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This question, which appears in the form of a graffiti on a towering brick obelisk in Hagley in Worcestershire, England, has been haunting the small village for more than seventy years.

The story begins one April afternoon in 1943. Four teenage boys from a neighboring village were out hunting for bird eggs in Hagley Wood when they came across a large wych elm. In the hollow trunk of the elm they discovered what first appeared to be an animal skull. But after seeing hair and teeth, the horrified boys realized that it was human. Knowing the boys were trespassing on another’s property, they quietly put the skull back into the hollow and made a pact to tell no one about the grisly find. But the weight of the secret was too much to bear for the youngest of the boys, Tommy Willetts, who told his parents, who in turn notified the police.

bella-wych-elm-1

Photo credit: David Buttery/Wikimedia

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