Mysterious death of Somerton Man.
Discovery of the body
At 7pm on November 30, 1948, John Bain Lyons and his wife were taking an evening ride on Somerton Beach, a small seaside resort outside Adelaide, Australia. They noticed a man leaning against the seawall about 60 feet away from them, his legs stretched out in front of him. He appeared to hold his right arm up a little weakly before it fell back to the ground, and the couple continued their journey in what they thought was an attempt to smoke a cigarette after drinking.
Another couple walking along the seawall saw him in a similar condition around 7:30 p.m. This time they both noticed that the man didn’t move at all despite the mosquitoes around his face. He jokingly says that he’ll look dead and that’s why he doesn’t chase insects, but the couple assumes he’s actually drunk and moves on.
John Lyons, the same man first described, who found the body during an evening ride with his wife, returned to the beach the next morning for a swim. He met a friend after a swim around 6:30 a.m. They noticed a group of people on horseback near the seawall where the body had been the night before. Approaching the group to investigate further, Lyons saw a body in the same position as the night before and realized something was wrong. The police were called immediately.
Later in 1959, a third witness came forward to share a never-before-told story about this. He was on the beach early in the morning when he saw a man carrying another unconscious man on his shoulder towards Somerton. Found the person. As it was dark, he was unable to describe the two men and did not know if this had anything to do with the case.
As no other witnesses saw the face of the man lying on the beach during the night, this may have been a different man, and the Somerton man’s body was actually taken to the beach that night. There were no signs of convulsions or vomiting at the scene—common effects of poisoning—so it seems plausible that the man died elsewhere and was washed ashore.
Details about the body
He was 5’11’ (180 cm) tall.
He had gray eyes.
His hair was orange, gray on the sides and slicked back in the front.
Estimated age between 40 and 50.
He had not performed the Sunnah.
It weighed between 165-175 pounds (75-80 kg).
He lost 18 teeth, including 2 lateral incisors that never grew due to a genetic disorder.
He had small scars on his left wrist and left elbow.
His hands and feet were clean and free of sores. This indicates that he did not do manual labor.
The body was taken by ambulance to the Royal Adelaide Hospital. Dr. John Barclay Bennett examined the body. He declared that the time of death would not be before 2 am. His report listed the cause of death as cardiac arrest, possibly due to poisoning. An unused train ticket from Adelaide to Henley Beach, a bus ticket from Adelaide to Glenelg, fruit flavored chewing gum, some Bryant & May matches and an aluminum comb were also recorded as being in hand. Army Club cigarettes and seven other cigarettes of an expensive brand called Kensitas were found in a pack. The man was wearing a suit and heeled shoes, but the manufacturer’s labels had been removed from the clothing.
A full autopsy the next day revealed more details. At autopsy the man’s leg muscles were noted—they were high and toned (maybe discolored) and his feet were oddly pointed. Expert witnesses suggest that he often wore high-heeled shoes as a ballet dancer. It was also noted that his pupils were smaller than normal. His spleen was three times larger than normal and congested. His liver was damaged by a blood clot. There was more blood in his stomach along with the remains of a paste. These observations bolstered the poisoning hypothesis, but lab tests found no trace of a known poison. The paste was also tested and came back negative. John Dwyer, the attending pathologist, was surprised to find nothing. Thomas Cleland, the coroner, later suggested that there were two deadly poisons, one digitalis and the other strophanthin, that could quickly affect the body without leaving a trace. I think one of these may have been used.
It became clear that this was not a simple case of a man dying of natural causes while on a beach excursion. The police took full fingerprints and circulated them in countries around the English-speaking world, but to no avail. Photographs were published in all Australian newspapers, and many relatives of the missing came forward to identify the bodies. No one could identify. This man does not appear to be in any official records, nor was there anyone looking for him who was willing to come forward. All leads are exhausted.
First major lead
Since no one came forward who recognized the photo, the police decided to expand the search. Since the man was not dressed for the weather or location, they assumed he was traveling. A notice has been issued at all hotels, dry cleaners, railway stations, bus stations and lost property offices in the area for abandoned items. The very next day, the police had a lead in finding out the identity of this man.
