A coroner has found that a British spy whose naked corpse was found locked inside a duffle bag, itself inside his bathtub, was "likely" killed in a criminal act.
Thanks in large part to the British intelligence service's hamfisted handling of the case in its early days, the specifics as to how, why, or by whom will likely never be known.
According to Dr. Fiona Wilcox, the coroner who presided over the inquest to determine the manner of death (she did not herself perform the autopsy — three pathologists did), Gareth Williams, the 31-year-old was likely placed inside the bag alive, then killed either by suffocation or poisoning in a "criminally mediated act."
Her verdict came 21 months after the police inquiry began, in August of 2010, when Williams' remains were found inside his London apartment.
Williams, a codebreaker and math prodigy, was connected to the British Secret Intelligence Service, MI6, at the time of his death. Williams' family maintains that the nature of his work was somehow connected to his death, a claim denied by British intelligence agencies and police, who prefer instead to lay the blame on crazy sex games.
Dr. Wilcox stated that it remained a "legitimate line of inquiry" whether MI6 or another secret agency played a hand in the death. She also criticized MI6 for what many have labeled as a suspicious level of mismanagement in the early days of the case.
Most notably: Williams' MI6 manager waited a week before reporting him missing from work, because, he says, he thought Williams may perhaps have been off on a secret assignment, the details of which he was unaware.
By the time pathologists were able to examine the body, it had decomposed so thoroughly that searches for decisive forensic clues proved a wash.
The head of MI6 has since apologized to Williams' family for the delay.
Prior to the coroner's announcement, police implied Williams' death may have been the result of a sexual game gone too far, regaling the court with tales of his apparent interest in sadomasochism and possible predilection for transvestitism.
Williams' apartment reportedly contained a £20,000 collection of untouched women's clothing and shoes, which friends maintain he kept on hand as gifts.
One of the officers who discovered Williams' body noticed a woman's wig hanging from the corner of a kitchen chair in what was otherwise described as an "extremely tidy" apartment.
Cops also found a home-made video on one of Williams' iPhones that showed him dancing for the camera wearing only black leather boots. Dr. Wilcox admitted that the video did demonstrate an apparent "sexual interest in ladies' footwear, but," she added, "there I suspect he is not alone."
Williams' other cellular phone appeared to have been restored to factory settings and laid out on his kitchen table just before his death. That's probably the most suspicious detail of all, because who wants to lose all their texts?
For full details of the case, the clusterfuck nature of which is just unbelievable in scope—an "expert on confined spaces" recently had to convince the court that it is impossible to lock oneself in a duffel bag—check out the BBC's coverage.
[The BBC // Image via Getty]