Have Scholars Finally Identified the Mysterious Somerton Man?

Illustration of Somerton Man's autopsy photo, overlaid on the "code" found in his copy of a Persian poetry book
Experts
were
unable
to
pinpoint
a
cause
of
death,
but
three
medical
witnesses
who
testified
during
an
inquest
into
the
Somerton
Man
case
agreed
that
his
passing
“was
not
natural.” 

Illustration
by
Meilan
Solly
/
Photos
via

Wikimedia
Commons
under
public
domain

For
decades,
authorities,
academics
and
the
public
alike
have
traded
theories
about
the
identity
of
the
mysterious

Somerton
Man
,
whose
body
was
found
on
a
beach
outside
of
Adelaide,
Australia,
on
December
1,
1948.
He
was
a

Russian
spy
.
A
jilted
lover

poisoned

by
his
paramour.
A

smuggler
.
A
former

ballet
dancer
.

The
truth,
however,
is
seemingly
more
mundane.
As
Hilary
Whiteman
reports
for

CNN
,
a
new
DNA
analysis
suggests
the
Somerton
Man
is

Carl
“Charles”
Webb
,
an
electrical
engineer
from
Melbourne
who
vanished
from
the
public
record
in
April
1947.


Derek
Abbott
,
a
physicist
and
electronic
engineer
at
the
University
of
Adelaide,
and

Colleen
Fitzpatrick
,
a
forensic
genealogist
who
specializes
in
using
DNA
to

solve
cold
cases
,
identified
the
Somerton
Man
using
hairs
caught
in
his
death
mask.
Though
the
state
coroner
has
yet
to
confirm
the
pair’s
findings,
Abbott
tells
the


Guardian
’s
Natasha
May
that
“as
a
scientist,”
he
is
confident
in
the
accuracy
of
the
analysis.

The Somerton Man
Despite
authorities’
efforts
to
publicize
the
case,
no
one
was
able
to
positively
identify
the
Somerton
Man.


Public
domain
via
Wikimedia
Commons

“We’re
just
saying
this
is
what
the
DNA
tells
us,”
says
Abbott
to
the


New
York
Times

Alan
Yuhas.
“It’s
up
to
the
cops
to
make
the
legal
determination
of
who
this
guy
was.”

To
narrow
down
the
pool
of
potential
candidates,
Abbott
and
Fitzpatrick
plugged
the
Somerton
man’s
DNA
into
the
genealogical
research
database

GEDmatch
.
After
finding
a
match
to
a
distant
cousin,
the
researchers
constructed
a
family
tree
of
some
4,000
people.
They
then
used
archival
records
to
search
for
individuals
whose
biographies
mirrored
what
was
known
about
the
Somerton
Man.
Webb,
who
was
born
in
the
Australian
state
of
Victoria
in
1905,
fit
the
bill.

“In
all
this
soup
and
ocean
of
DNA
cousins,
we
were
able
to
connect
one
of
them
to
Carl’s
father
and
one
of
them
to
Carl’s
mother,”
Fitzpatrick
tells
the

Times
.
“You
really
kind
of
narrow
it
down
so
much
it
could
be
any
one
of
Carl’s
siblings—but
Carl
is
the
one
with
no
documented
death.”

Discovering
the
Somerton
Man

On
the
night
of
November
30,
1948,
two
separate
couples
noticed
“a
smartly
dressed
man
lying
on
the
sand,
his
head
propped
against
a
sea
wall,”
according
to


Smithsonian

magazine
’s
Mike
Dash.
Dismissing
the
enigmatic
figure
as
a
drunk
or
a
soundly
sleeping
beachgoer,
the
couples
made
no
effort
to
approach
him.

Police
arrived
on
the
scene
the
following
morning
after
receiving
reports
of
a
dead
body
on
Somerton
Beach.
Per
a

1949
inquest

report,
a
doctor
who
examined
the
Somerton
Man’s
remains
placed
his
time
of
death
around
2
a.m.
The
5-foot-11,
40-
to
50-year-old
man
carried
no
money
or
identification.
In
fact,
all
of
the
tags
on
his
clothing
had
been

deliberately
removed
.
Tucked
in
his
pockets
were
cigarettes,
matches,
a
pack
of
Juicy
Fruit
gum,
a
used
bus
ticket,
an
unused
train
ticket
and
two
hair
combs.

View of the section of Somerton Beach where the Somerton Man's body was found (spot marked with an "X")
View
of
the
section
of
Somerton
Beach
where
the
Somerton
Man’s
body
was
found
(spot
marked
with
an “X”)


Public
domain
via
Wikimedia
Commons

Experts
were

unable
to
pinpoint

a
cause
of
death,
but
three
medical
witnesses
who
testified
during
the
inquest
agreed
that
the
death
“was
not
natural.”

“There
was
no
indication
of
violence,
and
I
am
compelled
to
the
finding
that
death
resulted
from
poison,”
city
coroner
Thomas
Erskine
Cleland
concluded.
“[B]ut
I
cannot
say
whether
it
was
administered
by
the
deceased
himself
or
by
some
other
person.”

