Human Sacrifice in London?

ByABC News
February 1, 2002, 11:35 PM

Feb. 4 -- The body discovered in the Thames River on Sept. 21 last year raised alarm bells from the start. It belonged to a boy, aged 5 to 7 years old, of Afro-Caribbean descent, and it was missing its head, arms and legs.

Two weeks later, police found 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.

The names are Nigerian, common to the Yoruba people, police experts said, but they have not been able to trace them to anyone in London's vast African expatriate community.

This month, a South African expert in ritualistic killings performed a second autopsy on the body of the boy, and pronounced what many people had feared.

The discovery of the body, the nature of the wounds, and the way the boy was killed "are consistent with those of a ritual homicide as practiced in Africa," said Dr. Hendrick Scholtz.

Using Up the Blood and the Bones

Police in the United Kingdom are now considering the possibility that they may be facing the first "muti" murder ever committed there.

"Muti" is a South African word that means traditional medicine in general, said Phillips Stevens, an anthropology professor at the State University of New York at Buffalo.

"But in a modern context, it has come to mean pagan or occult," he said.

Muti is medicine used to "bring about a result," but that result can be bettering one's health, or fortune, or prospects. It is always based on the idea of taking energy from another living thing for your own.

At times, the energies provided by herbs or animals are enough. But human beings are believed to have the most energy.

And children, it is believed, have the most powerful energy. "They have not been contaminated, they have not grown up and used it for adult purposes, so they have not been used up yet," Stevens said.

Authorities said the body found in the Thames had its head and limbs severed with a sharp knife, and they have not yet been found. Its first vertebra, valued by practitioners of muti, was also reportedly removed.