British Explorer Percy Fawcett and the Ancient Lost City of Z

Percy Fawcett with an Olmec (?) statue.

Percy Fawcett with an Olmec (?) statue.

Colonel Percy Fawcett was one of the most famous British explorers of his day, a friend of writers Arthur Conan Doyle and H. Rider Haggard. He had a strong interest in Atlantis and the occult, and after years of exploring South America, speculated that the ruins of a lost ancient city called Z laid somewhere in the unmapped territory of the Amazon.

Fawcett believed the city was built by an advanced civilization, once writing to his son Brian that he expected “the ruins to be monolithic in character, more ancient than the oldest Egyptian discoveries. Judging by inscriptions found in many parts of Brazil, the inhabitants used an alphabetical writing allied to many ancient European and Asian scripts.” He even heard rumors that a strange source of light would illuminate the insides of the buildings, “a phenomenon that filled with terror the Indians who claimed to have seen it.”

After two previous expeditions in the early 1920s that ended in failure, Fawcett set out for a third expedition with his 21-year-old son Jack and Jack’s friend Raleigh Rimell in 1925. Fawcett suspected that Z was located somewhere in the jungles of Mato Grosso, a little-explored region full of dangerous insects, unfriendly Indian tribes, and piranha-infested rivers.

Jack Fawcett and Raleigh Rimmell.

Jack Fawcett and Raleigh Rimmell.

By May 29th, about 5 weeks into the expedition, Fawcett and his two young companions arrived at the outpost where Fawcett had left off in his last search. He gave their native guides a letter written for his wife, and then dismissed them back to the state capital of Cuiaba. 2 years passed without anybody hearing from the team again, and some began to fear that they were dead.

The Royal Geographical Society’s George Miller Dyott organized an expedition to find the Fawcett party in 1928, but they came up with nothing. There were rumors that the trio was still alive, either the captives of hostile Indians or volunteers who had given up civilization and gone native. In the 90 years that have passed since their disappearance, over 100 people have been killed trying to look for them.

Another picture of Percy Fawcett.

Another picture of Percy Fawcett.

Missionaries in the early 1930s reported hearing stories about a tall, blue-eyed white man in the area who was forced to marry an Indian chief’s daughter. There were also sightings of a white baby boy said to be the son of either Fawcett or Jack. Fawcett’s wife believed that the men were still alive, and claimed to have received a psychic message from her husband in 1934. Psychic Geraldine Cummins also reported receiving a telepathic message from Fawcett in 1936, and received four more communications until 1948, when he told her that he was dead. Further venturing into inanity, some people in the theosophist and flying saucer communities believed that Fawcett really did find Z, which was actually a subterranean city full of UFOs and beautiful red-haired people.

These bones were said to be the remains of Percy Fawcett, but later investigation showed that they belonged to a Kalapalos Indian.

These bones were said to be the remains of Percy Fawcett, but later investigation showed that they belonged to a Kalapalos Indian.

Moving onto more “plausible” rumors, there were also stories of Fawcett being killed. One man in 1949 claimed that Fawcett and Rimmell were dead, and he had seen their shrunken heads. Author Harold Wilkins in 1952 heard that another man was shown Fawcett’s shrunken head by an Indian chief. The same year, Brazilian indigenous activist Orlando Vilas Boaz reported that the party was killed by the Kalapalo Indians. He discovered some bones in the area, but later examination showed that the remains weren’t Fawcett. Another theory suggests that Fawcett intentionally went missing so he could establish a remote theosophist-influenced commune.

Fawcett’s son Brian made several trips to Brazil in the 1950s to search for his father and brother himself, but he was unable to find any more information about what happened to them.

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The “Death to Pedophiles” Skull

Antibes, France.

Antibes, France.

On February 10, 2012, a professional diver looking for sea urchins off the resort of Antibes in southeastern France found something far grislier: a human skull. The skull, which was discovered on a seabed that was 10 meters (32 feet) deep into the water, had the words “Death to pedophiles” drawn on it, along with the scribbling of a shooting target.

The diver called the police, and several more dives in the area turned up a pair of arm bones, a leg bone, and part of a jawbone. Forensic tests determined that the bones had belonged to four different people, two men and two women. The skull was estimated to have been that of a 50-year-old man, and the rest of the bones, which were difficult to examine, might have come from people under the age of 30. It’s possible that the bones had been underwater for over a decade.

The upper arm bone discovered.

One of the discovered arm bones.

Authorities have launched an inquiry into cases of murder, kidnapping, imprisoning, and taking and receiving corpses. It’s believed that the bones belonged to the victims of a serial killer. Stephane Bourgoin, a criminologist and expert on serial killers, has suggested that the murderer lives in the area or knows it well.

Stephane Hirson.

Stephane Hirson.

Through further DNA tests, one of the arm bones was eventually identified as belonging to Stephane Hirson, a 17-year-old teenager from Paris who went missing shortly before his 18th birthday in February 1994. Hirson, who suffered from mental problems and had spent time in a psychiatric hospital, left his house without any money or personal belongings.

Some family members, however, were skeptical. One relative said in an interview with French radio that Hirson had no reason to be in southern France, and he had earlier told his mother that he was planning to go to Spain. Another DNA test was conducted, this time from the young man’s father, and the results determined that the bone wasn’t Hirson’s after all.