A brown suitcase was left in the cloakroom of Adelaide railway station on November 30, but was never claimed. It is now January 12 and it has been considered abandoned. Because so much time had passed, the staff could not remember anything about the person who had given it to them. However, a perusal of its contents yielded a few things. Among the items in the suitcase was a reel of orange barber yarn, a rare type not found in Australia. This thread perfectly matched the orange thread used to mend the unknown man’s trouser pocket. It was almost certain that the suitcase belonged to the Somerton man.
However, further investigation was disappointing. The labels had been torn off the suitcase to hide its origin. Tags and labels were removed from three garments. Among the remaining tags was the name ‘T.Kean’. But the investigation did not lead to anyone in that name. The police concluded that the tags were left knowing that the dead man’s name was not ‘T. Keane’ and therefore would not reveal anything if found. And these are the only labels that cannot be removed without damaging the garment. Also notable in the suitcase was a stencil kit that would have been used for stenciling cargo on merchant ships; A cutting table knife; Airmail cards indicated as sending communications abroad;
The discovery of the suitcase has revealed some details about the Somerton man’s final days. He must have gone to the railway station and bought a ticket to Henley Beach which was found in his pocket. The Somerton man must have been looking for somewhere to freshen up, records show, on November 30 the station’s public bath was closed. Probably said the facilities were closed, so had to be sent to the public bathroom half a mile away. He might have gone there for the convenience of bathing and shaving, but this wasted time caused him to miss his train. Decided to get on the bus instead of waiting for the next train and found the bus ticket to Glenelg in his pocket. All this happened around 11 am on November 30,
Items in the suitcase
Dressing gown and cord.
A laundry bag with ‘Keen’ written on it.
A pair of scissors in a sheath.
A knife in a sheath (apparently a serrated table knife).
A stencil brush.
Two pairs of underwear.
A pair of trousers (with dry cleaning marks) and a 60 coin in the pocket.
A sport coat.
A coat shirt.
A pair of pajamas.
A yellow coat shirt.
A singlet bearing the name ‘Keen’ (without the ‘e’ at the end).
A banyan worn under a torn nameless shirt.
A shirt without a name tag.
A light board.
Eight large covers and one small cover.
Two coat hangers.
A razor strap.
A cigarette lighter.
A shaving brush.
A small screwdriver.
A small glass saucer.
A soapdish & hairpin.
Three safety pins.
Each front and rear collar stud.
A brown button.
A pair of broken scissors.
A card wrapped in tan thread.
A Tin Tan Boot Polish (Kiwi).
Two airmail stickers (stamp).
An obscure number of pencils, mostly Royal Sovereign brand. Three pencils were H.
While the suitcase was an exciting find, it didn’t help identify the man. Several months passed with no new clues until April 1949 when John Cleland, a professor of pathology at the University of Adelaide, was brought in to re-examine the body.
Cleland discovered a previously unnoticed small pocket sewn into the waistband of the man’s trousers, most likely intended to hold a pocket watch. In his pocket was a tightly folded piece of paper. On the paper, the words ‘Tamam Shud’ were written in detail. (The newspapers misprinted it as Taman Shud, a misprint that has persisted for years.) An Adelaide police reporter instantly understood what those words meant. A twelfth-century book of poetry, Omar Khayyam’s Rubaiyat, was very popular in Australia during the war, especially in Edward Fitzgerald’s translation. ‘Tamam Shud’ is a Persian word which was on the last page of the book.
The discovery caused quite a stir – did the man commit suicide? Were these hidden pieces of paper his last message before committing suicide? It seemed to indicate that the man somehow knew that November 30 was his last day. All identification was removed from him and his possessions, and he took the time to hide this message on his body. All of Khayyam’s poems deal with love, life and death. Could Somerton man have taken his own life after being heartbroken? The case seemed closer than ever to that one fact. But the real twist was about to unfold.
