“After checking in at a luxury hotel with no ID or credit card, a woman dies from a gunshot. Years later, her identity- and her death- remain a mystery.”
Someone blinks their eye and the sounds of breathing play through the tv screen. Then, BAM, the sound of a gun going off- and all you can see now is the ground- almost as if the camera fell to the floor. Then suddenly, a gold casing falls in front of the camera. Quickly, we realize that this is happening in a hotel room. “It is very intriguing that a young, elegant woman is found dead in a hotel room. There must be a family out there somewhere that needs to know what happened to her.” A man asks a few more questions while a woman meanderily walks around the city before the opening credits to “Unsolved Mysteries.”
We’re taken to Oslo, Norway for this case. We’re given a few shots of the city in it’s normal hustle and bustle. We know that it’s a dramatization, but a woman comes walking up out of, seemingly a bus station, dressed in all black with a black suitcase and a black briefcase. She seems to be tall in height, and her hair is cut short and slicked back. It’s very 90’s-ish. She also looks to be very European. The same man from earlier whom we now know is Lars Christian Wegner, a feature journalist from the VG Newspaper, states that the only thing(s) we know about the woman is that on Wednesday evening of May 31st, 1995, the woman checked into a luxury hotel in Oslo, to room 2805, and three days into her stay, a receptionist at the hotel realized that they were never given a credit card. On top of that, on Saturday, June 3rd at 7:50 p.m, someone noticed a Do Not Disturb sign on the outside of the woman’s door and it had been there for two days. Because it was an expensive room, and had yet to receive any sort of payment, a security guard went to the room on the twenty-eighth floor and knocked. Out of nowhere, a gunshot noise came from behind the door, stunning the security guard. He waited out of sight for a little while- no doubt waiting to see if someone was going to leave or if any other noise was going to come from the room. But after awhile, he decided to take the elevator back down to the ground floor and get help. Lars lets us know that the hotel room was not guarded for about 15 minutes, and no one knows if anything else had happened or if anyone had ever left the room. Then, the security chief went up to the room presumably with help. He knocked on the door, but no one answered. Turns out the door was double locked from the inside which means that no one could enter, and no one could get out. However, security can override with a key and enter the room even when it’s double locked. When the security chief walked into the hotel room, he very quickly noticed a woman lying on the bed. It’s like she was sitting at the end of the bed then fell backward- her legs hanging over the edge. The chief made note of a strange acrid smell and immediately headed back out of the room and ordered his colleagues to call the police.
Enter Audun Kristiansen, Prosecuting Authority for the Oslo Police Department. He says that when they arrived at the hotel after getting the phone call about a deceased woman, they went up to the room and approached the scene very carefully. They found the woman on the bed, with a gun in her hand and a wound to her head- as the documentary shows the evidence photos. Audun brings up the double-locked door again and says that clearly the woman did not want to be disturbed. More evidence photos like how the bathroom was left and what the woman had eaten- as Audun says that there was no trace of other people to have been in the room and no evidence of a struggle. What they came to determine was that she had been living there alone. When investigators went back to check how many times the door had been opened, they found that it had been entered just a couple different times during the three days she had been occupying the room. They also determined that there was no immediate entering around the time of her death.
Lars comes back and says that the police theorized that the woman kept to herself. They believe that during her three day stay, she spent almost all of it in the room by herself, no doubt preparing for what she was about to do. Lars states that the police came to the conclusion that she committed suicide. However, when investigators took a deeper dive into the room, they couldn’t figure out who the woman was. Evidence photos show us her suitcase full of clothes, but a wallet and briefcase were all empty. No forms of identification. No receipts. Nothing, just emptiness. The investigators found a few things suspicious- for instance, all the labels/tags on her clothes had been ripped or cut off, aside from one piece of clothing. Also, she only had clothes to wear for her upper body, but nothing to wear waist-down. The investigators wondered why a five-star hotel would allow someone to rent a room without any sort of ID or credit card. The hotel was allegedly pretty strict with security, so why would they allow a Jane Doe to show up and rent an expensive room without either showing some identification and/or providing a credit card? The only identity that she gave was on the registration card. On it, she provided a name- Jennifer Fairgate, her date of birth (08.28.73), telephone number and a home address located in Belgium. When the police looked into the registration card more thoroughly, they determined that the information was false.
Investigators tried to get more evidence from the room, like dusting for fingerprints. However, nothing came back conclusive, and in fact, all the fingerprints came back negative. The police began to ask themselves if there was more to the story.
Interestingly enough, a few days before her stay, a woman, whom they believe might have been Jane Doe, had called the hotel and told the staff that she would be arriving, and that she’d have another person with her, someone by the name of Lois Fairgate. Even more interesting is that on the registration card, both Jennifer and Lois were written in the name box. Come to find out, a man was standing next to her when she checked into the hotel. But after that, the man that she was with merely disappeared. To pile on the inconsistencies and confusion with this case, the police reports never mentioned whether or not they checked the surveillance cameras near the registration desk of the hotel. Lars suspects that the police never even checked the cameras. Lars (and Audun) suspect that there’s a possibility that Lois Fairgate didn’t exist, just like Jennifer Fairgate doesn’t exist. It’s just one more red-herring. Lars states, “There’s so many questions with so few answers.”
Lars goes on to say that they were hoping that a missing persons report would help the investigators in the search of the woman’s identity. But just like before, nothing came of it because seemingly no family members were searching for her. (WHO THE HELL IS SHE?!)
Audun informs us that the investigators kept her body for one year before they buried her- in hopes that they could obtain an identification of her. However, in 1996, they closed the case and buried her. A picture of an empty room with a casket from June 26th, 1996 comes on screen, and I’ll tell you what- it was the saddest picture that I’ve seen in awhile. How can a funeral, or burial be more alone than this one? Lars says that this is around the time that he got involved, because he was working on a piece of missing and unidentified bodies and came across this case. Lars says that it’s important to figure out who this woman is because everyone deserves to have a headstone with their name on it. He believes the family- if she has any- deserves to know what happened to her. It’s important to know what happened in room 2805.
We’re taken to Verlaine, Belgium. Lars says that there’s gotta be a reason why the woman claimed this city as part of her residence on the registration card. He hoped that if he traveled there, that he would find something about Jane Doe. Unfortunately, when he inquired about her, he came to the conclusion that she wasn’t from Verlaine because no one knew her. In fact, the address she had put on the registration card was fake, as was the postal code and telephone number. But Lars still thinks that there’s some connection with the unknown woman and Verlaine, because why else would she use that city; a small city with little population, but that city in particular.
Lars suspects that the woman might have been ready to leave the hotel room before her death because she was dressed with her heels on. The conversation switches to the weapon used in the homicide/suicide. The gun was a 9mm semi-automatic Browning pistol. Lars states, “It’s a pretty powerful weapon. But more strange than that is that she had a briefcase with twenty-five rounds.” The briefcase only had the rounds- nothing else. No paperwork or documents of any kind. Just the rounds of ammunition. I don’t know if you know this, but you don’t need that many cartridges to commit suicide. And it’s at this point in the documentary that Lars mentions how she held onto the gun that killed her. “She had a very special hand grip on the gun.” Jane Doe was found holding onto the pistol with a very unusual grip- her thumb was on the trigger and her fingers on the other side of the hand grip. How can she hold onto such a powerful weapon with such a strange grip?
Enter Geir Skauge, a retired crime scene investigator. He states that the 9mm gun is a tough gun with a hard recoil. At this point during the show, he gives a demonstration at a gun range of how powerful the weapon that was used in the homicide/suicide is. He notes that it’s a heavy gun, “..it’s more an assault weapon than weapon you protect yourself with.” He shows the camera how the woman held onto the gun and gives credence that it’s very uncomfortable and it isn’t a normal way to hold onto such a gun. He notes that it’s odd that the gun isn’t slightly out of the woman’s hand based on how hard the recoil is. He suspects that someone else was involved, and that this other person might have planted the gun into the woman’s hand after she had been shot.
Someone new enters the scene- Torleiv Ole Rognum, MD, PH.D. He’s the chief pathologist at the Oslo University hospital. He starts off his portion of the conversation by stating that yes, this very well could be a suicide. However, there was no blood splatter or gunpowder on the woman’s hand in which she was holding the gun. He shows us a picture of another person’s hand who did in fact commit suicide, and we see the damage that was left from the gun. He says that he’s never seen a case of suicide by gunshot that didn’t show any sort of hand damage or blood/black spots on the hand, other than this one, which makes him wonder if she committed suicide at all. “I think from the scene of the investigation there were blood spots all over the roof and the walls, but not here and that’s difficult to explain.”
