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Arrests in 'Adam' Torso Case

Police are 'tantalizingly close' to breakthrough in Thames torso murder

August 24, 2003 -- Detectives investigating the voodoo killing of "Adam", the boy whose decapitated and limbless torso was found floating in the Thames two years ago, believe that they are "tantalizingly close" to charging someone in connection with his murder. The victim, called 'Adam' by officers after he was found floating in the river near Tower Bridge in September 2001, was between age four and six. Thirteen days later, a bundle of seven candles wrapped in a sheet with someone's name written on it is retrieved from the Thames.

This lead goes nowhere for Commander Baker and Detective Inspector O'Reilly (the case's two leading officers) but it does result in them heading to Africa to further investigate ritual murder. Police suspect that he was a victim of ritual killing after being brought over from Nigeria. Detectives think Adam was aged between four and six, and was alive when he arrived in London.

Officers with the Metropolitan Police serious crime group say that recent developments have left them hopeful they can bring a charge of conspiracy to murder against one of the people they say helped bring the boy into Britain. "We have almost got our fingers on this person," a senior detective said last week. "There is a lot of circumstantial evidence against this individual and we are almost in a position to issue charges."

The development comes as The Telegraph today publishes the first pictures of Joyce Osagiede, the Nigerian woman police believe could hold the key to the murder of the boy. In a potential blow to British detectives, however, Ms Osagiede has now disappeared from her family's one-story tin-roofed home in Benin City, where she had been living since her deportation as a bogus asylum seeker from Britain last November.

Officers traveled to the African country after forensic tests showed he was from the area around Benin City. All of the people arrested in July were from the same part of Nigeria and police compared their DNA with Adam's to see if any are related to him. Painstaking forensic tests of Adam's bones, skin, and gut contents revealed he grew up somewhere in West Africa and his recent diet had included a 'ritual potion.' The 'potion' consisted of animal bone, quartz, and clay with traces of gold, The dead boy, whose throat had been slit, had lived most of his life in or near Benin City in Nigeria and was brought to London shortly before his horrific death. Detectives believe he was killed in some sort of gruesome "black magic" ceremony -- called Muti -- and his torso dumped in the Thames.

Police officers from Operation Maxim, the multi-agency unit tasked with targeting organized criminals who are in the UK illegally, arrested 21 people in raids across London in July. Nine addresses in east and southeast London were searched by nearly 200 Metropolitan Police officers, and ten men and eleven women were held by police. Most of those arrested were for immigration offences, identity fraud and passport forgery. A baby belonging to one of the women was also taken into care while the woman was being questioned.

Detective Inspector Will O'Reilly, leading the Adam inquiry, said: "We've uncovered what we believe is a criminal network concentrating on people trafficking. Police also said there was evidence of other children having been at the raided addresses. "We are convinced that we are on to a group, or individuals, that were involved in trafficking Adam into the country," O'Reilly said.

They are also trying to trace the witch doctor who brewed a potion containing bone fragments which the boy swallowed before he died. The fragments have been submitted to New York's medical examiner who will use techniques developed to identify September 11 victims.

"Interesting substances" found in the raids will also be compared with the potion found in Adam's intestines. Police think some of the items confiscated could be linked to rituals. Metropolitan Police Commander Andy Baker said: "Some of the items would raise a few eyebrows -- they look like some element of ritualism is involved." Among the items found was the skull of an animal which had a nail driven through it.

Police are also looking at their connection with a Nigerian man arrested in Dublin earlier this month in connection with the investigation. Sam Onogigovie, 37, was held under an extradition warrant issued by police in Germany, where he has been convicted of crimes linked to human trafficking. Detectives from Scotland Yard also questioned him about the murder of Adam.

Before being sent back to Nigeria, Joyce Osagiede was interviewed by detectives and admitted buying an identical pair of orange shorts to the ones found on Adam's torso. They are only available from Woolworth's in Germany, where she lived for 10 years before making her way to Britain, just a few weeks after the torso was found.

She claimed asylum, telling immigration officers she was fleeing her estranged husband, Sam Onojhighovie, who she claimed had been responsible for 10 ritual killings over a one-year period and was linked to a sinister Nigerian cult accused in the past of a voodoo slaying. Onojhighovie is currently in prison in Dublin awaiting extradition to Germany where he was convicted in his absence of people-trafficking and fraud and sentenced to seven years in jail.