Police began searching libraries and bookshops for copies of the Rubaiyat with the same fancy typeset found on scrap paper. Didn’t get one. The search was expanded to include publishing houses and eventually extended to the entire world. It seemed fruitless. But on July 23, 1949, the book was finally found. A man from the town of Glenelg, just north of Somerton Beach, brought a copy of the book to Adelaide Police Station. The last page containing the text ‘Tamam Shud’ was torn out. The font perfectly matches the deceased’s scrap paper. During the inspection, the piece of paper used in the book was found. Soon after the body was found in December last year, The Glenelg man explained that he and his brother-in-law had gone for a drive in a car parked near Somerton Beach. They find a copy of the Rubaiyat sitting in the backseat of the car, but both mistake each other for the other man putting it there. Without thinking about anything else, he took it to the dash. The man realized he had this key piece of evidence after seeing a news report about the police search for the book.
The unknown man’s copy of the Rubaiyat, from which he had torn the hidden message, was an exciting fact, but seemed to provide little lead. The detectives searched for another copy of the book, but there didn’t seem to be any in the world. They learned it was published by a New Zealand chain called Whitcomb & Tombs, but investigation revealed that Whitcomb & Tombs had never published the book in that format. They published a similar version with the same cover, but it had a square format. No other publishing house in the world has published a format that matches it. Where did this man get a completely unique copy of such a popular book?
Nurse, Code, Army Officer
Detective Sergeant Lionel Leane was not satisfied that the book contained no additional clues. He examined it closely. Two telephone numbers were written on the back cover and he saw faint traces of other letters as if someone had handwritten on the last page of the book before tearing out the page containing ‘Taman Shud’. It was detected using ultraviolet light. There were five lines of letters, and the second line was cut once. It seemed like some sort of code.
The police called both the numbers listed in the book. One was owned by the bank and no indication was given. The second belonged to a nurse who lived near Somerton Beach. The police agreed to protect her identity, (she was known only as Justine for several decades, but was later revealed to be Jessica Thompson. ) Jessica was so reluctant to talk to the police that they hesitated to press her for details. She was living with a man she would later marry. Perhaps hidden from her soon-to-be husband because of her love affair with a Somerton man,
Regardless of the reason for her silence, Jessica denied all knowledge of the case, but admitted to giving a copy of the Rubaiyat to a man named Alfred Boxall. During the war Jessica was an army nurse and Boxall was an officer. When they met in a military hospital, she gave him the book, which contained one of her lines of poetry, which she had signed with her nickname – Justine. The police decided that the unknown person must be this Alfred Boxall. But it was later realized that the version of the Rubaiyat she had given was not the one in the hands of the dead man. With that, the police were disappointed with that lead as well.
When Alfred Boxall’s lead proves ineffective, Jessica is brought to the police station to view the body. On seeing his face, Detective Sergeant Leane said ‘she was completely dazed with a fainting look on her face’. She is shown a replica of his face made in plaster of Paris, not the real face, so this shock is not at being confronted with a dead body, but at recognizing the man. As a nurse she has experience with death and illness so her reaction is questionable. It was clear to many that she recognized the man, but she continued to deny any connection with him. Another piece of information offered by Jessica, Neighbors had told her last year that a man had come looking for her when she was not at home. She wasn’t sure of the date.
When Jessica refuses to hand over any valuable information, the officers turn to the code. Only four short lines were of any real use, and it proved impossible to break. Naval intelligence tried to decipher the code. It was published in newspapers for amateur sleuths to crack. The best code breakers from around the world were called in to check it out.
Many guesses were made but no one could give a definitive answer. The Navy stated that the most reasonable explanation, based on line breaks and the frequency of occurrence of letters, was that the code was in English and that ‘lines are the initial letters of the words of a poetic verse’. And, despite several attempts, the path ended there.
Conclusion of the investigation
In June 1949, more than six months after the unidentified man was found, the body began to decompose. The police embalmed the body and plastered the head and upper body. A plot with dry soil was chosen to preserve the body in case it ever had to be exhumed. On June 14, 1949, Somerton buried the man with a small ceremony, his name still unknown, and his cause of death unknown.