Confused and astounded by all the possible theories into the woman’s cause of death, Lars decided to reconstruct the crime scene. He called in Geir Skauge, and Per M Iversen (another retired crime scene investigator.) We watch the three men act out their theories, as a woman lays in the position in which Jane Doe was found. They find it very odd that no blood was found on her hands, or on the gun itself, or even on her clothes. They suspect that it’s possible that a second person was in the room with her that night, and that they managed to get on top of her, pinning her arms to her sides with their legs. The three men theorize that maybe this second person used one of their hands to cover Jane Doe’s mouth, while they used their other hand to shoot her. Then, they planted the gun that was used to kill her into her hand, making it look like it was suicide. The three men discuss whether or not Jane Doe was drugged- to help explain why she didn’t fight back against her attacker. Lars mentions that he has the toxicology report and that the original investigators only checked for alcohol, which there were no traces of. One of the investigators mentions that it’s easier to explain her cause of death if someone else had done it rather than if she committed suicide.
To better understand as to what happened to Jane Doe, Lars comes up with a timeline. Remember how the key card registers when someone enters the room? Well, that’s how Lars figured out his timeline. Jane Doe entered her room for the first time on Wednesday evening at 10:44 p.m. Then the door was accessed again on Thursday at 12:21 a.m and 8:34 a.m. The door was opened again at 8:50 a.m on Friday, then again at 11:03 a.m. Again, Lars brings up the fact that investigators believe that she was alone most of, if not, the whole time- preparing herself for what she was gonna do. However, after Lars filled in some missing information from some witnesses from the hotel, he found out some pretty interesting information. He discovered that two maids had visited the room on Thursday at 1:00 p.m, and that the room was empty. That means that no one was in the room from the time that they left till when the key card was used again, which was at 8:50 a.m on Friday. THAT’S A GAP OF ABOUT 20-24 HOURS. Where was she? Was she with someone, and if so, who was it? Did she just randomly wander around Oslo for a day- and why was she there in the first place? These are questions that need answering, in order to help figure out the circumstances which led to her death.
The hotel was apparently a five-star hotel at the time. It was a place where one could possibly find royals, or people of great importance like political leaders from any and all nations. We meet Ola Kaldager, who’s a group leader from the Norwegian Intelligence Service. He worked mainly in the areas that dealt with war and crisis in the Middle East and in Balkan and in Africa. He contrasts his job with that of James Bond- saying that he wasn’t exactly the famous character, but his job title was similar. Ola meets with Lars at a dinner table, and they discuss Jane Doe’s case. They hypothesize that Jane Doe could have been some sort of spy. Ola states that from the information that he has, he thinks that it’s very unlikely Jane Doe’s death was a suicide. Ola states that from his point of view, her death was a carefully planned out and executed hit. They talk about the fact that the registration number from the weapon was removed, and the way that it was removed was done in a professional manner. Ola brings up the clothes and the fact that the tags had all been removed. He claims that this is important because to him, it shows that her death was carefully planned. He says that it’s not uncommon for one to remove tags because investigators could possibly trace the clothes back to a certain place or store, which could then help them figure out who Jane Doe was. Ola also brings up the fact that Jane Doe had been absent from the hotel for a number of hours- and that it wasn’t uncommon for a spy to have a second place to go to. He brings up the fact that the door had been double locked from the inside, stating that it is just a red-herring. “A professional intelligence organization have no problems with opening doors. There is no closed door for intelligence.” He brings up the fact that it’s very, very hard to find out who could have manipulated the door. “I can tell you, they are very good in that. It’s part of the game.” Ola brings up the fact that whoever murdered her, did a good job covering up their tracks, and did a good job to keep Jane Doe’s identity a secret. He mentions that IF Jane Doe had in fact been a spy, and been killed by a spy, then neither side would want the truth getting out. Ola suspects that if this all did happen the way that he thinks, then possibly her family could have been paid off to stay silent. When asked by Lars if her death could have been the result of anything other than secret intelligence, Ola says that he couldn’t imagine that it could be anything else.
One thing that Lars brings up at this point in the documentary is DNA. In 1995, DNA evidence wasn’t as advanced as it is now, so he was hopeful that with new technology, they could figure out who she was. Lars mentions that investigators kept a vile of her blood, but after a year all evidence was destroyed once authorites came to the conclusion of suicide. Lars says that now in order to get a DNA profile, they would have to open up her grave. Her body was exhumed on November 16th, 2016 in hopes that authorities could obtain enough DNA to get a profile. Lars mentions that the day they opened her grave, the weather was cold and gloomy, and it was quite wet outside. He states that they were anxious as to what they were about to find. Geir Skauge mentions that when they first opened up her grave, he was surprised to find that there was so much of her “left over.” Lars says that Jane Doe’s body being exhumed yielded a full DNA profile. The police sent the DNA for analysis, and it was determined that Jane Doe was of European heritage.