Despite
authorities’
public
appeals
and

mounting
media
coverage

of
the
mystery,
no
one
was
able
to
positively
identify
the
Somerton
Man.
A
month
after
his
death,
police
found
a

suitcase

believed
to
belong
to
him
at
the
Adelaide
Railway
Station.
(A
spool
of
thread
in
the
suitcase
matched
the

orange
stitches

used
to
repair
the
man’s
clothing.)
Also

inside

were
a
shaving
brush,
shoe
polish,
a
knife,
scissors,
a
screwdriver
and
assorted
attire,
some
of
which
was
labeled
with
variants
of
the
name
“T.
Keane.”
A
tailor
brought
in
to

assess
the
clothing

concluded
it
was
made
in
the
United
States,
lending
weight
to
the
theory
that
the
Somerton
Man
wasn’t
from
the
area.

The
next
clue
in
the
case
surfaced
in
May
1949,
when
pathologist
John
Cleland

reexamined
the
corpse

and
discovered
a
rolled-up
piece
of
paper
hidden
in
the
man’s
pants
pocket.
It
bore
the
phrase
Tamám
Shud
”—Persian
for
“it’s
finished”
or
“it’s
ended”—and
was
soon
traced
to


The
Rubáiyát
of
Omar
Khayyám
,
a
12th-century
book
of
Persian
poetry
popularized
by
an
1859
English
translation.

Somerton Man "code"
Abbott
thinks
this “code”
actually
represents
a
list
of
the
horses
Webb
bet
on.


Public
domain
via
Wikimedia
Commons

“It’s
hard
to
see
this
as
anything
other
than
intentional,”
Fiona-Ellis
Jones,
host
of
The
Somerton
Man
Mystery

podcast,
tells
the

Australian
Broadcasting
Company
’s
(ABC)
Bridget
Judd.
“A
suicide
note
perhaps?
Or
maybe
a
final
goodbye
to
a
lover.”

In
July
1949,
a
local
man
came
forward
with
a
copy
of

The
Rubáiyát

that
he’d
found
tossed
into
the
back
of
his
car
around
the
time
of
the
Somerton
Man’s
death.
The
torn-out
fragment
found
in
the
Somerton
Man’s
pocket
perfectly
matched
a
gap
on
the
final
page
of
the
discarded
copy.
Interestingly,
the
book
contained
several
handwritten
annotations,
including
a

suspected
code

and
the
phone
number
of
a
nurse,

Jessie
“Jo”
Thomson
,
who
lived
near
the
site
where
the
body
was
discovered.

When
presented
with
the
Somerton
Man’s
death
mask,
Thomson
appeared
“completely
taken
aback,
to
the
point
of
giving
the
appearance
she
was
about
to
faint,”
according
to

Detective
Sergeant
Lionel
Leane
.
Still,
she
denied
knowing
the
man,
and
authorities
didn’t
press
her
on
the
issue.
From
there,
the
trail
went
cold.

The
enduring
mystery
of
the
Somerton
Man

For
the
next
70
or
so
years,
speculation
and
increasingly
outlandish
theories
dominated
discussion
of
the
Somerton
Man.
Some
observers
cited
the
“code”
found
on
his
copy
of

The
Rubáiyát
,
as
well
as
the
apparent
attempts
to
mask
his
identity,
as
evidence
that
he
was
a

Russian
spy
.
(Cryptography
experts
contend
that
the
string
of
letters
don’t
actually

constitute
a
code
;
Abbott,
for
his
part,
tells
ABC
they
probably
represent
the
first
names
of
horses
Webb
bet
on.)

Others
posited
that
the
Somerton
Man
was
a
former
professional
ballet
dancer,
drawing
on
the

coroner’s
comment

that
his
calf
muscles
were
“high
and
well
developed,
such
as
found
in
women,”
and
suggestion
that
“he
had
been
in
the
habit
of
wearing
high-heeled
and
pointed
shoes.”

Burial of the Somerton Man on June 14, 1949
Burial
of
the
Somerton
Man
on
June
14,
1949


Public
domain
via
Wikimedia
Commons

Perhaps
the
most
convincing
theory
centered
on
Thomson’s
son

Robin
,
whose
distinctive
ears
and
teeth
closely
resembled
the
Somerton
Man’s.
Born
in
1946,
Robin
enjoyed
a
career
as
a
dancer
with
the
Australian
Ballet
Company.
Speaking
with

ABC
’s
Ben
Cheshire
and
Susan
Chenery
in
2019,
Abbott
speculated
that
Robin
was
the
Somerton
Man’s
son;
Thomson,
he
proposed,
had
failed
to
identify
him
because
she
“was
in
a
relationship
with
another
man
who
would
go
on
to
be
her
husband,
and
she
just
didn’t
want
this
ghost
from
the
past
coming
back
to
mess
up
her
current
existence.”