The box is sealed under a layer of concrete. Two other bodies were buried in the same grave in the following decades. Until 1978, flowers were occasionally found in the grave, but no one knew who had brought them there.
Jessica Thompson died in 2007. Her son Robin, believed by many to have been born to the Somerton man, died two years later. Her husband, Prosper Thompson, passed in 1995. She took all the secrets ‘Jestin’ held to her grave. A rare copy of the Rubaiyat was lost by the police in the 50s and no matching copy has ever been found. The brown suitcase was destroyed in 1986. In 1958, the South Australian Coroner’s published final results of the inquest concluded, “I cannot say who the deceased was… I cannot say how he died, or what was the cause of death.” A request for an exhumation to extract mitochondrial DNA was refused.
The Suicidal Theory: Heartbreak and Despair
The first of two popular theories involving the Somerton Man is that he killed himself because he was rejected by his nurse. The ‘Tamam Shud’ note in his pocket certainly supports the suicide theory. The Rubaiyat consists of poems that focus on living life to the fullest and not regretting it when it ends. The meaning of the phrase ‘finished’ suggests that the man was facing some kind of end when he tore up the scrap. A murderer could have done not only to remove the labels from his clothes to prevent the body from being identified, but also from his suitcase and all its contents. He must have done it himself before leaving the railway station. He had no significant bruises, injuries or defensive wounds that would normally result from being attacked and fighting for his life. The pastry that made his last meal did not contain poison. Whatever the cause of death, it appears to have been self-inflicted and not by force or surreptitious food poisoning.
If this death is considered suicide, why did it happen? Which brings us back to Nurse Jessica Thompson. At the time, the police respected her privacy, but did not completely avoid it. Later investigations yielded many interesting details about her, known only as ‘Jestyn’. In an interview with police, she claimed to be married and gave her last name as ‘Johnson’. However, marriage records tell a different story. Jessica was dating and possibly living with a man named Prestige Johnson. Prestige was married in 1936 and was technically married at the time of their dating. In 1946, Jessica became pregnant and moved in with her parents. In 1947 she moved to Glenelg, Took the last name of the future husband. Her son was born in July 1947. It was three years later, in May 1950.
Jessica claimed the son was Prestige’s and the two raised him as their own. However, there is speculation that Jessica was involved with multiple men when she became pregnant. Jessica admitted giving a copy of the Rubaiyat to Alfred Boxel in August 1945 while getting drunk at the Clifton Garden Hotel. She became pregnant in 1946 before moving to Glenelg with Prestige. Did she date more men besides Prestige and Alfred between 1945 and 1946? Even Paul Lawson, who showed her the shape of her body, noted her ‘beautiful figure’ and her level of beauty was ‘very acceptable’. It is quite reasonable to assume that she had a group of suitors, one of whom may have been the Somerton man. He may have believed her son to be his own, Went to Adelaide in a last ditch effort to win her heart and be with his girlfriend and child. Jessica’s neighbor mentions that someone came asking for her—perhaps he found her, made his request, and turned away in despair. He wandered about 400 meters from her house to the beach where he was last found, took the vial of poison he had prepared for just such an occasion and collapsed. This theory is supported by the fact that no signs of a struggle, strangulation or vomiting were found at the scene. He may have taken the poison near the sea and then thrown the bottle into the ocean. When he was about to die, he may have walked near the sea wall and rested. Facing west,
The driving force linking the Somerton man to Jessica Thompson’s son is the apparent similarity of the rare genetic traits the two men share. University of Adelaide professor Derek Abbott, who is leading the team investigating the case, claims to have obtained a clear image of Jessica’s son showing his ear and teeth. You’ll recall from the autopsy report that the Somerton man lost two of his lateral incisors (teeth) due to a genetic disorder called hypodontia, which occurs in 2% of the population. Studying the pictures of his ears (given below), it is clear that his upper ear is hollow (or simba), and his lower ear is larger than the hollow, or cavum – another condition seen in only 1-2% of the population. According to Abbott, Jessica’s son clearly has both of these genetic traits. The chance of this being a coincidence is estimated to be between 1 in 10,000,000 and 1 in 20,000,000. This picture of Jessica’s son was taken from a newspaper clipping but has not been made available to the public.
