Close Encounters of a Deadly Kind

Close Encounters of a Deadly Kind

The following story is reproduced from the book Supernatural England.

At 3.30pm on the sunny afternoon of Friday 6th June 1980, Zigmund Adamski set off from his home in Wakefield to the local shops - and vanished off the face of the earth.

That was the last time anyone saw him alive, for his body was found in a coal hopper, five days after and 25 miles away in the market town of Todmorden.

How he got there, how he died, where he had been in the missing days, baffled everyone who investigated the mystery - and it remains unsolved to this day. In fact, there are those who believe it will never be explained - at least not in so-called 'rational terms'. However, to examine this mystery we must first look at the events leading up to the disappearance.

Zigmund Jan Adamski was Polish by birth and, like many of his fellow countrymen, he had settled in England having been forced to flee his country during the war. He set up home in the West Yorkshire village of Tingley, became a coal miner and, in 1951, married Leokadia or ‘Lottie'. When she became so ill that she was confined to a wheelchair, Zigmund needed to spend more time with her.

His own health, too, was suffering, and he had been off work for several months; a lung deformity often made breathing difficult - and it was with this extra factor that Zigmund decided to apply for early retirement. This was rejected, but his company's decision was reviewed quite soon after and the application subsequently accepted. Unfortunately, the reversed decision arrived in the post that day after he disappeared.

Upsetting though this was, family and friends were sure he had not gone missing through depression. He would never have left his wife; neighbours spoke of how devoted the couple were to each other.

On the day that Adamski disappeared, he had been shopping in Wakefield town centre with his cousin and her son who were visiting the Adamskis from Poland. That afternoon, the trio returned to the couple's home and sat down to a fish and chip dinner. Adamski was enjoying his cousin's visit and was also very excited about the next day; he was due to give away his god-daughter in marriage. He had a speech specially prepared for the occasion, and would not have let the couple down for any reason.

At half-past three, Adamski announced that he would pop out to the local shop just a few hundred yards down the street to buy some potatoes. He grabbed his jacket containing wallet, driving licence and some small change, and left the house. Passing a few desultory comments with a neighbour washing his car, he set off to the shops - but never reached them.

When Adamski did not return home that evening, Lottie contacted Wakefield police to report his disappearance, but despite intensive police enquiries and an appeal in local newspapers, their investigations drew a blank. That is, until almost exactly five days later to the minute, when his body was discovered.

At 3.45pm, on Wednesday 11th June 1980, Trevor Parker, the son of a Todmorden coal merchant, arrived at his father's yard to find a man's body resting in a hollow at the top of a pile of coal. He had already been there that morning at 8.15am and was quite sure that the body was not there at that time. In the intervening hours, while Mr Parker had been absent, the gates of the yard had been left unlocked just in case any deliveries arrived. As it happens there had been none.

Mr Parker was understandably astonished to find the body, and he stood rooted to the spot for a while before composing himself and phoning for an ambulance. It was not only the fact that he had found the man here at all that was odd, for there were several other unaccountable points. It would have been a difficult task for a man to climb up the greasy side of the coal pile, even more so because it had been raining for most of the day, and Zigmund would have found it almost impossible because of his breathing problems.

The dead man was wearing his jacket, but his shirt was missing; and Mr Parker had noticed a strange burn mark on the back of the man's head, neck and shoulder, which he would not touch.


Twenty-five minutes later, police officers Mervyn Haig and Alan Godfrey arrived to inspect the body and to question Mr Parker. The latter told them what he knew, but there seemed to be nothing which could throw light on the mystery. The body was transferred to the mortuary at nearby Hebden Bridge and, that night at 9.15pm, a post-mortem was conducted by a consultant pathologist, to ascertain the cause of death.

From his examination, Dr Alan Edwards estimated that the time of death was between 11.15am and 1.15pm - around eight to ten hours prior to the post-mortem. The body, therefore, had been in the yard for at least two and a half hours before its discovery.

