Sunday, 28 October 2012

Housewife 'was raised by monkeys'

A Yorkshire housewife claims she spent five years of her childhood living with a colony of capuchin monkeys in Colombia.

Marina Chapman, who now lives in Bradford, says she learnt to catch birds and rabbits with her bare hands after being abandoned in the jungle by kidnappers.

Her time with the monkeys ended when she was discovered by hunters but by her ordeal continued when she was sold to a brothel in the city of Cucuta.

She escaped and spent years on the streets, sometimes being arrested and kept in a cell, but was eventually taken in by a Colombian family to work as a maid in her mid-teens.

In her mid-twenties she travelled with a neighbouring family who went to stay in Bradford on business for six months - and stayed after she met John Chapman, then a 29-year-old bacteriologist, at a church meeting. They married in 1977.

She and her family have now decided to tell her story to help highlight the horrors of human trafficking in South America.

Mrs Chapman believes she was born in about 1950 and that she was kidnapped when she was five before being abandoned in the jungle.

"It's assumed that the kidnap went wrong," said Vanessa James, one of Chapman's two daughters. The film and TV composer has helped her mother with her book, The Girl with No Name.

"All she can remember is being chloroformed with a hand over her mouth. And all she can recall of her life before that is having a black doll as a toddler.

"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."

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