Adam (murder victim)

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"Adam" was the name given to a young Nigerian boy whose torso was discovered in the River Thames, London on 21 September 2001. He is believed to have been between the ages of four and seven. The murder is believed to be linked to a ritual killing. Despite the use of forensic science, the Metropolitan Police Service have not caught the killer.

The torso was discovered by Aidan Minter, on the afternoon of Friday, 21 September 2001, as it floated past the Tower of London towards Tower Bridge in Central London. A passerby crossing the bridge had noticed an orange object in the water, and realizing it was a body as it passed under the bridge, alerted the police. The Metropolitan Police sent its marine search unit to the scene, who recovered the torso further downstream. The body was found to be the torso of a young black child, the orange being a pair of shorts around the stumps of the legs.[1]

The discovery of the torso shocked police, and prompted massive media coverage in the United Kingdom and around the world. The police named the body Adam in the absence of any positive identification.[1] Police soon realized after recovering only the torso that the circumstances were unusual and not typical of a sex-related murder. It was initially suspected that the murder was a medicine murder. This type of killing involves the removal of body parts such as the ears or genitals. However Adam's genitals were not removed, and the police ruled out this theory.[1]

Post mortem[edit]

A post-mortem was carried out on Adam's remains. This established from the amount of British food in Adam's stomach and pollen in his lungs that he had only been in the United Kingdom for a few days. A potion that contained ingredients used in West African ritual magic was also discovered in his stomach.[1][2]

Nigerian link[edit]

Adam's bones were also analysed to see if it could determine his geographical origins. As everything a person eats bears the trace of the soil of where it was grown or reared, soil samples were compared to places around the world. Scientists determined from this that Adam originated in Nigeria.[1]

Metropolitan police traveled to Nigeria and launched a campaign to track Adam's parents. Despite visiting elementary schools and looking at reported missing children in the region, there was no success.[1]

Linked cases[edit]

In July 2002, a Nigerian woman arrived in the United Kingdom from Germany, claiming to have fled from a Yoruba cult that practiced ritual murders. She claimed that they attempted to kill her son, and that she knew Adam was murdered in London by his parents. However, police searching her flat found orange shorts with the same clothing label as those found on Adam.[1] In December 2002, she was deported back to Nigeria.

Surveillance of the woman's associates brought the police to another Nigerian, a man named Kingsley Ojo. Searching of Ojo's house found a series of ritual items, however none of the DNA on the items matched Adam's DNA.[1] In July 2004, Ojo was charged with child trafficking offences, and jailed for four years.[3]

Developments in the case[edit]

Progress on the case has been considerable, given the lack of evidence and the existence of only Adam's torso. However, the lack of dental records or face imagery has been a major impediment to solving the crime. Still, Metropolitan police believe the publicity surrounding the case has acted as a deterrent for further ritual crimes in the United Kingdom.[1]

The police also note that Adam would never have been found, if his body had washed out into the North Sea, which would have occurred only two turns of the tide after his discovery.[1]

On 29 March 2011, it was reported that the torso belonged to that of a 6-year-old named Ikpomwosa, after a television crew managed to track down a woman who used to care for him in Germany, due to his parents being deported back to Nigeria. Joyce Osiagede, a mother of two, had told ITV London Tonight that she handed the 6-year-old to a man—reportedly named Bawa—who proceeded to take the child to London. Detectives have said that this is a "major breakthrough".[4]

In February 2013, the BBC was contacted by Osiagede, who declared that she was prepared to tell them everything she knew about the boy. Osiagede revealed that the Adam's real name was in fact Patrick Erhabor and not Ikpomwosa. She also identified Bawa as Kingsley Ojo and said that she had wrongly identified a photograph that had been circulating in the press as Patrick when it was in fact of a friend's living son.[5]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Torso in the Thames (TV production). Channel 4 Television, UK. 2003. 
  2. ^ Felix, Allen. "Thames torso kid ID’d after 10 years". The Sun. Retrieved 19 November 2012. 
  3. ^ Rosie Cowan (2004-07-27). "Jail for torso case people smuggler". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2009-02-13. 
  4. ^ Allen, Felix (29 March 2011). "Thames torso kid IDd after 10 years". The Sun (London). 
  5. ^ Crawford, Angus (2013-02-07). "Torso case boy 'identified'". BBC News. Retrieved 2013-03-04. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Foix, Alain, Vénus et Adam. Paris, Galaade éditions, 2007. ISBN 978-2351760260.
  • Sanders, Todd 2003. "Imagining the Dark Continent: the Met, the media and the Thames Torso". Cambridge Anthropology 23(3), 53-66.
  • Hoskins, Richard "The Boy in the River" Pan Macmillan 2012.

External links[edit]