Some mysterious deaths have managed to become almost legendary beyond their own circumstances. These are the strange unsolved deaths that are orbited by various weird clues that have never been solved and which serve to propel them on into a whole other realm of bizarreness as the speculation and discussion goes on. One of the most talked about strange deaths that has managed to become firmly entrenched within UFO lore is that of a humble coal miner in England, who would turn up dead under some very strange circumstances and whose passing has managed to take on a life of its own to become one of the great unsolved mysteries out there.
Zigmund Jan Adamski was a Polish immigrant who in 1960 had moved to the quaint, small town of Tingley, near Wakefield in Yorkshire, England. A coal miner by trade, he had a rather simple life, and there was actually not that much that was particularly remarkable about him. He and his wife, Leokadia, were well-liked enough by their neighbors but other than the wife’s multiple sclerosis they were for the most part unassuming, that is until June 6, 1980, when Adamski would carve out a place for himself in the annals of strange unexplained disappearances and deaths. That day was the eve of his goddaughter’s wedding, and the family was full of good cheer, looking forward to the festivities the following day. It was in good spirits that at around 3:30 PM, Adamski went off to do some shopping for the next day’s lunch. As he made his way towards the market he passed some neighbors who would say that he seemed to be in a good mood, with nothing seeming to be odd. Yet this would be the last time anyone would see him alive.
When Adamski did not return that evening his wife saw it as strange, as the market was just a short walk away down the road, it had been a perfectly pleasant day, and her husband had not mentioned making any other stops or errands. As the minutes turned to hours, she finally contacted police to report him missing. It was soon found that he had indeed made it t the market in Wakefield and had bought his groceries, with the clerk saying he had seemed to be in a cheerful mood, but after that no seems to have seen him. A sweep of the area turned up no sign of him, no one had talked to him, and it looked as if he had just evaporated into thin air. He had been happily married and looking forward to his goddaughter’s wedding, so it didn’t seem as if he would just run off without warning, and although his health had deteriorated in recent years due to his heavy smoking he was still mostly able to get around, so it didn’t seem likely that he had just gone off somewhere to die. With no clues and no leads as to where he had gone, it was just assumed that he had wandered off and would come back. He never did, and it would not be until 5 days later that his fate would be revealed.
On June 11, 1980, a coal worker by the name of Trevor Parker was doing his rounds at Tomlin’s Coal Yard in the town of Todmorden, around 30 miles away from Tingley, when he saw something quite grim at the top of a 12-foot-high heap of coal. There, splayed out face up above, was the body of a dead man, and when police were notified it was soon ascertained that this was the missing Adamski. There were numerous strange clues immediately apparent when authorities arrived on the scene. Although he was well-dressed in a suit, his shirt was missing, as were his wallet and his watch, and his trousers and shoes seemed to have been put on very crudely, as if they had been taken off and then put back on by a child who didn’t know what they were doing, and the suit jacket was also oddly mis-buttoned. All of it was curiously lacking smears of coal dust, as if he had been carefully placed there. The wallet and watch might have been taken after death, but why would anyone take his shirt, or remove his trousers and shoes to put them back on again and how had he gotten up there?
There was also the positioning and condition of the body. It was lying face up on that formidable pile of coal, as if he had just tried to take a nap, yet there was no sign that anyone had climbed up or down it, the coal undisturbed. There was also no sign of physical injury, struggle, or foul play. Indeed, he was described by officers on the scene as looking peaceful, like “he’d just got into bed and was fast asleep.” The only marks that could be found on the body were a series of tiny burn marks on the back of his head, neck, and shoulders, as well as some minor scuffs on his palms, but it could not be determined what had caused these. Making those burns even stranger was that some sort of yellowish gel-like ointment had been slathered on them, but the coroner could not determine just what the ointment was. Adamski himself was found to have been well-fed when he had died, despite being missing for 5 days, and a call to hospitals of the area showed that he had not checked in anywhere. Nor was there any sign that he had been living like a tramp on the streets, as his clothes were impeccably pressed and as clean as the day he had left his home, and also he had only one day’s worth of beard growth. So where had he been? At the time, Police Constable Alan Godfrey pronounced that Adamski had died of a heart attack, but this did very little to answer the myriad questions surrounding the body. Where were his belongings, how did his body get to the top of that pile, what were the burns, and where had he been for the past 5 days?
A coroner examination could not conclusively find an exact cause of death, and was forced to go with the heart attack theory for lack of any evidence otherwise. All that could be determined for sure was that Adamski had likely died a day before his body had been found, and that the burn marks seemed to have been inflicted 2 days previously. Theories flew. It was surmised that he may have suffered some sort of shock after sustaining the mysterious burns, after which he had become disoriented and had climbed to the top of that coal pile to look around, finally dropping dead. Yet, there was no sign of anyone having climbed the pile, nothing to see there anyway, and the man who had found the body would swear that it had not been there just hours earlier. There was also no evidence at all that Adamski knew anyone in Todmorden and no clear reasoon why he should have been there in the first place. Another theory was that he had been kidnapped and then finally killed and put up on that coal heap, but why dispose of the body there and how did they do it? Was it lowered with a crane? If that were the case wouldn’t someone notice that?
It did not take long for speculation to veer off into the bizarre, as a lot of people were noticing that the area of Todmorden was a hotspot for UFO activity, and indeed there had been a flap of sightings at right around the time Adamski had disappeared. Rather bizarrely, the very same police officer who had first come to examine the scene of Adamski’s death, Godfrey, would have his own very weird encounter with the otherworldly, when he claims he had seen a UFO and experienced 30 minutes of missing time. His subsequent hypnosis session would be pretty creepy, to say the least, and he would say while under:
They’re horrible…..small…three to four feet, like five year old lads! There are eight of them. He’s touching me…..He’s feeling at my clothes. They have hands and heads like a lamp. They keep touching me…they are making noises.. Joseph, I know him as Joseph. He has told me not to be frightened. They are robots! They’re not human! They’re robots! They’re his! They are Joseph’s robots! There’s a bloody dog…..it’s horrible! The size of an Alsatian!
Whether this has anything to do with Adamski’s death or not is unclear, but the idea here is that a UFO abducted him, performed experiments that left the burn marks behind, and then killed him, perhaps even accidentally by giving him a heart attack, after which they had redressed him and lowered the body onto that coal pile where it would be found. The media would really take the UFO angle and run with it, splashing out headlines that suggested Adamski was killed by aliens, and this went a long way towards sensationalizing it all and muddying the waters. Indeed, because of this the strange case of Zigmund Adamski would in later years become more well known as a UFO case than as that of a mere mysterious death, and with so many strange clues and a lack of any further evidence it has remained a favorite theory among many.
In more recent years there have been some little bits of new information that have come in. For instance there has been evidence by John Hanson and David Sankey of BUFORA, the British UFO Research Association, that Adamski might have been involved in a bit of a family feud with his own cousin and her husband, leaving open a motive for foul play. It is possible that someone in the offending family could have abducted Adamski and tortured him, explaining the burns, after which he unexpectedly died of a heart attack after making a bid to escape, or had died while being detained and was dumped in a panic, but not before they pilfered the wallet and watch. There is still not really much concrete evidence of this and it does not really tie all of the disparate strange clues together, leaving us in the end just as much in the dark as ever. In the end, what are we to make of all of the weird clues and pieces of evidence on offer here? What happened to Zigmund Adamski? Whether it be from foul play, suicide, or UFOs, the fact is that the case has never been satisfactorily solved, and it is sure to invite much debate and speculation in the years to come.