A long-sought Australian relic — the head of bandit folk hero Ned Kelly — has (allegedly) been discovered in the cupboard of a New Zealand witch, according to reports.
The witch seemed apologetic when turning over the skull, saying “I have treated it with respect; I haven’t lit candles in it or drunk red wine out of it or anything bohemian like that.”
Anna Hoffman, 74, told New Zealand’s Herald on Sunday newspaper that a uniformed security guard had given her the skull at a family dinner 30 years ago while she was on holiday in Australia.
“We got talking about skulls and the next day he turned up with this skull. He said it was Ned Kelly’s skull, and told me to ‘put it in the bottom of your bag and wrap it up’.”
Australia, if history is correct, was once loaded with scoundrels like Ned Kelly, who, in the late 1800s, made a name for himself robbing banks and killing police officers. He was captured after a shootout and later hanged. His body was thrown into a mass prison grave.
The prison closed in 1929 and Kelly’s body was dug up and his head stolen. The head was later found and put on display, but someone stole it (again) in 1978.
A developer dug up the prison site in 2009 and DNA was used to identify Kelly’s body. Now, Kelly’s ancestors want to reunite the head and body to give the former bandit a proper burial.
But scientists, leery of practitioners of the arcane pursuits, aren’t buying the witch’s story.
Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine spokeswoman Deb Withers said the chances of the head being legit are a “long shot.”
The search for “Ned’s Head” likely continues.