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Sanna Sillanpää

Sanna Riitta Liisa de Skitso Sillanpää

Born: April 15 1968
Died: –
Active: 21 February 1999
Location: Finland
Method of Disposal: Shooting
Consequence: Found legal insane, imprisoned in a mental hospital

Unfortunates:

  • 23-year-old Shooting Range Supervisor
  • 25-year-old Mechanic engaging in shooting practice
  • 37-year-old Driver engaging in shooting practice

Fortunates:

  • 3 members of the shooting club

Sanna Sillanpää was an intelligent lady. By the time she reached the age of 30, Sanna had achieved a Masters Degree in Computer Science and was working as an IT expert in Helsinki, Finland. She lived alone in a suburb of Helsinki, keeping to herself and never causing any trouble. In fact, she gave no hint during the first 30 years of her life that anything was wrong with her.

Then, on a wintry Sunday in February 1999, Sanna decided to practice her marksmanship down at the Helsinki Shooting Club.

Sanna headed to the front desk at the club, where she was greeted by the counter attendant. She hired a gun from the cache of available rentals behind the counter, and bought ammunition as well.

There were many booths in use when she entered the gallery and Sanna would have had trouble finding a spare target on which to practice. It didn’t matter though, the targets Sanna had in mind were not paper based.   She walked over to the first person she saw, raised the gun in her hand and pulled the trigger.

Because the other shooters were wearing earmuffs and there were other shots being fired at the time, nobody noticed what Sanna was doing until four men had been shot execution style. The fifth victim saw her out of the corner of his eye but only managed to get off one shot at her before he was hit in the face. A sixth man raced out of the club and into a nearby pizza shop to raise the alarm.

When the shooting was over, three men lay on the floor dead: the supervisor of the shooting range, and two people who’d come in for target practice. A further two men, including the man who’d seen Sanna at the last minute, were barely alive.

Sanna decided she had probably broken a few of the club’s rules, especially the one regarding the maiming of fellow gun users. She quickly walked out of the building with her gun and the remaining ammunition she had. As she left, Sanna could be heard saying, “This is what they taught us at the FBI Academy, isn’t it?”

Sanna caught a city bus to Helsinki-Vantaa Airport. At that point, she found herself at a bit of an impasse as the unhelpful staff behind the counter were unable to procure her a ticket to ‘somewhere’. The ticket seller insisted on her choosing an actual destination. She finally managed to get her ticket to London and find the departure gate after about four hours. By this time the police had already figured out who was responsible for the shooting (presumably from the rental agreement for the gun back at the shooting club) and had dashed to the airport in time to drag her into a waiting police van, after which she was escorted to her cell until further notice.

It was about this time that the police discovered the gun and ammunition were missing. They were unable to exact any details from Sanna; she had apparently decided that talking to authorities was not in her best interests. An airport cleaner subsequently found the gun and ammunition hidden in a trash can  and handed them in to police.

Despite her vow of silence, doctors were able to diagnose Sanna with paranoid schizophrenia in June 1999. However, they were unable to determine exactly what had led the now 31-year-old to mercilessly execute three men she’d never met.

Sanna pleaded not guilty. Sanna’s trial ran until October 1999. The prosecutor called for manslaughter on all five count with partial insanity. However, the judge found Sanna to be “without full understanding”, or in other words legally insane. The prosecutor appealed against the ruling, stating that Sanna had shown an understanding of her actions by fleeing and by her actions in hiding the weapon. The owner of the shooting club also voiced his displeasure at the sentencing decision, since this made him liable to pay 700,000 Finnish markka in compensation to the victims and their families.

An appeal was filed, with four more doctors giving evidence in August 2000 behind closed doors that confirmed the diagnosis. The original sentence was upgraded to manslaughter in October 2000, but with responsibility for paying the compensation transferred to Sanna herself. This decision was rather obvious in hindsight: the property confiscated from Sanna upon her arrest amounted to 900,000 markka.

As for Sanna herself, she was confined at Niuvanniemi Mental Hospital at Kuopio, Finland. However, some internet forums have indicated that they have seen her attending markets and the library in Kuopio, suggesting she is being considered an out-patient at the hospital. It was also recently reported that the interrogation tapes recorded at the time of Sanna’s arrest were accidentally thrown out with the trash.  It’s a good thing shooting deaths are relatively rare in Finland.  Heaven forfend things should get out of hand.

2 comments

  1. Colleen

    I’m am related to the Sillanpää name. I am curious who her parents are and her genealogy line…

    1. Rachael Gregory

      Information on Sillanpaa is quite scarce on the net. No info is available regarding her lineage and there was no mention of her parents in any of the news articles written on the subject. If you do go looking and find anything about her that I haven’t mentioned, I’d love to see a link on it.

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