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Do you remember this woman?

Can you help us with a 47 year old unsolved criminal case?

Teikning av Isdalskvinna

Drawing of the Isdal woman, based on pictures of her body and several witness accounts.

Foto: Stephen Missal (illustrasjon)

On the 29th of November 1970, a young woman was found dead and badly burned in the desolate valley Isdalen, in the vicinity of Norway's second largest city, Bergen. All items hinting at her identity had been removed from the body, and the investigation showed that the woman had used at least eight different identities during her travels all over Europe. All the identities turned out to be fake ones.

Witnesses who met her, relate that her English was poor. Various witnesses have also heard her speaking languages which they identified as German and Flemish. Her special dental work indicated she was not of Scandinavian origin.

Possible childhood in Germany, France or Benelux

New forensic studies of the woman's teeth after the NRK started investigating the case together with Norwegian police have given new clues about her origin.

Chemical traces found in the teeth of the Isdal woman points to areas of Germany, France or Benelux.

DNA analysis gave clues about the woman having European genes.

The isotope analyses determine the chemical compounds of some very specific elements – strontium and oxygen. These two elements are absorbed by the enamel in the teeth from what the person was eating or drinking during the time when the teeth were formed.

Because the teeth that were analysed were formed in both her early childhood and her teenage years, the expert can actually tell that the Isdal woman relocated at some point during this period. Possibly from areas close to Nürnberg i Germany to the western part og the country.

The teeth from her teenage years give a heightened probability that she lived somewhere in the border areas of Germany, France, Luxembourg and Belgium around the age of 14.

Kart med isotop-resultater

TEEANGE YEARS: This map shows the most likely areas where the unknown woman might have lived in her teens (age ca. 14). Other investigative examinations, such as handwriting analysis and dental exams, make areas as the UK less likely than France and Germany.

Foto: Kart fra Prof. Jurian Hoogewerff/National Centre Forensic Studies/University of Canberra

About 40 years old

This is the description the Norwegian police sent to Interpol and police forces throughout Europe, North Africa and the Middle East:

«Approximately 25-30 years of age. Height 164 cm, slim with broad hips. Long brownish-black hair, small round face, brown eyes, small ears. The teeth showed many repairs, several of the molars had gold caps, and the dental work is of a kind practised in the Far East, Central or Southern Europe, and South America. Fourteen of the teeth are partly or completely root-filled. There is a marked partition between the two upper front teeth».

In 2017 new studies of the teeth adjusted the age estimates, and experts at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden found she might have been between the ages of 36 and 44 when she died – born in 1930 +/- 4 years.

The police have never managed to identify the woman. No relatives have come forward. She was buried in Bergen in March 1971.

Åstedet i Isdalen der en kvinne ble funnet død i 1970

VIDEO: Revisit the scene where she was found. Meet police investigators and others telling of the Isdal woman mystery. With all the theories about why she died in Norway. NRK has studied the case once more - here is more information on the mysterious case, and on the police investigation (with English subtitles).

Attempt to identify

In collaboration with Norwegian police, the Norwegian public broadcaster Norsk Rikskringkasting (NRK) is currently making an attempt to identify the woman. In this connection, we have found biological material.

With the material forensic DNA experts have been able to create a DNA profile, and determine that she had genes with European characteristics.

Isotop analysis of the enamel on her teeth shows that she most probably spent her childhood in an area at the Franco-German border.

Norwegian police have issued a new and updated Interpol notice seeking information in order to identify the woman – a «black notice».

The drawing was made by American forensic artist Stephen Missal, and several witnesses who met the woman in 1970, claim the features are strikingly similar to the way they remember her.

If you recognize this woman, or if you know anyone who disappeared in 1970 who fits the description, we would greatly appreciate it if you would contact us.

E-mail address: isdal@nrk.no

Mail address: Staale Hansen, NRK Dokumentar og samfunn, MDSP FG22, NO-0340 OSLO, NORWAY