Have I solved (a part of) the Fifty Year-Old Isdal Woman Mystery?
(after listening to eleven podcast episodes, I now have thirty-four theories):
The BBC podcast called Death in Ice Valley https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p060ms2h was running via the World Service and asked listeners (me as well) to solve the mystery. There is/was also a Facebook group which listeners use to test out their sensible and most ridiculous ideas in an attempt to solve this mystery. Some of the references below are specific to the podcast. You’d need to listen to that and read some of the Facebook Group entries https://www.facebook.com/groups/deathinicevalley/ to get a feel for the potential crime or suicide committed. Some references can only be gleaned from the Facebook group. Some ideas were not covered by the podcast — but were from external sources or wikipedia, which I intend to fully edit …one day (if I solve it).
On the afternoon of 29 November 1970, a man and his two daughters were hiking in the foothills of the north face of Mount Ulriken, in an area known as the Isdalen Valley. They found the charred body of a woman, hidden among some rocks, in an area popularly known as Death Valley. Also found (by the autopsy) was a large quantity of sleeping pills brand name Fenemal; a 1/4 bottle of kloster liqueur from Vinmonopolet — mostly empty ; two partially charred plastic water-carrying bottles; an almost fully burned plastic cup thought to be from a thermos flask; remnants of rubber boots; a shawl; a woollen jumper; an umbrella; a watch with two clip earrings and a ring.
Beneath the body was a container and fur hat remnants which they later found contained a small trace of petrol. The autopsy determined she died from taking an overdose of sleeping pills and carbon monoxide poisoning — with the burning from the fire only as a contributory factor. Many of the sleeping pills in her stomach were undigested. A few days later the police found two suitcases in a train station which contained a wide variety of items. But the most alarming thing was many of the labels on cosmetic products in her suitcases were scratched off and the clothing labels removed.
If you are curious I built a list of them here and the items found around the body (it will always be a work in progress): https://docs.google.com/document/d/1HavB8NzWyRaFp79NIdmC0_ARxOE1ZvQ_CcSgkQHpJaU/edit?usp=sharing
This 50-year-old mystery has prompted many books, blog items, newspaper articles and theories with ideas that she was a spy. Most contain significant errors. Few have focused on simply trying to determine her real origins from the DNA evidence (only available to law enforcement). Though with new isotope tests of her teeth this work is beginning to happen.
She checked in to hotels in Norway and Europe using many assumed names but the most perplexing was the so-called coded log of her travels found in one of her suitcases. It prompted the thought she was a Russian spy because she had travelled to Stavanger close to the dates Penguin missiles were tested and was in Bergen when boat crews (or test observer guests) may have been in hotels. The various hotel registration cards showed potential links to many cities including Brussels, London, Rome and Paris and the various items found in her suitcases seemed to confirm this. No passport was found though it is assumed fake ones were used.
This timeline I created might help you view the locations, her travel log references and activity dates:
On the 12/5/2018 a person on the Facebook group for the Death in Ice Valley podcast was looking at date coincidences on the various hotel registration cards trying to determine her date of birth. These dates seemed to suggest she was aged 25 to 27 in 1970 because of the repeated use of 1943 and 1945. So I thought I’d investigate the names and places on the registration cards.
I came across some strange ‘catholic’ coincidences for Isdal woman from the names and places used on her hotel registration cards (those in bold font):
Saint Genevieve — Paris
Saint Walpurga or Walburga — Antwerp
Saint Claudia is a saint and a mother of later Pope Linus, Rome
Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat, R.S.C.J., (December 12, 1779 — May 25, 1865) is a French saint of the Catholic Church
Alexia — Saint Alexis of Rome
And don’t forget the alcohol a Kloster liqueur from Vinmonopolet found at the scene of the crime. These were originally made by monks in cloisters — hence the name. Then there’s the picture of the Madonna and baby in her suitcase and another religious postcard from the UK.
All these saintly catholic references can only mean one thing — the person who completed all those hotel registration cards using different names was likely a catholic or very religious.
But there is also one curious name that doesn’t fit. Finella (or Fenella). That is a Gaelic name.
Rather than try to say the answer is….. I have proposed several theories. The number of these grew as the podcast progressed. I tend to believe just one (perhaps two) of these theories — but I’ll leave it to you to come to your own conclusions. I sometimes re-write parts of a theory as I find or decide some evidence seems incorrect.
“The way to avoid bias is to have multiple hypotheses” Keith Inman Criminologist.
Theory 1 — She died with her boots off!
Isdal woman died with her boots placed alongside her body. That suggests to me that Isdal woman did not die at that place. She was transported there and the ‘celebrity’ sailor boots found near her body was placed at her side and incinerated with her.
But I think she did not die that day. I think that this could have been her second incineration.
The first investigators report said:
Extensive damage at the knees of the body, calfs and lower thighs suggests however that a subsequent fire of a more prolonged nature has arisen here.
I think she may have died on or even before the 18/3/1970 on the Carl Erik fishing boat when a penguin missile was fired at it. She may have already committed suicide. She may have been placed there, a homeless woman, to see the effects of a penguin missile on a dead body. But if she was alive — either a ‘stop the Vietnam war’ or ‘Stop the hydroelectricity project’ protester who thought they wouldn’t fire when they saw her banner, or even simply a navy woman who failed to leave the boat after lighting the stoves.
But it was not a clear day and there were rough seas:
Onboard the fishing boat Carl Erik were two propane stoves a heat source for the penguin missiles to detect. When the inert missile hit the ship those stoves with the gas canisters exploded. This may have been a piece of theatre for the high-speed filming by the navy. Isdal woman may have tripped on the boat and knocked herself out as the sea was very severe. Perhaps getting burnt on her lower body — as she stood on top of the steering house waving a banner hoping to get the attention of the penguin missile testers.
The Isdal woman body on the hill was severely burnt by petrol — but that may have been her second burning. She may have already been severely burnt by the propane gas canisters exploding in the two stoves on the fishing boat.
Again the crime scene investigator said:
The whole body was burned by fire. It was red-ish, brown and sooted, and gave a convincing impression of having been enveloped by a short but intense surface fire.
When asked about the burning Tofte (the former head of POT) said she died from an exploding can of hairspray.
Perhaps there was a navy cover-up — necessary to make sure the Penguin missile system was approved in 1970/71 as it was. The rest a work of fiction that people have troubled over for 50 years.
The Viking burial on the hill for the woman who died on the boat might have been another piece of dramatic theatre. It might make sense if she was a navy woman. Her body was found 90 metres from an old Viking burial site.
The rest of the drama perhaps a lookalike made to march around to create a story to explain a strange death on a hill which happened months earlier on a fishing boat — killed by Sigurd — a missile.
Just a final thought from the police lawyer:
My own factual analysis shows the opportunity for her to be near the Penguin missile testing is unlikely — unless she is part of the crew/FFI research team and stays in hotels between testing:
travel log v penguin tests v hotel cards - Isdal Woman
Log v hotel cards ,Location,Info,Hotel used by Isdal woman,Date,Location,lies on form From,To,arrival,depart,from,to…
Theory 2 - The innocent lookalike
A second woman was identified by her former boyfriend as being the Isdal woman. But police ignored this line of questioning as she was determined to be alive. Anna Lisa (aka Anneliese), as NRK referred to her, returned to Salzburg and died in 2004.
The former boyfriend Jon Låte said she even visited him in Bergen before the death of the Isdal woman. He only retold his story many years later to NRK and they tracked down the grave in Salzburg of Anneliese Meindl.
Could it be true that the suitcase evidence investigated by the police may have been worn or used by Anneliese Meindl and that she was simply an innocent abroad? It could be the suitcase was taken by Anneliese Meindl to Bergen station’s luggage storage before she caught the train and returned home to Salzburg and to her family clothing business next to a museum in Vienna. Had she dumped the holiday clothes she didn’t need anymore? Her former boss at the Odda hotel said she had left her possessions there as well. This suggests a repeated pattern of behaviour. Had she decided to return to her abusive husband and her children after being away from them for two years?
Remember all witnesses said she was aged 25 to 30. But the modern-day tests of her teeth have shown the body to be the body of a 40-year-old woman. Who did people see — the 30-year-old German-speaking Anneliese or the 40-year-old Isdal woman?
Also, the obvious gap in her teeth never mentioned by hotel staff. It would have been the first thing they noticed as she spoke to them. Did Anneliese Meindl not have a gap in her teeth?
Curiously the scratched off cosmetic labels in the suitcase to hide identity may tie the suitcase to the hotel Solfonn Turisthotell in Odda where she worked as the receptionist in the spring of 1970. The distinctive damask design may have been unique to that hotel in Norway — but this would need to be investigated. But if so, that would be proof that Anneliese Meindl abandoned her suitcases which were then used by the police to fake a connection: to close the awkward suicide case rapidly.
Another factor is that the most commonly used letters in her eight fake names are aieln — and these occur in Anneliese.
Why the police closed the case suddenly may be linked to one of my other theories.
Dennis Zacher Aske elaborates in his book on the Isdal Woman that Anneliese Meindl had travelled to Norway to meet up with her fiance. She was already divorced. She was engaged to a Norwegian living near Stavanger. She arrived in Stavanger in February 1970. When the relationship ended she first lived with her former fiance’s family for a few weeks but then worked in Odda until September 1970 as a receptionist. She returned to Austria in September 1970 after visiting Jon, her hotel boyfriend, in Bergen.
Theory 3 — Gaelic Finella (or Fenella)
The name Fenella Lorck used on the registration card by the Isdal woman stands out curiously amongst the Claudias and Alexias. It doesn’t fit. But this provoked another thought about why the fisherman’s son believed his dad was given a gun to travel to London. It doesn’t make any sense. Unless the person his dad identified had her base in the UK. Actually more accurately Ireland and the IRA.
Imagine if the Isdal woman was an IRA intelligence officer. She moved randomly hotel to hotel — like an IRA intelligence officer — never staying in one hotel for a predictable time and lying about her identity on the forms. Around 1970 the IRA were obtaining weapons — specifically guns from Norway. These guns may have been stolen from the factory in Denmark and transported through Norway. On the 18/11/1970 a huge shipment of drugs from Lebanon was intercepted. That seems to be a day when people thought the Isdal woman was leaving Norway but was persuaded to return by a man.
The Isdal woman may have arranged to meet a key person on the 23rd of November 1970 to hand over cash for guns — but it turned out to be a trap with her being kidnapped, tortured and then killed.
Just 350 metres from an ancient gun powder storage unit her body was found. Spycatcher (Tofte) described it as an incendiary explosion. He proposed it was like a can of hairspray exploding. The investigation said an initial burning, then a secondary burning — but the investigator didn’t say like an incendiary bomb explosion.
She reappeared 6 days later on a hillside, her body burnt so she was unrecognisable. Her burnt clothing the black or blue tricot tracksuit and the nylon belted outer jacket suggests she may have been wearing clothing very similar to a paramilitary soldier. Was her hat a fur hat or a leather beret?
During the Summer of 1970, there was a robbery of dynamite, then a cash robbery from a safe and a car left with dynamite in the boot in Lyngen. They put dynamite in the keyhole and put butter on top to reduce the noise. There was also an arrest of some robbers with dynamite in their car.
