alexandra's death and Linde's shooting. It was only in a 2006 interview that Helge confessed his involvement in the murders, but he was still never convicted for the murder of his first wife. He was released on parole in 2020, while Sara was released from the psychiatric facility years ago, in 2011.

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