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London murder 'human sacrifice'

The dismembered body was found near London's historic Tower Bridge
The dismembered body was found near London's historic Tower Bridge  

LONDON, England -- The body of a young boy found floating in London's River Thames was dismembered in a way that is consistent with a human sacrifice, an expert has said.

The torso of the boy, believed to be five to seven years old and of African origin, was found on September 21 near London's Tower Bridge. The body was in orange shorts and had been in the water for up to 10 days.

Police efforts to identify the boy, whom they call Adam, have failed, and on Tuesday they launched an appeal for help from the public.

A reward of $72,500 has been offered for information leading to conviction of Adam's killers.

Dr. Hendrik Scholtz, a South African expert in ritualistic murders who took part in a second autopsy of the boy, told a news conference on Tuesday that the body bore all the hallmarks of a ritualistic death.

He said human sacrifice would be staged by a few people seeking to obtain supernatural powers to be successful in something like business or politics.

"The person is sacrificed to awaken the supernatural force required to attain that goal," he said at the National Police Training Centre in Bramshill, southern England.

"It is my opinion that the nature of the discovery of the body, features of the external examination including the nature of the wounds, clothing and mechanism of death are consistent with those of a ritual homicide as practiced in Africa," Scholtz said.

The youngster's torso was spotted floating in the Thames by a man walking across Tower Bridge.

Police discovered seven half-burned candles wrapped in a white sheet washed up on the southern shore of the Thames. The name Adekoye Jo Fola Adeoye was written on the sheet and the name Fola Adeoye was inscribed on the candles.

Detective Inspector Will O'Reilly told the news conference that the name on the white sheet was common in Nigeria's Yoruba area, but so far they had not been able to trace anyone of that name in Britain.

Detectives have not positively linked the sheet and candles with the death. But they are now looking at whether the murder was part of a Yoruba or "muti" ritualistic murder. They also are considering a paedophile killing, a domestic death and other possibilities.

Scholtz explained that ritualistic murders in Africa have declined from about 30 a year a decade ago to three in the year 2000.

He said that the fingers, brain and skull of the victims were used as potions and medicines for those who wanted to awaken the supernatural forces.

He added that the victim was often a close associate or child of another family member who carried out the killing.

British police said they have been in close touch with detectives in Germany and Belgium, where there have been three similar cases involving the murder of children whose bodies were disposed of in running water.



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