A Grisly End

Another reader alerts me to this story, presumably so I continue this week’s theme of middle-aged women travelling to exotic shores:

A woman who travelled to India to treat her depression was drugged, raped and beheaded before her body was found hung upside down in a forest.

Liga Skromane, 33, who is Latvian but was living in Dublin, Ireland, for the past five years with her partner, arrived in Kerala with her sister in February.

She was hoping to be treated at one of the ayurvedic centres the area is famous for, according to NDTV.

So she went with her sister.

But she went missing a few weeks after arriving in the country after leaving the centre to visit a beach.

Her decomposing body was found near a mangrove forest in Thiruvallam on April 21.

Which has me wondering where the sister was. Unless the beach was very close by, you’d have thought the two of them would have gone together.

Two suspects are in custody. They are drug peddlers and one is a repeat offender with a history of sexually abusing men and women in the area where Ms Skromane’s body was found, sources told NDTV.

Police said the victim’s post-mortem examination didn’t reveal much because of how decomposed her body was.

However, they were able to determine that she was given drugs and assaulted before being strangled to death.

I don’t know what to make of this, other than two women went to a dangerous foreign place, and one went off on her own to find a beach and wound up being killed. Common sense seems to have been in short supply, especially considering the presence of drugs in the story and that the victim was suffering depression. There’s probably a bit more to this story, but I doubt we’ll ever know it.

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40 thoughts on “A Grisly End

  1. I’m intrigued that one can tell that someone has been strangled if they’ve been decapitated.

  2. If Quincy reads this blog, I’d be interested in knowing how one can tell that someone has been strangled if they’ve been decapitated.

  3. People lack situational awareness. It’s not a matter of being paranoid or fearful all the time; it’s a matter of keeping one’s wits about him. It’s about acknowledging that things can go wrong and thinking about how to extricate oneself from such circumstances. It’s about realizing that most of the world is not like your local neighborhood, and therefore minimizing risks, even if those risks can never be eliminated entirely.

    When one reads stories of mayhem, one discovers that among the survivors, there are those who are merely lucky. But many are those who consciously or subconsciously pondered the question, “What if . . .?”

  4. “If Quincy reads this blog, I’d be interested in knowing how one can tell that someone has been strangled if they’ve been decapitated.”

    Because the lower windpipe is a mess having been crushed. It is made of firmish collagen/cartilage material that helps keep it rigid/dilated when you are breathing – like a vacuum cleaner hose has metal wire to help keep it open under suction.

    They even grow artificial ones: https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn20671-man-receives-worlds-first-synthetic-windpipe/

    If you just chopped someones head off with a blade, cleanly, that doesn’t happen or at least will not be nearly as pronounced.

  5. Dailymail.co.uk is an incredibly trashy and superficial source of information. If this story interests you, why haven’t you done any deeper research? There is a lot of high quality information available on this story out there. The sister has given several interviews.

    33 years old and middle-aged woman ? Really ?:) Why ?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Middle_age
    https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/middle-age
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-19622330

    When you say “a dangerous foreign place”, please back it up with the facts. How many tourists (and women) have been killed in India over the last 10 or 20 years? How many have been raped ? Which regions are the most dangerous in India ?

  6. @TN 🙂 My sobriquet is apt.

    @ Andrew S Mooney – thanks for that. Incidentally I wasn’t suggesting there was anything implausible about this finding but I was intrigued that it was possible to strangle someone and subsequently remove the head with a machete or some blade and not just leave a mess.

  7. Sophie –
    Look up “post wall woman”. Middle age isn’t a numeric number from a man’s perspective. What you find may be a surprise.

    Having told you that at great risk of my man-card being revoked, This is a blog, not a travel site, nor a news magazine. Tim doesn’t have to do any sort of research, it’s all in his blog. So he’s not “Reporting”, he’s rendering a viewpoint, the frame of reference of which being his body of previous works.

    To aid you, look up “backpacker chick”. You should find perspective there.

  8. “A woman who travelled to India to treat her depression…”

    It’s dirty, there is extreme poverty on open display, things don’t work, corruption is endemic, and the medical treatment for mental illness is a long way behind Ireland. Still, Ayurvedic, eh?

  9. I don’t know where this woman was but it feels like I have been reading about tourists getting murdered regularly in Goa for past 15-20 years.

  10. @ sophie
    “”…When you say “a dangerous foreign place”, please back it up with the facts….””

    There is few wonderful thing`s we can use to estimate danger without pile of dead bodies. Like education, common sense and mental stability.
    How many people die in zoo ? Very few because most of us do not climb over the fence to give lions and tigers company.
    Some mentally unstable people do not understand that and get killed. Planet Earth average IQ rose by this event and this is how Darwin theory works.
    This event is on the Latvian news also. Use Google translate and read yourself how happy everybody are because one communist got multiculted.

    In the German, there is a word Schadenfreude. This highly educated open minded person wanted diversity to Latvia but instead of Latvian`s she got herself enriched by diversity….xD

  11. Dailymail.co.uk is an incredibly trashy and superficial source of information.

    Indeed, I should ban the commenter who linked to it. But I notice you go on to link to Wikipedia and the BBC.

    If this story interests you, why haven’t you done any deeper research?

    Because I know all the English speaking newspapers all reprint the same stuff: having just checked, there’s no additional information in any of the other sources that come up on Google, and I am confident the queries I raise aren’t answered anywhere.

    There is a lot of high quality information available on this story out there. The sister has given several interviews.

    Like this one?

    Her sister, Ilze, recalls Liga had gone missing even before. Before checking in to the ayurvedic centre, the duo stayed in a guest house in Varkala. There, Ilze had gone to church and when she came back, Liga was nowhere to be seen. Ilze searched everywhere and finally found her sister on a beach.

    Liga told her that she wanted to have a swim in the ocean, but the high tide had scared her. Then a German man approached her, gave her a lift on his bike and took her to the backwaters. By the time, she finished her swim, he had disappeared.

    Yeah, that clears things up.

    33 years old and middle-aged woman ?

    Pretty much, yes. They’re hardly in their youthful prime now, are they?

    When you say “a dangerous foreign place”

    I’m going off this:

    They are drug peddlers and one is a repeat offender with a history of sexually abusing men and women in the area where Ms Skromane’s body was found, sources told NDTV.

    Presumably you think places where a known repeat sexual offender has seemingly murdered a woman by decapitation is perfectly safe.

    please back it up with the facts. How many tourists (and women) have been killed in India over the last 10 or 20 years? How many have been raped ? Which regions are the most dangerous in India ?

    You seem to have mistaken me for your husband, or perhaps another hen-pecked underling.

  12. So he’s not “Reporting”, he’s rendering a viewpoint, the frame of reference of which being his body of previous works.

    Exactly.

  13. Most of India is no more dangerous than Dublin.

    I can’t comment on Goa, however, as I have always steered well clear of the place, mainly because of the negative impression I have formed when looking at the type of westerner in the queue for flights there.

  14. India has a pretty low murder rate overall, but 99.9% of the people there are locals who know what to do and what not to do. One suspects the risk for clueless foreign women wandering about alone is significantly greater than the overall crime rate would indicate.

  15. My experience of living in the Indian subcontinent is that the dangerous places for unaccompanied western women to go are those where other unaccompanied western women go in search of sex.

  16. Tim, many thanks for your reply!

    First of all, I apologize if my previous comment was too aggressive. Of course, this is your blog and you are free to express your thoughts.

    Yes, I did indicate Wikipedia and BBC. I agree that they are not very reliable sources of information, however, in my opinion, they are a bit more reliable than tabloids (Wikipedia usually has references and BBC tend to use higher-quality sources than Dailymail.co.uk, but, of course, you are right, their quality is debatable, I agree.). According to the Office for National Statistics, ( https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/lifeexpectancies/bulletins/nationallifetablesunitedkingdom/2014to2016 ) the average life expectancy of a British woman is 82 years old, so one can say that the average middle-aged woman in the UK is about forty years old. In Latvia, 79,4 years old, so again – the average middle-aged Latvian woman is about 40 years old ( http://data.csb.gov.lv/pxweb/en/Sociala/Sociala__ikgad__iedz__muza_ilg/PMG010.px/table/tableViewLayout2/?rxid=cdcb978c-22b0-416a-aacc-aa650d3e2ce0).

    However, when you say “middle-aged”, it seems that you mean “post-wall woman”, as TechieDude indicated. Thanks, Techie, for the information!

    Personally, I do believe that most women and men are still in their prime in their thirties, as usually they are still healthy, able to do many things, more stable in their careers and personal lives. Some of them are even more physically fit and attractive than in their teens and twenties, as they learn to take care of themselves and feel more comfortable within their own body.
    You seem to assume that, as a rule, women are past their prime in their thirties. Are you referring to sexual attractiveness and fertility? The value and potential of a woman is equivalent to/measured by her youthfulness? What about other areas of life which often start to peak in thirties and later in life? One may reach, for example, professional success or certain wisdom even much later in life. Undoubtedly, our health and fertility diminish with years, but, as members of a civilized society, we are not limited only to our biological functions to which you seem to reduce women. We have other functions as well, for example, our social and professional roles. Fertility is only one aspect of a woman’s or man’s life in a modern and civilized society. Yes, sure, I don’t deny our biological functions, but it seems a bit too unfair to limit the value of our existence solely to our biological functions in the context of today’s society (what about social, intellectual, psychological, and professional development ?) Just imagine how your words can affect women. How would they feel and live if they would believe in your words, that is, that they are past their prime already in their early thirties? That their whole worth lies in their youthfulness and attractiveness ? That there is nothing else to strive for in life ? There are no other primes? Biologically, yes, there are constraints, but we do “exist” in other ways too, don’t you think? I think it’s important to see human beings (both men and women) from all kinds of perspectives and not to measure their value solely in a sexist and ageist way. However, I appreciate that you may not share my opinion. I just wanted to share mine.

