Norwegian tycoon arrested, suspected of killing missing wife in case involving 'staged kidnapping'

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One of the wealthiest men in Norway was arrested Tuesday in connection with the 2018 disappearance of his wife, in a case that involves a reported kidnapping and ransom demands.

Tom Hagen, a media-shy real estate investor who boasts a total wealth of about 1.7 billion Norwegian kroner ($161 million), was arrested on his way to work, according to chief police investigator Tommy Broeske.

“The case is characterized by a clearly planned deception,” Broeske said at a news conference in Oslo. “As other hypotheses have been weakened, suspicions against Tom Hagen have gradually been strengthened.”

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Anne-Elizabeth Falkevik Hagen, 69, was last seen alive in October 2018.

Anne-Elisabeth Falkevik Hagen was last seen alive on Oct. 31, 2018. In June 2019, authorities revealed they believed she may have been killed and her kidnapping may have been staged.

Anne-Elisabeth Falkevik Hagen was last seen alive on Oct. 31, 2018. In June 2019, authorities revealed they believed she may have been killed and her kidnapping may have been staged. (Norwegian Police)

Police were informed that Falkevik Hagen disappeared from the couple’s home in Loerenskog, east of Oslo, on Oct. 31, 2018. They didn't publicly speak about it until Jan. 9, 2019, prompting hundreds of tips to pour in.

By February 2019, authorities said they had "no signs of life" in the case, but that they weren't winding down the investigation.

Police investigators at the home in Lorenskog near Oslo, after Anne-Elisabeth Hagen's husband Tom Hagen was arrested for investigation into the disappearance of his wife, April 28.

Police investigators at the home in Lorenskog near Oslo, after Anne-Elisabeth Hagen's husband Tom Hagen was arrested for investigation into the disappearance of his wife, April 28. (Heiko Junge / NTB scanpix via AP)

A ransom for her release was demanded in January 2019, police said, but they declined to release the amount. Norwegian media later reported it was $10.3 million (9 million euros), to be paid in cryptocurrency — popular among cybercriminals.

Police said the alleged kidnappers communicated with Hagen, 70, using a digital platform that prevented responding. The note reportedly said the wife would be killed if police were involved.

Police investigators at the home in Lorenskog near Oslo, Norway, after Anne-Elisabeth Hagen's husband Tom Hagen was arrested for investigation into the disappearance of his wife, April 28.

Police investigators at the home in Lorenskog near Oslo, Norway, after Anne-Elisabeth Hagen's husband Tom Hagen was arrested for investigation into the disappearance of his wife, April 28. (Heiko Junge / NTB scanpix via AP)

Authorities later released security videos of men walking back-and-forth outside Hagen’s workplace.

Officers and police dogs also were seen scouring the grounds around the couple’s home and divers went into a nearby pond as police led a large investigation at home and abroad.

But by June 2019, authorities said that Falkevik Hagen may have been killed and her kidnapping may have been staged.

Police investigators at the home in Lorenskog near Oslo, after Anne-Elisabeth Hagen's husband Tom Hagen was arrested for investigation into the disappearance of his wife, April 28.

Police investigators at the home in Lorenskog near Oslo, after Anne-Elisabeth Hagen's husband Tom Hagen was arrested for investigation into the disappearance of his wife, April 28. (Heiko Junge / NTB scanpix via AP)

Broeske said at the time detectives changed their "main hypothesis" about the case because there were no signs Falkevik Hagen was alive and no recent contact with the alleged kidnappers. The body of Falkevik Hagen has not been found.

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Officers also said they could not exclude a "staged kidnapping" to hide a killing, according to Sky News.

Tom Hagen, the second child in a farming family of 12 children, struck it rich in a real estate business he started in 1978. He married his wife when he was 19.

Police investigators at the home in Lorenskog near Oslo, after Anne-Elisabeth Hagen's husband Tom Hagen was arrested for investigation into the disappearance of his wife, April 28.

Police investigators at the home in Lorenskog near Oslo, after Anne-Elisabeth Hagen's husband Tom Hagen was arrested for investigation into the disappearance of his wife, April 28. (Heiko Junge / NTB scanpix via AP)

Prosecutor Aase Kjustad Eriksson said authorities would seek Wednesday to have Hagen held for four weeks in pretrial custody on suspicion of murder and that more arrests were possible.

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Hagen's lawyer, Svein Holden, said his client "strongly maintains that he has nothing to do with this," Sky News reported.

Police declined to elaborate on a motive due to the ongoing investigation.

Fox News' Lukas Mikelionis and The Associated Press contributed to this report.