On September 21, 2001, police in London found in the Thames the torso of a boy said to have been trafficked from Nigeria and possibly murdered in a ritualistic killing. The boy aged five or six was named Adam by detectives. He was found wearing a pair of orange shorts and it is believed he was smuggled into the country via Germany.
Tests on the body and stomach contents showed that Adam had only been in the UK for a few days when he was murdered and that he was probably from southwestern Nigeria near Benin City. He had died from trauma to the neck and his head and limbs to date have never been found.
Authorities suggested that he might have been smuggled to be sacrificed in a ceremony. Over two decades, the Met Police have regularly reviewed the case, including conducting local and international inquiries while exploring forensic opportunities in light of technologies that are now available. The inquiry has also included comprehensive checks on all UK missing people and extensive inquiries in London, other parts of the UK and abroad, including South Africa, Holland, Germany and Nigeria, a spokesperson from the Met Police said recently.
There was even an appeal by South Africa’s Nelson Mandela to all African communities across the world to help the police. And despite several arrests over the years, police are yet to charge anyone with the boy’s death.
In September this year, that is 20 years after the boy’s death, the police launched a fresh appeal hoping that someone who couldn’t speak before can now come forward. “Investigating officers believe that over the past two decades relationships and allegiances may have changed and are specifically reaching out to people whose connection or association with someone has now ended,” a Scotland Yard spokesperson said.
“Officers urge those who may have felt uncomfortable speaking to the police in the past to ‘be bold’ and come forward.”
A man called Aidan Minter was going for a business meeting when he found Adam’s body. The police said he may have been in the water for up to 10 days. He had been well fed and showed no signs of physical or sexual abuse. The pair of orange shorts he wore came with the label “Kids & Company”, and the size and color could only be found in some shops in Germany, according to a report by BBC.
The boy is thought to have been drugged with a ‘black magic’ potion and sacrificed before being thrown into the Thames. His torso would wash up next to the Globe Theatre in September 2001. Pioneering scientific techniques were used by detectives to trace radioactive isotopes in his bones to his native Nigeria. They even traveled to the West African country to attempt to trace his family but the boy’s identity has remained a mystery.
A Nigerian woman named Joyce Osiagede was arrested in Glasgow after police found clothing similar to that worn by Adam in her home in 2002. But she said she knew nothing about Adam and the police were not able to charge her. She later claimed in 2011 that a boy in a picture was Adam, adding that his real name is Ikpomwosa. But a year later, her brother told BBC there was a misunderstanding, saying that the boy in the photograph wasn’t Adam, and his name was not Ikpomwosa.
Osiagede, who was said to have mental health problems, told ITV’s London Tonight that she looked after Adam in Germany for a year before traveling to Britain without him in 2001. According to her, she handed the boy over to a man known as Bawa, real name Kingsley Ojo. She said Bawa (Ojo) later told her that the boy was dead and threatened to kill her if she does not keep quiet about it.
Ojo had in 2003 been arrested as part of several raids on human trafficking in London. Police had the year before discovered that he was one of two contacts on Osagiede’s phone after her arrest in Glasgow. Detectives also found items associated with Nigerian rituals. But there was nothing to link Ojo directly to Adam’s murder, and so he was released on bail before he was later sentenced for human trafficking.
After he was released, he offered to assist the team in investigating Adam’s death. He fed the team information while awaiting deportation in 2005. After two years, he was deported back to Nigeria after detectives realized they could not rely on him. He has since been denying any connection to Adam’s death.
Osiagede during her interview with ITV also still denied any involvement with the death of the young boy. And when asked who killed him, she said a “group of people”, adding that “the group used him for a ritual in the water. Experts analyzed a substance in the boy’s stomach at the time and identified it as a “black magic” potion. The substance included tiny clay pellets that contained small particles of pure gold and based on this, it was believed that Adam was the victim of a Muti ritual killing.
Muti killing, usually found in southern Africa, is when a victim’s body parts are removed and used by witchdoctors as “medicine” for a client who for instance wants good luck or wants to succeed in business, BBC reported. But other experts believed Adam’s murder was more likely a human sacrifice, suggesting that the killing was an offering to the goddess Oshun, a deity usually associated with water and fertility, the report by BBC said.
Pollen samples found in Adam’s gut showed he had been living in the south-east of England “for only a matter of days or weeks before his death”, the report added. Before Osiagede’s death in 2020, she told BBC that Adam was called Patrick Erhabor. Today, the investigation has become a “cold case”. According to BBC, it is the longest unsolved child murder case in the recent history of the Met Police.