Police British Spy Found Dead in a Duffle Bag Was 'Probably' an Accident

This article is from the archive of our partner .

The long-gestating mystery of a British spy found dead, in his own bathtub, inside a duffle bag appeared to reach its conclusion Wednesday, though it is one that won't satisfy a lot of people.

In 2010, Gareth Williams, a spy with MI6 and Government Communications Headquarters, was found decomposing inside a padlocked duffle bag in his bathtub. Despite the obvious implications of that statement, police have closed the case, saying Williams "most probably" died accidentally alone.

Detective Assistant Commissioner Martin Hewitt announced the results of a three-year investigation at a press conference Wednesday. Hewitt said police could not "fundamentally and beyond doubt" rule out that he was killed, but the evidence was not strong enough to support that finding. The Scotland Yard spokesman acknowledged their conclusion isn't definitive, but "on balance, it is a more probable conclusion that there was no other person present when Gareth died."

In other words, it's still pretty much a mystery. "Despite all of this considerable effort, it is still the case that there is insufficient evidence to be definitive on the circumstances that led to Gareth's death," the spokesperson said. "Rather, what we are left with is either individual pieces of evidence, or a lack of such evidence, that can logically support one of a number of hypotheses."

Recommended Reading

The police conclusion clashes with a coroner's report released last year, which ruled that his sex life didn't play a part in his death, but that Williams was "probably unlawfully killed." Previous investigations discovered that Williams had a proclivity for bondage and BDSM websites and clubs, and his web history revealed he had visited sites dedicated to "claustrophilia," a fetish that focuses on enclosed spaces. But forensic investigations didn't find any of Williams' DNA on the bag in which his body was found, or the surrounding bathtub. Traces of another person's DNA were discovered, but not enough for police to identify them. The rest of his relatively bare flat showed no signs of a clean up or tampering. 

You can understand why this case grabbed the public's attention. A British spy, working in the highest echelon of the intelligence service, found dead under mysterious circumstance in what's now a potentially unsolvable crime. Williams' family still thinks he was killed, and plenty of other people who saw today's police decision balked at the results. It also brings to mind another "unsolvable" spy murder from reacent memory, that of a Russian triple agent (also working with MI6 and Spanish intelligence) who was allegedly poisoned with polonium-laced tea. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.