Theory 4 — The art thief and forger
In a later era, Ole Christian Bach was a con artist — he was involved with the theft of the famous Madonna artwork by Munch from an Oslo church. He also established porn shops in Norway and Sweden for his dutch boss Gerard Kok. This links the criminal underworld to two items found in the Isdal woman’s suitcase (a postcard of the Madonna and a box of matches from one of the networks of porn shops — years later run by Kok). She also had a scalpel in her suitcase — which is ideal for art theft. Forging passports and artwork may be linked. Bach committed suicide in Sweden during a police car chase. His lawyer said he was terrified of the Norwegian underworld and may have believed he was being chased by hitmen. Perhaps he had been told what they did to the Isdal Woman in the 1970s?
During the podcast the character called Spycatcher said the Isdal woman always carried a canister — he said it was hairspray. But alternatively, it could be a cardboard tube for stolen artwork from churches in Norway. On a map were marked four hillside locations — do these match church locations of famous artwork?
Also curiously Meindl — the name of the Isdal woman’s lookalike — is a famous name for art theft. In the early 1960s (around 1963) a German couple living in Pasadena took two small paintings for restoration and evaluation. The paintings turned out to be stolen renaissance paintings — likely part of a Nazi hoard of stolen paintings from Florence stored in the South Tyrol (San Leonardo di Passiria).
The couple whose surname is Meindl claim they were given them by a little old lady in Munich (Josephine Werkmann) who died. After the dealer tried to sell the paintings representatives of the Italian government contacted JFK and demanded they were returned. Eventually, the couple decided that giving them back might give them less stress (they were threatened with extradition to Italy) and perhaps questioning their identity. Five were later found in a butcher’s shop in Munich. One was eventually found in Switzerland and the other two paintings of the Montagnana Group still remain undiscovered thought to be part of the five Meindl stole — which he may have sold in the US to buy his restaurant. The fact Meindl lied about Josephine Werkmann suggests he knew exactly what he had stolen and had tried in Munich to sell them to her. Perhaps he did sell two to her and used the money to travel to the US and open a restaurant. Johann Meindl had been a German soldier, a sergeant, in South Tyrol involved in moving stolen art treasure for the Nazis. He and his friend Hans Lindermayer had stolen them in transit.
The Isdal woman says her occupation is business associate, secretary, antique dealer or travelling saleswoman — if you combine these together she may have been trying to set up an art/antique theft with a gang of local criminals or did she have the two other small paintings to sell for the Meindls in 1970? She kept that white California bag with her until the 23rd. The Meindls lived in Pasadena, California. A possible link.
Another visible link to the Isdal woman story is Mrs Meindl’s broach. These look like they could be part of a set.
Another astounding face match is Mrs Meindl to this young woman in the arts department in East Germany in the 1950s. Their faces are identical — an average image shows no difference between the faces.
The high score matches with facial ID and these two women mean they are either the same person or twins. Normally doppelgangers have much lower score matches. In the account given by the Meindls they referred to a Josephine Werkmann. They didn’t just pluck a name out of the air — this woman was located by the Italian government to the Art and Culture department in Germany — it was assumed Munich but perhaps Miss Werkmann is Mrs Meindls’ twin sister in East Germany.
Here are average images of Meindl, the GDR woman with the Isdal Woman body and the sketch:
Theory 5 — Meindl boots
The company Meindl make military grade walking boots. The UK army used them in Iraq. Even an astronaut wore them.
Mrs Anneliese Meindl claimed to her holiday lover in Norway that her husband was abusive and she was on the run from him, leaving behind her two children. She said she had first run to Ireland for a few years then ended up in Norway.
Isdal woman is supposed to have had various meetings with a young blonde man or other older German man in the Neptun hotel restaurant and then in a hotel room. On one occasion looking at a long piece of paper. Hotel staff said her boots were often muddy — suggesting regular outdoor trips.
Perhaps Mr Lukas Meindl, the then boss of Meindl Boots, was searching for a relative and sent his younger son Alfons to initially meet with the private detective (the Isdal woman) in Stavanger, Norway as she arrived from Paris by plane. He may have wanted her to log where she was going for all those costly payments. They were a rich family — they could afford a private detective to search for a missing relative in Norway. But they would hate to be cheated out of money.
Did Isdal woman later show a long sheet of paper to the older German man (Lukas Meindl) in the Neptun restaurant, Oslo. Could this have been her completed travel log showing where she’d stayed and searched in order to request payment from the family?
Is the final entry the meeting of MM with ML. Is MM the missing Meindl or her final meeting with Lukas Meindl for payment?
Was the Isdal woman sent as a private detective from Kirchanschöring by Lukas Meindl to find a missing Meindl tracking her movements in Europe and Norway. The missing Meindl would be her target, a non-drinking christian woman, staying in certain hotels where alcohol wasn’t sold. Whereas the Isdal woman had alcohol in her bags.
Did Mr Lukas Meindl simply refuse to pay the Isdal woman for her failed efforts to track down the missing Meindl. So knowing her financial predicament after months of wasted expenditure she committed suicide. Or could she have been seeking out the missing Meindl at hillside locations, explaining the marked hillside locations on one of her maps. Remember, Anneliese Meindl was working in Odda in a mountain top hotel and before that living or working in Ireland. Was that also around the same time as one of Isdal woman’s visits to the UK to look for her?
Did the Isdal woman finally find the missing Meindl working in the restaurant at the top of the Ulrika mountain, at the top of the cable car? Or was it a false lead that leads to her bizarre suicide or even murder?
Annaliese Meindl left Norway quickly leaving behind her possessions in the Odda hotel.
Theory 6 — Fruits on a table
In June 1970 a famous Gauguin painting Fruits On a Table was stolen from the widower of Matilda Marks — the Marks & Spencer heiress. Another picture Pierre Bonnard’s Woman With Two Armchairs was also taken. A policeman and two men appeared at her home claiming to be there to fix the burglar alarm. They asked the maid to make them a cup of tea. They then cut the two artworks from their frames — rolled the artwork into a container and gave it to someone to take abroad to a buyer in Italy. We only know this from what happened next.
Just one month after the theft in July 1970 the Isdal woman was in L-ondon. This was recorded in her log. She then travelled back to Paris via Amsterdam then to Rome. She was then back in Norway by October.
The Gauguin painting turned up in the kitchen of a fiat car worker many years later. He had bought the painting in a lost property auction in 1975. It had been left on a train in a container as the train completed its journey to Turin. The paintings remained in Turin station lost luggage for 5 years.
- Did the Isdal Woman take the paintings as a courier first to Amsterdam, Paris and then on to the buyer in Rome — but did she then leave the paintings rolled up in a tube on the train?
- Was she simply drunk and tired leaving the paintings on the train as the train went on to complete its return journey to Turin from Rome. The cleaners or guard found them rolled up in a container and put it in the lost luggage. They may have thought it was a student’s art coursework. They remained there for five years.
- Was the Italian mafia behind this art theft?
- Did they track the Isdal woman, their courier, down to Norway where she had fled realising her mistake in losing the artwork?
- Did she try to fake it out by continuing to carry around a cardboard tube to buy more time?
- Was the elderly German she met in in a restaurant in Oslo the buyer, whereas the younger blonde German his sidekick who checked that it wasn’t a police set-up. Perhaps he made her say exactly where she’s been in the log for the last 12 months so he could check her out at each step.
Her final meeting in the coded log ML 23N MM could have been her final meeting with the new buyer on the 23rd for him to buy the MM (Matilda Marks) paintings. Perhaps she took an empty cardboard tube to meet him hoping to pull off a scam but it back-fired and she ended up dead.
Another curious fact was that in early 1970 a company was registered with companies house in the UK called Meindl & Son. But it never seemed to trade. It dissolved the same year. Could that have been the payment vehicle to the UK burglars — a payment from Meindl to Meindl & Son would not be seen as an illegal transaction.
Potentially the Italian mafia could have tracked her down to the hotel in Bergen, and it was why she wanted rooms to check the street below out of the window. Was she writing down car number plates on page 2 of the notebook looking for a car that returned? Impressions of numbers are visible on page 3 — the coded travel log. Did she run to the Ulriken hillside with the mafia in pursuit after taking a dozen sleeping pills to commit suicide? They thought she had valuable paintings with her in a cardboard tube. When they found her did they make her strip off all her clothes and check each item for the hidden artwork before torturing her. When they realised she didn’t have them, did they get her to put most of her clothes back on, then burn her body on the hillside to destroy the evidence of an earlier attack by making it look like a suicide?
The one obvious clue to a mafia killing is the Isdal woman’s nose had supposedly been severely burnt even though the body is found lying down with her nose to the air. A mafia killing is often preceded by torture or appendage removal.
Could the strange plastic lid at the crime scene be from a cardboard tube used to carry pictures, described by the investigator:
On the same stone, there were also a partly burnt, circular flat lid made of plastic.
The Isdal woman was in L-ondon just a month after the Matilda Marks artwork theft. She travelled to A-msterdam — perhaps to have the artwork verified for the buyer or simply for the quickest flight from London. Then on to R-ome via P-aris to the buyer. Having lost the artwork on the train did she flee to Norway for her final months — knowing they’d catch her in the end?
Theory 7 — H is Hospital
The coded travel log found in the Isdal woman’s suitcase follows a pattern:
‘from date’ then ‘to date’ then location — or date then location.
There are a few exceptions to this rule — the very first entry, the very last two entries and an H. People have estimated this to be a location like Hanover or Hamburg or Home. But H could be Hospital and without a date — as she didn’t know how long her treatment would last.
At the crime scene, you find a woman with only hair at the back but none at the front and in her woollen jumper a collection of hair tufts. It looks like Isdal woman collected all the hair that fell out. Perhaps she did this to show to a doctor.
There could be a medical reason she travelled to Norway. It is one of the few places in the World that had a leprosy hospital until 1946. In 1965 a new leprosy drug rifampicin was developed and marketed in Italy in 1968. Rifampicin is always used in combination with dapsone and clofazimine to avoid causing drug resistance. Did she or her doctor make the mistake of taking it in isolation in Italy and become resistant?
There is a also a strange form of scalp leprosy and the Isdal woman did have cream for skin blisters. Did she buy an extra mirror to see the back of her neck to apply the skin cream?
From a 2013 newspaper article about leprosy:
“There was bubbling, the skin was very red and I wondered how on earth I could not have noticed when I’d actually burned myself.”
In 1970 Bergen opened a leprosy museum.
There is a one month gap in Isdal woman’s hotel stays. Her Oslo stays end in March and then reappears in April in a Bergen hotel.
Could she have been staying in a hospital getting specialised treatment for her scalp? The coroner's report showed no signs of surgery or childbirth. But I doubt they would check for leprosy.
Could she have been treated incorrectly and not been given the drug correctly in combination with the other drugs. The treatment didn’t work and she decided to burn herself and her leprosy.
Remember she was buried on the 5th February 1971 in a zinc lined coffin:
This can be one of the easiest theories to disprove as a DNA test can expose leprosy.
