"Evil being the root of mystery, pain is the root of knowledge."
It was the 31st of October 2018. A Wednesday. Halloween. Sixty eight year old Anne-Elisabeth Falkevik Hagen was at home in Fjellhamar, a village about 12 miles outside of Oslo, Norway. Anne-Elisabeth lived with her husband Tom Hagen.
Anne-Elisabeth and Tom married when they were just nineteen years old. They created a great life for themselves and their three children.Tom is the founder and owner of Elkraft, an electricity company, and has real estate holdings including a large stake in a popular ski resort. Anne-Elisabeth was a board member of Tom's holding company. They were a great match. Tom liked to keep to himself. He didn't like giving interviews or discussing his wealth. Anne-Elisabeth was more friendly and outgoing so she really made them,as a couple, fit in wherever they went.
Anne-Elisabeth and Tom Hagen
Tom was ranked as Norway's 164th richest man with a fortune of over $180 million. Even though Tom did not like to give interviews, an article was written about him in July 2018. Despite their wealth, their home was not a compound or part of a gated community. It was part of a cul de sac so there were a number of other houses beside it and there were no security cameras inside or outside the home. If anybody wanted to go to their house, they just had to walk straight up to the front door.
The evening before, the 30th of October, Anne-Elisabeth and Tom went to Oslo with a couple of friends to see The Book Of Mormon. It ended at 10.30pm and they drove home afterwards.
The next morning, Tom left for work around 9am. It was a ten to fifteen minute drive to his office depending on the traffic. Anne-Elisabeth stayed at home with their new little puppy. Anne-Elisabeth called a family member at 9.14 am that morning. That was around the same time that Tom arrived at his office. He was seen on security cameras at the gates of his energy and property investment company.
Anne-Elisabeth and Toms' House
At around 1.30pm, Tom arrived back home. Anne-Elisabeth wasn't there. When Tom entered the house, he noticed some of Anne-Elisabeth's belongings on a chair. He sensed that something was wrong. There were no signs of a forced entry at the home but as Tom looked around the house, he noticed there were signs that a struggle had taken place in the bathroom. Blood was found in the home and a ransom note was on Anne-Elisabeth's bed. It appeared that she had been kidnapped. Their little puppy was locked in the bathroom.
The ransom note stated that the person/people who took Anne-Elisabeth wanted over $10 million paid out in cryptocurrency Monero. With Monero, you cannot see who has made a transaction. The note stated that Tom's family was being watched and if any contact was made with the police, Anne-Elisabeth would be killed and a video of her murder would be posted online.
Tom made contact with the police discreetly around a half an hour after he got home. The police advised Tom not to make any payment as they needed proof that Anne-Elisabeth was alive. They met him at a gas station.
The police believed that Anne-Elisabeth disappeared on the morning of the 31st of October 2018 between the hours of 9.15 am and 1.30pm. They said that the last time anyone heard from her was a call she made at 9.14 am that morning. Anne-Elisabeth called a family member and the call lasted just a couple on minutes.
At 9.48am, an electrician Tommy Skansen called Anne-Elisabeth but there was no answer. Anne-Elisabeth had asked him to do some work on the lighting in her kitchen. So police believed there was a possibility that something happened to Anne-Elisabeth between 9.15am and 9.48am.
Despite some apparent communication between whoever left the ransom note and Anne-Elisabeth's family after she went missing, no proof of life was ever provided. And the kidnappers did not seem in a hurry to get the money.
Police needed the public's assistance. Anne-Elisabeth was reported missing on the 31st of October by Tom but the police did not make that information public until January 2019.
Was crucial evidence missed as a result?
The police appealed for the public's help. They wanted to find out who three men in particular were. They had a video of a person walking past Tom Hagen's workplace at the Futurum building on Rasta. At 07.36am, on the morning that Anne-Elisabeth went missing, a person first passed the building once and then he turned back and walked back past it. Twenty four minutes later, a video shows a cyclist passing a person on the same road. Police wanted to look into the possibility that one or two of these men may have been "on the lookout."
Police began a search of the woodland and lake beside the house. Dogs assisted in the search. Police discovered a shoe print and a cable tie inside the house.
There were a number of other people that police wanted to identify. One of Anne-Elisabeth's neighbors came forward with information about a grey/silver SUV. The neighbor said that he observed a car taking a strange shortcut over a patch of grass towards Anne-Elisabeth's house on the morning of her disappearance.
Another person reported seeing two men fishing looking in the direction of Anne-Elisabeth's house.
It seemed that police had a number of leads to follow up on in relation to potential suspects but in a dramatic turn of events, the course of the investigation changed.
In June 2019, police announced that they no longer believed that Anne-Elisabeth is alive and they believed that the ransom and kidnapping was staged. Øst Police District said in a statement:
“As the case initially appeared, our main theory was that Anne-Elisabeth Hagen had been abducted by someone with a financial motive. And in June 2019, we came to believe that she had most likely been killed. We now believe there was no abduction and there was never any genuine negotiations. In other words there was a clear and well-planned attempt at misleading the police.”
After police made that announcement, Tom's lawyer,Svein Holden, received an e-mail. The writing style suggested that it may have been written by the same person who had written the ransom note. The email stated that in order to see proof that Anne-Elisabeth is alive, payment must be made. Tom paid over one million dollars in crypto currency.
But no proof of life was ever sent or received. And police did not believe they would ever see any proof of life. In fact, they believed that Tom knew exactly what happened to Anne-Elisabeth. Tom Hagen was arrested on suspicion of having orchestrated the killing of his wife.
Anne-Elisabeth and Tom Hagen
Tom denied any involvement in his wife's disappearance. And police did not have strong evidence. There was no murder weapon, no body and no motive. Police looked into whether there was a financial motive but discovered that in 1993, Anne-Elisabeth and Tom signed a marriage contract. In the event of a divorce, Anne-Elisabeth would get the furniture, a car and the land that she inherited from her parents.
Norway’s Supreme Court ordered Tom's release. Svein, Tom's lawyer, said that two of the three Judges ruled that "there were no reasonable grounds for suspicion of my client."
The police tried to rearrest Tom the same day that he was released but could not do so. The investigation seems to be focused on a number of people being involved in Anne-Elisabeth's disappearance as police know that if Tom is involved, he did not act alone. A cryptocurrency expert ,who has not been identified in the Norwegian news, was arrested and charged with assistance to kidnapping. He was released two days later.Anne-Elisabeth's case is still an open investigation.
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"When someone just disappears for no reason, it's shocking, it's devastating. I just feel like my life stopped that day and I've just been in a tailspin ever since."
- Adam Vaughan, Janine's brother
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