Legendary Australian outlaw, folk hero, and out-and-out OG, Ned Kelly, might soon be getting his long-lost noggin back! Last week, a notable New Zealand witch went public with a claim that the infamous bushranger’s absentee skull was amongst the 20 or so craniums in her personal collection. She added, “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.” Really? Red wine? No sacrificial blood offering? Lame.
Anna Hoffman, the witch in question, unfolded a pretty shady story about some uniformed security guard randomly giving her old Ned’s skull at a family gathering 30 years ago in Melbourne. She was prompted to pull the skeleton (err… skull) out of the closet only now because of a recent appeal from Ned Kelly’s descendants for the safe return of the distinguished brainpan. Last month, said descendants won legal custody of Kelly’s bones, which are about 95 percent complete in spite of the aforementioned crown jewel.
In trouble with the law from his early teens, Ned Kelly became an outlaw after killing three police officers who were pursuing him as a result of an incident involving his sister, Kate. On the lam, Kelly led a gang that roamed the frontier territory of Victoria robbing banks and the rich. At one point, Kelly had a reward of 8,000 pounds on his head which, for its time, was the largest sum issued throughout the entire British Empire. Similar to Jesse James, his American contemporary, Kelly is seen by some as a Robin Hood-esque hero, a challenger of the uneven distribution of wealth and unscrupulous banking industry of his day. Eventually, the Man caught up with Ned Kelly in a classic hotel gunfight in which the fugitive wore a DIY suit of armor (!) fashioned from scrap metal of old farming equipment. In the aftermath, Kelly, then just 25 years old, was taken into custody, hanged and buried in a mass grave that was only accidentally discovered in 2009. His head, however, was AWOL.
Unfortunately, false alarms are persistent. Shortly after Kelly’s skeleton was unearthed, an Australian farmer professed that a skull he had kept in a rotted tree stump for three decades was that of Ned Kelly; DNA soon said otherwise. The forensic jury is still out on this new claim, but let us all hold fast hope that poor old Ned may soon be able to partake in such good-natured graveyard tomfoolery as this.
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Jon : Carrick