Dec 21, 2022 I Brent Swancer

Mystery, Intrigue, and the Bizarre Death of a Woman from Nowhere

One of the saddest things that can happen to someone is to die without anyone knowing who you are, for your identity to be forgotten and your death to go unmourned by those who knew you. It is a sobering thought to know that your identity could cease to exist surely as you have, but this has happened on occasion in the annals of mysterious deaths of people who seem to have come from nowhere. Here we have the case of a woman who died under mysterious circumstances, who turned up without a name, identity, or even a face, and has gone down as one of the creepiest unsolved deaths of all time.

On Wednesday, May 31, 1995, a young woman entered the opulent Plaza Hotel in Oslo, Norway, now known as the Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel, which at the time was a luxury resort considered to be the best hotel in the city. She was elegant, stylishly dressed in black, and did not look out of place at all among the lobby full of newly arrived wealthy guests. At the check-in desk the woman booked a room for two nights in the rather expensive Room 2805, which was on the twenty-eighth floor and commanded a beautiful view of the city. On the form she put her name down as “Jennifer Fairgate,” although she spelled it as Fergate multiple times as well, as well as a phone number, a company she worked at, and an address in Belgium. Jennifer also checked in a man named ”Lois Fergate,” into the same room, although she was said to be alone at the time. For some reason she was given the room despite the fact that she showed no identification, cash, or credit card, and no one seemed to really think much of it at the time.

During her stay she apparently never was seen entering or leaving her room, and the only time anyone really heard from her was when she extended her stay on Friday night for an additional two nights. That Saturday, one of the hotel receptionists realized that “Jennifer” had still not paid or produced a credit card and contacted the room, during which time the woman said she would do that right away, although she never did. Several more calls to come from the front desk went unanswered. It then became apparent that the room had not been cleaned since that Thursday, and that there had been a “Do Not Disturb” sign hung up on the door since Friday, which made the receptionist very suspicious. When the two numbers that she had put on the hotel form turned out to be bogus, hotel security was contacted. Shortly before 7:50pm, a security guard approached the room and allegedly heard a gunshot ring out. Police were soon notified.

The Plaza Hotel

In the meantime, the security chief went to the room and knocked on the door numerous times to receive no response, and it was found that the room was double locked from the inside. A security card was used to open the room, and when security entered they soon saw the woman lying in the dark room on the bed in an unnatural position with her arms up and legs dangling off the side of the bed. The TV was on, the window open, and there was an odd sour, acrid smell permeating the air, which alarmed security and convinced them to wait for the police to arrive outside the room. When authorities arrived, the case would get very strange, indeed.

The woman was determined to have died from a single bullet to the head, and since she had a 9mm Browning pistol in her right hand it was at first thought that this had been a simple suicide, but as the scene was analyzed many strange clues began to make themselves known. For one, it turned out that two shots had been fired from the gun, the one that had killed her and another that had passed through the pillow, and even weirder was that it appeared the pillow had been flipped over after being shot, making police think it had been a test shot with the pillow used as a sort of silencer. There was also the fact that although there was blood splatter all the way up to the ceiling, no blood was found on her hand, nor was there any trace of gunshot residue on it. Oddly, the weapon held evidence that fingerprints had been wiped from it, and half of its serial number had been removed in a very professional manner with acid.

All of this suggested that this was perhaps not a simple suicide, as it had first appeared, but things got even stranger when the woman’s luggage was searched. It was found that she seemed to have no purse, toiletries, or passport, indeed no identification of any kind, and although she had packed plenty of shirts and jackets, all black and with the labels weirdly removed, she had brought absolutely nothing at all to wear on her lower body except for what she was already wearing. Besides the luggage, the room itself offered up numerous oddities. There was inexplicably a newspaper in the room with “2816” written on it, a nearby hotel room, as well as a bottle of men’s cologne with only Jennifer’s fingerprints on it, as well as a briefcase containing nothing but 25 extra bullets. A half-eaten meal was also in the room, which she had ordered around 24 hours before her apparent death and for which she had left a tip for 500 percent the normal amount. Strangely, the autopsy would reveal that she had eaten the room service food more than 24 hours after she had ordered it. Even odder than any of this was that it soon became apparent that there was absolutely no way to identify who the woman even was.