Theory 8 — The Italian Photographer
It has been reported in the Facebook group for the podcast that an Italian Photographer Giovanni Trimboli was in Norway around about the same time as the Isdal Woman. The police questioned him and he explained he’d given a woman ‘like’ the Isdal woman a lift to the Hotel Alexander in Oppdal. They did question him further even though he didn’t provide the photograph of her he had promised to the police. It was supposed to be her in front of a state in Oppdal. He gave the police differing accounts of where he was and when. He said he was with the young South African woman Loretta Junkin until the 11th of October travelling in Norway from Oppdal to Oslo then Sweden, Helsinki and Denmark.
He was a fairly well-known postcard photographer in 1970 with an Italian publishing business. He was obviously wealthy enough to spend a large proportion of his time trekking around Northern Europe working for the Norway tourist board and the SAS airline.
A book was written by a Norwegian investigator named Aske pinpointing an Italian photographer as the killer — but not using the name Trimboli to avoid legal action by his wealthy relatives in Norway.
This again was viewed by many as a dead-end. He knew her. That doesn’t make him guilty or a killer. Even though in the Isdal woman’s suitcase was a postcard by him and a person had identified a grey VW beetle close by the crime scene on the 23rd November 1970. But there was no concrete evidence that he was linked to the S plated VW beetle or was near the crime scene that day. It was not identified as a vehicle in the police evidence for the account of the 23rd of November 1970. There was a fire truck, a Volvo and a Cortina. In fact in the police evidence for Trimboli shows he had 3 cars: A Volvo, a Mercedes and an American imported car — likely the same one he died in driving in Milan.
In 2018 I was trying to use various software to try to read the impressions made by page 2 of the Isdal woman notepad on the coded log on page 3.
I had started to give up when I was using free Forensically software:
https://29a.ch/photo-forensics/#clone-detection for clone detection — looking for pattern matches.
I was pleased that it confirmed there were objects in the background to match. And various people on the Facebook group had confirmed they could see numbers. I wasn’t imagining them. But few tried to work them out. I was very frustrated.
As I studied the images as the light was fading I started to see more numbers I saw a lower case e, then a series of digits. I asked the Facebook group if this was a legitimate car number plate in Norway. Within days it was confirmed it was but then it was also confirmed it was a VW beetle registered in 1968.
Imagine thinking you’d found forensic evidence after 48 years. It was a huge surprise to me. The problem then was how to work out whose car it was in 1970. People on the Facebook Group simply accessed the database in Norway and found all the owners. The thing that struck me as odd was the first owner name was the same as the last owner name. Another person saw what he thought was Italian writing. It turned out to be the name of a 1970 insurance company.
So my numbers turned out to be a dead end.
Further Facebook Group members said evidence was submitted to the police of a VW near the reservoir below the crime scene on the right date and at the right time.
A lucky search turned up a Trimboli-looking postcard from around that era showing a VW ‘herbie’ car. He had a distinct postcard style almost like a modern HDR image where 3 pictures are taken a fraction of a second apart to make a highly detailed image.
Could this VW be owned by Trimboli — was he the proud owner of a new car taking its picture? In fact in 1970 his new car was a white Mercedes not a VW. A photographer from Oppdal said Trimboli had two white Mercedes.
But the evidence is still needed to link him to the crime scene. According to Askes’ book: the Italian made a lot of journeys in Norway Sweden, Finland and Helsinki between June and the beginning of October with a woman. They stayed together until the 12th of October. He also travelled a lot to Milan, where his postcards were printed. He also lived in a flat in Oslo with a former Miss Norway. He travels back and forth to Milan from Stockholm with his car stationed in Sweden.
Specific journeys logged by Aske’s book include Stockholm from Milan 01/10/70, driving by car to Oslo and Oppdal in Norway from the 02/10/70 to the 04/10/70 then on to Ørje in Sweden 06/10/70 and to Helsinki in Finland on the 11/10/70. Postcards you may find on the Internet reflect these journeys. On his journey to Stockholm his wife reported to the police he was with a Japanese woman. But Trimboli initially said he only gave a woman from South Africa a lift to Oppdal. Her name was Loretta Junkin. Yet his wife reported finding a kimono in his car in Milan. His wife provided him with a partial alibi saying he was in Rho with her from September to December 1970. Though the evidence of the journeys show he wasn’t there all the time. In other police evidence translated into English by Jahrman the Kripos chief, Trimboli explains that the South African woman travelled with him from Oppdal to Oslo where he was seen with Junkin. Then he travelled to Sweden with her. But he later travelled on to Rho, in Milan. He explained a postcard was received from Junkin 8 to 10 days later. He also brought another woman into the plot. Joan (Jonni) Bergstrom who he said knew Junkin’s name. Effectively Bergstrom was another of his wives. Though I have been advised she has no memory of this event with Junkin.
Without reading Aske’s book it would be hard to further verify this theory or work out what these dates mean in relation to the Isdal woman. Police evidence shows Trimboli in 1970 had three cars: a Volvo, a Mercedes and an American car in Milan. Trimboli told his wife tourists had a 50% petrol discount in Italy in 1970 and that was why he posed as a tourist in Italy.
Theory 9 — Operation MusterMesse
MusterMesse is a trade fair in Basel. In 1970 it started in April just after the Isdal woman travelled to Basel. She travelled via ferry and train on a continental ticket from Stavanger to Basel. She had 8 or 9 days to set up, plan or whatever she did before it started or even travel to other trade fairs.
Between the 1st April and the 29th we only know she is in B after the 1st then F on the 29th. Which we have assumed as Basel and FrankFurt. MesseFrankfurt is the largest trade fair in the World. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Messe_Frankfurt
On two hotel registrations cards she writes:
Reason for visit: Handelsverkehr (trade)
In April we have a gap in the log. The Paris trade fair is between the 25th to the 10th May. So she could be there. She is in R, assumed Rome on the 14th May.
1970 Trade Fairs:
Basel (MusterMesse) starts 11th April to 21st April
Osaka, Expo 70 Japan 15th March to 13th September.
Paris Trade Fair (Foire de Paris) April 25th — 10th May.
Frankfurt (MesseFrankfurt) starts April 28–1st May
Isdal Woman log:
1st April B travels to Basel for 2nd.
29th April F — Frankfurt
Videos on Pathe site:
- 11/4/1970 — Soviet day festival, Osaka, Japan at Expo 70. woman (no wig) with national costume — horizontal line below the waist.
- 26/4/1970 — Paris trade fair — a woman like Isdal Woman with a wig and a visible horizontal line below the waist, hidden by her trench coat.
You can search for them here: https://www.britishpathe.com/search/query/trade+fair
I believe her log gives her time to visit each of the trade fairs and even return to Japan again during August. Attractive and scantily clad women were often used at trade fairs and motor shows in the 1970s.
Here is a picture of a woman with a wig, trousers or skirt with a horizontal line (like a Russian national costume) or thigh-high boots, wool mini skirt (or jumper) and a trench coat. It is at the Paris trade fair in 1970. The items she is wearing ‘exactly’ match many items at the scene of the death or in both suitcases relating to Isdal woman. She seems to be rushing somewhere in the film.
British Pathe made their final newsreel February 1970. Yet we have one in April or May 1970 by Reuters on the Pathe site which stars an Isdal woman lookalike in a minor role — dressed in a wig and moving rapidly and the camera follows her. What does that suggest. She was part of a commercial movie making company or late for work?
Thinking back — who shot the newsreel for the Penguin missiles? We know there was one up to the date of the shooting of the Carl Erik fishing boat as that video is now available online on Youtube.
So is the Isdal woman travelling between trade fairs being caught on film. Is she there by accident, to display products — like cosmetics — or to shoot videos for Pathe/Reuters newsreel? Alternatively, is she there to steal identities and money or courier secrets as a spy?
A member of the Facebook group confirmed via a former Scotland Yard detective that trade fairs were a common means of secret communication between spies in the 1970s. There was no Internet.
Here is another coincidence — this woman is at the MesseFrankfurt 1970 trade fair with the same Napolean haircut. But she doesn’t have the same jewellery as the Isdal woman. She seems a lot wealthier — but yet another twin around the same age. She seems to have a thick notebook and an event brochure with an event leaflet alongside. And is that a radio cassette — is she using it to record the conversation?
In the Autumn of 1970 an American Samuel Isaac Schulman was in Bergen. He was the owner of a New York cosmetics company called Bliss International Cosmetics. On the morning of the 23rd one or two cheques made out to Samuel I Schulman was cashed in the Bergens Privatbank near the Hotel Hordeheimen. A lady who spoke poor English who fitted the description of Isdal woman was also in the same bank on the same morning of the 23rd. Some witnesses suggested they were together. Was Isdal woman working for Bliss International Cosmetics at trade fairs? Did Samuel Schulman come over to meet her for a progress update and did she show him her log of locations where she’d been spending his money, but perhaps not getting sales? If suicide was she depressed at being sacked or did some bizarre picnic with her boss on the hillside go wrong?
Mr Schulman claimed he was not in Bergen in November 1970 — though his travellers' cheques were:
Theory 10 — The Nazi Pilot’s Illegitimate Child
This theory is based on the possibility of the birth and teen teeth isotope hotspots being in Wales and Birmingham. Beate Uhse was a female German pilot during World War 2 around 1943. But she spent one of her teen years as an au pair/nanny in Aberystwyth in Wales then Birmingham in England.
Her parents registered her for an exchange program and took in an English captain’s daughter for eight weeks. This was followed by an eight-week return visit to Aberystwyth, Wales. In the university town on the rocky coast, Beate wrote a letter home: “I want to stay here, I want to look for a job.” She ended up as an au pair with a biology professor, but quickly felt terribly exploited. After four months she met the Bickerstaff family in church and lived eight months in a modern household in Birmingham with “Dad”, “Mummy” and their son Edwin.
Both of these locations were identified as isotope hotspots for Isdal woman. Beate Uhse herself cannot be the Isdal woman. She was born Beate Köstlin on October 25 1919 in Cranz (today Selenogradsk, Poland) as the daughter of a doctor and a landowner. But she could have travelled to the UK to have a baby born after 1932. In wealthy catholic families where a young teenage daughter was pregnant they were often sent away to an aunt and the baby given up for adoption. If this scenario was true, Beate Uhse might have moved after nine months to have her baby in a Birmingham hospital.
For Isdal woman to be 40 +/- 4 years she would have to have been born between 1932 to 1935 in Birmingham to fit with Beate Uhse’s movements. At a guess, 1933 would be a logical starting point for a search for a baby born to a young girl in Birmingham named Kostlin. That would make Isdal woman 37 in 1970.
The nearest match I could find was Margaret Ann Holland, father John Holland. But wait Beate Uhse had a black American boyfriend called John Holland in 1963. Can it really be the same person in 1933? He was an American teacher. I doubt this can be the same John Holland but it is an amazing coincidence. An American named John Holland in Birmingham, UK around the same time as Beate Uhse is in Birmingham.
In 1936 when black athlete Jesse Owens was winning events in the Berlin Olympics in front of Hitler — Beate Uhse was training to be a pilot aged 17. She worked as a pilot at the test facility in Friedrich in Strausberg. In 1939, Beate Köstlin married her flight instructor Hans-Jürgen Uhse with whom she had a child Klaus. After the war, the single widow worked as a farm labourer and tradeswoman in Schleswig-Holstein, near the Danish border. In the 1940s she became a massive advocate of contraception. She printed and sold 32,000 leaflets giving women advice — even though it was against the law in Germany at that time. So a story that could fit is that she didn’t want other young girls to be forced to have babies they didn’t want — perhaps like her?
