‘Kidnapping’ may have masked murder

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Norwegian police are no longer sure that the still-missing wife of a wealthy Norwegian businessman was actually kidnapped last autumn. Now they think a ransom note found at the couple’s home was left to mask her murder.

Police now aren’t so sure Anne-Elisabeth Falkevik Hagen was actually kidnapped when she disappeared from the Hagen home last autumn. PHOTO: Private

Police said at a press conference Wednesday that they now have new information about where the paper used in the ransom note was produced and sold. The ransom demand was for the equivalent of EUR 9 million to be paid in crypto currency.

Police, family members and a private lawyer they hired were frustrated, however, by the failure of the alleged kidnappers to take contact. Only a few cryptic messages were ever received and then it all went quiet.

Police Inspector Tommy Brøske said at the press conference that the police’s main theory now is that Anne-Elisabeth Hagen, wife of investor and businessman Tom Hagen, was killed, and that a kidnapping was staged to disguise the murder.

Ransom letter clues
The ransom letter found by Tom Hagen in the couple’s home at Lørenskog northeast of Oslo had been written in poor Norwegian and contained threats about what would happen to Hagen if her disappearance was reported to police. Hagen ignored that and called police immediately, but they kept his wife’s disappearance quiet for more than two months, when they finally revealed the drama that shocked many Norwegians, especially wealthy Norwegians who could be targets of ransom claims themselves.

Now Brøske says the letter itself has been subjected to extensive technical examination and testing. “We have good reasons for saying where the paper can have been been sold, and we won’t rule out that it can be Norway.” He said the police also have good indications of where the paper was produced.

He wouldn’t comment whether police now have any suspects in the case or whether anyone has been charged. “We’ll get back to that at a later point,” he said.

Disagreement over new police theory
The family’s lawyer, former state prosecutor Svein Holden who now works as a private defense attorney, was asked whether any family members have been charged. “No, of course not,” Holden answered.

He claimed the family has “good cooperation” with the police. Anne-Elisabeth Hagen’s disappearance “is very demanding for the family, but they still have hope that Anne Elisabeth is alive. They want to get her home, that’s been the main focus from day one.”

Holden is, however, uncertain whether there’s any basis for viewing the case as a staged kidnapping to hide a murder. The last contact with anyone purporting to be among the kidnappers occurred in February.

Anne-Elisabeth Hagen disappeared on October 31 last year, with no signs of life from her since. Europol, the US’ FBI and police in other countries including Denmark have assisted Norwegian police in the ongoing investigation.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund