Twins often stand out for their unique bond and some may even invent their own language to communicate with each other. However, some twins have a dark and terrible uniqueness, such as the Eriksson sisters.
The Eriksson twins, Ursula and Sabina, gained worldwide attention due to their involvement in a series of strange and shocking events. They were diagnosed with folie à deux, a rare and severe disorder that causes one individual's psychotic delusions to be shared by the other. Their unusual mental state even resulted in the murder of an innocent man.
In comparison to the Eriksson sisters' shared psychosis, which resulted in chaotic and irrational behavior, the Silent Sisters' use of cryptophasia, or their own invented language, seems almost harmless.
The Case Of Ursula And Sabina Eriksson
The Eriksson twins were born on November 3, 1967 in Värmland, Sweden. They lived with their older brother in poverty and little else is known about their childhood. In 2008, Sabina was living with her partner and children in Ireland with no apparent mental health issues. However, when her twin sister Ursula visited from America, they became inseparable and later disappeared together.
The M6 Motorway Incident
On May 17, 2008, the Eriksson sisters traveled to Liverpool and were kicked off a bus due to their bizarre behavior. They then walked down the M6 motorway, causing disruptions and drawing the attention of the police. Ursula then ran into a semi-truck traveling at 56 mph, and Sabina was hit by a Volkswagen. During the incident, Sabina made a cryptic statement to an officer, saying, "We say in Sweden that an accident rarely comes alone. Usually, at least one more follows – maybe two."
Although both women survived the accidents, Ursula's legs were crushed by the truck and Sabina was unconscious for 15 minutes. When paramedics attempted to treat them, Ursula resisted and scratched, spat, and screamed at the medical staff. She also told the policemen restraining her, "I recognize you – I know you're not real," and Sabina, now conscious, shouted, "They're going to steal your organs."
Despite efforts to keep her on the ground, Sabina stood up and began screaming for help and calling for the police, even though they were already present. She then hit an officer in the face before running into traffic on the other side of the motorway. Emergency workers and several bystanders were able to catch and restrain her, and she was handcuffed and sedated before being placed in an ambulance. The sisters' similar behavior led to suspicions of a suicide pact or drug use.
Ursula was taken to the hospital by air ambulance, while Sabina woke up after 15 minutes of unconsciousness and was taken into police custody. Despite her injuries and the absence of concern for her sister, she eventually became calmer and more controlled.
While in police custody, Sabina remained relaxed and repeated her earlier cryptic statement, "We say in Sweden that an accident rarely comes alone. Usually at least one more follows – maybe two," to an officer while being processed. This was the same statement she had made to an officer on the M6 motorway earlier.
On 19 May 2008, Sabina was released from court without a full psychiatric evaluation having pleaded guilty to the charges of trespass on the motorway and hitting a police officer. The court sentenced her to one day in custody which she had been deemed to have served having spent a full night in police custody. She was released from the custody.
The Killing Of Glenn Hollinshead
After being released from court, Sabina wandered the streets of Stoke-on-Trent, carrying her possessions in a plastic bag given to her by the police and wearing her sister's green top, trying to locate her sister in the hospital. At 7:00 pm, two men walking their dog on Christchurch Street in Fenton saw Sabina. One of the men was 54-year-old Glenn Hollinshead, a self-employed welder, qualified paramedic, and former RAF airman, and the other was his friend, Peter Molloy.
Sabina appeared friendly and stroked the dog as she struck up a conversation with the two men. However, she also seemed nervous, which worried Molloy. Sabina asked the men for directions to any nearby bed and breakfasts or hotels, and Hollinshead and Molloy offered to let her stay at Hollinshead's house at nearby Duke Street. Sabina agreed and relaxed at the house, telling them about her efforts to locate her hospitalized sister.
While at the house, Sabina's odd behavior continued as she constantly got up and looked out of the window, leading Molloy to suspect that she may have run away from an abusive partner. She also appeared paranoid, offering the men cigarettes but then quickly taking them out of their mouths, saying they may be poisoned. Shortly before midnight, Molloy left and Sabina stayed the night.
The next day around noon, Hollinshead called his brother to ask about local hospitals in an effort to locate Ursula. At 7:40 pm, while a meal was being prepared, Hollinshead left the house to ask a neighbor for tea bags and then returned inside. A minute later, he stumbled back outside, bleeding and saying, "She stabbed me," before collapsing to the ground and dying from his injuries. Sabina had stabbed Hollinshead five times with a kitchen knife.
Capture, trial and imprisonment of Sabina Eriksson
As the neighbor called emergency services, Sabina emerged from Hollinshead's house with a hammer and began hitting herself over the head with it. A passerby named Joshua Grattage tried to take the hammer from her, but she knocked him out with a piece of roofing that she had been carrying.
Police and paramedics found Sabina and chased her to a bridge, where she jumped off, falling 40ft onto a road. She broke both ankles and fractured her skull in the fall, and was taken to the hospital. After being released from the hospital in a wheelchair, she was charged with murder.
During the trial, the defense counsel argued that Eriksson was a "secondary" sufferer of folie à deux, influenced by the presence or perceived presence of her twin sister, the "primary" sufferer. However, they were unable to determine the rational reason behind the killing. Justice Saunders concluded that Sabina had a "low" level of culpability for her actions and she was sentenced to five years in prison. She was released on parole in 2011 and returned to Sweden.
It is currently unknown what specifically caused the twins' shared psychosis, beyond the possibility of folie à deux. Another theory is that they may have also suffered from acute polymorphic delusional disorder. In a 2008 interview, their brother claimed that the two were being chased by "maniacs" on the motorway on the day of the incidents.
It is unclear who the "maniacs" were that the twins' brother referred to. It is possible that they were a product of the twins' delusions, or they may have actually existed. Regardless, it is disturbing that the twins were in a state that led them to commit such a crime.