Twenty years on police renew appeal to solve ‘Torso in the Thames’ murder

Katherine Johnston (21 September, 2021)

The mutilated body of five or six-year-old 'Adam' was found floating in the Thames in 2001 near Tower Bridge


Twenty years after the torso of a young boy was found in the Thames, police are renewing their appeal for information that could help identify the victim and solve the cold case.

In two decades little progress has been made in the distressing case, which made headlines around the world, and is now the longest unsolved child murder case in the history of the Met.

The body, which had been severed of its head and limbs and was wearing a pair of orange shorts, was found in the river near Tower Bridge by a member of the public on Friday, September 21, 2001, at 4pm. 

Named ‘Adam’ by officers, the boy has never been identified. Forensics revealed he would have been just five or six years old at the time of his death, and hailed from Nigeria. It is believed he had been trafficked into the UK, possibly through Germany. 

The cause of death was later declared as a result of violent trauma to the neck. A leading theory is that he may have been murdered in a ritualistic killing.

In the twenty years since the shocking discovery, police have regularly reviewed the case including making use of new forensic technologies. 

The inquiry has also included comprehensive checks on all UK missing people and extensive inquiries in London, other parts of the UK and abroad, including South Africa, Holland, Germany and Nigeria.

Despite these efforts and numerous high-profile appeals over the years, including an appeal by Nelson Mandela to all the African communities across the world to help police, the case remains unsolved. 

Detective Chief Inspector Kate Kieran, a homicide detective from the Met’s specialist crime command, said: “It is incredibly sad and frustrating that Adam’s murder remains unsolved.

“The homicide command have been working tirelessly over the years to find out who is responsible.

“We recognise people may not have wanted to speak up at the time and may have felt loyal to the person or people involved in this.

“However, over the past 20 years, allegiances and relationships may have changed and some people may now feel more comfortable talking to us. 

“We implore them to be bold and come forward if they know something so that we can finally deliver justice once and for all.

“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.”

A series of arrests in connection with the case have proved fruitless. They include a woman arrested on suspicion of murder who was bailed and released with no further action, and two men – both of whom were arrested on suspicion of trafficking and later released with no further action.

Anyone with information should call 1010 or, to remain anonymous, 0800 555 111.


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