London Captives Appeared in 1997 Documentary
Film crew was looking into death of woman at commune
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 27, 2013 8:35 AM CST

(Newser) – Eerie: A documentary crew caught two of the captives recently rescued in London on film, ever so briefly, in 1997. The ITV documentary focused on the death of a woman who fell from the window of a house used by the alleged slavery commune that year, the Telegraph reports. Investigators are now re-examining the death of Sian Davies, the Mirror notes; her cousin says she was missing for years and "must have been trying to escape" when she fell. She was a member of the "Workers’ Institute of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought" commune, the Raw Story reports, and the 30-year-old woman recently rescued is thought to be her daughter. The documentary filmmakers wanted to speak to commune leader Aravindan Balakrishnan, one of the alleged slaveholders arrested in the captivity case.

But, in the video, one of the now-rescued women says the video crew is "part of the fascist state" and another says they don't want to talk and closes the door. The first woman is said to be Josephine Herivel, who is reportedly the daughter of John Herivel, a renowned World War II codebreaker who was integral to the Allied victory. She parted ways with her family and joined the collective in the 1970s, the Telegraph reports. The second woman may be a Malaysian student and activist who went missing in London decades ago: Relatives of Aishah Abdul Wahab say they think the rescued 69-year-old victim is Wahab, the Guardian reports; they had suspected she had gotten involved with a group focused on Mao Zedong's teachings. (A similar case is making headlines today: Three sisters said they were imprisoned in a Tucson home for years.)