On the afternoon of Friday September 21, 2001, passers-by spotted an brightly-coloured object floating in the water past the Tower of London and under Tower Bridge.
It was recovered by the Metropolitan Police near the Globe Theatre and found to be the body of an African boy, aged five or six. His head and limbs had been severed from his body and he was still wearing a pair of orange shorts.
The boy was later named Adam, after police were unable to identify him.
Detectives said they believed he was the victim of a ritual murder and had been paralysed with an extract from the carabar bean. A £50,000 reward was offered for information leading to a conviction.
In April 2002 an international appeal was made by apartheid campaigner and former South African President Nelson Mandela.
Police arrested Nigerian Joyce Osiagede in Glasgow in 2002 and found clothing similar to that found on Adam in her tower block flat. She was later deported.
One of her Nigerian associates, Kingsley Ojo, was also arrested and later charged with people trafficking. Police found a video of mock-up ritual killings and a rat’s skull, thought to be a voodoo talisman, but said there was no evidence linking him to the death of Adam. He was jailed for four years and six months in July 2004 and was deported in 2008.
In March 2011, London Tonight broadcast an interview with Ms Osiagede in which she claimed that the boy’s name was a six year-old boy called Ikpomwosa. She said she had looked after him for a year in Germany before handing him to a man named ‘Bawa’.
Then in February 2013 Ms Osiagede told the BBC the boy’s name was in fact Patrick Erhabor and ‘Bawa’ was Kingsley Ojo, the convicted people smuggler.
The case remains unsolved and Adam’s true identity remains unknown despite regular reviews of the evidence.
A new appeal for information was made in September 2021.
DCI 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 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.”
To provide information, call police on 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
‘Adam’ has an entry in Wikipedia with links to articles and videos related to the case.
See also the London Tonight interview with Joyce Osiagede and the reporter’s account of the investigation in the Daily Mail ‘Voodoo and human sacrifice: The haunting story of how Adam, the Torso in the Thames boy, was finally identified‘. The BBC story ‘Torso case boy identified’ was published on 7 February 2013.