What I’ve been thinking

I’ve been thinking about ‘Planta dos Deuses‘, the Brazilian cult that Markus mentioned in his notebooks. I’m not alone in thinking about this stuff - people have been talking about it over on Rach’s blog and on her facebook wall too.

Markus Schoenbergs Notebook on Flickr

Markus Schoenberg's Notebook on Flickr

Lots of theories flying about, but with no mention of Planta anywhere apart from that tiny bit of notebook, I’m tending to agree with Sam R. who wrote on Rach’s wall:

I don’t think Markus was involved with Planta. I think he was inspired by something they said… or more accurately, their philosophies. They talk about messages in life… which at first I thought might mean they could help us translate the notes in Markus’ diary. But, having gone back and had a better look at Markus’ notes, I actually think it’s more likely that they gave Markus the idea to leave a coded message that looked like DNA: messages in life.

It is still possible Markus was working for this cult. But having said that, my attempts to find out more from Planta themselves haven’t come to very much.

So what am I focusing on? I’m focused on finding Aalia and Jim Malham. Two people who have made themselves particularly difficult to find.

And I’m thinking about Rachel’s family and wondering if they’re okay. Rachel seems a bit all over the place, but she’s got plenty of friends keeping her buoyant, making her dance like a fool and keeping her spirits up a bit.

I’m having to think about the really mundane stuff too, like brushing off my contacts file and trying to get some more work. Thankfully Routes Game continues to employ my services. I’m catching up with the Routes team on the weekend, going to the Katherine Ryan gig that they’ve organised, and this time as more of a punter than as a camera guy though. If you want tickets, come along. This page tells you how.

Interview with the Nazim family

Here’s my footage from interviewing the Nazims. They were a really lovely couple, obviously deeply concerned about their daughter.

Outside Aalia’s parents’ house

Now all I have to do is work out what I’m going to say…

A meeting with Aalia’s parents

I’ve got a lead on Aalia.

A search alert email popped in to my inbox, pointing me to this video by her parents.

The badge that we found when we went to meet the mysterious source was Aalia’s and now she’s gone missing.

I’ve contacted Aalia’s parents and they’ve agreed to talk to me. It turns out she works for Prometha, Schoenbergs old company, and I don’t think this is a coincidence. She obviously wanted to tell us something.

I’m meeting them tomorrow to do an on-camera interview. Will post footage as soon as I can. They seemed uncertain on the phone, but keen to publicise their concerns.

The Family Malham

Rachel and I owe Sam Rocz big time. She posted this to my Facebook wall yesterday:

Jim’s name on the picasaweb site is Mylo Malham, which I searched for and found this; - the same Jim, perhaps?

Sam’s theory?

If I thought people might be out to kill me, I might hire someone who was specialist in “threat assessment and mitigation” to look after me! Given your most recent experiences and Aalia’s, perhaps you could ask him what his services cost?

Could Jim Malham have been hired as some kind of bodyguard by Schoenberg? And if so, what went wrong?

Thanks to Zoe Fell we might now be able to place Malham and our victim, Schoenberg, in the same place at the same time in Peru. She followed a link to Schoenberg’s photos, and noticed a figure in the background:

Zoe Fell's Malham Picture

Zoe Fell's Malham Picture

Compare and contrast:

James Mylo Malham from the Family Malham site

James 'Mylo' Malham from the Family Malham site

If that is him, Schoenberg and Malham were in the same place in Peru on 24th January. The important question: is that all that links them?

Mike Rush finds Jim Malham

If you’ve been following the blog comments, this is old news for you already. But Mike’s done some brilliant work in helping us chase down “Jim Malham”. Kirstie, Thomas K and Zoe over on Rachel’s blog have been helping out too.

He’s pointed us to:

Jim Malham’s Experience
Security Specialist
Various Clients
(Security and Investigations industry)

June 1993 — Present (15 years 9 months)

Special investigations, threat assessment and mitigation, reconnaissance, intelligence, and materials recovery. Familiar with South American customs and culture. Clients include leading biotech firms.

Leading Rating
Royal Navy
(Security and Investigations industry)

June 1987 — May 1993 (6 years)

Operated and maintained ship equipment, including weaponry, navigation and sensors.

But more than that:

also, he was in peru very recently

In Peru recently. He seems to overlap with Markus’ visit to Peru. First thoughts: colleague, killer or coincidence?

Is there anything else out there about Malham? And what about Aalia?

What happened when we tried to meet Aalia

Aalia - that’s my source’s name, so far as I can gather.

She’s a girl, probably my age, maybe a bit younger.

We drove to meet her and ended up watching her run away across the fields, before we got a chance to speak to her. One of the scariest moments of my life, and cast-iron proof that somebody wants me to stop asking awkward questions.

The one person who was trying to give me answers - Aalia Nazim, according to the name in the notebook we picked out of the mud - is now refusing to get in touch. And I have no way to find her.

Aalia: if you’re reading this, please get in touch however you can, if only to let us know that you are safe. And we’re already looking for Jim Malham, but it’s not much to go on.

Thanks for the video, Fluffy.

Mike Cox (nearly) cracks the code

Some truly great work by Mike Cox, posted to my Facebook and reproduced here for your code-breaking pleasure. Can anyone take Mike’s work further? (It’s way out of my league…)

Hiya Matt,

I’ve been looking at the files obtained from the police, three in particular are intriguing (mainly cos I’m a molecular microbiologist and DNA sequences always pique my interest).

On one of the pages at the bottom the author (I’m assuming it’s Schoenberg) notes “*idea* messages in Life”.

I translated the DNA sequence into protein sequence using the basic code and got the following:


“Needs legal clearance” being obvious plaintext. Not sure where he got the sequence from and what it means or why only part of it is understandable (the LDN at the right hand end is tantalising too - for London? Or Lebanon Daily News I suppose :) ). I’ll keep working at it.

It’s not a sequence that can be found in the publicly available DNA database at the NCBI. HomePage

The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) provides an integrated approach to the use of gene and protein sequence information, the scientific literature (MEDLINE), molecular structures, and related resources, in biomedicine.

A break

After a depressing few days, this is truly exciting.

Honestly, I didn’t want to say so, but I was about ready to put the whole Schoenberg story to bed, count my losses and move on. But this changes everything.

Very sorry: I can’t tell you when and where I’m going to meet him/her. All I can say is that it involves a drive into the countryside. I’ll post more after the meeting on Saturday.

My meeting at Frontier Genetics journal

I met with Phil the editor of Frontier Genetics. Having promised to share my footage, here it is:

Not my finest working hour.

(Oh, a note: the receptionist mentioned that someone called William rang up and gave one of the sub-editors major grief on my behalf. Thanks!)