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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This is the first of a series of posts that contain hitherto unknown/ unpublished information.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?

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Somerton Man: DNA On Fingerprints Card & The Torn TAMAM SHUD Piece

The Torn Piece Could Provide The DNA Needed..

"...many cold cases whose samples were too small or degraded to prove useful are now resubmitting evidence to labs for Touch DNA analysis."

Much has been said in the press regarding Professor Abbott's desire to have the body of the Somerton Man exhumed for DNA identification purposes.

I understand that the Professor has already taken DNA samples from members of Jestyn's family in an effort to prove whether or not the Somerton Man was in some way related to them.

Exhumation is one way of accessing his DNA but is there another one or maybe 2 ways that DNA could be examined and without exhuming the body of the man? I think the answer is Yes.

Touch DNA

This science deals with the ability of Forensic officers to extract usable DNA samples from extraordinarily small samples, 5 to 30 skin cells is all that is required..

The image of the torn piece is to all accounts of the original taken from the copy of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam which had been thrown into the Hillman Minx car and on the back of which was written the now famous 'code'.

The torn piece was recovered during the autopsy, it was extracted, using tweezers, from a hard to find waistband fob pocket of the Somerton Man's trousers, the ones he was wearing on that fateful day. According to the surgeon, Cleland, the paper was tightly rolled up and quite small.

Somerton Man's DNA on The Torn Piece

When you think about how the words were carefully torn from the book and then equally as carefully handled, folded and then rolled up, how long do you think his fingers would have been in contact with that paper? 2 minutes? 90 seconds? All it takes, according to the Forensic DNA center, is 60 seconds and in that time the surface DNA is transferred to the article being touched, the DNA cells are sloughed off. In the UK all that is needed is between 5 and 20 nucleated cells in order for sufficient low copy DNA to be identified. 

It certainly appears to be that DNA samples could be extracted from the Torn Piece.

The argument will be that over the years a number of people would have handled this piece. My response would be 'And?' If there are 20 samples on the piece then all that you would be looking for is one of those, the one which had probably the most number of cells given the handling it had, and see whether it matched one or more from Jestyn's family.

Interestingly this torn piece still exists and it is in safe hands. To my knowledge neither Professor Abbott nor anyone else has ever mentioned or attempted to obtain DNA samples from the torn piece, the question would be would the person who has the piece hand it over? Perhaps they would hand it over to an independent party.

DNA from Fingerprints

It stands to reason that if you can obtain DNA samples from a piece of paper or other surface, then you should also be able to obtain it from fingerprints. That turns out to be true as well, the same techniques are used, Touch DNA, to collect DNA samples from fingerprints. In the case of Somerton Man, what we have is a reasonably clear set of 10 fingerprints taken using the type of fingerprint ink used at the time. It is highly likely that by default, DNA cells from the man's hand were deposited into the ink and on to the fingerprint card where they will still be. I believe the original fingerprint card is still in existence.

Here's a table showing the various types of crime cleared up by the use of Touch DNA:

You can download a detailed PDF document that discusses Touch DNA methods and techniques.

In this video clip you can see how one US Police Department cleared up 38% of Burglaries using Touch DNA

It could be that there is a reasonable explanation why the extraction of DNA from the torn piece or the fingerprint card has never been mentioned, that is as far as I am aware, and why apparently no efforts were made to examine the torn piece and the fingerprint card for DNA. 

How Touch DNA Works & Why it Matters

This technology has been called a breakthrough by many in law-enforcement for its ability to derive evidence where there is a lack of visible DNA (such as blood, semen, hair, or saliva). It can also be used on fingerprints that are too smudged or incomplete for fingerprint analysis.

Finally, many cold cases whose samples were too small or degraded to prove useful are now resubmitting evidence to labs for Touch DNA analysis.

The process of extracting Touch DNA for forensic analysis involves swabbing, taping, or scraping for trace amounts of epithelial cell-tissue from surfaces like doorknobs, countertops, windows, and even clothing and food. This starter DNA is then amplified using Polymerase Chain Reaction technology to create identical copies that are large enough for proper analysis. 

According to Ryan Forensic DNA Consulting, “the amount of DNA needed to yield a full DNA profile with most commercially available amplification kits is approximately 1 nanogram (ng) of DNA and partial profiles can be obtained with even less starting material."