No major physical injuries were evident - certainly no internal injuries - which showed he had probably not died from an assault of any kind. There were, however, the curious oval-shaped burn marks on the left of the neck and also below the ear. These had caused a slight loss of skin, brown discolouration and a tacky substance had been applied to them, presumably a form of ointment.

Dr Edwards thought that the marks indicated contact with a corrosive substance but he could not ascertain what it was. Although the burns were not minor injuries he was sure they were not the cause of death. They could have caused some alarm to Adamski and brought on a heart attack. The final verdict was 'natural causes', as he had obviously died from heart and chest disease.

Even though Zigmund Adamski was found minus his shirt (which was never recovered) he had not been sleeping rough. His body showed that he had only one day's growth of stubble - so he had evidently been staying somewhere and, even though his stomach was empty, this merely indicated that he had not eaten on the day of his death. Dr Edwards found an abrasion on the man's thigh, and superficial cuts on both of his hands and knees.

UFOlogist Jenny Randles, who has written more than 20 books on UFOs and the paranormal, including the Pennine UFO Mystery, points out that everyone who has investigated the case remains baffled.

The Pennine UFO Mystery is an investigation into a number of separate events that mainly occurred between June and November 1980. While Mrs Randles does not suggest that UFOs were responsible for the disappearance and subsequent reappearance and death of Zigmund Adamski, she does not dismiss the idea, either. While the UFO theory seems wildly improbable, it is pertinent to include the reasons why the Adamski death was initially linked to this phenomenon.

In the weeks leading up to the disappearance, there had been numerous reports to newspapers and the police about orange fireballs and other unidentified flying objects seen across West Yorkshire, mainly in Bradford, Halifax and Todmorden. While some of these sightings were explained as aircraft, atmospheric phenomena, and flares used by moorland rescue teams, some remained unexplained, including a substantial amount which were reported after Adamski had disappeared.

In addition, one of the two police officers who arrived at the coalyard on 11th June allegedly had a close encounter with a UFO.

During the early morning of Friday 28th November 1980, policeman Alan Godfrey, who was on night patrol, was driving along Burnley Road, which leads out of Todmorden, when he saw a huge object with a spinning top section and a row of windows, hovering above the road ahead of him. He stopped the car 100 yards away from the UFO and attempted to contact the police station on both his car radio and mobile 'walkie-talkie', but he could not get through. The next thing he knew, he was 100 yards further down the road from where he had been and, although he didn't realise it at that moment, there had been a substantial time-lapse.

Eventually, with advice from MUFORA (the Manchester UFO Research Association) he agreed to be hypnotised to discover what had happened during that missing time, of which he had no recollection. The subsequent hypnosis session brought to light PC Godfrey's astounding account of being taken inside the UFO and examined by alien beings, which seemed to have been buried in his subconscious and erased from conscious memory.

There are several reasons why Adamski was connected to the UFO theory. He had obviously been somewhere during those five days - but no one had reported seeing him, and the way his body reappeared was very odd. It was found in broad daylight on top of a coal pile without easy access, and in the vicinity of a busy railway line.

No one had reported seeing anything odd during those hours; any effort to place the body in that particular location would have been a hard and cumbersome task, almost certainly resulting in footmarks or some form of indentations in the coal and immediate vicinity. And it would have been a foolhardy and pointless objective for anyone wanting to dispose of a body in the first place. The idea that he had simply dropped from the sky seemed as likely a theory as any.

We should also consider, however, where and when he went missing. Had Zigmund Adamski disappeared during the hours of darkness it would be quite understandable - many hundreds of people go missing at night - but it was early Friday afternoon in late spring when Adamski set off on his errand, and so it seems even more astonishing that no one saw him after that point.

Zigmund Adamski has been described as a loving family man, with no known enemies. Although dogged by bad health, he had a lot to live for. Here was a man who had been a prisoner of war, escaped the horror of the Nazis, settled and married and worked in England, only to die in the most mysterious of circumstances.

This story is reproduced from the book, Supernatural England, by Countryside Books, which contains dozens of spooky tales featuring ghosts, poltergeists and hauntings from across the country. To find out more, click here

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  • Alex Batho
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