- Mar 6, 2015
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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? After 22 years, her grave is re-opened.
On 3 June 1995, a young woman is found dead on the bed in Room 2805 of the Oslo Plaza, shot through the forehead with a Browning 9 mm pistol. She checked in as Jennifer Fergate, but the name is false. Who is this stylish woman? Why are the labels removed from her clothes? Why is she carrying 34 rounds of ammunition?
A year later, the unidentified woman is interred in a nameless grave in Oslo. VG’s Lars Christian Wegner wrote about the simple funeral. For 20 years, he has pondered all the unanswered questions.
Now, in collaboration with the Oslo police, VG makes a final attempt to learn the identity of the Plaza woman. What really happened in Room 2805?
Saturday, 3 June 1995: Just after 7:30 p.m., receptionist Evy Tudem Gjertsen at the Oslo Plaza, Norway’s premier luxury hotel, discovered that something was wrong.
The guests in Room 2805, a Belgian couple, Jennifer and Lois Fergate, had far exceeded their credit limit.
The woman is lying on her back on the bed, staring at the ceiling with a gaping hole in her forehead. She must have died instantly. Significant blood loss. She holds the weapon, a 9 mm Browning pistol, in her right hand, which is resting on her chest.
The TV is still on, the room tidy. Not much luggage. No sign of other people having stayed in the room.
The investigation continues through the night. Both key cards are in the room. The door was double-locked from the inside. The window is ajar, but outside the mirrored glass façade stretches 28 floors to the ground. Everything indicates the woman was alone.
* “Suicide,” it says on a lab test order sent to the National Criminal Investigation Service, known as Kripos.
The case seems closed.
There are only two anomalies in the police investigation that evening and night:
* The labels on the dead woman’s clothing have been cut off.
* There are no relatives to notify. Belgian police report that there is no one named Jennifer or Lois Fergate. All information on the woman’s identity is false.
No passport. No wallet, no money, no credit card. No handbag, driver's license or keys. Not even toiletries or make-up – just a cologne bottle that was almost empty.
Anything that could have identified the deceased had been systematically removed. Had she done that herself, before taking her life? Had someone else removed all the traces?
Did someone kill the false Jennifer, and place the weapon in her hand to make it look like suicide?
Nor did the weapon tell detectives much. The serial number of the semi-automatic pistol, a Browning 9 mm, had been professionally removed – not just ground off, but etched away with acid. The technicians at Kripos, the National Criminal Investigation Service, managed to recover some of the number, but not enough to identify the gun. It had been made in Belgium, in 1990 or 1991. They got no further.
In the chamber of the pistol, the next bullet automatically moved up and into place, ready for firing, and seven more rounds waited in the clip. In a black attaché case next to the bed were another 25 cartridges. Jennifer had brought 34 live rounds in all. The black briefcase contained absolutely nothing but cartridges.
Not much could be gleaned from the autopsy of the young woman. Though she had claimed to be 21, forensic pathologists believed she was a bit older: 30, plus or minus five years.
Her eyes were blue, and her hair was dark and short; she weighed 67 kilograms (147 lbs) and was 159 centimetres (5′2″ inches) tall. Her fingerprints gave no matches in the Interpol data base. She had relatively expensive dental work in gold and porcelain, of a type widely used in the United States but also in some European countries, including the Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland.
Mystery at the Oslo Plaza (full story)
Mystery at the Oslo Plaza (video and evidence)
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