That comes out to about to the infinitesimally small number of about 5-30 skin cells. With those numbers in mind, it's easy to see why Touch DNA has been embraced by police departments across the country. Of course, if you want Touch DNA evidence to work for you, it's essential you adhere to specimen collection best practices to avoid compromising a sample.

Please feel free to comment I will answer all questions if I am able to.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Somerton Man: The Engraver

In the last post we covered off on the fingerprint issue and detailed why SM was right handed and that he had scars and markings on his right thumb, forefinger and middle finger. These things suggested he had been using a hand tool and that the markings were indicative of that hand tool being an engraving tool. Here's some solid information that supports the evidence.

In the image above you can see the prints from the man's thumb, forefinger and middle finger in that order.

In the image of the thumb print, note that the wear/indentations are near the top.

The Forefinger print shows wear almost exactly radiating from the centre of the print.

The Middle finger print shows its wear off to the left as you look at it.

Now lets look at the typical grip used by an engraver as per the images below:

Notice the thumb pressed close at the top, the forefinger almost central and the middle finger, somewhat hidden has a grip off to the left.

The closeness is obvious and is entirely consistent with the wear in the fingerprints submitted as being from the Somerton Man.

The next image below shows a slightly different grip style but nonetheless still consistent in the location of the wear, in this case the image shows part of the Intaglio printing technique:

Once again the fingerprint wear and the grip used in the Intaglio printing process are consistent.

Now let's look at further evidence that completely supports this argument, below are two images, the first image shows the knife found in the suitcase and the image to the right shows a vintage engraving tool:

You can clearly see the similarities between the two, almost identical in shape, this particular tool is for engraving wood. Wood block printing techniques were much in use during the 1940s. The shape of the tool means a different grip to the one shown prior to this. Here's a video clip link showing one Intaglio process:
The above is all new information but based on the hard evidence that remains, all that was needed to be done to uncover these additional and important facts was to treat this case as an investigation.

An interesting fact is that engravers were extremely well skilled at fine details including micro writing so yet again we have brought even more evidence to support the existence of micro writing in a number of places in this case.

The image above is of President Lincoln's fob watch, as you can see a message was engraved into it, it deals with details of a military attack. I have included this image because at one time one of Jestyn's relatives told me that there was a watch and something had been engraved into it on the inside. I can't vouch for the watch's existence, it is interesting though given the discovery that the person's fingerprints are consistent with those of an engraver.

Here's the message in Lincoln's watch:
"April 13th 1861, Fort Sumpter was attacked by rebels on the above date. J Dillon'
The second part of the message is repeated and states the location as Washington and then states
"Thank God we have a government"

I have more posts coming soon with further information on another item of evidence, I hope you'll drop by again soon.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Somerton Man: What do his fingerprints tell us? His occupation maybe?

A Closer Look:

When you look closely at the Somerton Man's fingerprints and in particular the right thumb, forefinger and middle finger, you will see quite noticeable areas of wear. Compare them to his left hand and you will see the the difference. I have separately found and examined numerous sets of fingerprints and compared them to these shown above. Of around 20 randomly sourced specimens only 1 had similar markings but unfortunately there was no mention of the mans occupation. More work to be done.

For this reason I say that the Somerton Man was right handed and that he worked with some kind of tool, probably metal, which caused the wear patterns. One tool that comes to mind is an engraving tool, quite heavy and made of metal, such tools were used for wood carving and of course for carving metals.

Returning to the tools found in the suitcase, the knife the scissors even the brush could make up an engravers kit and possibly used by those engaged in the printing industry.

This fingerprint example is interesting for a variety of reasons:

This man was in fact a possible SM candidate. Byron, you would be interested in this, Mr. Michaelson was a prospector. He arrived in 1931 on the Eridan, add 17 years to this man and who knows? Would prospectors use a hand tool similar to an engraving tool for some purpose?

Was he involved in printing?