Spy Theory: Espionage and the Cold War
Several facts in the case lead many to believe that the unknown man was actually a spy and was killed in the name of an intelligence mission. Of course, all these facts could be coincidental, as there is no strong evidence linking him to espionage.
The Australian government recently announced the establishment of a national secret security service called the Australian Secret Intelligence Organisation. One of their bases was Woomera in South Australia. It was a top-secret missile launch and intelligence-gathering site, just a short train ride from Adelaide. Observing the train schedules and the timeline established by the police for the Somerton man’s last day, he could easily have caught a train from Woomera and arrived in Adelaide in time for Glenelg with his luggage.
This modus operandi of death also leads to spy rumours. A very rare and unknown poison kills a man and disappears by itself from his body within hours, why can’t any medical test detect it? It is believed to be developed and used by the military in its espionage network. Adelaide Coroner Thomas Cleland says digitalis and strophanthin are poisons that can kill a man without a trace and are available at most pharmacies. It’s never proven what actually killed the man, so this is where you let your imagination run wild. Was it a secret chemical weapon developed by the government? Was it a drug that anyone with knowledge and connections could get from a pharmacist that killed him? Was it given because this man was a spy who knew too much?
As a footnote to the poisoning theory, the fact that there are no defense wounds, no signs of struggle, and no obvious injection site can be examined. How can poison be given when the poison is not ingested and is not in the food? Think about how that man was found. He was reclining with a half-smoked cigarette in his lap. There was a pack of Army brand cigarettes and Kenzita brand cigarettes inside. Because of wartime shortages, it was very common for cheap cigarettes to be hidden in expensive packs. But this man put expensive cigarettes in a cheap case. What was the reasoning? Could it be that someone replaced his cigarette with a poisoned one? Unfortunately,
A very simple question that lends credence to the spy theory is that no one has ever claimed the body. Pictures, fingerprints and physical details of the man were circulated around the world. If this was a normal man with an average job, friends and a family…someone would have missed him. Someone would come looking for him. If only someone had recognized his pictures and come forward instead of allowing the mystery to remain for 65 years. Even in his activities throughout the day before his passing, only two witnesses saw him after he died on the beach. In most cases, of course, it is easy to pass a day without anyone noticing. But, In the case of Somerton Man, if he was a foreigner from a non-English speaking country, it can be assumed that he had a thick accent. Someone should have noticed a well-dressed man with a thick foreign accent, wearing a pullover and jacket on the summer beach, without a hat as was customary at that age, walking around for 8 hours eating pastries. Either he must have been adept at concealing a flaw in pronunciation, or else it must have been somewhere between noon and 7 p.m. If he didn’t visit Jest, then where was he? Someone should have noticed that he wore a pullover and a jacket to the summer beach, didn’t have a hat as was customary at that age, and walked around for 8 hours eating pastries. Either he must have been adept at concealing a flaw in pronunciation, or else it must have been somewhere between noon and 7 p.m. If he didn’t visit Jest, then where was he? Someone should have noticed that he wore a pullover and a jacket to the summer beach, didn’t have a hat as was customary at that age, and walked around for 8 hours eating pastries. Either he must have been adept at concealing a flaw in pronunciation, or else it must have been somewhere between noon and 7 p.m. If he didn’t visit Jest, then where was he?
