Woman 'starved herself to death'

BBC News, September 21, 1999

Police believe a woman found dead in a remote part of the Scottish Highlands may have starved herself as part of her religious beliefs.

A diary belonging to Australian-born Verity Linn suggested she had been fasting to fulfill the rules of a ritual normally practised by Tibetan monks.

Her naked body was found on 16 September by a fisherman on the west coast of Sutherland near Loch Cam.

It is understood Ms Linn - thought to be in her 40s - worked for the new-age community of the Findhorn Foundation at Cluny Hill College in Forres.

Her diary recorded her last days as she refused to eat or drink, believing it would "spiritually cleanse" her body and "recharge her both physically and mentally."

Survival method

Ms Linn's writing's revealed she had practised "breatharianism" - a survival method which relies on light and taking only tiny amounts of food and liquid.

Her diary said she entered into a complete fasting period on 4 September and two days later she travelled by bus from Forres to Inverness and then on to Sutherland where she pitched her tent on a rocky hillside.

Although the results of a post mortem are not expected for a number of days, detectives are convinced the woman was the victim of her interest in a little-known cult which promoted fasting.

Her diary mentioned the teachings of self-proclaimed prophet Jasmuheen who believes people can draw nourishment from the "divine life force in the form of liquid light".

'Popular member'

One of Ms Linn's former colleagues at Findhorn, Robin Alfred, said she was a popular and valued member of the community.

He added: "It would be unfair to speculate on what happened to her as there is no medical confirmation that fasting did contribute to her death.

"We did not know that she was on a fast nor were we aware of any other health condition she may have suffered from. All we knew was she was going on holiday and we wished her well."

A spokesman for Northern Constabulary said: "We can confirm the links with the foundation. It seems her intention was to carry out this "cleansing" and then continue with her normal life.

"We suspect that her fasting was a contributory factor in her death."

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