Revealed: Brit suspect at centre of Portuguese commune 'murder' is 27-year-old engineer who organised Mad Hatter's Tea Party mini-festival near 'glamping' tepee site where fellow Briton was 'stabbed to death'

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  • Josh James Menkens has been quizzed after the death of a 35-year-old Briton

A suspect who is at the centre of a murder investigation after a man was allegedly stabbed to death in Portugal is a British drainage engineer, MailOnline can reveal.

Josh James Menkens is alleged to have been one of the organisers of a mini-festival known as the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party last weekend near a remote commune known as Libelinha Venture in central Portugal.

The festival, which was hosted at an off-grid property, descended into chaos after the body of a 35-year-old British man was found in the early hours of Sunday morning.

The victim is alleged to have been stabbed to death after getting into a row with his attacker while playing the Blue Whale suicide game – an online challenge linked to a series of deaths worldwide. 

Menkens, who is 27, was pictured today being taken from a courthouse in the city of Leiria, an hour’s drive away from the commune after being quizzed by a judge investigating the case.

Josh James Menkens (centre) was pictured today being taken from a courthouse in the city of Leiria, an hour's drive away from the commune after being quizzed by a judge investigating the case

Josh James Menkens (centre) was pictured today being taken from a courthouse in the city of Leiria, an hour’s drive away from the commune after being quizzed by a judge investigating the case

Police officers were pictured preparing to remove the body of the victim after they were found stabbed to death

Police officers were pictured preparing to remove the body of the victim after they were found stabbed to death

The self-styled Libelinha Venture is an off-grid commune run by a new-age British businessman

The self-styled Libelinha Venture is an off-grid commune run by a new-age British businessman

His head covered by a coat, Menkens was hustled into an unmarked police car as a man believed to be his father shouted, ‘Your mother loves you son, we all love you.’

Police sources confirmed that Menkens has been named as an ‘arguido’ (suspect) in the case and will reappear before the judge tomorrow for further questioning.

It comes after a suspected murder case which shattered the tranquility of the forest valleys in Pedrogao Grande in the centre of the country.

The rambling Libelinha Venture, which includes 24-acres of wide open woodland, hills and shrubbery, is run by new-age privately educated British businessman Xavier Hancock and his Spanish partner Arantxa Atauri.

It is believed to have been hosting a festival for British and Dutch visitors called the ‘Mad Hatter’s Tea Party’, when the body of a 35-year-old British man was found less then a mile away on Sunday, September 24.

Police sources said the suspect and victim had been at a party at the couple’s ‘off-grid living community’ before moving onto woodland outside the commune. 

In 2017, it was bought by eccentric British businessman Xavier Hancock, who attended the £15,000-a-year St Edward’s school, and transformed into a peaceful oasis of communal calm outfitted by the sites distinctive white teepees.

For potential visitors, Hancock, who set up the commune with his Spanish partner Arantxa Atauri, promises the chance to ‘reconnect’ with nature ‘during a journey towards self sustainability’.

His head covered by a coat, Menkens was hustled into an unmarked police car as a man believed to be his father shouted, 'Your mother loves you son, we all love you'

His head covered by a coat, Menkens was hustled into an unmarked police car as a man believed to be his father shouted, ‘Your mother loves you son, we all love you’

Public school-educated Xavier Hancock (pictured with his Spanish partner Arantxa Atauri) is believed to have played host to a group of UK visitors that included both the suspect and the 35-year-old victim who was stabbed to death in woodland near his land in the early hours of Sunday morning

Public school-educated Xavier Hancock (pictured with his Spanish partner Arantxa Atauri) is believed to have played host to a group of UK visitors that included both the suspect and the 35-year-old victim who was stabbed to death in woodland near his land in the early hours of Sunday morning

Nature lover Mr Hancock (pictured), who was educated at the St Edward's public school in Oxford and Solent University in Hampshire, looks after his land with the help of volunteers from the UK. He has said he is cooperating with the police investigation

Nature lover Mr Hancock (pictured), who was educated at the St Edward’s public school in Oxford and Solent University in Hampshire, looks after his land with the help of volunteers from the UK. He has said he is cooperating with the police investigation

Hancock, who is believed to have hosted the 27-year-old suspect and the victim at the commune prior to the incident, has said he is fully co-operating with police investigations while they probe the circumstances around the death. 

There is no suggestion whatsoever that Hancock or Arantxa are in any way involved in the crime.

READ MORE HERE –  Inside ‘off grid’ Portuguese commune at centre of Brit ‘murder’: Volunteers live off the land in ‘glamping’ tepee camp run by Oxford private school educated businessman in 24 acres of ‘enchanting forest valley’

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Police confirmed yesterday they were initially told the British man’s death was linked to an argument that started while he and his friends were playing the Blue Whale suicide challenge.

