The Isdal Woman

fra_isdalen_572035aNovember 29, 1970. A university professor and his two young daughters are hiking in an area of Isdalen, Norway locally known as “Death Valley” when they happen upon the charred and naked remains of a woman. Little did they know their gruesome discovery would go on to become one of their country’s most perplexing unsolved murders. Near the body were a burned out passport, a number of pink sleeping pills (50 of which the victim had already ingested), a packed lunch, some liquor, and two containers smelling strongly of gasoline. Her neck bore the bruise of a heavy blow, but the autopsy report suggests she was burned alive. The labels on all her clothes and her fingerprints had been systematically removed. Using police sketches and forensic evidence, Interpol and local investigators eventually learn this woman had traveled throughout Europe using at least nine different identities. An encrypted diary among her possessions tracked her route, but revealed nothing more. Other facts of the case are equally tantalizing, but lead nowhere: she was attractive, she spoke four or more languages, she was fond of porridge with milk, she had dental work done in Latin America. Over thirty years later, a man came forward to say he had seen this woman in the same area, five days before her body was found. She was escorted by two men in black suits; her face was distorted with terror. As they passed, she tried to say something to him but never did. When he reported what he saw to the police, he was told the case would “never be solved.”