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A mysterious death


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  • Elders (Admins)

The body of a man was found in a rural part of England last December. The area is mostly wind-swept moors, with some sheep grazing, but is popular with walkers and hikers and has a number of trails. He was discovered lying on his back, with his arms by his side, on a track overlooking Saddleworth Moor.

He had £130 ($185) in cash, train tickets (all one-way) dated the day before he was found, but had no ID. Police used the train tickets to find out where the man had been the day before and found that he had travelled from London to Manchester, then on to a small town near where he died. He went into a pub, and the publican remembered the man having a “northern” accent, but not from that area. The man asked how to get to the peak of Saddleworth Moor. He was given directions, but was told that he wasn’t equipped appropriately – he was smartly dressed, but wearing slip-on shoes and had no backpack.

Neither the initial investigation nor the initial post-mortem gave any clues as to how he died. But did establish that he was a white male, between the ages of 65 and 75.

Meanwhile, the police went through CCTV images, especially those at the various train stations, which were reasonably clear, and gave those to the media. But no-one came forward to identify him.

Eventually, the toxicology came through. He had traces of strychnine in his body. Police also revealed that he had an empty container labelled thyroxine sodium, which is used to treat an underactive thyroid, though there were no indications that he had taken an overdose of that drug.

The police reported that the man had undergone surgery to his left femur and they have identified the plate used in that surgery as being fitted in Pakistan between 2001 and 2005. Surgical implants usually have a manufacturer’s code, and often there’s an individual code for each implant. But tying one particular implant to an individual patient requires meticulous records and, if the hospital isn’t known, it will take a long time to find out which hospital and then which patient.

The police have said that that the man was observed on CCTV at Euston Station in London, “pacing up and down”. I wonder if that’s when he had got to the point of no return; that he had disposed of all belongings, relinquished his home, divested himself of everything that could identify him, and was just impatiently waiting for the train to take him on his last journey.

The area that he went to had two possible significances. One was a crash of a small aircraft, and there was speculation that he was the last survivor of that, but that turned out not to be the case. The other was that Saddleworth Moor was where the serial killers known as the “Moors Murderers” had buried their victims (one child has never been found). But it’s equally possible that he had no connection with any horrors that had happened in that place – it might just have been a happy place that he remembered from his childhood.

The authorities will not likely be able to ascertain the “why” if they can’t identify the “who”. Neither fingerprints nor DNA have provided any results from the UK national databases. I don’t know if the police have enquired further to Interpol.

It’s very strange that no-one has come forward. If he was living here in the UK, then he would have had to be living somewhere, which could have been in his own house or in rented property or a hotel, in which case someone surely would have identified him by now.

Alternatively, he could have been living in Pakistan all those years and decided to come back to the UK to die here. Yet there’s no report that he was suffering from a terminal disease – though the police might not have released the full autopsy report. And without an identification, no will/probate can be applied for, yet he seems to have been a well-nourished, middle-class man, so presumably would have had some property, even if just personal/family items, that would normally be passed to the next generation.

It’s a very sad mystery.

Libby

"Humans need fantasy to be human. To be the place where the falling angel meets the rising ape." Terry Pratchett

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I agree, a very sad mystery, and one of those stories that will probably always remain a mystery.  Kind of like the "Unknown Soldier," no record to be found anywhere.  He could have destroyed every thing that had anything to do with him, but my question is, why can't they figure out what he died of?

DarleneSignaturePic1.jpg

"Time is too slow for those who wait; too swift for those who fear;

too long for  those who grieve; too short for those who rejoice.

But for those who love, time is eternity."

(Jane Fellowes)

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  • Elders (Admins)

The strychnine poisoning is odd. Rat poison containing strychnine has been banned in the UK since 2006. He could have obtained it from abroad, I guess. I've found another news report that says the empty bottle of thyroxine sodium had some Arabic writing on it. I had wondered where the packaging for the rat poison was, but maybe it was in that bottle, which would make sense if he had recently come through customs.