    Some countries are more dangerous for tourists than others, so sometimes one must travel very cautiously and choose the right company. I don’t deny that there is a danger out there, but I believe that one can travel quite safely in India or in other countries you call “exotic”, if one does take care of all safety measures. Of course, there is a risk, so it’s up to each person to decide whether to go there or not. I couldn’t find statistics about tourists’ deaths in India from murders, but I know people who traveled there many times without any problems, both men and women. However, they went to very specific places and didn’t walk around aimlessly. As Ilze stated in the press conference (please see below the link), her sister Liga was in a very vulnerable state, depressed, easy to manipulate. Of course, one might wonder why Ilze took her sister to India in such a state if one can probably receive a similar ayurvedic treatment in Europe ? Yes, it can be difficult to understand such a decision. However, after having seen the conference, it seems that she was very desperate and probably made this decision based on her emotions and her previous (positive) experience in India as a solo traveller. As she explained in the conference, she didn’t know what to do, how to help, since her sister was severely depressed and suicidal due to post-traumatic stress disorder (Liga could not sleep for long periods of time).
    Here is the press conference that was given by Liga’s sister Ilze and Liga’s partner Andrew:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5PvjgTYoWso

  17. Numpty womiccumalobus females who wander about shithole zones as if they are in their living room can easily come a cropper. Such as the Italian nitwit who tried to hike across the RoP crescent to Jerusalem to prove that tales of beardie brutality to women where just white western wickedness. Got as far as the arse end of Turkey before being robbed, beaten, gang-raped, strangled and her naked body left on a rubbish dump as a final gesture of contempt.

  18. @ Sophie:

    Got yer Know-It-All ass handed to ya, huh? I guess the rest of the world isn’t as impressed by your pompous nattering as you are.

    Funny, that. It made me laugh, at least!

  19. @ Sophie

    How do you estimate danger ?

    This question is very hot issue in the Europe right now. For example, we have people who claim that net comments are real danger. Gang rape, violence and terrorism is just pack and parcel living in big city

    Then we have people, who claim that danger depends for geography. For example, when some thing`s happen in Middle East , then they are dangerous and people are entitled to asylum. But when the very same things happen in Europe then this is just new normality and we must get used .

    Could you kindly explain how to estimate risks in our brave new world ?

  20. the average life expectancy of a British woman is 82 years old, so one can say that the average middle-aged woman in the UK is about forty years old. In Latvia, 79,4 years old, so again – the average middle-aged Latvian woman is about 40 years old

    You seem to think “middle age” is a point in someone’s life rather than a period.

    You seem to assume that, as a rule, women are past their prime in their thirties. Are you referring to sexual attractiveness and fertility?

    You ask this question and then write a hundred words on the assumption that I am. I’m not.

    What about other areas of life which often start to peak in thirties and later in life? One may reach, for example, professional success or certain wisdom even much later in life.

    Sorry, I thought we were talking about middle age, not when we peak at various activities. The way I see it is adulthood begins at around 20 and you spend the next 10 years laying the foundations for what most of your life will become. By the time you’re 30-35 you’d better have your shit squared away and the building blocks in place for what you want to do, i.e. it’s time to start living your life rather than preparing for it. For example, if you want a family you’d better be married by 30 and looking to have your first child by 35 at the very latest. If you want to be an engineer, by 30 you need to already have 3-5 years solid experience on your CV and a good idea what discipline and industry you want to be in, and by 35 you ought to be hitting senior or lead positions, 40 at the latest. Whatever you want to do in life, by 33 you need to be actually doing it, not training for it, and not thinking about it – doing it. If this isn’t a definition of middle aged, I don’t know what is. Alas, the article you link to in the BBC suggesting middle age is 55 I found laughable.

    Just imagine how your words can affect women.

    I don’t just imagine, I hope they read them and wake up.

    How would they feel and live if they would believe in your words, that is, that they are past their prime already in their early thirties?

