|"Cold Justice Team" - Oxygen TV|
Morten was a well respected photographer originally from Norway who came to the United States approximately 30 years ago. Now 56 years old, Morten settled into a quiet life on a farm in West Virginia while he continued to work as a photographer. On September 9, 2015 he allegedly left his home early in the morning for a photo shoot he was scheduled to do - the location of the shoot was said to be less than an hour away, and law enforcement immediately became suspicious of this timeline provided by the girlfriend.
Morten never showed up at the photo shoot. His girlfriend reported him missing to the police two days later on September 11, 2015. Morten's truck was located on a river bank, abandoned and with windows down and unlocked. It appeared as if he simply walked away from the vehicle. There were no traces of blood or signs of a struggle in or around the truck. Law enforcement brought in search dogs, cadaver dogs and scoured the riverbanks and the wooded areas beyond. Helicopters were utilized - nothing was discovered despite the massive effort.
What happened to Morten? In these types of "missing person" cases, the spouse or significant other is usually a good place to start the investigation. After speaking with many of Morten's close friends, they discovered his relationship with the long term girlfriend was not as rosy as she had portrayed it to be to law enforcement. One major point of contention was that Morten did not get along with his girlfriend's mother - and her extended stay at the house was a source of near constant tension between the two. Secondly, Morten had recently discovered that his girlfriend had taken out 3-4 credit cards in his name without his permission and charged up somewhere in the range of $30,000 - $40,000. Morten had contacted the credit card companies to report the fraud. He confided in friends that he had not decided whether to press charges against the girlfriend which would essentially send her to jail, or pay the bill and end the relationship.
Either way, she was aware the end of the relationship was nearing. Morten wanted her mother out of his home, and he was outraged at her betrayal with the identity theft. There were text messages produced that showed that Morten's girlfriend was supposed to be driving her mother back to the New York area on a Monday - and Morten goes missing on that Wednesday? If you believe in coincidences, maybe this was a doozy of one. I don't happen to think this was the case. It was also rumored by Morten's close friends that his girlfriends mother had come after him with a knife in her hand. When questioned about the incident by the Cold Justice team, she denied it outright and told them Morten tried to strike her!
When both mother and daughter/girlfriend were interviewed by Johnny Bonds during the Cold Justice team's visit, they were both fairly calm but very evasive in their answers. Many facts the team knew to be true were repeatedly denied by these two ladies. Case in fact: the girlfriend denies she was due to drive her mother back to the New York area 2 days before Morten disappeared. Her mother denied she had been living at Morten's home before he went missing. She claims she only moved in after he disappeared. The team knew this was a lie.
While there was little physical evidence found in the home and none in Morten's truck, blood evidence was found on a couch cushion and on clothes that had been through many wash cycles. Unfortunately there were several peoples DNA profiles on each item so nothing could be definitively isolated. This will more than likely end up to be a circumstantial case if enough evidence is uncovered to bring a suspect to trial. Could the girlfriend's fear of prosecution for fraud and identify theft caused her to lash out and kill Morten? Did the two women decide life on Morten's farm would be far better for them if he was not around? It is truly a baffling set of circumstances.
The best evidence the team was able to uncover involves cell phone data. What did the police ever do before cell phone data, security cameras and the like? The analysis of cellphone tower data showed that Morten's girlfriends cellphone pinged on a tower near where Morten's abandoned truck was discovered at approximately 1:30AM the morning of his disappearance. Again, do you believe in coincidence? She told the detectives who interviewed her that she never left the house the night before Morten went missing. Well, her phone left the house!! You can't argue evidence like that, especially when she essentially locked herself into the story of her going to bed and never leaving the house. She says Morten left around 6AM the following morning and she never saw him again. That makes her the last person to see him alive.
Another telling sign that Morten didn't just take off and start a new life somewhere else: his prized camera equipment was discovered in the corner of a dusty and dirty barn. By all accounts, Morten NEVER would have left the equipment in such an environment. This was how he made a living, but photography was more than a way to make a living to him. He truly loved what he did. His camera equipment was treated with the utmost care and respect. His friends believe something must have happened to Morten for him to not show up for the photo shoot he missed that September morning. Morten had money in the bank, he was living a comfortable life and had no known financial issues other than the large amount of credit card debt his girlfriend left him with.
At the end of the episode the evidence was presented to the DA to see if he believed there was enough to present to a grand jury. Unfortunately, they want to see a little more evidence linking the primary suspect in this case.