Osagiede made the claims to immigration officials before her deportation from London to Nigeria last year that she and her husband had been setting up branches linked to a Nigerian cult known as 'One Love Family,' and that her husband was responsible for a series of black magic killings of the children of devotees. She also said that she and other female disciples were forced to undergo ritual circumcision. Her brother has since said that she told him that she made these claims only as a ruse to win asylum in Britain.

The Metropolitan Police had asked their Nigerian counterparts to keep track of Osagiede as she remains a key figure in their inquiries. The Telegraph established last week, however, that the Nigerian police no longer knew her whereabouts. Her brother, Victor Imade Agho, revealed that Ms Osagiede disappeared 18 days ago, after receiving a threatening visit from a woman from her estranged husband's home region, and believed to be a member of the same cult.

The cult's "living perfect master," a 55-year-old Nigerian who adopted the trappings of an Indian holy man and the title Satguru Maharajji after a visit to London in 1980, claims that he was aware of the allegations from media reports but dismissed them as "negative propaganda" and an attempt to "misrepresent the father of all creation". He was not sure whether Ms Osagiede or Onijhighovie were among his followers. "In any case," he added, "if someone reads The Sunday Telegraph and then commits armed robbery, is The Sunday Telegraph responsible for his crime?"

It is not the first time that the cult leader has faced claims that are at odds with his public calls for world peace. In 2000 he was acquitted of murdering a Ghanaian who had alleged that his sister was being held by the One Love Family against her will.

Then a Nigerian magazine published the account last year of a former devotee who claimed that the cult undertook a "blood initiation rite" in which five participants died. "In most cases, when somebody dies, they cut open his chest, remove the heart, the liver and the kidney," the man was quoted as saying. "They use it to prepare a concoction and people drink it during the initiations."

The Maharajji, who dismissed such claims as smears, told me that he and his followers were vegetarians so allegations that they devoured human organs were baseless. "It is natural that I should face some opposition when I bring the truth," he said. He claimed that Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, Krishna, Adam, Abraham, and John the Baptist were among earlier "divine masters" but that he was the first "living perfect master." He also claims that Nigeria is the "New Holy Land of the Universe" and his ashram at Ibadan, 80 miles north of Lagos, its highest spiritual center.

Agho said his sister had been driven to the point of a mental breakdown after reports about the case appeared in Nigerian newspapers three weeks ago, featuring the allegations she had made about her husband. "She kept repeating that she never said those things," said Agho. "She said that she had not seen Sam since he left her, but she was sure he would never have killed anyone."

Agho proudly displayed the family photo albums containing photographs of his sister, who is now 32, proudly posing next to a white Mercedes and a white Audi while standing outside a well-maintained apartment block, an indication that the couple enjoyed a comfortable life in Germany.

Agho said his sister disappeared after a visit from a woman called Mercy who said that people had telephoned her from London angered by her reported remarks. There were no witnesses to the exchange, but her relatives said Ms Osagiede spent the following night "weeping and hollering" and she disappeared the next day, apparently without taking a change of clothes with her. When her brother tried to report her missing to the local Nigerian police, they told him that she would probably come home soon.

Det. Insp. Will O'Reilly, in charge of the inquiry into Adam's death, thanked The Telegraph for informing him of her disappearance. He said: "We will investigate her whereabouts and we will contact the Nigerian authorities."

-- Edited and excerpted from the articles by Philip Sherwell in Benin City and Daniel Foggo for Telegraph UK, by Henry Everingham in SMH August 28, 2003, Telegraph UK August 31, 2003, and BBC NEWS:July 29, 2003

See "" for Ritualism Details

Previous related article in Criminal Minds Archive:

Ritual killings 'pushing double figures'

Investigation into Deaths of Four Children in One Family Over Five Years

August 29, 2003 Victoria, Australia -- At least three authorities were aware almost three years ago that multiple children had died in one family, but the Department of Human Services failed to respond. Documents show the coroner's office told the department about each death, asking if any of the children was known to protective services.

"We have checked the coroner's records and found that the form for some reason is not filled in," a department spokeswoman said. "It must have been some administrative error." They claim that they weren't told that all the children were from the same family until the fourth child had died.

The children died between December 1998 and April 2003, all before reaching the age of four. The homicide squad is investigating their deaths. Police said there was no "concrete evidence of criminal activity" surrounding the deaths, but stated "there is a need to ensure" there is no link between the latest death and the first three. The children and parents have not been named for legal reasons.

The State Coroner found that the first two deaths were caused by Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS); the third by a rare medical condition; and the fourth, which is still being investigated. Coroners Court records show that after a second child from the family died in 2000, a doctor from Geelong Hospital, a pathologist, and police each noted it was the family's second loss from sudden infant death syndrome.

After the second child's death at nine weeks in November 2000, a police report to the coroner said: "Both mother and father present and visibly upset. Second SIDS death to these parents. Baby taken by ambulance to Geelong Hospital and SIDS care workers notified."

The pathologist's report said the second SIDS death "raised the spectre of non-accidental" death, but said both could be the result of a cardiac abnormality. "This cannot be diagnosed at post-mortem but examination of the other siblings in this family, together with parents, would be justified to exclude the possibility."

It is not known whether the examinations were carried out.

After the third death in July last year, a police report to the coroner said: "(The family) has previously had two children who have died from SIDS-related illness." A pathologist's report also noted the family had suffered two SIDS deaths.

After the third death in the family last year -- a three-month-old boy who died from Klebsiella septicaemia -- documents from police and the pathologist again show that authorities were aware of multiple deaths in the family. The third child died during a supermarket shopping trip. Police told the coroner that the mother had been shopping with her three children when the infant started to cry. As she returned to the car, the baby stopped breathing, and despite the mother using CPR, he died.

The homicide squad is investigating links between the deaths. The coroner's office told the department about each death, asking if any of the children were known to protective services. But the department said it was not notified the children were from the same family until last April.

That was when the fourth child was found dead in her bedroom. The ambulance was called to the house the night before after being told she had fallen off the table, but an autopsy was reportedly unable to establish the cause of her death.

The department acted recently to remove the surviving eldest child, a seven-year-old boy, from the family home. A Childrens Court magistrate yesterday granted an interim accommodation order for the child to be extended to September 18.

The family yesterday released a statement, saying its overriding concern was that their son be left alone during the investigations.

Former Family Court judge John Fogarty yesterday said the Bracks Government had been repeatedly warned by welfare leaders and recent departmental reports that the system was failing to protect children.

Premier Steve Bracks yesterday asked police Chief Commissioner Christine Nixon, the coroner, and the Department of Human Services to inquire into the adequacy of the system for reporting child deaths and make recommendations on improving the child protection system, including reporting of deaths between agencies, by September 25. The inquiry will also examine the department's failure to respond to the coroner's queries about whether one child was known to child protective services. -- Edited and excerpted from full articles by Padraic Murphy, Ewin Hannan, and Caroline Milburn at The Age, The Herald Sun, The Bendigo Advertiser, The Age, and the Herald Sun

What Happens When a Child Dies

When a child dies unexpectedly, the first person of authority contacted by the family is usually a police officer or a doctor, who is obliged to report the death to the coroner. If the pathologist conducting the autopsy finds that the child has died of natural causes, a death certificate is completed and the matter ends.

But if the pathologist cannot find the cause of death or is suspicious about the circumstances of it, the coroner holds an inquiry.

The coroner usually investigates cases of suspected sudden infant death syndrome. If the coroner finds no individual has caused the death, the matter may end, but if the findings imply culpability, the findings are sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions. The DPP then decides if criminal charges should be laid.

If a child dies while involved with the state's child protection service, the Department of Human Services is obliged to investigate the service's handling of the case. The Victorian Child Death Review Committee in its annual report to Parliament then independently assesses each report. The committee recommends how to improve the child protection system.

The Age revealed this week that the system's front line - the investigation of child abuse - was struggling to deal with a record 37,926 notifications of suspected abuse last year. Some of the 32 children who died last year after being referred to child protection, had their cases closed when they were first reported to authorities, without further inquiry. -- The Age

Boy in Nagasaki Murder Case to Undergo Mental Checks

Judicial treatment of juvenile murderers varies by country, state

Page Contents:
  • Arrests in "Adam" Torso Case
  • Children Can Sue Over Abuse Claims
  • Takuma Sentenced to Death for Killing 8 Schoolchildren
  • Investigation into Deaths of Four Children in One Family Over Five Years
  • What Happens When a Child Dies
  • Drug-Addicted Parents Sentenced for Fatal Neglect of Baby
  • Teacher Charged With Torture of Student, 11
  • Boy in Nagasaki Murder Case to Undergo Mental Checks

Children Can Sue Over Abuse Claims

July 31, 2003 -- Children who are wrongly diagnosed as suffering from child abuse can sue doctors and social workers, the Court of Appeal has ruled. However, the judges ruled that the parents of those children have no right to sue.

Three families who say they suffered serious psychological distress when they were falsely accused of abuse brought the case. Both sides in the case are now hoping to go to the Lords.

As the law stands, doctors and social workers are under an obligation to report suspected cases of child abuse to the authorities. If they get it wrong though, those accused cannot generally sue them for the damage caused. But in the landmark case, the three couples wanted to change that.

In each case, the parents had been suspected of abusing their children. Only later, and in one case after the child was taken into care, were the allegations found to be groundless. They wanted to be able to sue health care workers for negligence.

In the first case, brought against East Berkshire Community Health NHS Trust, a mother claimed for the distress she said she suffered as a result of wrongly being accused of suffering from Munchausen's syndrome by proxy. In the second, brought against Dewsbury Health Care NHS Trust and Kirklees Metropolitan Council, a father and daughter claimed for psychiatric injury and financial loss resulting from allegations that the man might have abused his daughter.

The third appeal, brought against Oldham NHS Trust, involved a mother and father who claimed for psychological distress suffered after wrongful allegations of having inflicted injuries on their daughter. The allegations had led to them being separated from their child for nearly a year, the judges were told.

Campaigners believe it is vital that those falsely labeled abusers should be able to seek compensation. However, some doctors fear any such move could hinder child protection. The Medical Defense Union, which provides legal cover to doctors, said it was vital the ruling did not deter doctors from reporting suspected child abuse.

"This is a very sensitive area, and our members often face a difficult dilemma about whether their concerns are founded," said Dr Hugh Stewart, a medico-legal adviser at the MDU. "Our advice is that, if they have reason to believe that a child may be at risk of harm, they should report those concerns to the relevant authorities without delay." -- Edited from the full article at the BBC

Takuma Sentenced to Death for Killing 8 Schoolchildren

August 29, 2003 OSAKA -- The Osaka District Court on Thursday sentenced Mamoru Takuma, 39, to death for murdering eight children and injuring 13 others and two teachers in a stabbing rampage with a butcher's knife at an Osaka elementary school in June 2001.

Prior to handing down the ruling, Presiding judge Masayuki Kawaai ordered Takuma to be removed from the courtroom after he demanded to make a final statement. "Let me say something as I'll be sentenced to death anyway," Takuma said. The judge turned down his demand to speak and ordered him to leave, but Takuma made abusive remarks to bereaved families who witnessed the trial before being taken from the courtroom.

On June 8, 2001, in Ikeda City, west of Tokyo, Takuma went out and purchased a long-bladed kitchen knife. Armed with the knife, he walked into an elementary school and proceeded to stab 23 people -- 21 of them children. He stabbed 8 children to death -- 7 girls and one boy -- and thirteen other children and two teachers were also wounded.

Takuma pleaded guilty when his trial opened in December 2001. He has showed no regret for his actions, saying: "I could have killed more if it had been at a kindergarten."

The judge ruled Thursday that Takuma was mentally fit enough to face punishment although he had been a psychiatric patient formerly diagnosed with schizophrenia. In mental tests, experts concluded that Takuma suffers from a personality disorder, but not schizophrenia.

"He has a self-centered, very warped personality. But there is no influence of any mental illness and he had sufficient mental competency to be held responsible for the crime," the judge said. The judge said the two psychiatric evaluations that found Takuma to be mentally competent were "highly dependable."

"The defendant was fully aware of the illegality and gravity of his conduct," the judge said, describing the crime as "one of the most heinous and grave cases in Japan's criminal history." The judge said that Takuma carried out the murders as a means to divert his economic and social frustration.

Most of relatives of the killed children were in the court room for the sentencing. Two mothers, accompanied by a therapist, were allowed to watch the ruling through a television monitor in a separate room as they said they could not bear being in the room as the killer.

Takuma's lawyers said they would like to appeal against the death sentence after consulting with their client, but Takuma has reportedly told them that he would withdraw an appeal if they lodged one.

The premeditated attack shocked Japan, triggering calls for tighter security in schools. The crime led to legislation authorizing the creation of panels of judges and doctors to deal with people with mental disorders who commit serious crimes. -- Compiled from wire reports in Japan Today

Teacher Charged With Torture of Student, 11

July 7, 2003 Johannesburg SA -- A Mpumalanga primary school teacher, accused of torturing an "unruly" pupil, goes on trial this week on charges of attempted murder, abduction, and assault charges.

The teacher, Zandile Nkosi, allegedly called in grown men to help beat a confession out of the 11-year-old boy she suspected of stealing her handbag. The boy was inexplicably released from a jail cell by police into the hands of his alleged torturers.

