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Mystery Of Man Found Dead With Coded Note In His Pocket May Have Finally Been Solved 70 Years Later

Joe Harker

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Mystery Of Man Found Dead With Coded Note In His Pocket May Have Finally Been Solved 70 Years Later

The mystery of a man found lying dead on a beach in Australia may have finally been solved after more than 70 years of speculation.

On the morning of 1 December 1948, a dead body was discovered lying in the sand on Somerton Park beach, an unlit cigarette tucked into the collar of his coat.

Dressed in a suit and tie, the man looked to be in his 40s or 50s but had no wallet or identification to point towards who he could be.

In his pockets were cigarettes, chewing gum, a comb, a bus ticket and an unused train ticket, all normal things for a man to be carrying.

What was more mysterious was a scrap of paper with the words Tamám Shud, Farsi words meaning 'it's finished' along with a coded note that nobody has ever been able to decipher.

These strange coded notes, along with the labels being cut off his clothes, fuelled speculation that the mystery man was some sort of spy.

The spot on Somerton beach where the mystery man was found is marked with an 'X'. Credit: The Picture Art Collection/Alamy Stock Photo
The spot on Somerton beach where the mystery man was found is marked with an 'X'. Credit: The Picture Art Collection/Alamy Stock Photo

Now, however, University of Adelaide professor Derek Abbott believes his team have cracked the case.

According to the Australian Broadcasting Company, the breakthrough came after analysing the mystery man's DNA through some hairs that were preserved in a plaster model made of the man's face.

Working with cold case forensics expert Colleen Fitzpatrick, Abbott was able to narrow down the list of possible suspects from 4,000 to just one.

Professor Abbott believes the mystery man was Carl Webb, a 43-year-old Australian engineer.

The investigation had the help of Webb's living relatives in confirming suspicions on the man's identity, and Abbott believes he also knows why Webb was found where he was all those years ago.

He explained that evidence suggested Webb had separated from his wife Dorothy Robertson, indicating that he might have been in Adelaide to track her down.

The mystery man was buried with a tombstone reading "Here lies the unknown man who was found at Somerton Beach". Credit: The Picture Art Collection/Alamy Stock Photo
The mystery man was buried with a tombstone reading "Here lies the unknown man who was found at Somerton Beach". Credit: The Picture Art Collection/Alamy Stock Photo

In a statement, South Australia police said they were not able to confirm whether the mystery man's identity had finally been discovered but suggested they were hopeful.

A spokesperson said: "South Australia Police are still actively investigating the 'Somerton Man' coronial matter.

"We are heartened of the recent development in that case, and are cautiously optimistic that this may provide a breakthrough.

"We look forward to the outcome of further DNA work to confirm the identification which will ultimately be determined by the Coroner."

While this decades old case isn't quite closed yet, this DNA discovery could be the crucial piece of evidence which gives a name to a man whose identity has been a mystery for over 70 years.

As for that coded note he had with him, there is still nobody who has been able to decisively work out what it's supposed to mean.

Perhaps that will be the next great mystery to be solved around the body that has for so long been known as 'Somerton Man'.

Featured Image Credit: Australian police

Topics: Australia, World News

Joe Harker
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