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Hi, everyone – thanks for taking the time to read my post! I’m fairly new to this subreddit and I’m really enjoying being among fellow true crime fans.
I’m sure that by now, many of you have seen Volume 2 of “Unsolved Mysteries” on Netflix, which premiered on Monday. I watched all six episodes, and I’m particularly intrigued by Episode 2, “Death In Oslo”, or the “Jennifer Fairgate” case. (By the way: if you haven’t seen this episode but you’re planning to, there are spoilers below!)
Because of the strange circumstances surrounding Jennifer’s death, there’ve been many theories thrown out there: she was a secret agent, she was a hit-woman, she was a high-end prostitute, she was murdered by a lover or someone else, etc. LE ruled her death a suicide, which, having pored over this case, I agree with, though there are certainly some oddities and unexplainable aspects about it.
In case you haven’t yet seen the episode or don’t have Netflix, this website offers an exceptional, thorough break-down of the case: Mystery at Oslo Plaza
. There’s also an interactive tool on the same website where you can view the hotel room and evidence: Oslo Plaza: The Evidence
. You can also watch a thirty-minute documentary about Jennifer’s case here: Mystery at Oslo Plaza: A Documentary.
If you don’t have time to read such a detailed break-down, here’s a (fairly!) brief summary of Jennifer Fairgate’s story. There’s a lot to this case, so I’ll do my best to provide just the key points:
In late May 1995, a woman checked into the Plaza Hotel in Oslo, Norway under the name “Jennifer Fairgate”. She listed an additional person on the room, “Lois Fairgate”, though only one eyewitness claims to have actually seen him during Jennifer’s three-and-a-half-day stay. After she died, it was discovered that all of the information Jennifer provided on her check-in card was false: her address, her phone number, her employer, even her name. For unknown reasons, hotel staff did not require Jennifer to provide an ID or credit card when she checked in.
Data from Jennifer’s room keycard shows that she only left her room five times during her entire Wednesday-through-Saturday stay; however, at one point she was gone for an entire twenty-four-hour period that no one can account for. Aside from that, she stayed in her room and kept to herself. The hotel cashier sent three different messages to the television in her room asking that she come to the front desk and provide a method of payment, but Jennifer never did so, though she did acknowledge the requests by hitting the “OK” button on the television remote.
On Friday morning, Jennifer placed the “Do Not Disturb” sign on her door, where it stayed until her body was discovered on Saturday night. At some point Friday evening, she ordered room service and gave the attendant an exceptionally large cash tip, though she put the meal on her room tab. It was also on Friday evening that the hotel cashier sent the third request for Jennifer to come to the front desk; Jennifer again acknowledged the message using the television remote but did not respond to the request in-person.
On Saturday evening, the hotel still had not heard from Jennifer (keep in mind this was a very expensive room she was staying in) and housekeeping noticed that the “Do Not Disturb” sign was still on her door, so they sent a security guard up to check on her. The security guard knocked on the door, and a few seconds later he heard a gunshot; he says he did not hear anything after that from inside the room and doesn’t believe there was a second person in there. He went back downstairs and the hotel called the police. They discovered that her door was double locked from the inside, meaning only security could open it. They discovered Jennifer’s body on the bed with a single gunshot wound through her forehead.
There were a lot of odd things about the items LE found in Jennifer’s room. Though eyewitnesses had described her as nicely dressed, well-groomed, and stylish, LE found no cosmetics, toiletries, or anything of the like in her room; however, they did find a bottle of men’s cologne, but only Jennifer’s fingerprints were on it. They also discovered that the tags had been cut out of almost all of her clothing. The assortment of clothing found in the room was odd as well—several jackets, blouses, and bras, but no skirts, trousers, or underwear. Additionally, the small travel bag found in the room did not seem to be large enough to contain that amount of clothing.
But the oddest thing of all? LE could find nothing in the room whatsoever that would give them a clue as to who “Jennifer Fairgate” was—no ID, no passport, no credit cards, no money, no wallet, no keys, no purse; this was also the point when they discovered that the information she’d written on her hotel check-in card was made up. It seemed that great lengths had been taken to erase her true identity, and it worked—to this day, no one knows who Jennifer really was.
After a year with no success in breaking the case, Jennifer’s body was buried in an unmarked grave in Oslo in 1996. In 2016, her body was exhumed and her teeth were extracted in order to create a DNA profile, which the forensics team was able to do successfully. You can read more about that process in the websites I linked to above.
So—on to my opinion about what really happened. In spite of the indisputable weirdness of this case, particularly in relation to the evidence, it’s my contention that Jennifer did indeed commit suicide, as LE concluded. Jennifer’s case reminds me a little of Gail Delano
, a woman I wrote about recently who staged her own disappearance in Maine, then flew to Mobile, Alabama, checked into a hotel under a false name, and took her own life. No one knew what happened to her until a forensic pathologist who saw her segment on “Unsolved Mysteries” contacted the call center and identified Gail as a “Jane Doe” he’d performed an autopsy on two years earlier.
I think Jennifer did something similar—she went to the Plaza Hotel in Oslo with the intention of taking her own life. She created a false identity and personal information. I believe that over the course of her stay, she disposed of items that would’ve helped identify her. It’s hard to say why she disposed of some items and not others. In fact, a lot of the evidence is hard to explain—a briefcase found in the room contained several rounds of ammunition, which has spawned the secret agent/hitwoman theories. I think perhaps she purchased a box of ammunition and simply dumped it in the briefcase along with the firearm—perhaps she was concerned that the box would lead to information about the ammunition purchase, which would then lead to information about her identity.
People have also pointed to the positioning of her hand on the 9mm gun found with her body, and the fact that no blood, bruises, scrapes, or residue was found on that hand. I don’t know a whole lot about firearms, admittedly, but I’ve done research, and it seems like there are instances where a person commits suicide and there’s no residue etc. found on the hand afterward. If you’re knowledgeable about this sort of thing I’d love to hear more thoughts on it.
Other pieces of evidence that make me think this was a suicide:
- The bottle of men’s cologne found in the room, when no other cosmetics or toiletries were present. Could this have been a woman who was despondent over a love affair gone wrong?
- The large tip she gave the room service attendant. This seems like a small thing, but when people are planning to take their own life, research has shown that they often engage in small acts of generosity like this.
- The fact that she avoided paying her hotel room bill. This would seem to contradict my last statement, but I think that if she were indeed a hitwoman, spy, etc. or even a high-end prostitute, she wouldn’t have wanted to draw that kind of attention to herself from the hotel—surely she would’ve wanted to fly under the radar a bit more, right? Perhaps she knew she would not be alive long enough to have to deal with the consequences of not paying the bill…perhaps she knew when she checked in that she really couldn’t afford a room like this but that in the end, it wouldn’t matter.
A couple of things I really can’t explain are 1.) Jennifer’s twenty-four-hour absence from the hotel. Was she wandering the streets of Oslo, contemplating her final days of life? Was she out disposing of some of her personal items? Did she meet up with someone knowing it would be the last time? 2.) The mysterious “Lois Fairgate”. When Jennifer called the hotel to make the reservation, she said there would be two people staying in the room, herself and Lois. As I mentioned before, one eyewitness at the front desk says she saw Jennifer with a man, but after that there’s no evidence that Lois was ever in the room or the hotel, or that he even existed.
Anyway, there’s a lot more I could say about this case and I haven’t covered every single detail, but this post has already gone on a lot longer than I intended. If you’re still reading, thank you!
What are your theories on this case? Do you think this was suicide or something else? I’m more than happy to have a civil and respectful discussion/debate about who Jennifer was and what might’ve happened to her.