Her mail-order business grew and she opened her first store in Flensburg near the Danish border. How Isdal woman comes into the story would be a guess. It could be she is the child that traced her wealthy mother and is constantly requesting money or the woman who tracked down the child and is blackmailing the mother. It could even be her nanny in Germany who knew all about Uhse.
It could be the suicide of a rejected child or the murder of a blackmailer.
Is the coded log giving the dates and locations of visits to Beat Uhse porn shops or trade fairs across Europe where she is trying to track down her mother or her blackmail victim?
Now here is a new twist to the story — Beate Uhse’s husband Ernst Rotermund until 1972 had a hair restoration business. Isdal Woman was found at the crime scene without hair apart from a ponytail. He sold his hair restoration treatment in bottles of nettles and alcohol. Also the bottle in her suitcase with scratched off labels with a tamarind flower could be a hair loss product.
Theory 11 — the forestry workers
I was trying to think of a job that requires foreign travel and a return to a location. The nearest job match I could think of apart from an airline worker was a recruitment agency worker. In the UK we often hear of foreign workers being recruited abroad and then working in the NHS. So imagine the Isdal woman is recruiting tough foreign forestry workers and providing cash advances on site in Bergen for them to buy food and accommodation for the first few weeks. She would need to be multilingual to speak to them. Then take trips abroad to recruit more workers. There would be a high turnover of workers with long 11 hour days and nights that many would find too hard to put up with. This might explain her meetings with men in the restaurant and hotel room where she negotiates contracts with forestry employers.
Could her death be a result of a dispute about pay or a cash robbery by a forestry worker?
Her fake IDs may simply be because her foreign company is dishonest about paying tax in Norway. She keeps moving about to avoid being tracked. She has cash hidden in her suitcase. Is this to give to workers for cash advances?
Forestry workers use drip torches that burn away ground cover. Isdal woman was burnt extensively so that her burnt body fat was found one metre below the surface. Did a foreign forestry worker or group of workers assault her, rob her then to cover up the crime burn her body? They would have had the tools available. The police made little or no reference to forestry workers in their investigation. Yet if they were present in November they would have been on the hillsides for lengthy periods — gangs of them. You could have expected them to be witnesses to a person wandering around the forests.
There were three reported sightings of the Isdal woman with men on the hillside — one on the 19th, one on the 22nd and one on the 24th. And her body was found in a hidden forested area on the 29th.
The following object that looks like a blowtorch was at the crime scene. Though it could have been put there by an investigator. Though it seems a strange object to take a crime scene.
Theory 12 — the spy who wants to retire
When a civil servant retires they get a gold watch, a golden handshake and a pension. But what about spies? They’ve been followed by other spies for years. How do they tell other spies to stop following them?
The only way for a spy to retire fully is to die. Look at the Skripal case, he had to meet every month with his former spy handler — just in case — to keep tabs on him. If he talked to the BBC the handler had to be there to make sure he didn’t disclose secrets.
So let’s imagine the Isdal woman wants to quit. She’s 30 and can’t keep on with the spying game with men and women following her around or her following them around.
But she had to wait for a body about the same age, weight etc in Norway. Then when they had found one she flew back to Stavanger and the plan was in motion. They told her to buy the boots etc..be visible. Buy a newspaper to date things. Do annoying things in hotels. Be memorable, be foreign.
To find the body you’d have to look for a Norwegian death within a month before she got back to Stavanger, a person of about the same age, but a person about whom nobody cared. A homeless woman who OD’d with pills and carbon monoxide who obviously has a different DNA profile — but who cared in 1970?
The police funeral was too fantastically elaborate — a bit too much for a case they closed as a suicide. All that church service, hymn singing, a bit of performance really.
The coded log evidence is for her Russian counterparts — to match with their reports of her movement.
In 1967 a famous woman was shot and buried in Bolivia — Tamara Bunke otherwise known as Tania. Often referred to as Che Guevara's girlfriend. Many books have been written about her being a Stasi agent. Most people believe the body buried next to Che Guevara is Tania. But that was based on the unrecognisable body wearing her uniform and having her handbag. Now compare that to Isdal woman — her face was unrecognisable but her body can be recognised by her clothes and suitcase.
So here is an unusual twist — Trade Fair woman — see the Operation Mustermesse story above — almost matches using facial recognition with Tania. She scores 0.41 with MS Azure. This is equivalent to an 82% match. If the score was 0.50 the software would say they were the same person. When you remember the picture of trade fair woman is a still from a video and Tania’s picture probably reprocessed for the Internet over many years — the chances are ‘in profile’ they would score much more highly against each other with good quality pictures. Obviously, this is highly speculative and impossible to prove as no better quality images exist.
If the trade fair woman is Tania, then you’d have to say the Isdal Woman is the trade fair woman is Tania. But this solution is highly unlikely.
But here is another story of a KGB agent that was around in 1970. She scores highly (70%) against Tania. Her movement was from Cologne where she got married then Brussels (near NATO) then on to Norway where she was travelling to register a name change from Aud Rigmor to her new married name. The name Aud Rigmor was stolen it was the name of a child that was born to be part of the new Nazi master race with a German father and Norwegian mother. The POT agents following her reported they lost her trail. But did they lose her trail or end her trail? Again many people match others by 70% — for example cousins so there is no conclusive proof in a 70% likeness. I only match my 7-year-old self by about 50%. In facial ID terms, ‘I am not the same person’.
But If the KGB agent ‘was’ Tania or Tania was Trade Fair woman or Trade Fair woman ‘was’ the Isdal woman then all these women may or may not be the same woman. But all could be a KGB or Stasi agent.
But then the question remains if Tania didn’t die in Bolivia and the Isdal woman was Tania — did she die in the Isdalen valley or was that another body double to help her escape?
I have answered this in another Medium post.
Theory 13 — H is for Hans
In Isdal woman’s coded log we have H — H is for Hans. Remember this is a log looking backwards — not forwards.
She arranges to meet Hans in Norway between the 31st March and the 3rd April. They both stay in the Hotel Skandia in Norway while involved with the Penguin missile testing or more likely NATO exercises that took place in Spring 1970. She creates fake identities for herself as he is a married man.
They met years before at work in the NATO offices in Paris or Brussels — and the NATO exercises gave them an excuse to be together in hotels in Norway. She also previously attended official engagements with him in Bonn, Germany. It may be where they met in 1968. As a NATO press officer who spoke English he often met foreign dignitaries and had photos taken. For example, he met a delegation of Canadian politicians in 1969 — perhaps even Trudeau.
Isdal woman must know where Han’s is going to be next - Paris, Rome or London — and she plans to go there too. But she doesn’t realise he is under observation because of his future senior NATO communications role. From a security service perspective, she is acting like a spy following a NATO officer. When she hears from him that he’s in Norway again for more NATO activities she flies back to Stavanger. She meets up with him secretly on the quayside in Tananger observed by fishermen. Unusually he is dressed in uniform. Normally his NATO role requires dark suits and ties and a briefcase.
- Did the Norwegian secret service (POT) interview her in Stavanger?
- Did she have to explain where she’s been and why?
- Was she required to produce a log detailing her movements in Norway and Europe and then show them to another agent in the Neptun Hotel?
- Did the Norwegian secret service tell her to leave Hans alone?
Meanwhile, did they approach Hans about their suspect and tell him he may be the subject of a Russian honey trap. Perhaps Hans or another man talks with the Isdal woman in her hotel room at the St Svithin — where staff report that they overhear a violent quarrel between her and a man speaking possibly in German. Does Hans then end the relationship? And we know she shared a taxi with a man.
- Is this Hans or another NATO officer who shares a taxi with her?
- Was his job to make sure she caught a train to leave Bergen and Hans?
Alternatively, this German man in Bonn in 1968 could be Hans. He is a close likeness to a man at the 1967 opening ceremony of the new NATO building in Casteau, Brussels. Is either of these two Hans?
This is a comparison of the 1967 Bonn man and the Bergen taxi driver’s passenger in 1970:
In December when Hans hears of the Isdal woman’s suicide does he take his own life? It has been reported that the police interfered with the Isdalen crime scene, this implies that they searched through her clothing items. Were they looking for a suicide note or love letters from Hans?
After the Isdal Woman’s death a high ranking Norwegian military officer Evensen said that he may have seen the Isdal Woman in the Nato HQ restaurant in Brussels a few years before. As the buildings in Casteau and Evere opened in April 1967 it would have to have been 1967 to 1969 in one of those buildings.
This woman is alongside the man in Bonn in 1968:
She is a 100% match to the Isdal Woman sketch:
The Norwegian military officer Lt Col Ola Evensen saw a woman he described as looking like the image of the Isdal woman he had seen in the newspaper in the NATO HQ cafe. He described her in detail in his English statement to the Norwegian police:
He said he saw a woman carrying cups, heavy face, fur cap on her head extraordinary shape and size:
Evensen had the highest level of NATO security clearance (Cosmic/Atomal) and was responsible for internal NATO security. He would have noticed people. It was his job.
Things that links these people together:
- In the TV interview in December 1970 the Bergen police chief ruled out a link to espionage. In the global press the story put out by NATO on the 31st December 1970 eight days after Hans Jurgen Laturner’s suicide was there was no link to espionage. The use of the word espionage in December 1970 about two suicides links them together.
- The witness said he saw her in NATO in Brusssels. Hans worked at NATO
- The Isdal woman always said Belgium and regions near Brussels on her fake hotel records and her residence. NATO moved to Brussels in 1967.
- The woman in Bonn in 1968 matches the sketches drawn by Stephen Missal — when I asked him in 2019 he said himself she was a reasonable likeness.
The deliberate delay to release the story of Han’s suicide suggests a plan to distance this story from the Isdal Woman suicide story.
Is this picture of the opening of the NATO SHAPE HQ in April 1967 the key to solving the Isdal woman mystery?
Or is this picture in Bonn in 1968 the solution with the woman who is a 100% match to an Isdal woman sketch:
UPDATE: I have subsequently (9/10/2020) found an older picture of the Bonn woman. But as she is the highest score match to both Isdal woman sketches 1970 and 2016 there may still be a family link.
Theory 14 — The Concert singer’s daughter
Note: this theory was based on face-matching using version 1 software.
When you have a famous mother with talent it is hard to match up. Every day is about where she’s going, what she’s wearing, what she’s going to do and where she’ll stay. There is a saying about being tied to your mother’s apron strings. Imagine the Isdal woman was always having to plan her mother’s itinerary. Where she was going, even what she would sing. She lived for her mother.
When her mother retired she suddenly found she had no life. She had no purpose. But worse she had no income. Her income came from her mother. Really it was pocket money. She could buy perfume, clothes but never a holiday away from her mother. Then when her mother retired her chance came to getaway.
Isdal Woman’s mother’s name was Helena Galey. A mezzo-soprano who toured the World of concerts. She trained in Germany, Ukraine/Russia and Italy. She can be located touring in 1953 in the USA and also in Canada.
In 1953 Helena appeared alongside her daughter — the Isdal Woman — in a Leipzig concert as a Russian singer. In the same year in the US and Canada she was a Ukrainian singer.
Notice the woman alongside the Leipzig singer. Facial ID says the singer is Helena Galey. The younger woman alongside is wearing a watch — like a Solo watch found next to the Isdal Woman. The singer herself is wearing tartan or plaid clothing similar to the shawl found next to the Isdal Woman. But the younger relative hiding behind with the gap in her teeth may be IW.
Is this the Ukrainian singer’s relative playing the guitar and singing in Leipzig in 1953?
Using version 1 software, the 1953 Leipzig singer was the best face match to the Isdal woman sketches from all images found on Wikipedia compared using Betaface software. She is the face in 100 million that matches ‘all’ the Isdal woman sketches the best using facial recognition software. In version 2 this is different.
She is an 85% match to this Isdal woman sketch. She is also a 100% match to Helena Galey.
This young woman in Berlin in 1952 may be Galey’s daughter or relative.
If she is Galey’s relative then that would most likely make her the Isdal Woman. She is a 92% match to the woman, relative, next to the Galey lookalike. Potentially her daughter. As this young woman got older in 1970 she would look more like Mrs Galey who matches the Isdal Woman.
Remember the traveller’s cheques used in Bergen (at the same time she is in the Bergen bank) were in the name of Samuel Isaac Schulman — his brother Julius was a famous concert violinist. That might make a link to Galey the concert singer if they appeared together at concerts. In 1960, after a tour of Europe, the Middle East and the Soviet Union with the New York Philharmonic, Mr. Julius Schulman joined the Boston Symphony Orchestra. He also toured Japan in 1970. He toured with the Metropolitan Opera after 1970. He may have met Helena Galey at that time or her daughter and became friendly with them. Perhaps the traveller’s cheques were handed over to the Galey daughter or relative as some form of payment for a concert appearance sponsored by Bliss International Cosmetics. Bliss Cosmetics was the Schulman company. Alternatively one of the Schulman brothers met up with the Isdal Woman in Bergen as they were having a relationship and wanted to end it with the disastrous consequences for the Galey relative in the Isdal Valley.
Julius Schulman’s son years later wrote a film called Lady Magdalene about the murder of a terrorist/spy prostitute. The newspapers in Norway first referred to the Isdal woman as Mademoiselle L and implied she was a prostitute or a spy as the police were asking Joseph Schulman questions about his movements in Bergen via the FBI.
Theory 15 — The Translator
To the annoyance of the Death in Ice Valley podcast Facebook group I have been using facial recognition to find matches to the Isdal woman sketches. People believe the sketches are not accurate but my belief is a forensic sketch artist may be 80% accurate. If measurements are taken with a death mask!
The best matches to the sketches were a Latvian woman, a Ukrainian woman, and a German woman with East European parentage. But I realised that they were all aged about 30 to 40 to match the woman in 1970. I needed to find her before 1970 in happier times. To achieve this I mixed in a younger woman to my search ‘tween’ image and quickly found an East German Berlin Translator. But I had no story about her. I circled back around the three matches creating new average images with the sketches and each other.
Then out came a face. A story match. Not the best match to the sketches but to the found faces. Christel Pruefer appears in a police station with a child getting an Interzone travel pass to visit her parents outside East Germany and in a shop showing a passport. She lives in Berlin. Her whole address is given. Possibly the only person on Wikipedia for whom a full address is given and not only that where her parents live. Her parents’ location in Lower Bavaria is potentially a perfect match to the Isdal woman’s birth isotope data from her teeth. Trying to find a date of birth I found a match to a Christel Pruefer who emigrated to California.
If Christel Pruefer is the same one who emigrated in 1955 to California she was born 1931. This is a perfect match for the Isdal woman. Isdal woman has to be born between 1926 to 1934 to match her teeth isotope data. The Christel Pruefer in Berlin with the parents in Lower Bavaria makes her a perfect match to the birth location.
There were two funerals in California in 1968 for two people Henry and Ethlyn Preufer. The wrong spelling for Pruefer. But Henry’s war record uses both names. He was a German fighting in WW1 on the British side and became disabled by the war. The British government paid him a war pension. These wrong side Germans were often called Hessians before WW1.
After Henry and Ethlyn died I suspect Christel (or possibly renamed Krystal in California) returned to Europe before 1968. She had a little money saved up. But it could be that she returned to East Germany with an organisation.
I also returned to an earlier found face from trying to reduce the age of a tween image to search with. This turned up a translator in Berlin in 1951.
This 1951 Berlin translator also matches the 1953 Berlin woman by 98% (0.49 MS Azure score). She also has teeth like the Isdal Woman and people might think she was attractive.
In Bergen the Isdal Woman stayed in hotels that were near water and train stations very similar to Christel Pruefer in her flat overlooking the river Spree and 500 metres from a train station.
There was also a story in the Canadian press 1970 of a Klaus Prufer being murdered on the 24/10/1970 at 1am:
The witness to the murder Greg Wallace, Klaus’ friend, became the owner of a property just a few miles from the crime scene in 1970. The tenant Theo Fredrich had arrived from (East) Germany in 1966 to start as a bee farmer on Greg’s land. Was this property part-owned by Klaus or did he arrive with Theo in 1966 or did he arrive on the East German cruise ship Voelkerfreundschaft (People’s Friend) which travelled to Cuba in 1962. At least four men escaped at the Florida Keys — one was a young machinist.
I can find a record of a Curt Prufer arriving in Florida before 1963.
The locals believed Klaus arrived in 1952 or 1953 with his brother both as war orphans. But the locals also believed the murder was by random bikers. The police said it was planned and they arrived in a compact car whereas the newspapers heralded the story with hunt for killers in a half ton truck. The death certificate says he was shot in the abdomen and not the chest and on the 25th. Was the coroner given the right body to look at? Also Klaus was cremated on the 28/10/1970 before the murderers were caught. That seems to suggest a cover-up.
This is Klaus with his sticky-out ears being made fun of in 1957.
We also know Hans Jurgen Laturner NATO commander died on the 23/12/1970.
So we have three consecutive deaths: 24/10/1970, 23/11/1970 and 23/12/1970. All may have been East Germans — by birth.
I suspect the 1am Canadian death was ‘paid’ to be midnight on the 23rd of October 1970.
A lady Vera who was known to Klaus Prufer also matches a woman on the Voelkerfreundschaft an East German cruise ship.
(see theory 19 to continue this plot).
Theory 16 — Frau Bartsch’s clothes
This theory is simply based on finding matching clothes in Isdal Woman’s suitcase. I believe many of her basic clothes were East German — like her trench coat and wool dress. The images below show a woman Frau Bartsch wearing the type of clothes Isdal Woman wears. Her friends and her husband were all born in 1929. I would guess that would mean she was born around that time — perhaps even as early as 1926 or as late as 1934 — which would still make her a good fit to be Isdal Woman. This is a series of colourised images from Wikipedia.
The trench coat in her suitcase was described as brown with a military-style collar with secret pockets and around the shoulder a leather piping — see the image above of Frau Bartsch with the leather briefcase. Also, the coat is described as having a nylon lining in almost the same colour as the outer — see that same image again. So it is likely this design East German trench coat was owned by the Isdal woman. The other clothing in the images above with belts seems to fit with the Isdal woman. At the crime scene, she has blue clothing with black clothing like a tracksuit. All very similar to the images above. Even the build of this woman matches the Isdal Woman. She herself would be a perfect fit — except her teeth are not a perfect match. In fact, the teeth of her husband are a better fit with the Isdal Woman. Though she does have a visible gold tooth. I can’t imagine a woman would have her teeth modified by a dentist to match her husband’s.
Theory 17 — A Daphne Du Maurier Murder Plot
“the truth of her life was darker than any of her plots” The Irish Independent.
While I was searching for matching suitcase items (see theory 16) I came across a picture:
Bundesarchiv Bild 183-2005-0722-506, Berlin, Bunkerhotel Lichterfelde.jpg
From Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository
I thought the suitcase on the left seemed to match one of the Isdal Woman suitcases. It was just a quick check and had little meaning other than to say this was a suitcase available in East Germany in 1946.
Then just as I was about to close the image I looked at the faces. There was something about the man that said to me ‘Not German’.
This older man was a reasonable (60%) match to Lt. Gen. Sir Frederick A. M. Browning. Most people remember him for Operation Market Garden during World War 2. But few realise he was married to Daphne Du Maurier the world famous crime/suspense/romance writer.
Daphne Du Maurier was supposedly travelling by boat to the US in 1946 so that would make it unlikely she’d stop off in Germany on the way with her husband, surely?
But this 1946 woman looks like her and facial ID says about 88% (0.44) alike:
But what doesn’t make sense is the man is holding the arm of the other woman and if she was Daphne Du Maurier surely she would be holding Browning’s arm. It can’t be her daughter as her children were still toddlers in 1946. But if you investigate Du Maurier you find she was the most unconventional of women. She had an affair with her own father and his mistress. This is Du Maurier with Gertrude her father’s mistress.
She also didn’t want to marry Browning but have an open relationship but was persuaded because of his military rank. In 1947 she had an affair with Ellen Doubleday. She also believed her husband was having an affair with Jan Ricardo who became one of the subjects of her famous book Rebecca after she discovered Jan’s love letters to her husband. Some years after Daphne’s marriage to Browning Jan Ricardo (Jeannette Louisa Ricardo) committed suicide by jumping under a train in 1944.
In a personal letter to her husband’s supposed next mistress Maureen Luschwitz she said she liked to kill off the characters in her books. That sounded to me a bit like a threat. In a letter to her 1947 lover Ellen Doubleday, she said she would kill dragons for her.
In 1970 her daughter Tessa got married. Was there a dragon she wanted to kill for her?
I still need to track down the woman below to confirm the identity of the people in Germany in 1946. Is this Browing’s 24 year old PA Maureen Luschwitz, Ellen Doubleday or perhaps even the Isdal Woman?
She is only about a 52% (0.26) match to the IW sketches but you have to remember this is 14 years before 1970. The sketches are of an older woman. At best sketches will only match the real person by 80%.
The thought that the suitcases could have belonged to Daphne Du Maurier or her husband’s mistress is intriguing. Also the thought from Rudolf Bartsch that to expose a serial killer another murder has to be committed. Imagine if Daphne Du Maurier’s suitcases were linked to the Isdal woman’s murder.
Remember the final entry in the log ML 23N MM
How about Maureen Luschwitz becomes Maureen du Maurier on the 23rd November 1970 — a mystery.
Theory 18 — the Runaways
Anneliese Meindl ran away from her two young children claiming her husband was abusive — but then returned in 1970. Anne Heyligers ran away from her young child in 1966 in Holland or was murdered. The former boyfriend of Anneliese said she had ran away to Ireland. But what if his memory was faulty and she had run away to Israel in 1968.
Here is a 1970 picture of a woman who is a perfect doppleganger of Anne Heyligers and behind her a lookalike for Anneliese Meindl. Dopplegangers of the two runaways attending a candle vigil in January 1970 in Israel.
What pictures seem to fail to show is when there is a gap in her front teeth. For example Anne Heyligers looks like this in some pictures and you can see a gap in her front teeth.
This story is a work in progress. If I find more I will add more.
Theory 19— The Cruise Ship Worker and Entertainer
People in the Death in Ice valley Facebook Group have said ‘How could R be Rostock — in East Germany behind the Wall?’. But now look at this picture and then look at the woman in 1960 with the dyed blonde hair.
