A great-grandmother in New Zealand clams that she is in possession of, the famous Irish Australian outlaw, Ned Kelly’s skull.
Anna Hoffman (74) says she was on vacation in Melbourne, Australia, when a security guard gifted her the skull saying it was “Ned’s head”. During the 1960s and 70s she courted notoriety as a witch and met this uniformed man at a family dinner in 1980.
When Hoffman recently heard that the skull was missing she said she was determined to get to the bottom of the mystery.
She told the New Zealand Herald “When I heard that my heart skipped a beat. It made sense because of all of the secretiveness around it.”
Hoffman’s news piqued the interest of the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine, the scientists who matched Kelly’s remains to his closest surviving relatives.
The great-grandmother told the NZ Herald, “We got talking about skulls and the next day he turned up with this skull. He said it was Ned Kelly's skull, and told me, 'Put it in the bottom of your bag and wrap it up'.”
She said Kelly’s skull became part of her 20 skull collection, which she has cared for over the past 20 years.
“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. I don't want to let it out of my possession unless it is his skull.”
Spokeswoman for the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine said they want to learn more about the skull.
They said, “There is a chance that that is his head, although it is a long shot. That would be wonderful if it was.
"It's either out there somewhere or it has disintegrated into nothing."
Forensics expert at Auckland University, Gina McFarlane, said she believed the skull had been used in teaching and therefore was less likely to be that of Ned Kelly.
She said, “It could be five years old, it could be 100 years old. The fact that the top of the cranium has been cut off and reattached by wires indicates it's a teaching skeleton."
Hoffman has said she would return the skull to Kelly's surviving if it was in fact their relative’s.