'We will not give up on him' - Police appeal over 'cold' case of unidentified boy whose torso was found in River Thames 20 years ago

·3-min read

Twenty years ago, the torso of a young boy was discovered in the River Thames - but his identity remains a mystery and no-one has ever been charged with his murder.

On 21 September 2001, at around 4pm, a passer-by made the gruesome discovery of the body near Tower Bridge in London.

Officers were called and the child's remains were recovered, but he has never been formally identified.

His head and limbs had been severed from his body, which was clothed in a pair of orange shorts.

Forensics revealed that the boy would have been five or six, and he was named Adam by police.

Examinations concluded he was from Nigeria and it is believed he was trafficked to the UK, possibly through Germany.

The cause of death was ruled to be violent trauma to the neck area.

Police believe it may have been a ritualistic killing, with detectives at the time fearing he was brought to London and killed as a human sacrifice.

Officers initially believed the boy was possibly the first person in the UK to die in a "muti killing of a kind known to have been practised in South Africa".

The killings are done by witch doctors who use the victim's body parts for black magic potions.

Police have regularly reviewed the case but their efforts have been unsuccessful.

Over the last 20 years, a woman was arrested on suspicion of murder, a man was arrested in connection with the possible trafficking of Adam, and another man was arrested and interviewed on suspicion of alleged trafficking offences.

All three were bailed and subsequently released without further action.

Detective Chief Inspector Kate Kieran, a murder detective from the Met's specialist crime command, said the fact the killing remains unsolved is "incredibly sad and frustrating".

"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", DCI Kieran said.

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

"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."

Police have conducted local and international enquiries and continue to look at forensic opportunities in light of new technology.

There have been numerous high-profile appeals over the years, including one by Nelson Mandela to all African communities across the world to help police with the investigation.

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

Despite this, the case remains unsolved and now police are calling on the public to come forward with any information that may help.

Anyone with information relating should contact police on 101, Tweet @MetCC or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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