Somerton Man: One of Australia's most baffling cold cases could be a step closer to being solved

thermalben's picture
thermalben started the topic in Thursday, 14 Dec 2017 at 6:17pm

The Tamam Shud case is really fascinating, and a news story today suggests it may be getting closer to being solved.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Thursday, 14 Dec 2017 at 6:17pm

Paging Peter Bowes, aisle 3!

John Eyre's picture
John Eyre's picture
John Eyre commented Friday, 10 Aug 2018 at 11:55am

ThermalBen thats some good article i had not seen before.........this is very fascinating mystery.....wonder if the investigators will identify the somerton man.....
Have you heard the Casefile podcast?

John Eyre's picture
John Eyre's picture
John Eyre commented Friday, 10 Aug 2018 at 2:49pm

"An intriguing additional possibility is that Somerton man fathered Thompson's young son Robin, who was 18 months old in 1948. Several investigators have pointed to a couple of unusual features of the man's ears, an enlarged upper cymba and a diagonal ear crease, clearly present in the morgue photos and drawings of his corpse. These features are present in only around 1% of the population and are also evident in Robin. Was Somerton man his father?

The main issue with this scenario is how and why Somerton man ended up dead. Although the pasty found in his stomach was dismissed at the time as the cause of the man's death, Nick Pelling on his blog suggests the excessive sulphites used as preservatives in baked goods in 1948 may have caused an extreme allergic reaction.

This might initially seem far-fetched, but it was clear from the autopsy that Somerton man was probably recovering from a serious illness when he died. His enlarged spleen is unlikely to have suddenly occurred on the day and is more suggestive of him having recently suffered from something like mononucleosis or malaria.

Pelling theorises that in his already frail state our man became ill after consuming the pasty at Jessica Thompson's house, lay down to try and sleep it off and died. This scenario fits the autopsy evidence which noted the lividity at the back of the man's neck, something unlikely to have occurred if he died whilst sat propped against the seawall where he was found.

The evidence suggested Somerton man's body was placed on the beach after his death
The evidence suggested Somerton man's body was placed on the beach after his death
It's possible Thompson then persuaded a male friend to move the body onto the beach to make it look like he died there, presumably to save the embarrassment and difficulty of having to explain how a strange man was found dead in her house. A witness who came forward much later in the 1950s did indeed claim to see a man on the beach carrying another man over his shoulder at some point on the evening before Somerton man was found dead, so there is some corroborating evidence for the idea.

Whilst clearly speculation, the general scenario has some merit and cannot be discounted. The main objections are the lack of credible explanations for the book and code, and the inability to ever identify the dead man. If this was simply an innocuous domestic incident then why has Somerton man resisted identification for nearly 70 years?"

John Eyre's picture
John Eyre's picture
John Eyre commented Friday, 10 Aug 2018 at 8:07pm

If Abbott is right, Jo Thomson, who died in 2007, had an affair with the Somerton Man, resulting in a child, the ballet dancer Robin, who was Rachel’s father. Robin, who was born in 1947 and died in 2009, grew up with Jo, his biological mother, and knew his father as George, the man Jo married in 1950, three years after Robin was born. He was passed off as George’s child, but Abbott believes Robin’s real father was the Somerton Man. "

Adding weight to this theory are some very unusual physical characteristics the dead man shared with Robin Thomson, Rachel’s father. One is a dental anomaly of absent incisors, a rare genetic trait. The inquest into the death of Somerton Man recorded the incisors were missing with no gaps, meaning his canines grew next to his front teeth. In photographs of Robin, the same trait is visible.

There was another unusual anomaly involving the shape of his ears. Abbott confesses he stared at the photo of the dead man and thought there was something odd, although he could not say what. He showed the image to an anatomist and asked if he noticed anything. “He said ‘yes, these are very rare ears’. He said ‘your ears have two hollows and the upper is smaller than the lower, but in the Somerton Man they are the other way around – his ear has a very large upper hollow and a small bottom’.”

Abbott tracked down a photo of Robin and found his ears were the same, an unusual and accidental finding that convinced him he was on the right track. It firmed up his belief that the letters scrawled in the poetry book once thought to be a Communist cipher were incidental, and the scrap of paper with the words “Tamam Shud” – ‘finished’ – was best viewed as a sad lover’s note. "

peterb's picture
peterb's picture
peterb commented Saturday, 11 Aug 2018 at 6:39pm

John Eyre: you are far from the truth.

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