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The Somerton Man Case. The body of a man found on an Australian beach close to a major Atomic Testing ground, he was probably poisoned, a copy of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam and an unbroken Code page found and associated to him. Set against a Cold War background in 1948, was this man a spy? We think so and this blog focuses on the evidence that was left behind and in some cases missed, the Code page, Dry Cleaning numbers, A Poem and a small, torn piece of paper bearing the words TAMAM SHUD.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Somerton Man: The Fingerprints, A Questionable Document

How do we know these fingerprints belong to the
Somerton Man?

UPDATED October 8th 2014

This is the first of a series of posts that contain hitherto unknown/ unpublished information. The next set will include a significant range of documents and images that had been with held fro the public.
On first glance, this looks like a very ordinary image showing fingerprints but, as per a recent response made to a comment left by Nick Pelling, there's more to this image that makes it questionable perhaps beyond Nick's understanding of this case.

In the response I pointed out:

How the image shows what appears to be a photograph of the original fingerprint card laid on a piece of paper, the highlighted areas to the top left and right appear to show the edges of the card against a plain paper background. although at the base of this image it is difficult to discern where the card finishes.

The next issue with this image questions the apparent cut made to the top right corner of the card where there is some typing shown briefly describing the source of the fingerprints. You might ask why that would be a problem and the answer is that in essence those prints could belong to anybody because the fingerprint card itself does not contain anyone's signature nor the original description which should be shown in that top right area where the typed note appears. In other words the prints are not authenticated. The form on the top left has been left blank as has the 'Classified and Searched By' and 'Checked by' fields center right of the card.

Another question is where are the 'full finger' prints and or hand prints that would normally be expected to be taken? You can see in this image that there is a space for 'Left' and 'Fingers' yet no prints are shown.

Finally, there is nothing on this card that identifies it as being a South Australia Police fingerprint card.

So where does this leave us? We have a questioned image showing unauthenticated, incomplete fingerprints with no signatures and we have some more questions. Under what circumstances does it make sense for the prints to have been apparently kept in a folder of some kind? If the fingerprints were evidence then they would just be a plain photograph handed to the Coroner, they wouldn't be handed over in a book like this one, they would have been marked as specific exhibits.

My thoughts are that this is an image taken much later and perhaps relatively recently. This in turn makes me think that the original fingerprints may still exist and that there is a possibility that suspended in the ink on the card are DNA cells from the hands of the person from whom these fingerprints were taken.

I put it to Nick that someone should get in touch with SAPOL museum and ask whether they have an example set of blank fingerprint cards from the 1948 period plus an actual copy of a full set of fingerprints.

In the files, mention is made of the man's fingerprints being sent to Central Records in Sydney, the question I raise is were these the originals that were sent or photographs?

These are serious questions that need to be answered and my belief is that someone has those answers, they are not to be dismissed lightly and without any substantiating evidence as seems to have been so often the case.

I leave you with these final questions, when and where was this image taken, by whom and for what purpose?


Anonymous said...

Hi Gordon, Gerry Feltus makes a couple of points on Page 143 & Page 206 of his book whereby another man was seen been carried on the beach at 10.00pm on 30 Nov, if true, this raises a distinct possibility that a 'switch' was done late at night-for what purpose? Clive

Gordon332 said...

Clive, I think that there could have been a number of reasons why someone would be carried along the beach at night. A friend with a few too many under his belt is one of them. Having said that, these were the days of the 6 o'clock swill so 10 p.m. would indeed be an unusual time of night for this to be happening. Did you do any research on any special events that may have been taking place in and around Glenelg that evening? Could yield some results perhaps.

So that others from other countries can understand, the 6 o'clock swill was the 6 p.m. last orders law in Australia for pubs and hotels in those days.

Anonymous said...

Hi Gordon, I have not found any special events in the Glenelg area for Nov 30. Reading "The News" December 1st Page 3 reports on the "Keane Case", nothing to do with the SM but, but the name rings a bell! Clive

Gordon332 said...

Good stuff Clive. It's amazing what you find when you shake the trees a little. I am a big fan of that approach which in effect is the method used by experienced investigators when things start to drag their heels. Interestingly been discussing investigation Vs the academic approach, it can be a difficult concept to explain, seems to me it has more to do with art than science.

Just following through on this a little further, supposing you now did a search for T.Kean, no 'e' at the end, then lets make that Peterborough and/or Port Pirie 1948, you might be surprised at what you find. I see Port Pirie with its lead smelters, tin and uranium processing as being a place of interest and of course on the route rail line from Port Augusta to Adelaide as well as the place from where Adelaide Steamship Company ran a regular passenger service down to Port Adelaide.

Look forward to hearing from you on this.

Beth Ricketts said...

Just discovered this site. I'm very excited to dig in! I first read about the case several years ago and it's exactly the type of thing that fascinates me to no end.

Gordon332 said...

You're welcome Beth.

Anonymous said...

Hi Gordon, There was a Mr T. Kean of Port Pirie but, he was a Post master another person was a Mr Tom Kean(e)? who was noted in the "Recorder" 11-06-48 Page 4 something to do with football-not our man as he was still alive in 1949! If the SM turns out to be T. Kean and not Arnold Deutsch etc, I just feel that it will be a minor item in a newspaper which will lead to the truth. Clive

Gordon332 said...

Clive, I wasn't thinking of Keane as SM, rather he may have known SM and possibly that is where SM got his clothes?

Anonymous said...

Hi Gordon, Ok, strange that there was a Captain T M Keane who moved to Adelaide in 1947 (Barrier Miner 29-08-47 Page 1) Clive

Gordon332 said...

Hi Clive, Good work, I think the more stones that you turn over the more likely you will come up with a result, I put a post on Pete Bowes site regarding the origin of T Keane, the only place where it appears is on the tie and the 'T' is questionable so it is the surname more than anything else that should be the focus.

The Postmaster that you found is more than interesting, he transferred from Peterborough to Port Pirie. Can I suggest that you take a look at what services were offered by his Office? Commercial traffic was quite common in those days, they used a combination of morse code and teleprinter plus they could probably handle sending images. Commercial Codes are a whole big topic by themselves. As far as I am aware no one has looked into the possibility, (I have but not in any great depth), and that's in addition to the use of Pro Signs.

In Port Pirie there would have been masses of commercial traffic associated with the smelter, shipping of lead and uranium and more. The question is how much if any of the wireless and teletype traffic was handled by the Post Office?

You may be aware that in the UK right up into the 70s, telecoms technicians were heavily involved in all sorts of wireless and cable intercepts. I hope all of this is of interest for you. You can read more in Spy Catcher, good book.