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Tuesday, 29 January, 2002, 13:28 GMT
Thames torso 'was human sacrifice'
Police graphic of boy's torso
The boy was found wearing orange shorts
An expert in ritualistic murders has told a police conference that the dismembered body of a five-year-old boy had all the hallmarks of a ritualistic death.

South African pathologist Dr Hendrick Scholtz carried out a second post-mortem examination on the body, called Adam by detectives.

His findings were reported to detectives from across the UK at a conference held at the National Police Training College at Bramshill, Hampshire, to discuss whether the death was the first "muti" murder in the UK.

Muti killings are associated with African witch doctors who use body parts for medicines.

Dr Hendrick Scholtz
Dr Hendrick Scholtz carried out a second post-mortem

Dr Scholtz said a human sacrifice would take place when a small group of people needed to obtain supernatural powers to be successful in areas such as business or politics.

Speaking about Adam, he said: "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 practised in Africa."

Detectives investigating the death are now looking at the ritualistic aspect as a major line of their inquiry, but not the only one.

They are also looking at a paedophile killing, a stranger killing, a mercy killing or domestic death.

A graphic depicting the boy in the orange shorts he was wearing when the body was found, has also been released.

Sheet and candles

The youngster's torso was spotted floating in the Thames by a man walking across Tower Bridge on 21 September last year. It had been in the water for up to 10 days.

Police have revealed they found seven half-burned candles wrapped in a white sheet washed up on the southern shore of the Thames in London.

The investigating officer, Detective Inspector Will O'Reilly, said the name found on the white sheet was a common name in the Yoruba area of Nigeria.

However, the police have been unable to trace anyone with that name in the UK.

Mr O'Reilly explained that ritualistic murders in South Africa have declined from about 30, 10 years ago, to three in the year 2000.

A reward of 50,000 has been offered for information leading to the conviction of Adam's killer.

Police have also been liaising closely with detectives in Germany and Belgium where three similar cases have emerged, involving the murder of children whose bodies were disposed of in running water.

The BBC's Andy Tighe
"The victim's body was so mutilated, only his orange shorts identify him"
The BBC's Gillian Hargreaves
"Nothing like this has ever been reported in Britain before"

Click here to go to BBC London Online
See also:

25 Jan 02 | England
Ritual killing link to dead boy
21 Dec 01 | England
Torso murder reward offered
26 Sep 01 | England
Police seek torso cases link
24 Sep 01 | England
Police focus on Dutch torso 'link'
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