Murder, while thankfully relatively rare in modern Britain, still highlights the extremes of human behaviour. And at the outermost edges of human behaviour is the willingness to kill a child. Most such killings take place within a family unit due to terrifying internal pressures - and outside of this are the outliers of child murder committed by the likes of Brady and Hindley. But the case of 'Adam' fits neither of these categorisation - apparently belonging to a category of crime otherwise unknown in Britain: ritual human sacrifice.
On September 21st, 2001, a pedestrian crossing London Bridge noticed something floating in the mud-coloured waters of the Thames. As it passed under the bridge, they realised that it was the body of a small boy and the police were called.
The body was recovered by the Metropolitan Police's marine search unit and was discovered to be that of a small black boy - aged between 5 and 7 - naked except for a pair of orange shorts. The body had been beheaded and the arms and legs removed. In the absence of any identification, he was dubbed 'Adam' by the police and media.
Circumstances surrounding the murder led police to conclude that the boy had been the victim of human sacrifice. His stomach was found to have contained traces of carabar bean - a poisonous plant native to tropical Africa. It is likely that the effect of the plant would have left him paralysed but conscious when his throat was cut.
Forensic analysis of his remains identified the boy as a native of Nigeria and established that he had probably been in the UK for only a matter of days prior to his death. These circumstances taken together with the manner of his murder have led police to conclude that he was probably the victim of a ritual or 'muti' killing in which children are sacrificed for either 'medical' reasons or to bring success in love or business. Similar murders still occur (with thankfully increasing rarity) in parts of Africa, but this is the only known case to have been committed in the UK.
In 2011, a Nigerian woman came forward to identify the body as that of "Ikpomwosa" - a 6 year old Nigerian boy who she had cared for for a time in Belgium before handing him over to a man intending to take him to London. While police declared her testimony a 'breakthrough' but as of September 2012 no-one has been brought to justice for the killing.