Morten Algeltinger

Morten Aigeltinger and Gale Livingstone embrace in the kitchen of their home on Cattail Run Road outside of Charles Town in a Facebook image taken in 2011, a year after their move to West Virginia. It’s been four years now since Aigeltinger was seen alive.

Gale Livingstone has moved on.

Earlier this year, she bid adieu to West Virginia for a new home about 100 miles away in Prince George’s County, Md., where she’s set up her Rainbow Hill Farm in the unincorporated community of Baden.

This week marks four years since Norway native Morten Aigeltinger went missing from the home he shared with Livingstone at 1140 Cattail Run Road just outside of Charles Town – and, thanks to the detailed look at the case provided on the Oxygen network true crime series “Cold Justice,” millions of people believe Livingstone is responsible for the professional photographer’s disappearance and death.

Why Livingstone’s role in Aigeltinger’s death hasn’t resulted in criminal charges against her is a constant source of sadness, explains Aigeltinger’s sister, Oslo resident Anne-Lise Eilert-Olsen.

“The family in Norway is frustrated,” she said, explaining that where she lives, the known facts of the case “definitely” would have already landed Livingstone in court.

Famed former Texas prosecutor Kelly Siegler, who has led the “Cold Justice” team through five seasons so far, said in an email this week that she wants to help “in whatever possible” so that Eilert-Olsen and the rest of Aigeltinger’s family see the case resolved.

“When we left from working with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department, we were all encouraged and excited that the prosecuting attorney would move forward with the case,” Siegler wrote about the episode that first aired July 29, 2017. “Morten’s family deserves justice. Morten deserves justice. Our hope is that it happens soon.”

A missed assignment

It was Livingstone who reported her housemate and ex-lover, then 56, missing. According to her account to police, she was at home around 6 a.m. on Sept. 9, 2015, when he headed off for a work assignment in suburban Virginia.

Aigeltinger, who had moved to the United States in the 1980s, had long earned a living as a professional portrait photographer.

Uncharacteristically, he missed the Sept. 9 assignment, scheduled for 1 p.m., and hasn’t been seen since. His wallet and cell phone remain missing too.

On Sept. 14, Aigeltinger’s Ford F-150 truck was found just a mile from his home.

When authorities then searched the 19.5-acre that Aigeltinger owned and Livingstone farmed, they discovered his camera bag filled with thousands of dollars of his cherished equipment tucked inside a dirt-floor barn on the site – seemingly a direct contradiction to Livingstone’s statement that she’d last seen him heading out to a photography assignment.

The idea that Aigeltinger would have driven off so early in the day for an assignment just 55 miles away in Prince William County also invites skepticism, those close to Aigeltinger say.

In the “Cold Justice” episode, Siegler and her investigative team analyzed cellphone tower data and found that at about 1:30 a.m. the morning of his disappearance Livingstone’s cell pinged on a tower near where the abandoned truck was discovered on John Rissler Road near the Shenandoah River.

On the show, Livingstone had assured detectives she hadn’t left the house in the hours before Aigeltinger went missing.

The “Cold Justice” episode also disclosed that Aigeltinger disappeared after giving Livingstone an ultimatum that her mother could no longer live with them.

He was also considering pressing charges after discovering Livingstone had taken out credit cards in his name and run up thousands in debt, according to interviews in the “Cold Justice” episode.

The Aigeltinger’s property was not searched by police until after the truck was found, six days after Aigeltinger was last seen in public.

At the time, Jefferson County Sheriff Peter Dougherty and his officers joined with the West Virginia State Police, fire companies and other departments to conduct an extensive search of the area, including the banks of the river and the Shenandoah itself.

“We brought in a helicopter and cadaver dogs but we never found any sign of Mr. Aigeltinger – no wallet, no phone, no anything,” Dougherty said then.

“Frustrated” prosecutor

Matt Harvey, elected prosecutor for the county in 2016, said he understands how difficult it must be for Aigeltinger’s family to see the case still open.

“When I spoke to Mort’s sister not long after I took office, I promised her I’d do my best to help,” he said. “We’re as frustrated as the public is.”

Harvey described the case as an “active investigation” with the sheriff’s office. “With criminal cases, you don’t know how all the pieces of the puzzle fit until you get the piece that completes the picture.

“Any new evidence could be what solves the case.”

But the sheriff seems to admit the case is largely at a standstill. “Truth is, there isn’t much to report,” Dougherty explained a few days before the fourth anniversary of Aigeltinger’s disappearance.

His office has gotten calls about where Aigeltinger’s body might be but these come in “with no specific knowledge suggesting where to check,” Dougherty said. “We occasionally hear from people who claim they have seen Morten but none of those tips have led to any new information.”

Dougherty specifically would like to know more about what unfolded just after Aigeltinger’s last public sighting – when he stopped for gas the evening of Sept. 8, 2015.

“We encourage anyone with specific information about Morten’s statements, actions or sightings between the evening of Sept. 8 and the morning of Sept. 9, 2015,” he said. “The Sheriff’s Office will not stop checking out every credible lead until we find the final truth.”

Dougherty also said he remains regularly in touch with Harvey about the Aigeltinger case.

“In a case where we have been investigating over a long period of time, we provide information to the prosecutor’s office. It’s the prosecutor’s decision whether it is appropriate to charge or indict.”

Siegler, a Texas native who won her law license in 1987 and served in a county prosecutor’s office for decades before the start of “Cold Justice,” said she understands the temptation to hold off on arresting the person or people police believed responsible until more pieces of the puzzle have been uncovered or until the victim’s physical remains have been found.

But the Aigeltinger case has strong evidence already, she said.

“There is no legal requirement to have a body in order to prosecute someone for murder,” she said.

Insisting that a body is needed for prosecution only encourages and enables sicker murder suspects to get away with murder.”

Instead, Siegler said, prosecutors must get tough.

“It has been my experience in order to recover a body, you offer an indicted suspect two punishment options – one of those with less time if they truthfully disclose where a victim is hidden and that victim’s body is found so a family can have that answered,” she said. “No cold-blooded murder suspect is going to lead you to a body out of the goodness of their heart. That is why it’s up to law enforcement to take action.”

Messages to Livingstone seeking comment about the case remain unanswered at press time.

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