The family of a 68-year-old Norwegian woman who disappeard last autumn has finally received a message from those who claim to have kidnapped her. They used the same digital platform as earlier, but failed to offer any proof that she’s still alive.
Police believe Anne-Elisabeth Hagen, married to wealthy Norwegian investor Tom Hagen, was abducted from their home in Fjellhamar on October 31. Her husband came home from work to find her missing, their bathroom in disarray and a cryptic ransom demand left in their house.
The kidnapping was hushed up until earlier this month, for fear the alleged abductors would harm or even kill Anne-Elisabeth Hagen. The abductors have demanded that her husband pay the equivalent of EUR 9 million in the form of the crypto currency called “monero” that’s especially difficult to trace.
Police claim they then went quiet, until last week. Svein Holden, attorney for the family, said the family received a new message on January 16 from those claiming to be holding Hagen against her will.
“The message we received offered no proof that she’s alive, or any proof that its sender has Anne-Elisabeth Hagen (in their custody) today,” Holden said at a press conference on Thursday. He said the family and police view the message positively, though, “as a sign that she is still alive.”
Holden wouldn’t divulge the contents of the message. He said that given the circumstances around Hagen’s disappearance, he feels reasonably certain that the message received was indeed from Hagen’s abductors.
“The family is prepared to enter into negotiations,” Hagen said, “but we also must be certain that she is alive before that happens.”
Parts of Thursday’s press conference were held in English. The press conference itself was used as an attempt to establish more direct contact with the alleged abductors.
Holden also said the family wants to “move to another platform” that’s better suited to communication. “This platform where we have received a message is difficult to communicate through,” Holden told reporters. “It’s not suited for receiving any confirmation that she’s alive. Telephone, email, meetings or film are better alternatives.”
Police earlier this week drilled holes in the ice on a lake located behind the Hagens’ home and sent divers into the water to search for any “relevant leads” in the case. They insisted they were not searching with an eye to finding Hagen’s body. Police have also received well over 1,000 tips in the case from the public.