Ole Larson's Folks

Marte Bø, part 4

To read Marte’s story from the beginning, click here.

Marit Jonsdatter Huskelien lost her life in 1694, on the evening of 11 July. At that time of year in central Norway, daylight and twilight linger far into the night.  Quoting again from Kleiven, p. 352:

The same night, there was a blacksmith in Kvikne, Jo Sylte, who had assembled a cast-iron hook for the cottage door at Huskelien, which he now meant to go install. When he came to a mountain cleft on the edge of the Huskeli land, he saw two guys come carrying a person between themselves. Understanding immediately that a terrible crime had been committed, he kept himself hidden and watched. The mountain cleft he stood back in was called Jo-Klovo [Jo-cleft] afterward, but now [1930?] it is heaped full of stones.

The questions of when the blacksmith came forward, whether he identified the men he saw, and whether there were other witnesses, are left unanswered. But in the course of the sheriff’s investigation, suspicion eventually fell on Bø’s eldest son and heir, Torger, and his mother, Marte, along with a hired hand of theirs named Anders Lunde. By this time, a magistrate had taken up the case, and the three suspects were called to court to testify.

Immediately, or so the sources state, Torger Torgersen Bø poured out an emotional, detailed confession, “with great remorse and weeping.” The other two also readily confessed. At least, that is what the record shows. In this age of “enhanced interrogation,” we are entitled to wonder what Medieval forms of coercion may have been applied in secret, especially considering certain details of the court’s sentence in this case (which I am not yet ready to reveal). And of course, if torture was a factor, then the veracity of the confessions themselves is called into question. But I digress.

On the night specified, at the bidding of his mother (who had been obsessed with the notion for years), Torger and the hired man went to Huskelien, where Marit was lying in bed. Torger asked her if they from Bø should cut the grass in the holding pen at the seter [summer pasture]. “No, it is too early yet, godson mine,”(!) she answered. At that, he took her arms, while Anders Lunde applied a choke-hold on her throat. After she was lifeless, they carried her out to the hill above the Vinstra river, set her shoes behind the hill, and threw her in. O-ouch!

Anders Lunde testified that Marte Bø had promised him a new shirt and three riksdaler, payment of which was made the Saturday after the murder. Three riksdaler in those days was about the value of a cow. Anders further stated that the woman had been nagging him to commit this crime for the past six years. She had also unsuccessfully approached his brother, Jon Lunde, on at least two occasions, offering him a greater reward than Anders eventually accepted. Her son Torger took part in some of these conversations. For her part, Marte also confessed fully, admitting that the whole affair had been her own idea.

One time just days before the event, Anders had started out for Huskelien with lethal intent. But when he slowed to rest, a large black dog appeared, behaving as if it wanted to follow him. The hired man lost his nerve and hurried back home. Another account of this day(?-may have been two separate occasions) has it that the crime was aborted because Torger did not meet Anders at Huskelien as expected.

Next: The Sentence

Scene of the Crime
The Sentence