Of course, the strongest sign that this was no ordinary man was the indecipherable code in the unique copy of the Rubaiyat. Intelligence officials and professional code breakers agreed that this did not appear to be the demented sign of a madman because there was a recognizable pattern. Yet no one has come close to cracking the code. There is an explanation above that. Spies usually use ‘disposable pads’ as ciphers. A special version of a book can be used to encode a message that requires the book itself to be understood. For example, certain letters or patterns in the code may indicate a specific page number and word on that page. If code numbers are used, ’37-12′ will refer to the twelfth term on page thirty-seven. In this case, letters could be substituted for numbers and represent words that can be pulled from the book to form a message. A copy of this was lost by the Australian police. The Rubaiyat associated with Somerton Man, no other similar copy has ever been found in the world. What makes this book seem unique is that it is reasonable to assume that it is not a published book, but a one-off pad used by a spy group. After reading the message, the Somerton man is believed to have torn the page it was written on and thrown the book into the back seat of a nearby car. A copy of this was lost by the Australian police. The Rubaiyat associated with Somerton Man, no other similar copy has ever been found in the world. What makes this book seem unique is that it is reasonable to assume that it is not a published book, but a one-off pad used by a spy group. After reading the message, the Somerton man is believed to have torn the page it was written on and thrown the book into the back seat of a nearby car. A copy of this was lost by the Australian police. The Rubaiyat associated with Somerton Man, no other similar copy has ever been found in the world. What makes this book seem unique is that it is reasonable to assume that it is not a published book, but a one-off pad used by a spy group. After reading the message, the Somerton man is believed to have torn the page it was written on and thrown the book into the back seat of a nearby car.
Finally, the labels on his clothes and possessions were removed to close the way of his identification. It is easy to assume that if he was killed his wallet would have been stolen. Perhaps the murderer removed the label from his clothing. But long before his death his suitcase was searched and the labels were removed. If he were a spy, he would be careful to travel undetected. However, there may be a simpler explanation for this. During the war, most goods, including clothing, were in short supply. It was common for people to write their name on all their possessions. When sold to a second hand shop or friend, those name tags are removed.
There have been a few cases in Australia that seem to be somehow linked to Somerton Man.
Joseph George Marshall: George Marshall was a Jewish immigrant from Singapore who died in 1945, a few years before the Somerton man was discovered.
Marshall was found dead in Sydney’s Ashton Park with a copy of the Rubaiyat open on his chest. It is concluded that the death was suicide by poisoning. His edition was published by Methuen, a London publishing house, and was the seventh edition. But Methun published only five editions of the book. Marshall’s copy of the Rubaiyat was almost as unique as Somerton Man’s. These books were probably one-off pads that this special intelligence ring used to encode messages to each other. Remember that a nurse named Jessica Thompson gave Alfred Boxel a copy of the Rubaiyat. Clifton Gardens is next to Ashton Park. Marshall was found dead two months later in Clifton Gardens (this links the nurse to all three men—she gave Boxall a copy of the Rubaiyat, her phone number was written on an unknown man’s copy of the Rubaiyat, and she was in the immediate vicinity when Marshall was found dead with a copy. The Rubaiyat on his chest was a key link in a spy chain. Thompson? ) Marshall was the brother of the Chief Minister of Singapore. At the inquest into his death, a woman named Gweneth Dorothy Graham gave evidence. She was found dead two weeks later, found dead in a bathtub with her wrists cut. Her phone number was written on the unknown man’s copy of the Rubaiyat, and she was in the immediate area when Marshall was found dead with a copy. Was Thomson a key link in a secret chain of Rubaiyat on his chest? ) Marshall was the brother of the Chief Minister of Singapore. At the inquest into his death, a woman named Gweneth Dorothy Graham gave evidence. She was found dead two weeks later, found dead in a bathtub with her wrists cut. Her phone number was written on the unknown man’s copy of the Rubaiyat, and she was in the immediate area when Marshall was found dead with a copy. Was Thomson a key link in a secret chain of Rubaiyat on his chest? ) Marshall was the brother of the Chief Minister of Singapore. At the inquest into his death, a woman named Gweneth Dorothy Graham gave evidence. She was found dead two weeks later, found dead in a bathtub with her wrists cut. At the inquest into his death, a woman named Gweneth Dorothy Graham gave evidence. She was found dead two weeks later, found dead in a bathtub with her wrists cut. At the inquest into his death, a woman named Gweneth Dorothy Graham gave evidence. She was found dead two weeks later, found dead in a bathtub with her wrists cut.
