Alabama native Pamela Seals Jorgensen traveled to Denmark in February 2017 in hopes of making a once-failed marriage work.
The 45-year-old woman returned to Georgia five months later as ashes in a plastic container.
International authorities said evidence indicated Jorgensen died by strangulation in her Denmark home. But no arrests have been made and police have no suspects, according to Jorgensen’s mother.
Sybil Pennington, a long-time resident of Athens, is about 4,600 miles away from the place — Aalborg, Denmark — where authorities are investigating the death of her daughter. She wants to know more facts of Jorgensen’s death.
“I’ve gone back and forth with those people over there,” Pennington said.
On July 25 she received an e-mail from Peter Rask, a prosecutor handling the case.
“The coroner has investigated your daughter. He has concluded that the exact cause of death cannot be settled,” Rask wrote, adding that the death “could however be caused by choking.”
Dismayed by the quick decision, Pennington said she has tried to convince Denmark authorities to be more aggressive in their investigation. But the distance is a barrier too wide to overcome.
“All I can do is try to e-mail and make phone calls,” she said.
Jorgensen grew up in Montevallo, Ala., a small town south of Birmingham. She graduated from Pelham High School, whose most famous alumni is Clemson University football coach Dabo Swinney. She has a sister, who is about a year younger and lives in California.
“She liked to party and hang out with her friends, but at 30 she was ready to settle down,” Pennington said of her daughter
Like many people, she began seeking a relationship online, her mother explained. On the internet she met a Danish man she would later marry. He visited her in Alabama and she visited his home in Denmark. On her 30th birthday in 2003 they married at a courthouse in Birmingham.
They moved to Denmark, where he worked with taxes and was a computer expert. They lived in the Danish countryside, where she bred and sold Shih Tzu dogs.
“He seemed like he loved Pam. He seemed caring (and) I was happy she found somebody,” Pennington said.
However, Jorgensen and her husband separated in 2011, Pennington said, adding that the pair decided upon a separation rather than a divorce. She returned to Alabama, found a job, and met a former high school classmate Scott Weber.
“They fell in love with each other,” Pennington said.
They lived together for five years until one day he became extremely sick and she called for an ambulance. As paramedics were helping him down the stairs to the ambulance, he somehow fell and hit his head against a concrete curb, according to Pennington. He was dead in about a week.
“That was the only man in the whole world who loved her and I believe the only man she truly loved,” Pennington said.
During this time, her husband stayed in touch with his estranged wife and after Weber’s death he asked her to return to Denmark.
“She decided, ‘Yes I’ll go back and try to make our marriage work,’” the mother recalled.
“She went back in February last year, but she was in a lot of grief. She grieved terribly over Scott,” Pennington said. “She was very open about what she thought and felt and she didn’t try to hide it from (her husband) that she loved Scott and was mourning for him.”
Pamela even wore a locket about her neck that contained some of Weber’s ashes, Pennington said.
Pennington said she and her daughter had contact almost every day, but then came two days in July 2017 of no contact and it caused her to worry.
“Two days after she died or was killed, (the husband) called me on the phone and he said, ‘I don’t know how to tell you this but Pam is dead,’” Pennington recalled. “I went hysterical and Joseph, her stepdad, took the phone and tried to get information about what happened. He told Joseph he came home from work and found her dead on the bathroom floor.
“I kind of believed him at first, but then I got the police report. She died of blunt force trauma to the neck.”
The police report submitted to Pennington noted that Jorgensen’s husband contacted authorities at 5:50 p.m. to report finding his wife dead. An autopsy was ordered because there was “a suspicion that she might have committed suicide by taking a drugs overdose.”
But the autopsy showed the death “might be traumatic strangulation caused by violence against the neck.” There was no alcohol in her body and no issue of a fatal drug poisoning.
The report would not rule out that the strangling was self-inflicted but noted “the lesions are not characteristic of self-inflicted lesions; so based on the evidence available, we find self-infliction less likely.”
The document closed by noting, “The deceased had not had any employment during her stays in Denmark. Pamela and (her husband) kept much to themselves and she would only leave the apartment when she had to see the doctor or dentist.”
During the investigation, an FBI agent visited with Pennington at her home in Athens to discuss the matter and another agent questioned Jorgensen’s sister in California.
“They are light on crime over there, but she’s a human being and she deserves somebody to pay for what happened to her,” Pennington said.
The husband had his wife cremated. When her ashes arrived in Georgia in a plastic container, Pennington purchased an urn from a local funeral home. The urn today sits on a book shelf.
Pennington said she plans to take the ashes with her to the grave.
“When I die she’s going to be in my casket,” she said.