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Robbrent

Justified & Ancient
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It really is a fascinating case

The most detailed investigation can be found here

https://www.vg.no/nyheter/innenriks/i/xRjoWp/mystery-at-the-oslo-plaza

I spy or a sex worker, add to a botched investigation by the Norwegian police it's an enduring mystery, suicide or murder? It looks like murder to me but it's a lock room case (so beloved by murder mystery shows) so many questions

In a room at the Oslo Plaza Hotel, a young, elegant woman is found dead, with a gun shot wound to the head. Why did she check in under a false name? Why are the labels removed from her clothes? Why has no one reported her missing? After 22 years, her grave is re-opened.
 
That was a long read but interesting. It seems unllikely there will be an identification, but who knows.
I seem to remember reading something about this case a long time ago.
 
It really is a fascinating case

The most detailed investigation can be found here

https://www.vg.no/nyheter/innenriks/i/xRjoWp/mystery-at-the-oslo-plaza

I spy or a sex worker, add to a botched investigation by the Norwegian police it's an enduring mystery, suicide or murder? It looks like murder to me but it's a lock room case (so beloved by murder mystery shows) so many questions

lt’s easy to say “botched”, but they seem to have expended a good deal of effort on the case, over a good length of time.

Just because a case isn’t solved, it doesn’t automatically mean it was bungled.

maximus otter
 
I looked at that in Google translate and it shows Norwegian begravelse meaning both burial and funeral. Something like sombre would have been better.

Funereal.

Fascinating read.
 
To me, it sounds as if she decided to commit suicide, and make the authorities’ investigation job as difficult as possible. Perhaps family/ relationship issues made her want to torture anyone near to her by simply dropping off the world, giving them no closure.

She booked into the best hotel she could find in a nearby foreign country, hoping that her difficulty with the language would mask and deflect any undue curiosity. When she realised after three days of blagging free food and accommodation that the jig was up, she fired a test shot to ensure that the pistol was working, then “rolled a seven”.

The Feg (actually Fegyver- és Gépgyár) pistol is a cheap knockoff of the better-made Browning P-35, AKA Browning Hi-Power. She may well have acquired it through underworld circles to do the deed, hence the professionally-erased serial number. lt is unusual for a woman to commit suicide by means which cause disfigurement, but then the whole case is unusual, and she may even have wanted to add a layer of complexity and doubt to the incident to further hamper an investigation.

Odd and interesting.

maximus otter
 
To me, it sounds as if she decided to commit suicide, and make the authorities’ investigation job as difficult as possible. Perhaps family/ relationship issues made her want to torture anyone near to her by simply dropping off the world, giving them no closure.

She booked into the best hotel she could find in a nearby foreign country, hoping that her difficulty with the language would mask and deflect any undue curiosity. When she realised after three days of blagging free food and accommodation that the jig was up, she fired a test shot to ensure that the pistol was working, then “rolled a seven”.

The Feg (actually Fegyver- és Gépgyár) pistol is a cheap knockoff of the better-made Browning P-35, AKA Browning Hi-Power. She may well have acquired it through underworld circles to do the deed, hence the professionally-erased serial number. lt is unusual for a woman to commit suicide by means which cause disfigurement, but then the whole case is unusual, and she may even have wanted to add a layer of complexity and doubt to the incident to further hamper an investigation.

Odd and interesting.

maximus otter

What do you make of Mr F, the reticent Belgian staying on the same floor as the victim?

I explain that it concerns something that happened in Oslo in early June 1995. Mr F confirms that he was in Oslo at that time for work and stayed at the hotel.

"There was a woman who died, wasn’t there? A suicide?" asks Mr F with no prompting.

It was an answer I was not expecting.

"I remember it well because they asked me about it at the front desk when I checked out," Mr F says. "Someone asked if I had heard or seen anything, since it was in the same corridor. But I slept well that night and knew nothing about it."

I have his check-out form from the hotel, but to be on the safe side, I ask Mr F whether he is absolutely sure of the day, and he confirms the details.

"I stayed there from Friday to Saturday. When I checked out, they told me about the lady who died. I’ve stayed at thousands of hotels, so for me this was no big thing," he says.

Mr F doesn’t want us to come in to show him photos and drawings of the Plaza woman.

Were you ever contacted by the police?

"No, I’ve never talked to anyone," he says.

But, Mr F, this is very strange. You checked out of the hotel on Saturday morning, but the young woman didn’t die until Saturday night, almost 12 hours later. I don’t see how they could ask you about the death on Saturday morning, when the woman wasn’t dead yet?