Think about it a person who travels on cruise ships between East and West who has dyed her hair so much with ammonia it damaged her scalp and has to wear wigs.
Which ports did that ship visit, perhaps R — Rostock, B — Bergen — S Stavanger — did she fly to catch up with the cruise?.
Zentralbild Mellahn-17.1.1960 MS “Völkerfreundschaft” warmly welcomed in the GDR. The FDGB tourist ship “Völkerfreundschaft”, which became the first ocean-going vessel in the new Rostock seaport, was warmly welcomed in the GDR on 16.1.1960 by the chairman of the FDGB federal executive board, Herbert Warnke. More than 100 journalists from Germany and abroad as well as from West Germany and just as many meritorious workers and engineers took part in the international press conference aboard the ship, which is festively flagged over the top poles at the pier of the new Rostock harbour. Shown here: View into one of the dining rooms of the “international friendship”.
I think she also liked singing so perhaps even a cruise ship entertainer from East Germany.
An escapee from the same cruise ship Völkerfreundschaft in 1962 matches Klaus Prufer the guy murdered on the 24/10/1970 in Canada. There is a detailed record of a Curt Prufer arriving via Florida.
And the blonde lady on the ship matches another suspect Christel Pruefer:
I assumed that Christel Pruefer had emigrated to California in 1955. But she could have returned to East Germany in 1960.
That would explain why Isdal Woman’s spoken German might be a bit rusty after all those years.
She may have attended a 10 week training on a schooner in 1951 which helped her get her job on the cruise ships in the 1960s.
Theory 20 — The ‘early’ two women theory
There are a number of discrepancies in the police reports and witness accounts:
- A taxi driver carried one suitcase to the hydrofoil in Stavanger but the Isdal Woman has two suitcases in Bergen
- a Rosenkrantz hotel porter described carrying one suitcase not two
- She is described as 20 to 30 by witnesses but 40 +/- 4 by the teeth isotope data
- she is described as wide-hipped by witnesses similar to the police report by Lt Col Evensen in NATO but the body picture didn’t suggest that
- Only one witness said she has a gap in her front teeth
- she occupies two hotel rooms on one day.
- she looks like she planned to exit Norway on the 18th of November in Stavanger (as she did before) then strangely doubles back to Bergen.
“At the ticket office, they suddenly began to speak…. After the conversation, the woman changed her mind and went back with the man”
- just as the extra suitcase appears the white California bag disappears before the 23rd.
Dagbladet 18/4/1970 — report of two foreign women who stole 10,000 krona from a drunken man in Gjøvik. Various other newspapers describe the event differently — two men and two women or a married couple — attack a confectionery manufacturer and steal his money but are caught by the police. It may be false linkage.
Dagbladet 13/4/1970 — report of the same two foreign women who were on a shoplifting spree. The article on the 13th says the women were in a hotel in Lillehammer in March. The items stolen range from electrical goods like radios to clothing. So these two women would be sifting through all these items in their hotel room.
Note: The date of the newspaper report is not the date of the incident.
Isdal woman was in L (?Lillehammer) on the 11th to 16th March.
Iisdal woman was in G (?Gjøvik) — on the 17th to 19th March.
That fits with the two foreign women who steal money in Gjøvik after shoplifting and before that one staying in Lillehammer in a hotel.
We know for the Isdal woman a 2nd suitcase appear in Bergen on the 18/11/1970 and the California bag disappears. We know there were two water containers at the Isdalen Valley. That could mean a murder by an accomplice who steals and shoplifts with the Isdal woman or a previous victim who tracks her down. The suitcase contents might explain the expensive clothing stolen and labels removed.
The large umbrella purchased in Stavanger might have been a shoplifting tool and not for rain. When the Isdal woman is in the jewellers asking about expensive cutlery was her partner stealing in the same shop?
If the police still have the hotel registration cards for Gjøvik and Lillehammar this may be the solution for the movement for one or both of these foreign women in March. The logical choice for a Gjøvik hotel would be the Quality Hotel Strand Gjøvik.
In one newspaper report about the Isdal woman two wigs are described:
One wig was brown-black with a slight reddish tinge, shoulder-length. At the top of the head, the hair was gathered in a knot, held together with a hair band and from there it hung a ponytail.
The second wig was shorter, brown-red and a feather cut.
Is this one woman or two?
My guess is at night these two attractive women enticed men — having a drink with them and slipping sleeping tablets into their drinks and stealing their money. During the day they chased around retail stores stealing clothes and other small electrical goods like radios.
On the 18th and 22nd April 1970 the Dagbladet reported two women were sentenced and then deported from Norway. The Dagbladet reported one woman was Swiss and the other German. One newspaper said one was Austrian. They were deported to leave Norway at 1.30pm. The Isdal woman had purchased a train ticket on the 1st April to leave at 1.35pm to Basel, Switzerland. Were they caught trying to leave Norway on the 1st?
The women were in court after the 10th April, sentenced then deported around the 21st.
Other newspapers detail two men being involved or a local married couple. They do not say whether these men were foreign or whether they were deported.
Theory 21 — The air hostess
Note: this theory has been refuted by a dentist who said the teeth of the flight attendant did not match with the Isdal woman.
- the log looks like a log of flights in 1970 including flight transfers (perhaps for two people)
- my air hostess suspect matches an East German teenage girl (with an exceptionally high MS Azure score 0.7). She appears North of Nuremberg in the 1950s
- she appears to have matching teeth for the Isdal woman
- looks like she may be wearing a wig — her hair seems unnaturally tight under her hat
- ‘looks’ about the right age 30+ -- facial ID guesses her ages at 28 to 30 which is the same as observers who guessed her age incorrectly. The teeth isotope data says she is nearer 40. Facial ID thinks her hair is black or brown in a black and white photo. Colourising software guesses at a very dark brown or black. Though it may be a black wig.
- makes superb average images with corpse and sketches including new AI — as both a young teenager and older woman.
- as a teen a ‘potential match’ — to a Renate Barthel — image in the 1950s.
So far several Renate Barthel’s found (within the right teeth isotope range) but none match, ‘so far’.
My own photo mock-up of my suspect with a newspaper sketch of the Isdal woman — blurred to prevent detection/recognition.
The log is broken into two distinct sections — which suggests it is a third person writing up the travel log for two people or the second person is writing up the travel log for two people. The final entry could indicate the date of the handover from person 2 to person 1 again.
For aircrew flight transfers would mean occupying the buddy seat on an airplane where they ride as a passenger.
The suspect face ‘exactly’ matches a young teenager near the birth isotope hotspot.
The image of the suspect is from a celebrity event in 1970. Initially I thought the woman driving this airport cart was the Isdal woman. I tested her face and created averages of the Isdal woman which seemed to be a perfect match. So the woman driving the cart could be ‘person 1’ in the log. It makes sense she is in Bergen in March 1970.
The second better matching suspect appears at the end of the journey. She is wearing her flight attendant uniform, with white gloves — holding the hat of the celebrity. I am still trying to find out from the celebrity whether the fur hat was given to the air hostess as a gift. The celebrity failed to respond — so that part remains unresolved.
It may be the log is recording the movements of both these women. The log being written by a third person. The evidence for two women is detailed above in theory 20. A handwriting expert identified the log and the hotel cards being written by the same person. This suggests these have been written as an evidence trail created by a third person or perhaps just one of the two women.
Remember no-one saw the attractive Isdal woman deposit the two heavy suitcases at the train station locker storage. The man who ran it never saw her. No taxi driver claims to have carried the two heavy suitcases. Previously when she was seen with one suitcase the taxi driver carried it for her. Yet somehow she carries two heavy suitcases unseen to the train station lockers. Only one hotel porter distinctly remembers her writing the hotel entry. So these matching items could have been created and deposited by another person.
The obvious match is the teeth. The air hostess suspect has a gap in her teeth.
Theory 22 — An old Norwegian mystery revisited
In the Dagbladet newspaper on the 23/11/1970 there was an article about an old Norwegian mystery. The same day the Isdal woman disappeared from the Bergen train station — with her body found days later. We know the Isdal woman liked to look at this newspaper as she had one in her suitcase.
The article on the 23/11/1970 describes the Hollekim case or the “Hollekim mystery”. One of Norway’s unresolved ‘assumed’ murder cases and began on Saturday, January 18 1958.The female hairdresser Astrid Aardal disappeared from her residence at Skjoldskiftet in Fana near Bergen. She was reported missing but was never found. She was aged 44 in 1958. Possibly the same age as the Isdal woman was in 1970.
In 1963, Sigurd Hollekim admitted to killing her, but his defence attorney, Alf Nordhus, believed the confession was false and Hollekim was acquitted by the court. Sigurd Hollekim first said he burnt the body then he said he buried it. They excavated an airport runway and found nothing. The defence attorney presented evidence from six psychiatrists and written evidence from 80 of Hollekim’s neighbours. The conclusion was — he was a hard working nice man with a Jesus complex.
The case is still a mystery.
On 23/11/1970 the Hollekim defence attorney Alf Nordhus was mentioned in the Dagbladet. Was he in Bergen on the 23/11/1970 — if so what case was he involved with?
Another mystery started just as he appears in the Dagbladet. Another woman potentially aged 44. The attorney was:
The journalist he likely met was:
Was the case he was involved with linked to the Isdal woman?
Also the lawyer Tollefsen (Hollekim’s wife’s lawyer) mentions the police are interviewing an Astrid Aardal murder suspect on the 23/11/1970. He later says to journalists he knew who the killer was but would never say.
And Bergen lawyer Leon Larsen is reopening the case 23/11/1970.
But then nothing happens — is this because of the Isdal woman death?
In 1983 a request is made to the courts by the Attorney General to re-open the Astrid Aardal case but this is also turned down.
This police officer involved in the April 1964 court case has golden skin and a sun tan like the Isdal woman.
Could this police officer have been working undercover in 1970 — hiding her ID to entrap criminals or more likely finally solve the Hollekim case?
Remember the attorney said he was re-opening the Hollekim case on the 23/11/1970 — what new evidence did the police get — but then decide they couldn’t prosecute. Perhaps their chief witness was dead.
It is difficult to identify whether she has a gap in her front teeth. In this earlier picture her skin looks whiter. It suggests she gained her sun tan in 1964 before the court case. She probably knew some 1970 celebrities like Henny Moen would be sat in the courtroom and wanted to gain attention or had returned home for Christmas to gain a sun tan.
Here is a complete set of images. Some mirrored to compare with the face of the Isdal woman.
A face progression from the police officer in 1964 to the corpse in 1970:
This is an average image of the 1964 Hollekim case police woman and the 1970 newspaper sketch of the Isdal woman:
I have later discovered this woman was the first Bergen police woman Turid Halvorsen and she actually wrote reports on the Isdal woman working for the Bergen police. If you go back to the first image you will see Turid looking at a boot.
Theory 23 — Serpagli — Paradise Lost?
Before the 20th August 1970 Serpagli (my guess a woman) is writing from the hotel Milton in Rimini, Italy to the Dagbladet to advertise ‘her’ availability for a job in Norway as an accountant (or accountancy correspondent). She says she is from the North of Italy.
We know that the Isdal woman was in R during August 1970 and potentially all the way to October. Almost three months in R. Rimini is a coastal resort. The hotel Milton was rebuilt in 1970 effectively Serpagli was staying or working in a new hotel.
