Friday, July 21, 2017

Cave With A Creepy Mystery

The area near the town of Mala had at one time been somewhat remote, mostly agricultural land but is now being urbanized and my cousin's bought a plot of land nearby.  That led to my uncle exploring a cave he found while hiking along one of the area beaches.

He mentioned to me that there were some interesting remains in there that he thought I should see, so off we went this morning. After driving south of Lima for about an hour on the Pan-American Highway, we pulled off the road and headed down a dirt track toward the sea near the mouth of the Mala River.  Rounding a large stone outcrop, we came to the cave entrance.

The cave had been carved out of what long ago had been cliff at water's edge, but is now a hundred or so yards removed from the breakers.  Stones eroded from above have built up at the entrance, meaning that to approach once has to climb up the debris pile, and that the cave floor then slopes sharply down from the entryway.

Upon first glance, the impression is one of moist disarray. Slime and mold cover the floor and lower walls, and there are a number of plastic bags and empty bottles. Clearly, people have used the cave as a place to party, drink, and -one surmises- get high.

But, then, there's the bones:

At first, one might think that someone died in there, maybe of an accident, or an overdose or alcohol.   That would explain one corpse, but one person would not have two different -sized femurs from the same leg.  In fact, once one learns to distinguish the mold-covered shapes, one sees that the floor of the forward part of the cave is littered with femurs, ribs, and other bones. 

Counting femurs and sets of hip bones, we were able to determine that the cave holds the remains of no fewer than four individuals, at least three of which are piled in one corner of the alcove.

Given the conditions in the cave, the bones are clearly not ancient, but a several decades old at most.  [11 Aug. 2017: This would be supported by something I just noticed: The skull in the photo above appears to have what may be a bullet hole in the back.]

Unless the people were walked up to the cave and killed in situ, we were, then, looking at a body dump. But, whose? 

The physical effort required to haul a corpse up to the cave would be daunting, to say the least, indicating whoever humped them up there must have had help.  Serial killers?  A criminal gang, perhaps? Of course, it also crosses one's mind that they might be individuals who "disappeared" during the war of the 1980s and 1990s, or who died in police custody at some other time.

It is likely that, with a condominium going in next door, it won't be far long before the bones are removed and disposed of or interred with but cursory attention from the authorities, if that.

I expect that the answer to the riddle of the bones in the cave will never be known.

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