woman of isdalen
The Isdalen Woman (Norwegian: Isdalskvinnen) is a placeholder name given to an unidentified woman who was found dead in Isdalen ("Ice Valley") in Bergen, Norway on November 29, 1970. at the time it had given a verdict of probable suicide, the nature of the case encouraged speculation and ongoing investigations in the following years. Half a century later, it remains one of the deepest Cold War mysteries in Norwegian history.
Discovery of the body
On the afternoon of November 29, 1970, a man and his two daughters were walking in the foothills of Ulriken's north face, in an area known as Isdalen ("Ice Valley"); it has also been nicknamed "Death Valley" due to its history as an area of suicides in the Middle Ages and a more recent series of accidents while hiking. Noticing an unusual burning smell, one of the daughters located the charred body of a woman located among some pebbles. Surprised and fearful, the group returned to the city to notify the police.
Bergen police responded quickly and launched a full-scale investigation (filed under the case name "134/70"). Examining the scene, police noted the woman's supine position, her hands clasped by her torso, and the absence of a fire nearby. The front of her body and her clothes had been badly burned and she was unrecognizable. Also located near her body and also affected by the fire: an empty bottle of St. Hallvard, two plastic water bottles, a plastic passport holder, rubber boots, a wool sweater, a scarf, nylon socks, an umbrella, a purse, a matchbox, a watch, two earrings and a ring. Around the body were traces of burnt paper and, underneath, a fur hat that was later found with traces of gasoline. All identification marks and labels on these items were removed or erased. Three days later, investigators found two suitcases belonging to the woman at the Bergen railway station. On the lining of one, police discovered five 100 Deutschmark notes (c.137 dollars in 1970). Among other items, they found clothes, shoes, wigs, makeup, eczema cream, 135 Norwegian kroner, Belgian, British and Swiss coins, maps, timetables, a pair of glasses (with non-prescription lenses), sunglasses (with partial fingerprints that matched those found on the body), cosmetics and a notebook. As with the body, all possible identifying information was removed. An autopsy at the Gades Institutt concluded that the woman had died from a combination of phenobarbital incapacitation and carbon monoxide poisoning. Soot was found in her lungs, indicating that she was alive when she was burned and her neck was injured, possibly from a fall or blow. Analysis of her blood and stomach showed that she had consumed between 50 and 70 Fenemal brand sleeping pills and found another 12 sleeping pills alongside her body. At the autopsy, his teeth and jaw were removed due to his unique dental work in gold and tissue samples from his organs were taken. Police then launched an appeal for information in the Norwegian media about the case. The last time she was seen alive was on November 23, when she left room 407 at the Hotel Hordaheimen. Hotel staff told police she was pretty and was approximately 1.6m tall, with dark brown hair and small brown eyes. The team noted that the woman mostly kept to her room and appeared to be on guard. Upon checking out, she paid the bill in cash and ordered a taxi. Her movements between that moment and the discovery of her body remain unknown.