Norway Reopens Grisly Mystery of the Isdal Woman

Badly burned corpse found in 1970 was followed by string of bizarre clues
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted May 13, 2017 11:26 AM CDT
Norway Reopens Grisly Mystery of the Isdal Woman
A forensic artist's drawing of the unidentified Isdal Woman, whose badly burned corpse was found in a remote part of Norway 47 years ago.   (Stephen Missal/NRK)

A gruesome scene, false identities, coded messages, and a suitcase of disguises—but no answers. Now, 47 years after her badly burned corpse was discovered in a remote part of the Isdalen valley, journalists with Norway's public broadcaster are reopening the unsolved case of the Isdal Woman. The BBC, laying out the clues in the case, reports the mysteries surrounding the Isdal Woman are numerous. Her body was badly burned on the front, but not the back; she was alive when she was burned; and she had 50 to 70 sleeping pills in her stomach. Officials reported her death as a likely suicide but few police believed that. One investigator recalls the scene of the unidentified woman's death looking like "some kind of ceremony" had taken place.

An investigation led to an abandoned suitcase in a railway station containing wigs, clothes, and more—with all the labels and identifying marks removed. Investigators tracked the woman's movements to a string of hotels where she checked in under at least eight fake names. Those who encountered her remember her "elegance" and ability to speak multiple languages. There were rumors she was a spy. With the prodding of journalists at NRK, new technology is now being used to test tissue samples and teeth from the Isdal Woman. Results from those tests were released Friday, along with a drawing of the mysterious woman by a forensic artist; those who remember meeting her say it's accurate. NRK wants to hear from anyone who recognizes her. (A 1984 newspaper clip led police to missing sisters.)

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