Torso case boy ‘identified’
A murdered African boy whose torso was found in the River Thames in 2001 and whose identity has remained a mystery has been named by a key witness.
The torso was discovered on the afternoon of Friday, 21 September 2001, as it floated past the Tower of London towards Tower Bridge in Central London. A passer-by crossing the bridge had noticed an orange object in the water, and realising 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.
His arms, legs and head had been expertly cut off.
No-one has been charged with the murder
Former Glasgow resident Joyce Osagiede, who now lives in Nigeria, told BBC News the boy’s name was Patrick Erhabor.
She claims she looked after him when she lived in Germany before he was trafficked into the UK.
Detectives – who named the boy “Adam” – believe he was murdered as part of a African ritual sacrifice.
Post mortem results, too grim to bear much repetition, reveal that he was still alive when his throat was cut; the West African poison that was found in his intestine is a paralysing agent, not an anaesthetic. There’s a very real chance that Adam would have seen what was coming.
Unable to move and unable to scream, Adam’s last sight on earth would have been of a man approaching him — and then the flash of a razor-sharp knife.
Adam’s body was found in the River Thames in London, close to the reconstruction of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, on September 21, 2001. The case, however, soon became known as ‘the torso in the Thames’ because when it was found, the body was without its legs, arms and head and had been entirely drained of its blood.
All that was left was the small trunk of a little black boy, its lower half clad in a pair of bright orange shorts. When it was first spotted in the river by a member of the public, he initially assumed he was looking at a barrel.
A sophisticated analysis of Adam’s bones for trace minerals that are absorbed from food and water revealed levels of strontium, copper and lead two-and-a-half times higher than would normally be expected in a child living in England.
Forensic tests showed he was from the Benin City area of Nigeria.
A tip-off led to Joyce Osagiede who, in 2002, was living in Glasgow.
Officers thought she was involved in some way, but due to a lack of evidence and doubts about her mental state she was deported to Nigeria.
But last year Ms Osagiede contacted BBC News and said she was now prepared to reveal everything she knew about the case.
A BBC team travelled to her home in Benin City in southern Nigeria, together with Nick Chalmers, a former detective who worked on the Adam investigation.
Ms Osagiede told the BBC she looked after the boy in the weeks before he was trafficked to London and then murdered.
For the first time she revealed what she claimed was his real name.
She said he was called Patrick Erhabor – and that his mother’s surname was Oghogho – and she claimed the child was brought to her when she lived in Germany.
The police team — led by Detective Constable Will O’Reilly and Commander Baker — soon knew three key things about Adam: his exact origin in Nigeria, that the orange shorts he was wearing were sold only in Germany and Austria, and that he had been killed in some sort of ritualistic way by someone convinced they would acquire power from such a barbaric act.