Torso in the Thames: Fresh appeal

The river Thames

Twenty years have passed since the torso of a young boy was found in the River Thames on 21 September 2001. The killer or killers remain at large, making this case the longest unsolved child murder in the recent history of the Metropolitan Police.

Police believe the boy was aged between four and seven years old and was murdered in a ritualistic killing, most likely as a human sacrifice. His throat was cut before his limbs and head were removed from his body. To this day the boy’s identity remains a mystery, he is simply known as ‘Adam’, a name bestowed upon him by the detectives working his case.

Tests on Adam’s gut suggested he’d only been in the UK for a matter of days or weeks, detectives believed he’d been trafficked into the country. DNA and bone samples pointed to West African ancestry, specifically to around Benin City in southern Nigeria. Although nothing but a pair of orange shorts was discovered on Adam’s body, the fact the shorts were sold in a small number of shops in Germany, provided detectives with an insight into Adam's journey from Africa through to the UK.

Local as well as international lines of inquiry have been followed over the past twenty years. Nelson Mandela even filmed a televised appeal in 2002 that was broadcast over the entire African continent, asking people to help police with the case and to find Adam’s family. Although arrests have been made, no one has ever been officially charged with Adam’s murder.

The lack of answers in this case still haunts retired detective Nick Chalmers, one of the police officers assigned to the original case. ‘This was an innocent young child. There are people responsible for his death who haven't been brought to justice.’

‘Twenty years on, I wish we knew the identity of Adam - and his parents. In reality, he is a missing child from a family, who probably don't know he's buried here in London.’

Now, the police have launched a fresh appeal in the hope of finally laying to rest one of the most shocking and gruesome crimes of the 21st century.

A Scotland Yard spokesperson said, ‘Twenty years after the torso of a young boy was found in the River Thames, detectives are calling on the public to come forward with any information that may help them solve his murder.’

‘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.’

‘Officers urge those who may have felt uncomfortable speaking to the police in the past to “be bold” and come forward.’

Detective Chief Inspector Kate Kieran of the Met’s Specialist Crime Command added, ‘No matter how old or small that information may seem, it really could make all the difference.’

‘This young boy has not and will not be forgotten. He deserved better and we will not give up on him.’

‘Detectives are continuing in their efforts to identify those responsible for this murder of a young child and ask anyone with information that could assist them to come forward.’

If you have any information relating to this case, contact the police on 101, Tweet @MetCC or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.