Published: March 18, 2019 – Updated 12:56, March 21, 2019
By: Tilly Gambarotto MyLondon
In September 2001 the police found the torso of a young boy floating in the River Thames close to Southwark Bridge.
The little body, belonging to a boy between 4 and 7 years old, was spotted by a passer-by, who noticed him because of his bright orange shorts.
Police named him ‘Adam’.
Adam’s legs, arms and head had been expertly removed with extremely sharp knives as part of a suspected West African ritual sacrifice.
Poisoned and paralysed beforehand, his body had been drained of blood, and his intestines were found to contain a concoction of strange plant extracts.
It would be more than 10 years before the Metropolitan Police would find out the little boy’s real name, and the sorry story that led to his tragic death in London.
In the months after the discovery of Adam’s body, forensic teams traced the plant extracts back to West Africa, most likely Nigeria.
To confuse things even more, his shorts could only have been bought in Germany or Austria.
Detectives travelled to West Africa to find out more about black magic, or ‘muti’, as it is called there.
‘Muti murders’ are committed for the purpose of using human body parts to make medicine or bring food luck, with the body parts of children or albinos considered particularly effective.
Police concluded the dark tradition of ‘muti’ had happened in their own city.
Several suspects were linked to the killing, with police uncovering what they believed to be a trafficking network bringing children from Africa to the UK.
Although there were arrests made for trafficking, the police were none the wiser about who had committed the horrific crime.
One woman, Joyce Osagiede, was arrested in Glasgow after a raid on her home led police to find a similar pair of orange shorts.
She was later deported to Nigeria and never charged with the murder.
In 2005, Adam was buried in an unmarked grave in Southwark cemetery. Only those involved in the investigation were present.
The case had gone cold, and for years it was believed that the Thames torso would never be identified.
In 2011, an ITV journalist tracked down Joyce Osagiede in Nigeria. She was suffering from very poor mental health, but was able to reveal that she had known the little boy, whose real name was Ikponmwosa.
The little 6-year-old had, she claimed, spent time living with her while she was in Germany. She had then passed the boy onto a man she called ‘Bawa’.
When Joyce travelled to London a month later, she was told that Ikponmwosa was dead.
Asked if the boy in a photograph she showed the journalist was Adam, she replied ‘yes’.
“They used him for a ritual in the water,” she said in the interview shown on ITV’s London Tonight.
Although it appeared to be a massive breakthrough in the case, police were reluctant to believe Joyce, who was heavily medicated at the time of the interview.
And their suspicions had been right. Just one year later, Joyce gave an interview with BBC, in which she called the boy Patrick Erhabor.
Her previous identification of him as Ikponmwosa had just been a “misunderstanding”, she said.
And the man she had passed him onto was actually Kingsley Ojo, who was arrested for trafficking in 2004 but never formally linked to the murder of Adam.Adam’s killer still walks free. And his origins are likely to remain a complete mystery.
BBC journalists traced the boy shown in the photograph to discover he was actually ‘Danny’, now an adult in Hamburg and the son of a former friend of Joyce’s.
Will O’Reilly, who led Adam’s inquiry, said: “In West Africa, there are several reasons for human sacrifices – for power, money, or to protect a criminal enterprise. We believe the prime motive for the murder was to bring good fortune. We suspect Adam was killed to bring traffickers luck.
“While the sacrifice hardly bought any luck to the ring, it did not overly harm those at the top either.”