As mentioned another option for SMs occupation would be in the printing field. The tools found in the suitcase, the knife, the scissors, the screwdriver and the brush, may all have been used in the printing process. But perhaps most interesting is the combination of various chemical elements that were found via the Mass Spectrometry tests carried out on samples of the mans hair, the three items most of interest were found to be:


In the printing field and in those times, lead was used in fonts, tin was added to the lead and silver was used in the gelatin silver process to enhance printing of images. This particular process was first used by Richard Leach Maddox in 1871 so it was a well tried and proven element of printing technology. The lead was not considered a health risk as long as normal precautions, washing of hands etc, were followed. However if the lead type was stored in 'damp' conditions then lead oxide, the dangerous stuff, would form. It was practice in those days to remelt the lead type for further use and it is the high temperatures needed in that process that produced a highly toxic environment. These were the immediate post war years and there was a huge focus on re use of all sorts of materials including those used in the printing industry.

In summary, the foregoing has served to confirm he was right handed and that he very probably used some form of tool similar to those used in the engraving, carving and printing fields. The next step is to see just where this part of the puzzle fits.

Saturday, 6 September 2014


POST UPDATED 14th September

A big statement but that is what the evidence now says as you will read in the following post. Here we have someone deeply involved in the case openly saying that the original body was to be disposed of and that was in a note of a conversation with a Police Officer.

UPDATE: 10th September. This post will be added to over the next 4 days, more important information to be included.

In October of 2013 I posted on the question as to whether the Somerton Man image was faked in some way, to support it we looked at an image that was broadly publicised and showed where there appeared to have been 'adjustments' made.

In April of this year the profile image of the man immediately before his burial was posted and made another detailed comparison. The images appear to be quite different and many have commented that the second image was an entirely different person.

Both of these earlier posts have been incorporated in this page.

The evidence:

For those who aren't aware, Lawson was the man who created the bust of the Somerton Man and it has often been said that perhaps Mr. Lawson knew far more than he was saying.

Trawling through the information I found what could be a damning statement written in Lawson's diary, here's the image taken of the entry made on June 8th 1949:

Read the top section in particular:

Police Job
Interview with Detectives (Brown + 1)
Ring from Constable Durham re DISPOSAL of ORIGINAL Body
Casting of ears and piecing together mold.

Does that sound right to you? Why say 'Disposal of Original Body' ? The man was to be buried. Why not just say 'burial of the man'? You 'dispose' of something unwanted, you bury a body. The use of the word 'original' also sounds odd, you might use 'original' if there was more than one body involved which may have been the case.

Why 'Detective Brown + 1', who was the other one? Surely Lawson knew the name of the other Detective if that was indeed what the extra person was?

There is something decidedly chilling about the terminology used in this diary entry. What was Lawson really saying?

September 14th, update..

As promised, I have added to this post by including two earlier posts related to the images of the Somerton Man that appear to show some significant differences in one instance and what might be evidence of alterations made to the picture in the other.

The issue here is that taken in isolation, each of these posts raise serious questions about the identity of the body that was buried in June 1949. When you bring all three issues together, the Lawson Diary entry, the Somerton Man initial profile image and then the pre-burial image, then there is quite an argument that the body in the grave in Adelaide was not that of the man found on Somerton Beach on December 1st 1948.

This information and the images is presented for you to make your own decisions.

Nick Pelling on his Cipher Mysteries Blog puts forward a different view and I encourage you to visit his page and gain an insight into his thoughts on this matter. But first, here are the earlier and very relevant posts made on this issue.

Original Post Dated 15th April 2014

In the previous post we looked in some detail at the post embalmed image of the Somerton Man and attempted to highlight what appeared to be differences in his facial appearance.

Please note that working with digital images is a fine art and whilst I have some level of skill I am not a technical person in this regard, having said that I have made every effort to maintain the integrity of the original images and to present as accurate a picture as possible.

In this follow up post we look in greater detail at just where those differences lie.

The challenge was to ensure as far as possible that we had comparable images in terms of size on which to base the analysis. I have used a simple grid approach and as you will see there are 4 distinct areas that do not appear to match. I have used the ear as the basis of sizing the rest of the image and then plotting the additional areas from there. As you can see the ear is very close to being an exact match in shape, size and location. 

To the grid:

A. At point A we can see the forehead, you will see in the lower image that the forehead has a pronounced bump, this bump occurs at the point where I believe another facial image had been superimposed on to the Somerton Man's head, you may well see the light line that commences on that bump and continues to the hairline and then beyond. Others have written that the bump is a relic of the autopsy but in the post embalmed image there is no such bump apparent. Is that because it was never there or because of the effects of the embalming process and subsequent cold storage? My belief is that it was never there and is the result of adding and superimposing another face on the SMs head.