Nkosi's trial in Nelspruit next week has attracted international attention, with the London-based human rights watchdog Amnesty International announcing it will monitor the case as a litmus test for human and rural rights in South Africa.

The prosecution contends that 42-year-old Nkosi called her husband and friends to help torture the boy. Nkosi has been charged along with three co-accused, her common-law husband Robert Ngubane, 31, and their two friends, Sam Ntsibande, 29, and Bongani Nkuna, 31. The four are all out on bail in the equivalent of $105 American dollars each.

Two local policemen, Sergeant Clement Magagula and Inspector Bhekifa Daniel Shobede, were also initially charged as accomplices after they allegedly allowed Nkosi and her co-accused to irregularly remove the child from a police cell where he was being held for questioning. Charges have been dropped against the police officers without explanation.

The pupil was repeatedly dunked headfirst into the Crocodile River. Molten plastic was systematically dripped all over his bare body and genitals. He was also repeatedly burnt with cigarettes. Shocked nurses who treated him said the boy is so badly injured he may never be able to father a child.

The boy, now 13, has been moved to a new school, but his principal says the teenager is unusually subdued and even his closest friends say he seldom smiles. The boy has nightmares, wets his bed, and shies away from strangers.

Mpumalanga's education department hauled Nkosi before an internal disciplinary committee shortly after the incident. She was found guilty of gross misconduct, dismissed from her job at Tiga Primary School in the village of Daantjie near Nelspruit, and has been struck from the provincial teachers' roll. She may face a prison term if found guilty on related criminal charges by the Nelspruit Regional Court next week.

The South African Democratic Teachers' Union (SADTU), a major teachers' union, believes the actions against Nkosi are overly harsh. SADTU's secretary, Shamba Mthembu, insists that since Nkosi is a mother herself and her own children are now suffering, she should have been allowed to keep her job.

"They should rather have tried to rehabilitate her. Rural teachers are under siege, working under incredible stress from unruly or undisciplined pupils, without any real institutional or psychological support from education authorities," said Mthembu.

"While we can't condone torture or violence against pupils, it is inevitable that teachers will eventually snap in this kind of environment," Mthembu said. "This incident is a symptom of a wider problem that will not go away until the authorities start addressing discipline in schools. There is a fire, and unless some one puts it out, it will consume the education system."

The Council for Educators, a professional body governing teachers, disagrees. Council director, Muavia Gallie, insisted there was no excuse for physically harming a child.

"There simply are absolutely no circumstances that excuse the abuse of learners. Teachers are adults, and in addition are guardians of children. Even if teachers feel unsupported by their employer, they can always appeal to their union, their school governing bodies, or even the community for help," said Gallie. "This kind of unprofessional [vigilantism] turns teachers into both the judge and jury -- a very dangerous situation."

Teachers are, however, increasingly resorting to the use of corporal punishment, which is banned, to keep their pupils obedient. The council's records indicate that 12 teachers have been found guilty of physical assault on pupils since 1999, while provincial government records indicate at least 10 rural Mpumalanga teachers have been dismissed in the past five years for beating misbehaving pupils.

More shocking perhaps is the conviction of 93 teachers for sexual misconduct with pupils since 1999.

All of the teachers involved in these incidents have been scrapped from the national teachers' roll, effectively preventing them from ever teaching again anywhere within the Commonwealth. Mpumalanga Education MEC, Craig Padayachee, has warned that even more severe action will be taken against any future offenders.

"Such unprofessional practices warrant drastic steps against the perpetrators. Corporal punishment is illegal, and there are clear guidelines on how to deal with misconduct by pupils. There is no excuse," Padayachee said. -- Edited and excerpted from the article by Zenzele Kuhlase in News24

Drug-Addicted Parents Sentenced for Fatal Neglect of Baby

August 13, 2003 NAGASAKI -- The Nagasaki District Court on Wednesday sentenced a drug-addicted couple to four and half years in prison each for neglecting their 3-month-old son and causing his death from malnutrition last December. Takashi Kumagae, 42, self-employed, and his wife Megumi, 34, neglected feeding the baby, partly because they were addicted to amphetamines, Presiding Judge Keizo Yamamoto said. They bought the drugs with money the woman earned through prostitution, the judge said. The baby, Takahiro, was born Sept 10 and died from pneumonia Dec 11 after being left unfed. -- Kyodo News in Japan Today

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