Someone out there knows who Adelaide’s “Somerton Man” is

Monday, 22 August, 2011

The “Mystery of the Somerton Man”, or “The Taman Shud Case”, where the body of an unidentified male was found on Somerton beach, near Adelaide, capital of South Australia, in December 1948 remains one of Australia’s most perplexing unsolved “missing persons” cases.

Was the so-called “Somerton Man” victim of an elaborate murder plot, or did he take his own life? Why is it that no one was able to positively identify him, despite extensive publicity given to the case at the time? What is to be made of his apparent association with an Adelaide nurse, and rumours of links to espionage groups?

The police had brought in another expert, John Cleland, emeritus professor of pathology at the University of Adelaide, to re-examine the corpse and the dead man’s possessions. In April, four months after the discovery of the body, Cleland’s search produced a final piece of evidence – one that would prove to be the most baffling of all. Cleland discovered a small pocket sewn into the waistband of the dead man’s trousers. Previous examiners had missed it, and several accounts of the case have referred to it as a “secret pocket,” but it seems to have been intended to hold a fob watch. Inside, tightly rolled, was a minute scrap of paper, which, opened up, proved to contain two words, typeset in an elaborate printed script. The phrase read “Tamám Shud.”

Efforts are still in progress to solve the mystery, which includes determining the man’s identity, and what exactly occasioned his death, and are being lead by a University of Adelaide team. More on the case can be found on Wikipedia, while reader comments attached to the source article are also compelling.

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