B.  The bridge of the nose at point B in the lower image shows a pronounced 'dip' which is not there at all in the upper image. A different shaped nose.

C.  At point C we can see that in the upper image the nose appears to be significantly larger and of a typical 'Roman' type. Again, this appears to be a different nose type and shape to the lower image.

D.  Finally at point D, the lower face appears quite different to the upper, post embalmed, image. In the top image, the area above the mouth appears to have more depth and the lips and chin are at a different angle and moved forward, some of this is no doubt due to the jaw having dropped and manipulated in the embalming process.

Elsewhere on the web the upper image, post embalmed, has been described as flattened, in this comparison, the opposite appears to be true.

From Post Dated 25th October 2013:
A big question. Was the whole Tamam Shud Case a cover up right from day one?

The question is prompted by a recently released Trove News article dated December 1st. 1948, that date should ring a bell, it was of course the day that his body was found on Somerton Beach. To be precise he was found around 6 in the morning and this News item was posted in the Adelaide News, an evening newspaper which I think came out at around 4 p.m.

In a busy Police Station, the sequence of events would have been something like this:

1. 6 a.m. body found and inspected for any obvious signs of violence or unusual marks
2. Transport arranged and body taken to the morgue
3. Body again inspected for any wounds or marks cleaned up and prepared for an autopsy, a Police Officer sometimes known as a 'Coroners Officer' would have had control of that process and may even have organised or carried out the washing.
4. A detailed description of the body would have been taken by the Coroners Officer and that would have formed part of an initial 'sudden death' report.
5. A duty, uniformed, inspector would have authorised the release of the mans description to the press
6. The News Police reporter at the time would have made what was probably a regular daily phone call when he came on duty sometime around midday on the 1st December.
7. The press article, based on the Coroners Officer's information would have been prepared for publication.

Worth bearing in  mind that at this stage there was no hint of poisoning or Codes or the Tamam Shud torn piece.

As you will read via the link below, is that the Coroners Officers description of the man was as follows:

Height 5ft 11 inches, quite precise
Build, Well built, again a reasonable description
Hair colour, Fair, quite definite
Eyes, Hazel and again quite definite.

The problem is that subsequent descriptions of the Somerton Man were quite different, in those he has been described as having auburn hair and blue eyes.

Does the picture below look like his hair is fair?

Remember that in a recent post the Police announced that a 'Reconstructed photograph was available for inspection' that very weekend following the finding of his body.

This image is the one posted earlier that appears to show that his photograph was manipulated:

When you examine this image carefully it could well be that the face of the man in this image is not that of the Somerton Man, if it's true in this case then it could also be true of the full face image shown here:

Two of our followers, photographers, agreed that it was likely that one or both had been altered, I checked that with other photographers and they agreed. The question is why would you go to these lengths, and it was a tricky process in those days, to alter a photograph? Any other photographers out there, your input would be appreciated.

So here we have it, the first description that was released, one which would have been written by the Coroners Officer who would have been an experienced man to hold that position, described the man as having fair hair an Hazel eyes. The man in this altered image does not have have anything like fair hair as far as I can see.

Did the December 1st Press release about the discover of the mans body on Somerton Beach slip through the 'net' and is that why the Police hurriedly announced the availability of 'reconstructed' images? Why did his description change so quickly after the first press release?

Add to this, the 14 instances of fingerprints not being taken from the mans possessions, the laundry marks that were supposedly traced to Victoria but never followed up, the evidence, in terms of his clothing, possessions and the book, being destroyed despite it still being an open case and I would say there is genuine cause to think that something was sadly amiss at the least and that it was a deliberate cover up at its worst.

Somerton Man: The Suitcase Contents

Over the last several years I have managed to amass a collection of images related to the Somerton Man case. They range from the suitcase contents to possible SM candidates and whole lot more, but first an acknowledgement.

I want to acknowledge those people who freely gave input and provided some of the research and sometimes images that will appear in this gallery. More than happy to include their names with their permission. The background is that we all belonged to the original Facebook group, 'World Search for a Rare Copy of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam' set up by Professor Abbott and then later we set up our own group known as 'Inner Sanctum'. The bottom line is that I make no claim to being the sole author and I am grateful for having had the experience of working with a super team of researchers. So, here are their initials or pseudonyms:

Grace, TJ, JP, BT, BB, JR. If I have missed anyone please let me know.