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The Drummond Family Murder Mystery

Sir Jack Drummond and his wife and daughter.

Sir Jack Drummond and his wife and daughter.

Sir Jack Drummond was a notable British biochemist known for his research on vitamins and nutrition. During World War II, Drummond served the British government’s Ministry of Food, and helped design the rationing diet the government implemented during the time. After the war, he stopped working for the government and became the Director of Research at the Boots pharmaceutical company.

In July 1952, Drummond, his wife Ann, and their 10-year-old daughter Elizabeth went on a family holiday on the French Riviera. On the night of August 4th, they camped out by the banks of the Durance river in Provençal, a region in southern France. The following morning, Gustave Dominici, a son of the nearest family that lived in the area, discovered Elizabeth’s body near the river. Her skull had been battered in by a rifle butt. Drummond and his wife’s bodies were found near-by. They had been shot, but as their autopsies would show, by two different weapons. Parts of one of the guns used to kill them was found in the river. It was identified as a Rock-Ola M1 Carbine, a model popular with the American military. Gustave alerted a cyclist passing by, and police arrived on the scene about a half-hour later.

Gustav and his family gave conflicting reports about their contact with the Drummonds the night before. They said they heard gunshots around 1 AM, but assumed they had come from poachers. After a relative reported to the police that he saw Ann and Elizabeth at the Dominici farm the night before their murder, the family’s story fell into further doubt. After being questioned again, Gustave and his brother Clovis admitted that their father, Gaston, killed the Drummonds. Gaston, a frail 75-year-old illiterate farmer who used a walking stick to get around, eventually confessed to the crime. He said that he and Ann had been caught having sex by Sir Drummond, and in a panic shot them both. He then found Elizabeth and beat her to death as she tried running away.

Despite retracting his statement later on, claiming he only confessed to try to protect his family, Gaston was found guilty and sentenced to death. A great protest was made over his conviction, and he was eventually pardoned and released by President Charles De Gaulle in 1960.

Gaston’s absurd confession got a number of things wrong about the crime scene. He was very likely innocent, and his family continues fighting to this day to clear his name. They point out that the rifle found in the river wasn’t Gaston’s, and he had no idea how to use one. Secondly, other locals who passed by the area that night the Drummonds went camping reported seeing several men near the their car, none of whom resembled Sir Jack or Gaston and his sons. Lastly, Drummond’s camera was missing, and has never been found.

Gaston’s grandson, Alain, believes the Drummonds were killed by KGB agents. Investigator Raymond Badin finds this idea credible as well, believing Drummond was on an espionage mission for the British secret services. “The Dominicis’ strange behaviour indicates they knew a lot more about the crime than they ever let on,” Badin told The Guardian in July 2002, ‘But they were not guilty of the murders. I think they plainly got caught up in something far bigger than themselves.’

Sources:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/local/nottingham/hi/people_and_places/newsid_9402000/9402414.stm

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2002/jul/29/humanities.artsandhumanities

http://www.crime-mystery.info/crime-stories/murder_of_sir_jack_drummond/the_missing_pieces

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The Inokashira Park Dismemberment Incident

Inokashira Park

Inokashira Park

Today we’ll be talking about one of Japan’s many incidents of “barabara satsujin” (scattered murder) , a method of killing so seemingly popular in the country that it has its very own page on the Japanese Wikipedia.

On April 23, 1994, a cleaning staff member of Tokyo’s Inokashira Park found a garbage bag in the park’s trash can. She thought the bag contained raw fish, but when her colleagues opened it to see what was inside, they found a human ankle. The police were called in, and the bag was found to contain a total of 24 pieces of human flesh, including two feet, two hands, and a shoulder. At an autopsy conducted at Kyorin University Hospital, the cause of death was deemed unknown. The parts had been completely drained of blood, and to make the case even weirder, each piece was cut exactly to the length of 20 centimeters (about 7.8 inches). Although a third of the body was never found, including the head, the pieces were identified three days later as belonging to a 35-year-old architect named Seiichi Kawamura.

Kawamura lived less than a mile from the park, and was last seen on April 21st. He ate dinner with his family that evening, and afterward went out to karaoke with an old coworker. He left his friend around 11 PM, but never returned home. His family reported him missing the next day.

Despite police questioning some 37,000 people, the case has never been solved. There were reports of two suspicious men walking in the park and carrying a plastic bag around 4 am on the day Kawamura’s body was discovered, but they have never been identified. Other witnesses said that they heard the sound of a car colliding with something in the very early hours of the 22nd. It’s been suggested that Kawamura was struck by a car, and that his killers cut him up to get rid of the body. One popular rumor even claimed that Kawamura had been a member of a religious cult, and was brutally murdered after trying to leave it.

Whether the murder was the attempt to hide a tragic accident, or the work of a deranged surgeon, perhaps we’ll never know. Prior to 2010, Japan had a statue of limitations on murder for fifteen years. Unfortunately, the case missed the country’s abolition of the limitation by only a year.

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Sources:

http://fumibako.com/kowai/story/case/27.html

http://yabusaka.moo.jp/inokasirabarabara.htm