Lars at this point, says that the front desk operator from the hotel claimed that Jane Doe spoke with an eastern German accent. Lars deduced that Jane Doe might have been from eastern part of Germany or at least had been living there for some part of her life. Unfortunately, the police haven’t been able to identify her through her DNA profile because no one from her family or none of her friends have filed a missing persons report, thus there haven’t been any DNA profiles in the system to match Jane Doe to. So, with the DNA profile leading the investigators to a dead end, they would have to come up with other options.
On Jane Doe’s registration card from the hotel, she claimed that she was 21 years old. Her DNA profile however, determined that she was between the ages of 21 to 30, plus or minus five years. (Um… that’s not very specific!) Enter Henrik Druid, a Swedish professor from Karolinska Institute. He told Lars that above-ground detonations created an increase in the C14 levels in the atmosphere. “In certain structures like the enamel in the teeth will incorporate the C14 that was in the atmosphere at that time.” So, investigators used Jane Doe’s teeth to help figure out exactly how old she was at the time of her death. Henrik and his team came to the determination that Jane Doe was born sometime between 1971 to 1972, making her around 24 years old at the time she died.
Lars approached Bild, a popular newspaper that reaches approximately 10 million people daily. He was hoping that if Jane Doe’s case was broadcasted, then the likelihood of someone knowing who she was, would be greater. They received a few tips and some new information, but nothing really came to fruition… yet. Lars says that it’s important for society to get answers about cases like this. Lars is positive that there’s people out there that know who this woman is. He believes that the only way that this mystery will be solved, is if someone out there comes forward with knowledge as to who Jane Doe really is.
The camera pans over Jane Doe’s gravesite, notably without a gravestone. The white intertitle reads, “”Jennifer Fairgate” died at the Oslo Plaza Hotel on June 3rd, 1995. If you have any information about her identity contact VG newspaper at Jennifer@vg.no or go to unsolved.com.”
** After further reading and research, I’ve learned a few other things that I wish that Netflix had put into the documentary. On Saturday, June 3rd, 1995, just after 7:30 p.m, receptionist Evy Tudem Gjertsen from Oslo’s Plaza hotel had realized that Jane Doe had far exceeded her credit limit, and had sent a message to the room. The text appeared on the TV screen, “Please contact the cashier.” Someone- whether it was Jane Doe or someone else, had immediately acknowledged the receipt by pressing OK on the remote control. It was after that point that Evy contacted security to check on the room.
Also, Jane Doe (or maybe whoever killed her) had fired a test round into a pillow which then went into the mattress. Police initially figured that the woman had used the pillow as a silencer when testing the weapon.
I also learned that although Jane Doe had been staying in the room for a few days, the room seemed practically sterile. It was as if she had just checked in. And, interestingly enough, when housecleaning went into the room on Thursday, Vigdis Valo, a room steward, noticed a pair of shoes underneath the baggage shelf. This is important to note because when Jane Doe was found, the only pair of shoes were the ones that she was wearing. So one begs to question, where are the other pair of shoes, or did Jane Doe walk around Oslo barefoot? When shown a picture of the shoes that Jane Doe was wearing, Vigdis remarked that those shoes were not the ones that she had seen when she was cleaning the room. If Valo’s observation is correct, it means that Jane Doe must have had another pair of shoes- another indication that things were removed from her room.
Another fascinating bit is that newlyweds had been staying in the room next to Jane Doe. They had never been questioned about that night she had died until Lars was going about his own research and had reached out to them. The newlyweds didn’t even find out about Jane Doe’s death until after a few days, and they were already in Bergen, on Norway’s west coast. They had seen Norwegian newspapers that had covered the mysterious death at the hotel.
And check this out- police photos of the interior of room 2805 provided a glimpse of a clear plastic bag on the desk. The bag contained a USA Today newspaper, however, there is a different room number written on the bag: 2816. Had the newspaper been delivered to the wrong room? Did Jane Doe take it from the other room? Did she have a visitor from that room who brought the bag over? This is interesting, and highly suspicious because room 2816 was at the other end of the corridor, opposite the elevators. According to police reports from 1995, an unidentified fingerprint was found on the bag, but obviously, nothing has yet come out of it. As of 2017, the Oslo police had submitted a fingerprint inquiry to Interpol. I also learned that no one knows who was staying in room 2816 because back in 1995, the hotel didn’t save it’s guest lists.
Nevertheless, the mystery at the Oslo Plaza hotel is a mystery- and I agree with Lars- that the only way we’ll ever know what happened is by finding out who Jane Doe is. Keep your fingers crossed that someone will come forward with information.