It was immediately apparent that Jennifer Fairgate was not her real name, and although the street that she had listed as her address in the small village of Verlaine, Belgium, did exist, the house number she listed did not, nor did the company she listed as her workplace. When police talked to residents in the area, no one recognized Jennifer from her picture, despite it being a small, close-knit community. Authorities came to the conclusion that she had never lived there at all, although it was unclear why she would have chosen such a small, obscure village for her bogus address. Additionally, Interpol and the Belgian government had no records of her ever existing, and there was no match to her fingerprints across the entire continent. Dental records turned up nothing either, despite the fact that she had had very expensive dental work done. A bulletin was put out with her photo on it imploring people to come forward with any information on the mysterious woman, but there was no one who did, and so authorities were left with a woman who, by all appearances, simply did not exist. All they knew was that she was in her 20s or 30s, and that according to hotel staff she spoke both English and German. 

A sketch of Jennifer Fairgate

Without any clue as to her identity, police focused on trying to investigate the events leading up to her death. One of the main odd things was that no one could figure out how she had even gotten a room at the hotel to begin with, as it was mandatory hotel policy to provide a credit card upon checking in and the manager insisted it was impossible that she could have gotten a room without one. After mysteriously checking in, one of the hotel employees would claim to have seen her entering her room with an unidentified man, perhaps the “Lois Fergate” she had listed on her check-in form, although he was never seen again and the room itself had no evidence that anyone other than Jennifer had been living there, with no other fingerprints other than hers. Police also looked at data from the electronic hotel key card that Jennifer had used to access her room, and found that she had not been present in her room between 12:34 a.m. on June 1 and 8:50 a.m. on June 2, for reasons unknown. Police also learned that she had called two numbers in Belgium from her hotel room. The numbers were identical, except for one digit, but it was determined that neither of them existed. Why would she have made those calls? Who knows? 

Despite all of these weird clues, after several weeks of investigating the case as a possible murder, the authorities suddenly backpedaled and labelled it all a suicide. What’s more, it appears that the whole investigation was bungled from the beginning. The body had never been checked for drugs, surveillance footage hadn’t been properly searched, and no samples were taken from the fingernails or vagina that might indicate defensive wounds or sexual assault. They did not take the bed's sheets or pillows, failed to adequately photograph the crime scene, and they also did not question many witnesses at the hotel or secure the room for too long. Interestingly, the police seemed to be in a hurry to close the case, flatly stating that it was a suicide, after which they destroyed all of the evidence, including Jennifer's personal items, the room's bedspread, the gun, and blood samples and skin samples taken from her hands, buried the woman in an unmarked grave, and considered it case closed. 

It was only when Norwegian journalist Lars Christian Wegner picked up the case that it stayed alive. Wegner highly doubted the suicide angle, pointing out that it was not impossible to double lock the door from the outside and the fact that the gun used in the killing had not only not left any residue or blood on her hands, but was also a high grade military weapon with serious recoil that would have been unlikely to be properly wielded by the petite woman, especially since she did not have the "usual" grip on it, but rather an opposite one, with the thumb on the trigger and her fingers on the other side of the handle. She was also dressed for a night on the town and had taken a shower right before her death, so why would she do this if she was planning on killing herself? He also found that a Belgian man referred to only as “Mr. F” had stayed in the room across the hall from Jennifer's on the night of Friday, June 2, and when Wegner questioned him the man told him he had heard about the death when he checked out, although at that time the hotel hadn’t known about it yet. Nevertheless, he has never been questioned by the police or considered a suspect, and his connection to the death remains unknown. 

Despite spending decades tracking down any lead he could find, Wegner has not managed to crack the case, and it remains as mysterious as ever. He has exhausted every lead possible in trying to find out who she was and has come to dead end after dead end, saying his search for her identity has been like "following a ghost." In 2016 Jennifer’s body was exhumed for further testing, but this added very little new information and her identity remains unknown. In the void of answers many theories have swirled as to what happened here. One of the main ideas is that she was a spy involved in some sort of espionage that went south, or alternately an assassin or drug dealer. Other theories include that she was a high-end prostitute, a flight attendant, or even the victim of a serial killer, but none of this explains all of the strange clues, her lack of passport, weird behavior, why she was never identified, or why, and by whom, she was killed, and there is no real evidence pointing to any of them. To this day, no one knows who Jennifer Fairgate was, nor the identity of the mysterious Louis Fergate, and it is unknown if this was a suicide or a murder. What was going on here? What is the meaning of all the myriad weird clues and pieces of evidence surrounding the case? What happened to this woman and who was she? What brought her to this hotel and how did she die? Was this a murder, suicide, or what? There have been no answers, and she rests in the ground a forgotten soul and a mystery that may never be solved. 

Brent Swancer

Brent Swancer is an author and crypto expert living in Japan. Biology, nature, and cryptozoology still remain Brent Swancer’s first intellectual loves. He's written articles for MU and Daily Grail and has been a guest on Coast to Coast AM and Binnal of America.

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