Mr F is quick to respond:

"I don’t know anything about that. I just remember they asked me. That’s all I know."

The conversation is over.


False memory? Guilty secret other than involvement in murder/suicide? The kind of job you don't talk about to journalists?
 
I seem to recall one source trying to drama this up with reference to possible shenanigans around the Oslo Accords process - but the timing isn't right (Oslo II was signed in 1995 - but by then the geographical connection was in name only, I think.) That said, I think I also remember reading that Oslo remained a venue for some very sensitive meetings with upper echelon members of the PLO, and that something along those lines was going off at the time. (Apologies - it's years since I went down a bit of a rabbit hole in regard to this case, and I've long forgotten the whereabouts of the sources mentioned, all of which may have been/were probably utter bobbins.)

I agree, though, with those who suspect something much more mundane.

That said, deliberately removed clothes labels are always a tantalising element. And it's a somewhat eerie coincidence that missing clothes labels were also a factor in Norway's other famous unknown female corpse case - from twenty five years earlier - the Isdal woman.

Maybe it was just something people did back in the day - or possibly it's an element exaggerated by the media to beef up the mystery. But still, that coincidence does send a little shiver down the spine.
 
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That said, missing clothes labels are always a tantalising element. And it's a somewhat eerie coincidence that missing clothes labels were also a factor in Norway's other famous unknown female corpse case - from twenty five years earlier - the Isdal woman.

Maybe it was just something people did back in the day - or possibly it's an element exaggerated by the media to beef up the mystery. But still, that coincidence does send a little shiver down the spine.

Some people do take the tags out of their clothes though. The only items where tags weren't removed were ones where it would have damaged the item to do so and these were all from German manufacturers. So if she or anyone else was trying to hide her German origin then it failed pretty badly.

Why she would get rid of her makeup and some of her clothes is hard to imagine. If the clothes were good quality she could have sold them to pay a debt or to buy the gun and ammo, but the makeup?

To my mind, the main problem with this being a murder is the door being double locked from the inside. This is mentioned several times and seems difficult to get round. But wait..

The luxury hotel in Oslo used key cards in 1995. When Jennifer Fergate was found dead, the door was double-locked from the inside. With the Plaza’s locking system, guests could turn the inside door handle up and down to make sure the door was locked at night. The same technique would work from outside if you inserted the key card before lifting the door handle, but not everyone knew that.

So you CAN double lock it from the outside. Just because not everyone knew that, doesn't mean that no-one did. Were all of the key cards definitely unique and could only unlock one door?
 
From that article, I get the impression she was probably murdered.

The blood pattern, the hand still on the gun (placed there?), the expensive clothes, the lack of paying the bill, the half eaten oddly digested meal, the bath/shower,...and the absence from the room for a day...to meet someone?

None of that to me suggests suicide.

But that article is the only source of information and I have no professional crime fighting experience.
 
An intriguing case for sure. For anyone interested, it was covered on the Netflix reboot of Unsolved Mysteries. No doubt Jonathan Creek could crack the case in an hour or so.

I often get this case and the case of the Isdal woman mixed up in my head, even though the deaths occurred many years apart and the way in which the bodies were found was radically different too. There was a podcast series produced by the BBC and NRK which thoroughly examined the Isdal woman case, it is called Death in Ice Valley. I seem to remember they even went to the trouble of doing isotope testing on her teeth to determine where she may have been born and when.
 
What do you make of Mr F, the reticent Belgian staying on the same floor as the victim?

I explain that it concerns something that happened in Oslo in early June 1995. Mr F confirms that he was in Oslo at that time for work and stayed at the hotel.

"There was a woman who died, wasn’t there? A suicide?" asks Mr F with no prompting.

It was an answer I was not expecting.

"I remember it well because they asked me about it at the front desk when I checked out," Mr F says. "Someone asked if I had heard or seen anything, since it was in the same corridor. But I slept well that night and knew nothing about it."

I have his check-out form from the hotel, but to be on the safe side, I ask Mr F whether he is absolutely sure of the day, and he confirms the details.

"I stayed there from Friday to Saturday. When I checked out, they told me about the lady who died. I’ve stayed at thousands of hotels, so for me this was no big thing," he says.

Mr F doesn’t want us to come in to show him photos and drawings of the Plaza woman.

Were you ever contacted by the police?

"No, I’ve never talked to anyone," he says.

