Die Isdal Frau 31.03.2018 um 14:40
The Italian photographer and the woman in Oppdal
There are several issues connected to this intriguing story.
1) Was it the Isdal woman he was seen with in Oppdal?
The woman in Oppdal resembled the Isdal woman close enough for the director at the hotel to contact the police. She spent four hours at his private home so he got to study her closely.
I can give you the facts, and then you can draw your own conclusions.
A not very scientific, but nevertheless illustrating way of doing this is as follows:
Imagine drawing horizontal line on a blackboard, from one end to the other. The line represents all person in Norway at the given time. They were both women, so we can wipe out approximately half the line.
They were both foreigners. This was Norway in 1970, and there were not that many foreigners here at that time. We can probably wipe out 90-95% of what is left of the line.
The Isdal woman was 164 cm. and the woman in Oppdal was estimated at 165 cm. We can wipe out even more, and can continue:
both woman had similar hair
both have been described as having “asian features”
both were wearing similar coats
a necklace worn by the woman in Oppdal might be similar to one found in a suitcase, but here we have no detailed description
the description he gives of the woman’s nose fits the description of the Isdal woman’s nose, and also close-up photographs of her face
both women spoke English in the presence of other people. The Isdal woman was French and was
overheard speaking French with an unknown man on one occasion. I know that the woman in
Oppdal spoke French with the Italian photographer when they were on their own.
the director gave a surprisingly detailed description of the woman’s teeth, and this was before he
had been shown the pictures of the Isdal woman’s teeth. The description fits perfectly, and the
Isdal woman’s teeth had some very particular features. When the director a day later was shown the photographs, he confirmed the teeth were the same
the woman in Oppdal was given a postcard that the director had received a month or two earlier
with some other postcards as a sample from the Italian photographer. In the report the investigator
has written that this postcard “might not even have been available in shops at the time”. An identical postcard (same photographer, publisher, motive and serial number) was found in the Isdal woman’s suitcase. It shows a horse pulling a sleigh in a winter landscape. If she has purchased it herself, this means she must have found it in a shop in either Stavanger, Trondheim or Bergen during November. If a postcard with this motive could be found in shops in any of these cities at this time of year is anyone’s guess.
The question is what is the probability that these were two different woman?
2) “He met her by coincidence in Oppdal and she hitchhiked with him to Oslo”.
The documents prove that the photographer has lied on several occasions, and the overall story is rather foggy. The facts are:
On October 2nd the photographer had a woman waiting for two hours in his car in Oslo, while he was meeting with a business partner. When he left, he told the business partner that he had met the woman the same day by coincidence at the office for Tourism in Norway (Oslo). The police later found out that this was not true.
He also told his business partner that she was “Chinese”, a “student”, that she had “lots of money” and that she was going to Stockholm. As the photographer himself was driving to Stockholm the same afternoon, he said he had offered her a lift. The same evening he even phoned his business partner, informing him that they were in Oerje (on the way to Stockholm). This was also a lie.
He has phoned from a completely different location. He was nowhere near Oerje, because the same evening he arrived in Oppdal. He was now alone. Here he told the director of the hotel a completely different story, claiming he had flown from Italy to Stockholm on October 1st. He had then driven directly from Stockholm through Sweden via Trondheim to Oppdal on October 2nd. We know for certain that he had his private car parked in Stockholm, and this is the car he used when travelling through Scandinavia.
Around 05.00 on October 3rd the woman arrived in Oppdal by train from Oslo. Here she spent the entire day walking up and down the town square, and according to witnesses she was obviously waiting for someone. The photographer spent the day taking pictures, but returned to Oppdal around 16.00. Several witnesses observed the photographer meeting her, and told the police that the meeting was obviously planned.
Around 19.00 he was invited to dinner with the director of the hotel. Shortly before dinner he phoned the director claiming he by coincidence had met a woman with very little money out much money, and asked if he could bring her along for dinner. Here she told that she would be going on to Trondheim the next morning. The photographer said he would be driving to Oslo. She also said she was “Chinese” and lived in a town outside Johannesburg in South-Africa. Here she was working, but earned enough to spend half the year travelling around the world. She explained she had arrived in Oslo from Stockholm the previous day, and had travelled by train from Oslo to Oppdal. She slept in the photographer’s hotel room. Nobody observed her boarding the train to Trondheim the following morning. Instead she was now with the photographer, and was seen having lunch with him in Loen.