Her classified advert contains a similar type of error in English to the Isdal woman. The Isdal woman said to a waitress ‘Chemistry’ not ‘Chemist’. Serpagli says ‘Correspondent’ not ‘Correspondence’. Alternatively it is correct and she is an Accountancy correspondent writing for a magazine.
These coincidences are strong indicators of the Isdal woman. We know the Isdal woman has golden skin (like someone who sat in the sun for 3 months) and dentistry either Spain, Italy or Russia according to the dentist who examined the teeth.
Serpagli also says that she worked for banks and the UN. Potentially either a correspondent on accountancy or an accountant.
When Serpagli (a woman?) is in Rimini August 1970 the Dagbladet Rome correspondent Helge Rabben (a man) is writing about the loose morals of German women on holiday in Rimini. Does Serpagli know Rabben? Did Rabben get her advert into the Dagbladet in August 1970 from Rome or Rimini?
Theory 24 — The Murder Commissioner
In November 1970 The Murder Commission had meetings in Bergen. Just weeks before the Isdal woman died. The only woman to be on a Norwegian Murder Commission was Magnhild Aanestad. She was alive at least in 2014 according to the Digitalmuseum of Norway. Though this is contradicted by Geni.
According to the Digitalmuseum, Magnhild would have been 43 in 1970. That makes her teeth isotope data 1930+/-4. The same as the Isdal woman.
This picture is potentially her older sister, or possibly how she could have looked herself in 1970. Notice her front teeth.
Her father Hans died in 1970.
Huslyden Hans Ånestad, Varhaug Truleg: frå venstre bak Magnhild Ånestad g. Hillestad (1927 - )…
Jærmuseet - Photographer Netland, Peder
I don’t know what it means but some interesting coincidences around her date of birth (if correct), the November Murder Commission in Bergen before the 4th November 1970 and being linked to murder and a potential family death (if true).
The Hollekim case was where a hairdresser Astrid Aaardal was murdered in 1958 and the case was about to be re-opened in November 1970 by lawyer Leon Larsen in Bergen. Was this the case being investigated by the Bergen Murder Commission?
Was Magnhild Aanestad the woman people saw in Norwegian hotels mistaking her for the Isdal woman in their evidence?
Other newspaper articles say Magnhild Aanestad was like an undercover policewoman who had to pack a suitcase at a moments notice and travel by train, boat or plane to investigate a crime. Again behaviour very similar to the Isdal woman. Was the Isdal woman working for KRIPOS like Magnhild?
Further searching revealed Magnhild worked on the July 1973 Lillehammer case for KRIPOS. Known throughout the world. She also worked on the Isdal woman case — a fact I learnt on the 26/01/2020 from Marit Higraff — the voice of the BBC/NRK podcast.
- But was she working for the police in Stavanger or KRIPOS — telling the police via telex the Isdal woman was in Stavanger during Penguin missile testing?
- Could she have been the woman seen in hotels in Stavanger working undercover for KRIPOS?
- Did Magnhild open the Isdal woman’s suitcases for KRIPOS/ POT before the police?
There is no record of her in Norwegian newspapers in 1970 — it suggests she was not doing her normal police work being reported by journalists. Perhaps she was already Kripos lead investigator controlling the investigation into the Isdal woman.
I later discovered through contact via the podcast that she was involved with the Isdal woman case and wrote some of the reports.
Theory 25: A Benita Bakke model
In 1970 Gullbjørg Bakke ran the model agency Benita in Madla, Stavanger or Oslo. She appeared in local newspapers in a mini skirt and was voted No 1 getting 85% of the votes.
What is curious is her link to the police. In 1967 she was given free gifts by the police because she was a good driver.
But one aspect is curious she seems to prefer models with gaps in their teeth. For example this is one teenage model she employed.
She herself seems to have a gap in her teeth and strong legs like the Isdal woman:
Until September 1970 the agency seems to be closed:
Aspects that can be solved by a photo model with a car is the appearance of the one suitcase and the disappearance of the white California bag. Also the disappearance of any metal keys. If a car ignition had all her keys in it when she committed suicide or was killed by her partner — it could have been driven away with the bags in the boot and then the bags deposited at the train station after removing all tags and wiping them clean for fingerprints. But then putting her dark glasses on the top of her clothing for easy matching to the body in the Isdalen valley.
[WORK IN PROGRESS]
Theory 26: Ulrike Schubert Missing
I have returned to researching Ulrike Schubert as the potential IW candidate. I posted about her on the Facebook group a few months ago.
I find it odd that Kripos — the special criminal police unit — ignored this obvious line of investigation in 1970.
- Gisela Schubert — aged 30 from Hamburg, dives/throws herself (potentially off Bykle bridge) into the river Otra Norway — said to be Monday the 28th July Summer 1970. July 30th they are draining the water from the river to find the body.
- Hans Joachim Schubert dives into the river Otra (potentially off Bykle bridge) — Summer 1970 to try to save her. But he cannot swim and is taken to fast moving rapids. A Kristiansand family find a long piece of wood/branch which they pass out to him to bring him to shore to save his life.
- Ulrike Schubert — is missing in 1970. Norwegian newspapers identify this in December 1970 as being like the Isdal woman story but do not investigate further. The stern.de magazine does investigate the missing Ulrike and has specific details about her.
The Stern magazine issue determined Ulrike Schubert had:
- brown hair and brown eyes, height 1.67 metres
- an oval face
- left home February 1969 after a marital problem
- taken her saving book number 54586552 with 2700 marks.
- been identified by a Norwegian journalist as having a gap in her front teeth looking at the picture in the Stern(this still needs to be confirmed).
- aged 30 ( but has children unlike the Isdal Woman).
Further research is needed:
Norway should re-investigate all these apparent Schubert deaths/suicides in 1970 if it turns out Ulrike is the Isdal woman.
In 1983 a Hans Joachim Schubert was in Norway playing chess. Was HJS in Norway in 1970 playing chess?
Anyone with German contacts at Stern.de may be able to find more details about Ulrike in 1970 — if Stern.de have an archive. I have asked them with no response.
Update: a member of the Facebook group did locate the Stern magazine. This investigation is ongoing.
Theory 27: Ingeborg Weber (IW)
Ironically is it possible that IW (the Isdal Woman) was Ingeborg Weber. In 1970 Ingeborg Weber was said to be aged 42 and employed as a bookkeeper (psychologist or office clerk) in Cologne where she lived at Barbarossaplatz 5. She completed her disploma in psychology at the East Berlin Humboldt University. She was spying for East Germany in West Germany with Irene Schultz. She was likely a courier for secret documents between West and East Germany. Her ID was fake. Her other real or fake name was Liane Lindner (the alias Lanze was used for her by West German agents). Lindner was born in Chemnitz, East Germany in March 1926. The first report of her was in Germany in 1961 in Darmstadt where she went to the police with a registration form from Strasbourg.
She was arrested in Bonn in February on the 26th February 1970, likely in a train station toilet. One report says it is after leaving the Stadttheatre to catch the train with copies of confidential documents in her handbag.
The West German spywatchers Red 2, Red 3 and Blue 12 reported German Lindner’s movements on February 14th 1970:
“Lanze leaves the house and goes into town with two handbags and a shopping bag. Time 8:45 am. Red 3 and Red 2 took over. End.”
“Lanze only comes with a handbag from the Offermann leather goods store. Time 9:15 am. End.
“Lanze is at Cologne Central Station, has bought a ticket with a surcharge to Wuppertal-Elberfeld. Lanze gets on the coach to East Berlin on the interzonal train.”
Liane Lindner was not unobserved in this number 209 train either. The radio traffic continued.
“Lanze leaves her compartment and disappears for 3 minutes 45 seconds in the toilet … come out without glasses. Question to Blue 12: Should containers that have been brought over be secured?”
The officer had immediately noticed that the agent’s spectacle frame contained new material and was now taking the D-209 to East Berlin. Blue 12 decided: continue observing. A hasty access would have done more harm than good. Liane Lindner left the train in Wuppertal-Elberfeld, bought a return ticket to Cologne and returned at 10.33 a.m. Then she went to the hairdresser.”
So to summarise:
- Lindner with fake ID, born March 1926 in Chemnitz, East Germany — which fits with the IW teeth birth isotope data — near Nuremberg.1930 +/- 4.
- Lindner lived in 3 countries — (Germany — East and West), France and another?. Potentially fits with IW’s teen isotope data.
- Lindner appears with 3 bags which become 1 after visiting a shop. Similar to Norwegian IW with one suitcase and a bag which become 2 suitcases.
- Lindner buys train tickets to one location but travels to somewhere else. Again Norwegian IW buys tickets to locations — but nobody sees her travelling on those journeys. Was she travelling to somewhere else each time with the wrong tickets for the journey?
- Lindner goes into toilets on trains/stations to change her appearance — removing her glasses. It would explain the fingerprints on IW’s dark glasses if they were deposited hastily at the train station.
- Lindner uses two different dates of birth as Lindner 1926 and as Weber 1928. IW uses different dates of birth on hotel registration forms.
- Lindner has multiple fake job descriptions — pyschologist, bookkeeper and office clerk. IW has multiple fake job decriptions on her hotel registration cards.
- Lindner quickly confesses to being an East German lieutenant (or colonel). Would that now put her at risk with the Stasi after confessing instantly. If they released her would she be afraid of assasination?
The East German Lindner is either the Norwegian Isdal woman or someone with identical spy training who just happens to fit her teeth isotope profile and behaviour. “A spy twin”. Did multiple German agents (like Red 2, Red 3 and Blue 12) continue to supervise Lindner — as she travelled to Norway now as their double agent?
It would explain her paranoia as the Norwegian Isdal woman. Swiftly changing rooms if she heard noises in an adjacent hotel room expecting to be killed by either the Stasi or Norwegian agents.
Theory 28: Gertrud Pannwitz
One aspect of the Isdal woman story was the move of a German child when she was about 12 or so to a border area to be able to match her teen isotope data. That move could have been between 1938 to 1946. If she was born 1930 +/- 4.
The possibility of a child moving has been considered as part of a jewish kindertransport — but there was another form of kindertransport. German girls were moved to help on farms or become maids for wealthy german women.
The young woman Gertrud Pannwitz was working on a farm in 1952 in East Germany. In the wiki picture she was alongside Elsa Merke who became one of the leaders on the GDR State Council until 1971.The Merke farm was in Schenkenberg. I think that is near Chemnitz.
There are some strange coincidences with Gertrud and the IW case:
- Gertrude 100% face-ID matches a pre-1945 teenage Hitler youth trainee pilot (in two images). The pilot was possibly aged 16/17. Beate Uhse was a WW2 pilot from 1939 to 1944 and the Isdal Woman had a Beate Uhse matchbox in her suitcase. WW2 female pilots often flew planes airstrip to airstrip in Germany. Beate Uhse also hid after the war working on a farm.
- In the wiki image with Gertrud was Elsa Merke who was associated with a professor Herforth on the GDR State Council. Herforth was also an expert on napthalene (mothballs). She determined napthalene could be used to identify radiation by emitting light. We know the Isdal woman was associated with an unusual smell on her clothing — perhaps similar to napthalene (mothballs).