But, Mr F, this is very strange. You checked out of the hotel on Saturday morning, but the young woman didn’t die until Saturday night, almost 12 hours later. I don’t see how they could ask you about the death on Saturday morning, when the woman wasn’t dead yet?

Mr F is quick to respond:

"I don’t know anything about that. I just remember they asked me. That’s all I know."

The conversation is over.


False memory? Guilty secret other than involvement in murder/suicide? The kind of job you don't talk about to journalists?

False memory.

He checked out of the hotel in the usual way, then subsequently learned that not only had a woman died there on the same day, but that she occupied the room directly opposite his. Perhaps some commonplace remark by the Reception staff - “Was your stay pleasant? Anything we could improve?” - became corrupted in his brain’s file system by his later realisation that he had been within feet of a woman who had shot herself.

maximus otter
 
Some people do take the tags out of their clothes though. The only items where tags weren't removed were ones where it would have damaged the item to do so and these were all from German manufacturers. So if she or anyone else was trying to hide her German origin then it failed pretty badly...

Yes. My mum used to take the collar labels out of our clothes when I was a nipper - but not from anywhere else, I don't think.

That said, the removal of everyday indicators such as clothes labels is a feature of spycraft (kind of a cliché - but clichés are often clichés because they represent a rough truth). The purpose would probably not be to completely obscure the origin of all such items (which in many cases would be impossible) - but to delay any process of investigation.

Again, I'm not saying this is the case here. I have a suspicion that the media might react to the absence of a label or two (which would not be entirely unusual) to claiming that all such labels have been removed (a much sexier option for a journalist). Without seeing the actual police reports, it's hard to know for sure which is the case.
 
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About removing clothes labels: this can be done and the damage made good even where the label is deeply sewn into the garment.
It's generally easy to do.

The René Lezard one that stayed has a tiny protruding thread which tells me it's sewn in. Other René Lezard labels I've looked at online are neatly stitched in. There's no other way to do it really. It could have been taken out with the right tool.

My point is that removing labels while 'in the field' could be done with a basic and easily available sewing tool called a seam ripper.
It's designed for picking out stitches. They've been around since the '70s.

Most labels will pop straight out and leave no trace with a little encouragement from the seam ripper.
A person can be taught to do this in minutes.

As @Spookdaddy says, some people routinely whip labels out. Perhaps the collar ones might chafe?
It's not just for spies.
 
False memory.

He checked out of the hotel in the usual way, then subsequently learned that not only had a woman died there on the same day, but that she occupied the room directly opposite his. Perhaps some commonplace remark by the Reception staff - “Was your stay pleasant? Anything we could improve?” - became corrupted in his brain’s file system by his later realisation that he had been within feet of a woman who had shot herself.

maximus otter
Or he was in the hotel over the weekend, checked out on the Sunday and simply forgot, or got his days mixed up.
 
My feelings tell me that this woman committed some type of armed robbery or something along those lines, and was in hiding. And someone was after her, she was cornered and decided to end it all.
 
He seems quite reluctant to take part in any such discussion!
But was he? From the sound of it he brought up the matter of the dead woman in the room opposite. He simply shut down the conversation when asked for further details - which could equally be because he didn't want anyone to realise that he was either somewhere he wasn't meant to be, or with someone he wasn't meant to be with.

If he'd been truly reticent, he wouldn't have said anything at all!
 
But was he? From the sound of it he brought up the matter of the dead woman in the room opposite. He simply shut down the conversation when asked for further details - which could equally be because he didn't want anyone to realise that he was either somewhere he wasn't meant to be, or with someone he wasn't meant to be with.

If he'd been truly reticent, he wouldn't have said anything at all!
It seems pretty shifty though that he both claims to have stayed in "thousands" of hotels but also remembered when he checked in and out of this one. I suppose it is possìble he assumed he was going to get accused of something and went to check the dates before replying. He forgot to check the date of her death though.
 
My first impression is that she was sent there to assassinate someone, but was 'seen coming,' or betrayed, and then taken out by operatives of a security service. The article says she disappeared for between 19 and 24 hours, which raises the possibility that she may have achieved whatever she went there to do, and part of the plan was for her to be silenced so that whatever she did would be impossible to prove, or at least it would be harder for those who sent her to be identified or blamed. The removal of identifying marks, clothes labels etc is a classic method of concealing the origin and identity of agents who are considered expendable, and who are usually denied by the organization which sent them.
It's clever what things can be made to look like.
 