The police now launched an intensive investigation and collected a lot of information about his whereabouts in Norway in 1970. When he himself was interrogated in May 1971 he acknowledged having been to Oppdal on several occasions but didn’t remember specific dates. He did admit that he “also on this occasion had met an unknown woman and the he had given her a lift to Oslo”. He also mentions that his business partner in Oslo saw her sitting in his car. What he obviously is not aware of, is that the police already know he was seen in Oslo with the woman, but that this was before he arrived in Oppdal. He also reveals that they continued to Stockholm and that they parted here.
The next day he turns up at the police and wants to give some “additional information”. He now tells a completely different story and Oslo is no longer included. Instead they drove directly across the border to Sweden. He also explains that from Stockholm they travelled on to Helsinki before returning to Stockholm and parted.
It is obvious that this was not a woman he met by coincidence, It was somebody he knew.
Based on the facts, the most likely scenario is that he told the truth when claiming he did travel by plane from Italy to Stockholm on October 1st.
On October 2nd he drove from Stockholm to Oslo, but with the woman already in his car. This is when the photographer’s business partner saw her in his car.
To give the impression that the meeting in Oppdal was also a “coincidence” she travelled by train to Oppdal, while he went by car.
The next day he was out all day doing photography, but then met her in the afternoon after she had been waiting for him all day.
The following day they drove on to Sweden and from there travelled together to Helsinki and back to Stockholm.
So, contrary to the “official” story that he met a woman by coincidence in Oppdal and giving her a lift to Oslo, they have been on a 10 day journey in Scandinavia. The final and obvious question is if they even travelled together from Italy to Stockholm and then back again.
It is of interest to note that “column 4” in the “code” is empty. This could indicate that whatever the Isdal woman was doing during this period could be of a private character and not part of her usual business. It would also cover the period when this journey took place. Maps and other items found in her suitcase could also indicate that she has been in Norway on other occasions than those discovered during the investigation. She could have been together with someone, which can explain why she has not filled in the registration at the hotels. Here we can only speculate.
There is a clue that might indicate that she was seen near Bodoe in the northern part of Norway in August. The photographer was in the same area at this time.
On November the 23rd the Isdal woman exchanged Swedish Crowns in a bank so that she could pay the bill before she checked out of the hotel. We can only speculate where this money came from.
3) Was the photographer checked out of the case?
NRK has stated that he was, but this is not correct. When he turned up at the police the day after the first interview, he gave the name of the woman he claimed was the one he was in Oppdal. This is where the police made a mistake. They contacted the South-African police and asked if a woman with that name was missing. When the reply came, it said that she was not missing, that she was Chinese and that she was a student.
First of all, it is peculiar that they mentioned that she was Chinese and a student. This fits perfectly with what the photographer told his business partner in Oslo on October the 2nd, but the police never asked what she did. However it does not fit with what she told in Oppdal about working and earning enough to go on holiday half the year.
The woman in South Africa was Chinese. This I have checked, and it is correct. The two witnesses that observed her first hand both said she “did not look Chinese”, but she had “Asian features”. The Isdal woman has been described as having “Asian features”.
The South-African police must have got the information from the woman herself. Had they checked with the university they would have got a different answer. She was not a student. She had been three years earlier. I found this when checking the registry, and I also had the university confirm this information.
Finally, she did not even live near Johannesburg. She lived in Grahamstown, on the other end of the country.
Considering that the photographer was investigated closely, and that his different stories didn‘t add, what the police should have asked, was if the South-African woman had been to Norway in October 1970. If she had confirmed this, she should have been interviewed. This never happened. Instead the investigation stopped.
I tracked down her brother and told him I would like to ask his sister a couple of questions. He was more than happy to help me and asked what I needed to know. I explained that I first needed to know whether she had been to Norway in October 1970 or not. Depending on what she answered, I could send him the relevant questions. He asked me what the project was all about, so I explained this to him. I now met with a wall of silence.
A few days later, his daughter contacted me for more details. I sent her copies of the old documents and explained in further detail. Despite several reminders, I never heard from them again.
I had however found out that the woman in question lives in Auckland, so the publisher hired a person to track her down. Contact was established with the woman’s daughter, and she was also willing forward the questions to her mother. Once again, the result was silence.
The publisher then tried to contact her brother, with whom I already had been in touch. Now the answer was that she had Alzheimer’s and would not be able to assist.
To sum it all up:
If the investigation of the photographer had only been focused on identifying the Isdal woman, the question to the South-African polices makes sense. The reply should however have raised some eyebrows.
The documents show that it was himself that was the main focus of this part of the investigation. Considering the information that was dug up this is understandable. From this perspective however, the woman who was together with him in Oppdal becomes his alibi.
Apart from the obvious, regarding the photographer I have not forwarded any theories or conclusions in my book. I have presented the facts as they can be found in the documents from the investigation and leave it to the reader to draw his or her own conclusions.