Apparently, death from strychnine poisoning isn't pleasant, and victims tend to thrash around quite a lot; yet his body apparently looked as though he'd arranged himself as though going to sleep.

It's all very weird. I do reckon the police are keeping some info back, and I don't blame them for that. After all, they can't yet know for sure that all they're dealing with is a very strange suicide.

 

Libby

"Humans need fantasy to be human. To be the place where the falling angel meets the rising ape." Terry Pratchett

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20 hours ago, Libby said:

The strychnine poisoning is odd. Rat poison containing strychnine has been banned in the UK since 2006. He could have obtained it from abroad, I guess. I've found another news report that says the empty bottle of thyroxine sodium had some Arabic writing on it. I had wondered where the packaging for the rat poison was, but maybe it was in that bottle, which would make sense if he had recently come through customs.

Apparently, death from strychnine poisoning isn't pleasant, and victims tend to thrash around quite a lot; yet his body apparently looked as though he'd arranged himself as though going to sleep.

It's all very weird. I do reckon the police are keeping some info back, and I don't blame them for that. After all, they can't yet know for sure that all they're dealing with is a very strange suicide.

 

IF it's a suicide.  and yes, I have no doubts that there are keeping some info from the general public and why it could be foul play.

DarleneSignaturePic1.jpg

"Time is too slow for those who wait; too swift for those who fear;

too long for  those who grieve; too short for those who rejoice.

But for those who love, time is eternity."

(Jane Fellowes)

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He went with intent, purpose, and he wore his best clothing shined shoes even.  He was no dressed for a hike, but rather for church, or his own funeral. I am thinking, maybe he returned to ancestral lands, the last of his family perhaps.  HIs loneliness got the better of him.

"I smell blood and an era of prominent madmen"

W. H. Auden
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  • Elders (Admins)

An update: The man has been identified, but I won’t write his full name here, except to say that his name was David, aged 67. He had lived for decades in London, but sold his house and moved to Pakistan about 10 years ago. When he lived in London, he kept himself to himself; according to one news source, a neighbour said she never saw anyone visiting him.

Police kept following up on the link to Pakistan from the metal plate in his leg. Of course, they didn’t have a name, so they couldn’t just put something into a database. They trawled through loads of passenger lists, checking likely persons (sex, age), on flights from Pakistan to the UK. Then trying to match the artist’s impression with photos of those passengers. If he had a UK passport, his photo would have been on the UK Passport database, but I don’t know if that database has the capacity to match on photos, rather than just on names. They only recently discovered that he had arrived at Heathrow airport two days before he died.

Once they had his name, they could trace his former address, and his family. His identity was confirmed with a DNA match with a relative.

But there’s obviously still a mystery. Why didn’t his family come forward, given the massive publicity? Why are the police requesting that his family be left to grieve their loss, when it looks like they weren’t much in contact with him, if at all? Why did he choose Saddleworth Moor to commit suicide when the police have said he appears to have had no obvious connection to that place. Indeed, why did he come back to the UK just to die, when he could have done so in Pakistan?

He obviously didn’t want to be identified, hence no documents/phone being found in his possession. So he must have ditched all those, including his passport, somewhere between leaving Heathrow and when he was picked up on CCTV.

An inquest was opened today, for the purposes of official identification of the body, plus some brief reports from the police. The inquest has been adjourned for a full inquest in March where more details might be revealed.

Even with his name known, and something of his history, it still is something of a mystery, and may well continue to be so.

Libby

"Humans need fantasy to be human. To be the place where the falling angel meets the rising ape." Terry Pratchett

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Yes Libby, is it a mystery, and probably one that won't ever get solved, because to me, the answers died with him.  I just wonder that, if he didn't want to be identified, then why not die where your body might not be found, in the woods somewhere, and then eaten by an animal.  Unless he was hiding and didn't want to die, but could have been murdered instead, and then stripped of all identification.  Definitely a strange, mysterious case.

DarleneSignaturePic1.jpg

"Time is too slow for those who wait; too swift for those who fear;

too long for  those who grieve; too short for those who rejoice.

But for those who love, time is eternity."

(Jane Fellowes)

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