Warning: Graphic image below.
Forensic scientists have moved in to solve the mysterious case of a “mummified” sailor found in the Philippine Sea.
The body of Manfred Fritz Bajorat, a 59-year-old German sailor, was found on a yacht on February 25, around 96 kilometers (60 miles) off the coast of Barobo town, Mindanao. After noticing the damaged yacht, a group of fishermen peered through its windows to see a lifeless corpse, which appeared to be in a mummified state.
The man was identified by the Barobo Police from photographs, documents, and letters scattered around his cabin. It’s believed he left his home in Ruhr, West Germany in 2008 along with his wife, to follow their passion for sailing. After he lost his wife to cancer just two years later, the last known contact with Bajorat was a year ago when a friend talked to him on Facebook for his birthday, the German newspaper Bild reports.
The body of Manfred Fritz Bajorat shown sat at a desk next to a radio communication device. Barobo Police.
Barobo police say there is no evidence of “foul play,” although the exact circumstances of his death still remain unclear. An array of forensic scientists, however, have speculated that the mummification could have occurred within just months, or even weeks, after his death.
Dr. Mark Benecke, an investigative forensic scientist from Cologne, told Bild: "As he’s just sitting at his desk, it is likely that he had a heart attack... But that's just speculation."
After his death, it’s believed the conditions of the Philippine Sea provided an ideal environment for his body to quickly dry out, his skin providing a tough barrier that protected his body from decomposing bacteria, effectively preserving his body.
“The air, heat, and saltiness of sea are all very conducive to mummification,” said Peter Vanezis, professor of forensic pathology at the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, The Guardian reports.
“It starts within two to three weeks. The fingers and other extremities – the nose, the face – dry quickly, and in a month or two they are well gone.”