Keith and Clive Mungnoson: This makes the case’s connection to Somerton Man seem a little more serious. On June 6, 1949, two bodies were found 12 miles off Somerton Beach. One was two-year-old Clive Mungnoson, who was found dead in a sack. His father, Keith, was alive but unconscious from serious injuries. Natural causes have been ruled out, but Clive’s cause of death remains unclear. Keith escaped and was immediately sent to a mental institution. His wife, Roma, began reporting threats such as phone calls and being chased by a masked man with his car. She was warned to ‘stay away from the police’. She believed the tragedy was caused by her husband going to the police to identify the Somerton man’s body, thinking it was a colleague at the establishment where he worked a few years ago. Roma said that when he returned from the police station after seeing the body, Keith was devastated, unable to talk about it or have afternoon tea. On March 21, 1950, Keith Mungnoson escaped from the mental hospital where he was being held. Somerton Man’s clothes were found at Henley Beach where he bought his train ticket. On April 26, 1950, he was caught eating almonds from a dustbin. The police could not say where he had been for the past one month. Roma Mungnoson filed for divorce in June 1953 on the grounds of ‘ordinary cruelty’. Her husband was still incarcerated. (Then the question of whose cruelty remains!)
Derek Abbott, a professor of engineering at the University of Adelaide, Somerton, has taken a particular interest in the mystery of man. For the past 20 years, he has studied the case intensively and involved students in his investigation. The portrait below shows the latest update on Professor Abbott’s case.
He realized that an autopsy photo is rarely a good picture of what the person looked like while alive, yet only the autopsy photo of the Somerton man emerged. He has commissioned an artist’s rendering of what the man might have looked like while alive, and hopes the image will gain traction in the media. He thinks it’s possible that an old friend or someone going through old photo albums or newspaper clippings will eventually recognize him.
Another recent find is a US sailor’s identity card found by an Adelaide woman while going through old records. The card is dated 28th February 1918, the male is listed as 18 and the nationality is British. His name was HC Reynolds.
The man in the photograph resembles the Somerton man and was 48 when the Somerton man’s body was found – an appropriate age based on post-mortem findings. Many people have argued that Somerton Man is not HC Reynolds, but a professor who examined the photo found the theory plausible.
The nurse’s daughter, Kate Thompson, came forward to demand that the Somerton man’s body be exhumed. She believes her mother was in love with the Somerton man and that they were both part of a Soviet spy ring. It is also believed that her mother may have been involved in his murder. Her mother refused to give any details about how she knew the Somerton man before his death, saying only that his identity was known to higher authorities than the police. Kate’s suspected half-brother, Robin Egan, believes he is the son of a Somerton man and Jessica Thompson.
19 May 2021
Somerton man: Body exhumed in attempt to solve Australian mystery
The body of a man found on a South Australian beach more than 70 years ago has been exhumed in hopes of solving one of the country’s most intriguing mysteries. Now, Australian police say advances in DNA technology are making the dig worthwhile. Crews began digging into the grave on Wednesday, with local media Nine News reporting that initial efforts were moving more slowly than expected due to dense clay and uncertainty over whether the man was buried in the coffin.
According to ABC News, a wooden spatula and brush were used to carefully extricate the remains, which were transferred to a new coffin before being taken to the Forensic Science Center. It could be the first step in the process of building a DNA profile and finding answers to one of the nation’s most famous cold cases. Authorities said they will try to identify the man and where he came from if they get enough DNA evidence.
“The technology we have now is light years ahead of what was available when this body was found in the late 1940s,” Forensic Science South Australia’s assistant director of operations, Dr. Anne Coxon said.
Dr Coxon said these types of tests were highly complex but investigators would use ‘every method at our disposal to put an end to this enduring mystery’. The case is part of Operation Perceive, which seeks to name all the unidentified remains in South Australia. ‘It’s a story that has captured the imagination of people across the state and around the world – but I believe we will finally find some answers,’ South Australian Attorney-General Ms Chapman said.