An average image of Gertrud and the Isdal woman sketch 1970:
Theory 29 — The umbrella parade
On Sunday the 15th before the Isdal Woman arrived in Bergen there was an umbrella parade. Around 5000 attended. But ‘supposedly’ she checked in to the hotel on the 18th so missed it.
Yet on the 14/11/1970, just one day before, we have the Isdal woman in Stavanger buying a big blue umbrella, blue boots and possibly a blue and white head band with stars and flowers. Perhaps she already had the blue coat in her suitcase. On the 15th there was an umbrella parade in Bergen.
She seems to be like somebody planning to attend an umbrella parade in Bergen and buying the right blue clothing in Stavanger. But instead we have to believe that she simply parades herself up to the Isdalen Valley on the 23rd which no-one sees.
I think the umbrella parade prizes were given by the mayor Knut Sivertsen. The local winners and prizes are listed in the Bergens Arbeiderblad on the 16/11/1970. The addresses are given. Some of the prizes were impressive. One is a cheque/account with 900 Kr. Just the sort of prize that might attract the Isdal woman to compete and think she might win.
One name that occurs repeatedly for prizes to be awarded is from Audun Hetland. The police sketch artist who drew the Isdal Woman just a few weeks later. If the Isdal Woman had won a prize in the umbrella parade she could have won a poster signed by him. Imagine she might have had to shake his hand. He would have seen the face he drew.
Lunde the Stavanger umbrella manufacturer’s evidence to the police and in newspapers was omitted from the BBC/NRK podcast — but perhaps he had suggested the blue umbrella for the Sunday parade in Bergen or described the Isdal Woman to the police. Perhaps his description is so different it requires a two women theory.
But more importantly I imagine it is the one Bergen event where we may be able to find a photograph of the Isdal Woman. An attractive woman with a blue umbrella, blue coat, blue boots and blue and white headband, She should be easy to find in photographs on the 15/11/1970 if she was there. The face in 5000.
In later years the newspapers had photographs of such umbrella parades — unfortunately even though the weather was sunny and the skies clear — local newspapers seem to have failed to send a photographer. But perhaps the general public took photographs.
We know there was a blue umbrella at the crime scene:
Theory 30 — lookalike/original exotic dancer
I was researching something else and noticed Rosi Gray/Grey or Schenk appearing in Norway in a pattern very similar to the Isdal woman.
She appears in newspapers in February to April but then disappears until about November. I assumed she was working on cruise ships or holiday resorts. The real Rosi Schenk says she lived in Sweden but came from Czechoslovakia (behind the iron curtain). But she also mentions Romania in an article.
Rosi Schenk changed her stage name from Rosi Gray to her ‘real’ name Rosi Schenk in Nov/December 1970. Why did she do that?.
Why confuse her audience with a sudden change of stage name? Was she trying to hide some secret?
So I was testing the different faces from images of her and came across this one. Where the woman on the right appearing as her wasn’t her. The teeth are too good and I thought she looked a bit younger. Notice the hairstyling is slightly different to the original Rosi Schenk.
But then why the fake names. If you think about it she couldn’t travel as Rosi Schenk and be in different hotels. But she could travel using fake names and be in multiple places — only appearing as Gray/Schenk on the night of the performance as an exotic dancer. As long as they had the clothes (lack of) and the wigs nobody was looking much at her face.
The Isdal woman could be another fake Rosi Gray — exotic dancer or the original older one.
From 1971 Rosi Schenk also changes her act — she starts to add in more singing and less stripping. Perhaps the real Schenk was killed and a replacement continued using her name.
The forensic artist Missal said he had noticed some problem (bump/arch) with the nose on the body and we see the real Rosi Schenk has a nose that looks like it was broken at some point.
This may not be a two women theory it could be multiple Rosi Gray’s performing in Norway and other countries in 1970. Each appearing for two weeks in a hotel but having to disappear in-between so nobody notices it’s a different woman at each location. Rosi Schenk the trained ballerina could have trained each dancer to move exactly like her.
Perhaps one took over her life.
She only continues as Rosi Schenk in Norway until March 1971 — just after the body is buried.
The teeth look different to me but perhaps a dentist would be able to confirm whether they are the same teeth and the same person.
One face that matches when younger is Tatjana Hubinska. Suggesting she is either a Slovakian sister, twin or age-doppleganger up to 1970.
A later check showed in fact the software showing a mismatch was a problem. They were the same person in 1970 and 1971. Someone suggested the reason for the difference is the 1971 image was in fact before the 1970 image. It was an old younger photo.
Theory 31 — The Cheque fraud gang
In 1972 a cheque fraud gang roamed Norway. Two men and two women operated in Oslo and Bergen. They took cheques to the bank — photocopies and cashed them. They would two take small good cheques to build trust with the bank clerk them on the 3rd day take the one photocopied cheque for a large amount.
In 1976 the police chief Bryhn stated he believed that in 1970 the Isdal woman was part of a similar cheque fraud gang.
I am interested in the two women. Vera Maria Caldas Lima aged 27 and Sulamit Almeida aged 22 who were prosecuted and went to prison in Norway in 1972.
Update: Sulamit Almeida is alive in Brazil today, I think married to a lawyer.
It raises the question of a two women theory. Who did they see in the hotels? The Isdal Woman or Vera Maria? It could be in 1972 Sulamit Almeida was the replacement in the cheque fraud gang for the Isdal woman.
Was the Isdal Woman part of a 1970 cheque fraud gang with a stolen Schulman cheque in the bank in November 1970 with her relative Vera Maria?
Are people remembering Vera Maria aged 25 in 1970 or her relative — an older sister perhaps?
The 1972 cheque fraud gang likely travelled to Rome like the Isdal Woman as it seems their boss was there. Perhaps a mafia boss — Albert?. They claimed they were terrified of him. They asked for a letter they had written to him to be read in evidence in a closed court room — to prevent journalists knowing the details. They were afraid for their lives.
Later accounts of the 1966 gang suggests that the link to the mafia was entirely fake and that all the cheque fraud gangs centred on South America.
Supposedly another gang member Fellin escaped with the cash in a hired car to Sweden.
Previously in 1966 Andre Biro was arrested for cheque fraud in Sweden. His wife was Claude Monique Ellison. She was supposedly born in Paris in 1932. He was in jail in Sweden until 1969. So Claude Monique is also a possible Isdal woman. But it would require Andre Biro to have re-married a different woman in 1974 who was using his former wife’s ID. This needs more research.
Theory 32 The Other Missing Woman
In August 1970 Jeannine Fort Varvin aged 32 was missing. She was 5 feet 8 inches tall with dark hair. She was French and spoke German and English. After leaving Venice on the 1st June she was last seen in Tonsberg, Norway. She contacted her artist husband in Venice by telegram to say she was unwell. He sent a moneygram, perhaps to pay a doctor. But she did not cash it.
There are considerable parallels between Jeannine and the Isdal Woman:
- The Isdal Woman was determined to be German by birth (teeth isotope data by NRK) and that she spoke French and English. Whereas Jeannine was French who spoke German and English.
- They have similar appearance though Jeannine is 8 cm (3 inches) taller.
- Jeannine was wearing an olive green Paracoat (Parka). The Isdal woman wore a military style trench coat — suitcase contents.
- The head of the spy services in Norway in 1970 said the Isdal Woman carried a hairspray canister around and that was his explanation of her death — that the can exploded. Though there was no evidence of this — i.e. no metal fragments. Whereas Jeannine carried around a cardboard tube for artwork and there was evidence of a plastic disc at the death scene — like the top of a cardboard tube.
- There is also evidence of poor health in both cases. The Isdal woman had accumulated sleeping tablets which contributed to her death. Jeannine told her husband she was unwell by telegram. He sent her money by moneygram which she did not cash. Perhaps she needed it for a doctor or dentist.
- Jeannine was missing but was not found in a hospital or a hotel in August 1970. The Isdal woman kept changing hotels in 1970 using different names. Perhaps Jeannine was doing something similar hiding in hotels using fake names.
But my theory is people are seeing this missing woman — Jeannine. All witnesses said a 30-year-old woman not a 45-year-old woman.
Even the Isdal woman’s coded diary has a V which could be Venice — and she has a gap for August when Jeannine was missing.
One compelling fact is Kjell Varvin’s mother was a fingerprint expert born in Bergen — living near Oslo. Did she work on the Isdal Woman case for Kripos in Oslo?
I have detailed all my evidence:
The image below shows a reference to Group 5. I am reseaching this group of artists and their tour of Norway in 1970. One of them won a prize in Brussels which is another potential location for the Isdal Woman.
I also located the Varvins in Blommenholm as students in 1962.
[This is in development — I contacted a family member for information — no reply. She is noticeably ‘invisible’ on all genealogy platforms as Jeannine Varvin. But possibly Christiane Jeannine Fort (born Metz) or Jeannine Fort (born Paris) on genealogy sites. I assume they got divorced as he remarried 1972.]
Theory 33 The police reconstruction of the Isdal Woman
The police asked one female police officer to test out the walking route from the train station to the Isdal Woman to show that it was feasible to walk the distance in about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
But they also tested out ideas of how she looked. They dressed up a woman with a wig, fake tan, dark clothing, dark shoes and a dark PVC looking bag to act out the part of the Isdal Woman. This was what the police thought the Isdal woman looked like. This was an image shown to hotel staff:
Theory 34 Isdal Woman — a new perspective
This analysis takes a fresh look at the 1970 Isdal Woman case, a new perspective. It looks at evidence that was overlooked and not followed up by the police in 1970. With the benefit of new technology, a startling new discovery has been made. Also, conventional research of newspaper archives has opened up a new direction to find the Isdal Woman. By combining these old and new technologies this analysis pulls together evidence that is both shocking and convincing. But it is also controversial. You will likely fall into one of two camps about this evidence. A believer or a disbeliever.
But this is the solution:
An animation of ‘Julie Valentine’ [not her real name]:
UPDATE: This animation may not be working — but you can see the image it used below:
MyHeritage Deep Nostalgia™
MyHeritage Deep Nostalgia™, video reenactment technology to animate the faces in still photos and create high-quality…
This analysis is only available via a Kindle e-book.
But here is one strange piece of evidence included:
The Isdal Woman is avoiding number 6.
1. She never uses 6 in her fake passport numbers.
2. In the St. Svithun hotel, when she is given 609 she asks for a new room. They give her 615 — so did she take the D of the bathroom door (BAD) and put the D on the 6?
3. In the Neptun hotel, Bergen again they give her room 609 then 619. But she is not happy until she gets 701.
4. The evidence of the Hordaheimen hotel is a bit confused because she moves from one room to another. She ends up in 407. The traditional idea was she moved from 409 — but was it 406 in 1970?
5. She also broke her rule in the Rosenkrantz hotel. She accepted room 426.
She is usually avoiding rooms with number 6 and also using the number 6. Is she superstitious?
Why after the 18th of November did she break her own rule about changing rooms with a 6?
Her body was found 6 days after she left the hotel.
The Isdal Woman: A New Perspective
The Isdal Woman: A New Perspective eBook: Morgan, David: Amazon.co.uk: Kindle Store
Amazon has lending as well as a purchase option.
I amend the above theories from time to time as the face ID software updates — the matches change or new facts become available.
51,000 people have read this to date (Update August 2021).