Abbott,
who
has
researched
the
Somerton
Man
for

more
than
two
decades
,
met
his
current
wife,
Rachel
Egan,
through
the
case.
Learning
that
Thomson
had
died
in
2007
and
Robin
in
2009,
he
set
out
to
find
Robin’s
living
descendants.
Egan
was

Robin’s
granddaughter
.
She’d
been
adopted
as
a
child
and
grew
up
in
New
Zealand,
unaware
of
her
potential
links
to
the
cold
case.
A
day
after
meeting
each
other,
Abbott
and
Egan
decided
to
wed.

“People
have
said
that
possibly
Derek
married
me
for
my
DNA,” Egan
joked
to
ABC
in
2019.
“And
I
think
there
is
some
truth
to
that.”

Authorities
in
Adelaide

exhumed
the
Somerton
Man’s
body

last
May
and
are
currently
conducting
genetic
testing
on
the
remains.
(The
DNA
studied
by
Abbott
and
Fitzpatrick
came
from
the
Somerton
Man’s
death
mask,
not
his
body,
and
was
analyzed
as
part
of
a
separate,
parallel
investigation.)
Officials
declined
to
comment
on
the
new
findings,
instead
telling
CNN
they
would
respond
“when
results
from
the
testing
are
received.”

Contrary
to
Abbott’s
initial
suspicions,
the
new
DNA
survey
showed
no
genetic
ties
between
Egan
and
Webb,
definitively
proving
that
Robin
was
not
Webb’s
son.

“Whether
there
was
some
social
connection
to
Robin’s
mother
is
still
on
the
table
for
investigation,”
Abbott
tells
ABC,
“but
may
be
one
of
those
things
we’ll
never
know
now.”

Beyond
the
DNA
results
linking
the
Somerton
Man
to
Webb,
Abbott
and
Fitzpatrick
found
ample
archival
evidence
supporting
the
identification.
Born
in
Footscray,
a
suburb
of
Melbourne,
on
November
16,
1905,
Webb
was
the
sixth
child
of
a
German-born
man
and
an
Australian
woman,
writes

ABC
’s
Rebecca
Opie.
In
October
1941,
he
married
Dorothy
Jean
Robertson,
who
is
listed
on
the
couple’s
marriage
certificate
as
a
21-year-old
foot
specialist.
Webb
was
then
a
35-year-old
instrument
maker.

The
last
mention
of
Webb
in
the
historical
record
dates
to

April
1947
,
when
he
left
his
wife.
In
October
1951,
three
years
after
the
Somerton
Man’s
death,
Dorothy
placed
a
notice
in
the

Age

newspaper
stating
that
she
had
begun
divorce
proceedings
against
Webb
on
the
grounds
of
desertion.
By
then,
Dorothy
had
moved
from
Melbourne
to
Bute,
a
town
89
miles
northeast
of
Adelaide.

“It’s
possible
that
[Webb]
came
to
this
state
to
try
and
find
her,”
Abbott
tells
CNN.
“This
is
just
us
drawing
the
dots.
We
can’t
say
for
certain
say
that
this
is
the
reason
he
came,
but
it
seems
logical.”

Records
showed
that
Webb
enjoyed
reading
and
writing
poetry,
as
well
as
betting
on
horse
races.
He
had
a
sister
who
lived
in
Melbourne
and
was
married
to
a
man
named
Thomas
Keane—likely
the
T.
Keane
whose
name
appears
on
the
clothing
in
the
Somerton
Man’s
suitcase.
(As
for
the
American
origins
of
the
attire,

Abbott
speculates

that
Keane
bought
the
clothing
second-hand
from
a
G.I.
stationed
in
Australia.)

Abbott
and
Fitzpatrick
have
been
unable
to
locate
a
photograph
of
Webb,
but

ABC
’s
Opie
reports
that
an
image
of
Webb’s
brother
Roy,
who
died
as
a
prisoner
of
war
in
Malaya
during
World
War
II,
bears
a
“striking
resemblance”
to
the
Somerton
Man.

Plenty
of
questions
surrounding
the
case
remain:
Why
did
Webb
come
to
Somerton
Beach?
What
was
his
cause
of
death?
Did
he
die
by
suicide?
Was
he
murdered?
What,
if
anything,
was
his
connection
to
Thomson?
The
researchers
hope
to
address
these
mysteries
and
more
through
archival
and
genetic
research.

“Some
answers
may
come
soon,
some
may
take
years,
and
some
may
never
be
answered,”
Abbott
tells
ABC.

Reflecting
on
the
identification,
Carolyn
Bilsborow,
a
filmmaker
who
directed
a

2018
documentary

about
the
Somerton
Man,
tells
the

Guardian
:

We
had
all
these
grandiose
ideas
about
him
being
Russian,
American
and
European.
I
was
convinced
that
he
was
from
Europe—maybe
a
displaced
person
after
the
Second
World
War
[who]
was
here
alone.
But
to
find
out
that
he’s
Australian,
from
Victoria,
and
that
he
died,
and
no
one
obviously
noticed
he
was
missing,
or
no
one
followed
up
with
the
police
that
he
was
missing—I
find
that
particularly
kind
of
tragic.

Artikel ini diambil dari https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/have-scholars-finally-identified-the-mysterious-somerton-man-180980540/

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *