Investigating The Mysterious Death and Mutilation of Miguel Ángel Martínez Santamaría
The family of a Spanish man found dead in a fjord near Stockholm is searching for answers 16 years after his death. Did the body they buried really belong to their loved one?
Around 7:50 p.m. on Sept. 29, 2005, Blanca Martinez answered her phone to horrible news: the local police had received a fax letting them know that a badly decomposed body had been found on the shore of the Lidingö Fjord in Stockholm, Sweden and that there was a photocopy of her brother’s ID in the pants pocket.
Police told the family that a British citizen named Sara Adams was walking along the water when she spotted the body between two rocks just a few feet offshore. According to the Swedish authorities, the body had been in the water for quite a while.
The police report was just one page noting that the body had been recovered by boat and that there was a wound above one of the eyebrows.
As the family began trying to piece together what had happened to Miguel Ángel Martínez Santamaría, their questions only multiplied.
Blanca, who lived in the Basque Country in Spain, later learned that her brother’s body was transferred to the morgue with a wristband noting him as “unidentified”. A nurse at the facility checked his pockets and found the photocopy of the ID. The police at the scene apparently hadn’t done any work to identify the body and didn’t know about the ID until the nurse alerted them. This seemed odd to the family, since the paper photocopy would have been heavily damaged if the body had been in the water as long as the authorities said.
A preliminary autopsy was performed by the head of the forensics unit, Petra Råsten-Almqvist, but her findings made little sense to Miguel’s family.
There was bruising to his right ribs, and the medical examiner surmised that Miguel must have jumped into the water and was injured as he hit the water. She suggested he jumped from the deck of a ferry, ruling his death a suicide.
That conclusion was preposterous to his family—Miguel was a great swimmer. Even if he had been suicidal, jumping into the water didn’t make any sense.
Blanca wanted to hear from the woman who had found her brother’s body, but the Swedish police wouldn’t release any further information about her, citing privacy laws. On the police report, the only information about the woman was her name and a phone number. The listed phone number was incorrect.
Blanca called every Sara Adams she could find listed in Stockholm. None of them had any idea what she was talking about.
A Post-Mortem Problem
Miguel’s body arrived in London, where his family knew he wished to be buried, on Nov. 5, 2005. In the United Kingdom, all people who die from anything other than natural causes must undergo a post-mortem examination prior to burial —and Miguel was no exception. The final report that Blanca received in March 2006 left her reeling.
Miguel’s lungs were normal, despite the Swedish medical examiner saying he’d drowned. The English medical examiner also noticed that three quarters of his liver were missing.
Then came the most shocking piece of information—Miguel’s heart was gone.
Watch as Blanca and a Spanish journalist crisscross three countries trying to find the answers to the still-unsolved mystery on the three-part documentary The Man Without a Heart, premiering on discovery+ on April 29.