    It depends on the context, but if they are single and looking to settle down and get married and they’ve only a string of failed relationships behind them I’d imagine my words would make them feel pretty miserable. But that’s hardly my fault. If the context is their careers, well I doubt they’d pay any attention to my words, and why should they?

    I don’t deny that there is a danger out there, but I believe that one can travel quite safely in India or in other countries you call “exotic”, if one does take care of all safety measures.

    Note I said “dangerous places” not “dangerous countries”. I never implied one cannot travel safely in India, but the place in India they went to appears to have been rather dangerous.

    Of course, one might wonder why Ilze took her sister to India in such a state if one can probably receive a similar ayurvedic treatment in Europe ?

    And subsequently leave her to wander off alone in a locality known for having sex predators on the loose? Mighty strange, yes? Almost as if there is more to this than meets the eye. Hence the blog post.

  21. My experience of living in the Indian subcontinent is that the dangerous places for unaccompanied western women to go are those where other unaccompanied western women go in search of sex.

    Exactly. During my research into the Burning Man festival I heard a woman complain that weird men turn up there with the expectation they can just get laid whenever they like with whomever they like. It didn’t seem to occur to her that a festival with pavilions called, for example, The Orgy Dome where people boast of having meaningless sex with strangers might attract such people. It also turned out she was into having sex with random strangers, just not all the time.

    See also the sex predators which descended on the Occupy encampments.

  22. Trust me to spend my time as a young single man in India in the north with holy men and miss out on those hornbag western women looking for sex and drugs in the south, too young for the sexual revolution of the sixties and too old for Burning Man, which leaves me standing here shirtcockless at the end of the day.

  23. Just regarding the general safety of India, a friend of mine travelled there for work once or twice as a solo woman traveller and described the experience as a constant rebuffing of crude advances. No actual groping as I recall but then she wasn’t so deranged as to be out on her own on public transport.

  24. A country that has highly publicised news of gang rapes on public transport, that has a highly publicised problem with sexual assault, that has an area, Goa, with highly publicised problem with drugs and it’s expected to be safe for women travelling, or even just walking around, alone?

    Sounds like the risk antennae of these people were not switched on. Given comments on this blog I wonder whether they were ever fully grown in the first place given the incredible absolute safety of the western world.

  25. which leaves me standing here shirtcockless at the end of the day

    Heh! Good memory!

  26. “See also the sex predators which descended on the Occupy encampments.”

    Lions and leopards don’t hang around waterholes because they are thirsty….

  27. Sophie: “Just imagine how your words can affect women. How would they feel and live if they would believe in your words, that is, that they are past their prime already in their early thirties? That their whole worth lies in their youthfulness and attractiveness ? That there is nothing else to strive for in life ? There are no other primes? “

    Speaking as a woman, I don’t take that impression at all. Seems to me you’d only do that if you came with a pre-conceived notion of….

    Ah.

  28. So now we know that Tim is sexist and ageist and sophie is not. And the BBC is a nicer pile of shite than the Daily Mail because sophie thinks so (even though the Daily Mail does not rob people at gunpoint to get financed, last time I checked). Fortunately, I doubt any of this will make Tim check his privilege.

  29. Sophie, I’m glad you put words in Tim’s mouth, because otherwise we’d have never known what he thinks. He’s generally a bit reticent, especially on these issues.

  30. William of Ockham
    “Most of India is no more dangerous than Dublin.

    I can’t comment on Goa, however, as I have always steered well clear of the place, mainly because of the negative impression I have formed when looking at the type of westerner in the queue for flights there.”

    I have notice this with many of my travels bumping into these types, all I ever see is a predator/prey situation. Were-ever you see vulnerable, middle-age women, you will find those who seek to prey on them. Male yoga teachers always give me the creeps for this reason, they are either some kind of broken and weak, or predators.

  31. JuliaM
    “Lions and leopards don’t hang around waterholes because they are thirsty….”

    You say it so much more eloquently than I!

  32. Sophie;

    “Some countries are more dangerous for tourists than others, so
    sometimes one must travel very cautiously and choose the right company. I don’t deny that there is a danger out there, but I believe that one can travel quite safely in India or in other countries you call “exotic”, if one does take care of all safety measures. …………her sister Liga was in a very vulnerable state, depressed, easy to manipulate.”

    I’ve got to say this, someone who is in a very vulnerable state had no business being in a place that relied on her judgement to keep her safe and alive. Dublin is perfectly well equipped with people who could have helped her.

  33. @David Moore,

    The clothes westerners wear in India give a great indication of the type of traveller they are. Colourful tie dyed pyjamas tell me they are wide-eyed idiots concerned more about their chakras than assessing whether they are making safe choices.

    India is full of really well-meaning folk. The problem is, that kindness and openness can also be used as a disguise to con the gullible. And it often is.

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