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My first impression is that she was sent there to assassinate someone, but was 'seen coming,' or betrayed, and then taken out by operatives of a security service. The article says she disappeared for between 19 and 24 hours, which raises the possibility that she may have achieved whatever she went there to do, and part of the plan was for her to be silenced so that whatever she did would be impossible to prove, or at least it would be harder for those who sent her to be identified or blamed. The removal of identifying marks, clothes labels etc is a classic method of concealing the origin and identity of agents who are considered expendable, and who are usually denied by the organization which sent them.
It's clever what things can be made to look like.

I think along the same lines.

Cutting out labels is only going to slow down the investigation, but not prevent it.
The design of the clothes and their fabrics will help identify her, along with DNA and facial features etc.

So it seems a waste of energy.

Also, what really puzzles me, is that is seems no one missed a mid twenties well dressed woman.

Did not family members and friends search for her?

Especially if she was North European, from a country with high literacy and strong business and social networks.

Or were they kept quiet by a government agency?
 
Did not family members and friends search for her?
I believe this was answered in the article when they spoke of how missing person reports were recorded and shared with other police forces in those days. Which is not at all.

The Dutroux case led to missing persons cases being handled differently, not just in Belgium but in a number of European countries. The case was a watershed," explains the policeman.

"Does that mean missing persons reports filed before the Dutroux case might have been put aside or not taken seriously in Belgium and other countries?"

"That could have happened. Everything was different before Dutroux," he says.
In theory it could be that a missing persons report was stuffed into a drawer in a local police office somewhere in Europe without ever making it into the centralized registries.
 
The mystery is, it certainly wasn't suicide, the forensics proved that, but where was her luggage? Purse or handbag ? If she flew in where was her passport?

How does a well dressed young woman go missing and not be noticed, the check in procedure was also strange

Someone it seems committed the perfect crime, if you read the article the investigation was botched because they were working to only one hypothesis, you can't blame them for that perhaps that's what the authorities wanted?
 
…it certainly wasn't suicide, the forensics proved that…

No, they didn’t.

It was held to be unusual that the deceased’s firing hand had no gunshot residue on it, but that’s readily explicable.

A fact that is mentioned in the article, but not remarked on, is strongly suggestive of suicide:

When the weapon was released from the corpse’s hand, a ‘click’ could be heard as the trigger moved towards the forward position."

When a semi-automatic pistol is fired, the shooter has to slightly release pressure on the trigger to enable the trigger to return to its firing position ready for the next shot. This is known as the “trigger reset”. lt seems as though cadaveric spasm had caused the victim’s hand to form a “death grip” on the pistol. My question: If a second party had shot her, then placed the pistol in her hand to make it look like suicide, how did he:

a) Manage to lock her dead fingers around the grip to simulate cadaveric spasm, and - even more crucially;

b) How did he transfer the pistol from his hand to hers without the trigger resetting due to release of pressure on it?

Suicide.

maximus otter
 
No, they didn’t.

It was held to be unusual that the deceased’s firing hand had no gunshot residue on it, but that’s readily explicable.

A fact that is mentioned in the article, but not remarked on, is strongly suggestive of suicide:

When the weapon was released from the corpse’s hand, a ‘click’ could be heard as the trigger moved towards the forward position."

When a semi-automatic pistol is fired, the shooter has to slightly release pressure on the trigger to enable the trigger to return to its firing position ready for the next shot. This is known as the “trigger reset”. lt seems as though cadaveric spasm had caused the victim’s hand to form a “death grip” on the pistol. My question: If a second party had shot her, then placed the pistol in her hand to make it look like suicide, how did he:

a) Manage to lock her dead fingers around the grip to simulate cadaveric spasm, and - even more crucially;

b) How did he transfer the pistol from his hand to hers without the trigger resetting due to release of pressure on it?

Suicide.

maximus otter
That's as maybe, however it still does not explain the lack of luggage and personnel belongings or any other form of ID

Why would anyone go to all that trouble to commit suicide by shooting themselves?

The biggest mystery to me, is that given that this is such a well known case and has been for years how is she still unknown?
 
That's as maybe, however it still does not explain the lack of luggage and personnel belongings or any other form of ID

Why would anyone go to all that trouble to commit suicide by shooting themselves?

The biggest mystery to me, is that given that this is such a well known case and has been for years how is she still unknown?
Maybe she was robbed of her case containing all her ID and money? If she had any sort of a nefarious purpose for being in Oslo (perhaps indicated by the pistol and a whole lot of ammo) she wouldn't exactly be able to go to the police about it.
 
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