The online game has been linked to numerous deaths around the world and consists of initially innocuous tasks before introducing elements of self-harm.

But sources close to the investigation subsequently insisted they had found no evidence there was a Blue Whale link to the death.

Correio da Manha claimed today the suspect had only mentioned the game ‘after having confessed to the crime’ as a way of ‘explaining the situation that led to the macabre death.’

The alarm was raised around 6.30am on Sunday and the suspect reportedly admitted stabbing his alleged victim before taking police to the remote woodland spot where his body was.

The knife investigators believe was used to kill him was found alongside the body, left in a small clearing in woodland close to the village of Figueiro dos Vinhos about a 15-minute drive from the town of Pedrogao Grande in central Portugal.

Footage published by Portuguese daily Correio da Manha showed police lifting the dead man’s body on a stretcher after it was covered with a sheet and putting it into the back of a nearby van.

A waiting Red Cross ambulance took it to Coimbra after officers reached the nearest tarmacked road.

A post-mortem is thought to have taken place yesterday in the university city of Coimbra, although the results have not been made public.

Police found the victim's body in remote woodland between the localities of Poco Negro and Soalheira, near to the central town of Pedrogao Grande, on Sunday. File image of area near Pedrogao Grande

Police found the victim’s body in remote woodland between the localities of Poco Negro and Soalheira, near to the central town of Pedrogao Grande, on Sunday. File image of area near Pedrogao Grande

Xavier Hancock set up his self-styled Libelinha Venture featuring white teepees in a remote forest valley in central Portugal

Xavier Hancock set up his self-styled Libelinha Venture featuring white teepees in a remote forest valley in central Portugal

The victim, who has not been named, was allegedly attacked after a row broke out between a group of friends while they played the notorious suicide game, the online challenge which as been linked to a series of deaths around the world

The victim, who has not been named, was allegedly attacked after a row broke out between a group of friends while they played the notorious suicide game, the online challenge which as been linked to a series of deaths around the world

Well-placed sources said both the 35-year-old victim and suspected murderer had been part of a larger group of around six British people who had been living in the ‘off-grid living community’ and were due to fly back to the UK in about a week’s time. 

One well-placed source said the suspect and other Brits questioned by police on Sunday as witnesses had been at a party at a campsite inside the community grounds before leaving to go to nearby woodland outside it where the stabbing occurred.

Another police source said: ‘A group of about half a dozen people the suspect and dead man were part of were staying at a campsite near to the place where the victim’s body was found.

What is the Blue Whale suicide ‘game’? 

The lethal Blue Whale ‘game’ involves 50 tasks in as many days, aimed at ‘creating psychologically traumatising situations’, ending with suicide.  

Participants join a ‘group’ where the tasks are set by a group ‘administrator’ and can range from watching horror movies to waking at strange hours, and eventually progresses to self harming.

On the 50th day, the controlling manipulators behind the game, which originated in Russia in 2015, reportedly instruct the participants, who are usually teenagers, to kill themselves.

The game, which reportedly started in Russia, has caused numerous deaths around the world, including Ukraine, India and the United States. 

First reports about its victims appeared in Russia in 2016, and in 2020 police in Britain issued a warning to parents to be mindful of their children’s online activities, urging them to talk about the dangers they can face.

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‘It appears they had attended a party there earlier that night before leaving to head for the woodland where the stabbing happened.’

The group are understood to have been planning to fly back to the UK in about a week’s time.

Respected Portuguese broadcaster SIC said the group often held parties and played the Blue Whale game – but there were contradictory reports in local media about whether the group of Britons had been playing at the time of the murder.

The lethal Blue Whale ‘game’ involves 50 tasks in as many days, aimed at ‘creating psychologically traumatising situations’, ending with suicide.

Participants join a ‘group’ where the tasks are set by a group ‘administrator’ and can range from watching horror movies to waking at strange hours, and eventually progresses to self harming.

On the 50th day, the controlling manipulators behind the game, which originated in Russia in 2015, reportedly instruct the participants, who are usually teenagers, to kill themselves.

The game, which reportedly started in Russia, has caused numerous deaths around the world, including Ukraine, India and the United States.

First reports about its victims appeared in Russia in 2016, and in 2020 police in Britain issued a warning to parents to be mindful of their children’s online activities, urging them to talk about the dangers they can face.

At the time, Northants Police said: ‘We are aware of a disturbing social media challenge circulating called the ‘Blue Whale Challenge’ which encourages teenagers to take part in a series of 50 challenges that culminate in committing suicide.

‘This challenge first appeared in 2016 and tasks are given online or through text messages, instant messages or posts on Instagram and Twitter.

‘Please talk to your children about the dangers and tell them not to open any messages or challenges of this kind.’







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