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Anorak | Marina Chapman was Marina Luz – the child raised by monkeys

Marina Chapman was Marina Luz – the child raised by monkeys

by | 21st, October 2012

MARINA Chapman was, when a young child, adopted by family of capuchin monkeys in the Colombian jungle. She had been kidnapped at around five-years-old. The caper had went and she was abandoned in the jungle.

She now lives in Bradford.

In Colombia, Chapman learned from the monkeys. She could catch and kill small animals and birds with her bare hands. She lived that way for five years.

When human beings found her, they took her town and traded her for a parrot with a brothel keeper.

She was beaten. But she never sold her body for sex. She escaped. For some years she lived on the streets. At some pint in her early teenage years, Marina was taken in to work as a maid. She called herself Marina Luz. She worked for the neighbouring family, who had a textile business. When they headed to Bradford for work, she went with them.

There, Marina met John Chapman at a church meeting. In 1977, they were married. It was only after the knot had been tied that Marina told John her life story. You can read it in The Girl With No Name, the book of the soon-to-be-made film.

In it, she recalls the moment of her kidnap:

“My story starts with my earliest memory. I was four; squeezing pods until the peas popped in our allotment that bordered the village. A black hand suddenly clamped a damp white cloth over my nose and mouth; as I tried to scream the hand pushed harder and the sky turned black.”

One of her two daughters, Vanesa James, tells us:

“It’s assumed that the kidnap went wrong…She obviously learnt to fend for herself and only once got very ill when she ate some poisonous berries…I got bedtime stories about the jungle, as did my sister…We didn’t think it odd — it was just Mum telling her life. So in a way it was nothing special having a mother like that…When we wanted food, we’d have to make noises for it…All my schoolfriends loved Mum as she was so unusual. She was childlike, too, in many ways.”

Marina Chapman has returned to Colombia. She wanted to find her roots and her mother. Says Vanessa:

“One woman came forward, but Mum could not bring herself to meet her. What was extraordinary is that her first names were Marina Luz. Maybe she was a sister? What we don’t know is if she said that was her name because that’s my mother’s, or if my mother had subconsciously named herself that as it was one she recalled from before being kidnapped.”

It’s a cracking story. But how true is it? Chapman has said:

“I have no memory of my parents. I must have been kidnapped because I remember someone putting their hand over my face. Kidnapping children is common in Colombia, for all kinds of reasons. Sometimes children are sold to other families, sometimes they are forced to work. There is no baby registration there, children go missing all the time.”

She now works in childcare. She works with a charity called Substitute Families for Abandoned Children.

In 2008, she told the Bradford Telegraph & Argus:

“I started writing it but I was going to put it on the fire because I thought I couldn’t do it. I never thought my life was that interesting!” says Marina. “My younger daughter, Vanessa, said she would help me continue it and we went to Colombia together. We went back to Cucuta, where I lived as a child after I was taken from home, and it had changed so much. It was even more dangerous than I remembered. They kill people like chickens.”

Should Marina Chapman’s story become a hit, maybe someone in Colombia will come forward to fill in some of the gaps in it.

Her agent adds to her legend:

…she has led a Colombian street gang made up of homeless and orphaned children, worked in a brothel and as a slave for an abusive crime family in one of the deadliest towns in Colombia, lost three fiancées in untimely, violent deaths, faced depression and a suicide attempt and has become the head chef of a British national institution.

Now read on…



Posted: 21st, October 2012 | In: Key Posts, Strange But True Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink