September 7, 1978
Georgi Ivanov Markov (Георги Иванов Марков) is struck in the leg with a poisoned pellet, leading to his death four days later
Markov had defected from his home, the People’s Republic of Bulgaria, and became an outspoken critic of the country’s regime. On September 7, as he walked across Waterloo Bridge in London, he felt a sharp jab to his leg, similar to an insect sting. Looking behind him, Markov saw a man picking an umbrella from the ground. The man apologized and hurried into a taxi.
Markov quickly developed a rash on the area he had felt the sting, came down with a fever, and was admitted to the hospital where he died four days later. Before his death, he informed doctors he believed he had been poisoned which was confirmed during his autopsy. A small titanium pellet with highly toxic ricin was found in his leg. The pellet had been coated with a sugary substance designed to melt at body temperature, protecting the poison during impact and releasing it while in the victim’s body.
KGB defectors have verified the organization’s connection to the assassination and in 2005 The Times reported Francesco Gullino, codename “Piccadilly,” is the prime suspect in the “Umbrella Murder.” At this time, no one has been arrested for Markov’s murder.