In the end there is no one person who can rightly claim that they are the premier source the exception being Detective Sergeant Gerry Feltus (Retired) who had the Somerton Man case on his desk as a Cold Case and who actually knew and interviewed Jestyn.

Anything I do here by way of extending the range and depth of information on the case will have its roots in the work done by Gerry in his book, The Unknown Man. You'll see a link to Gerry's website to the right of this page.

This page starts off the Gallery and I will be adding more links over the coming days and weeks. I thought that the best approach would be to show some of the images here and then place a link to Google Drive where you can find more from the files described. The Gallery itself is also found on a separate page to the right of this post, it will be added to and new additions posted here as a reminder

First off the rank is a collection of images of the suitcase items.

Scarf, more like a shawl? Notice label bottom right of scarf
Image enhanced view of suitcase and contents

Video still
Negative view, sometimes negatives
show up additional information

Lamonte Tartan

This Lamonte Tartan is similar to the SM version, however so is the Black Watch tartan.

McDonald/Keane Tartan. This was found on a tartan search, web based, the notation made mention of Mcdonald and Keane families.

Irish variation of the Keane tartan

Dressing Gown

With regards to the dressing gown, some research unearthed the details to be found on the sleeves of similar gowns to SM's


SMs ties.
Tootal Ties Ad from 1948

                     Elasta Strap trousers

Negative of inside of trousers

Elasta Strap Trousers 

Trousers, button missing

Close up of trouser pocket/laundry labels. Very feint.

Laundry Marks

Sundry Contents

Group, toothbrush, loupe, tie.

Razor Strop close up, adjacent to the brush handle..

Loupe? Notice the 'grips' within the

One effort to identify the toothpaste, unsuccessful

Lion Toothpaste? Razor Strop

Engraved brush end


The man was found with a packet of Army Club cigarettes which had Kensitas cigarettes inside it. This was apparently common practice in those days, the idea was to not let others know that you had a better quality cigarette in order to conserve your supplies. Another option was to make others think that you were ex service.

Just below you can see an image of a 1948 style packet of Army Club cigarettes and the same year packet of Kensitas.
Kensitas 1948

The Lighter

The lighter was Australian made by Green & Co. It came in 2 variations, one was military as you will see below and the other was civilian. What you will notice is that this is not a throw away 'zippo' style of lighter. this lighter has a separate fuel tank into which lighter fuel was poured, a wick that extended into the tank and of course wheel and flint.

The question is that, given that SM was a relatively heavy smoker, what happened to the packet o flints and lighter fluid that every smoker with a lighter, especially one with a fuel tank, would carry with them?


Fuel Tank and Lighter fluid advert together with a similar ad for lighter flints.

                                           A 1953 Ad for Lighter fluid


New Pelaco, Australian made, Shirt from case

Close up of scissors

Scissors maker

Canadian Army 'housewife' kit
including Barbour's Thread. Slightly different card shape
Barbour's Waxed Thread.
The only item that tied SM to the suitcase, this thread was 
in common use. Of note, is that Barbour's threads were military 
issue items and included in 'housewife' packs.      

Feather Stitch Jacket. The machines capable to do feather
stitching only existed in the US at the time.

Glass dish and button


Labels Removed


Contrary to common belief, the 'envelopes' found in the suitcase 
were in fact pre-paid letter cards

Example lettercard

Negative of a lettercard


Note the scissors, brush handle, knife, scabbards ( made from wrapped zinc) and the black case to the right is believed to be for the 'cut throat' razor. You can just see the corner of the razor strop above the piece of zinc plate, as you will see the razor strop end has a wire triangular piece with a wire loop at the end. This is quite different to the image of the suspected jeweller's loupe shown earlier on this post.

Pencil sharpener

John Lobb, London & Paris. Similar shoes to SMI contacted Lobbs and John Lobb told me 
that the number 204B was one of theirs but, that number belonged to a pair of mens riding boots. 

A Spit & Polish job on the example shoes above. Interestingly some will remember their service days when a heated teaspoon was used to apply polish and then buffed. Pete Bowes from asks the question, 'Where is the polishing cloth/rag?' Good question!

SM's shoes, note 6 lace holes and there are 21
brogue punched holes across the toe.

Negative of SM's shoes, Wide Welt

SM Shoes, close up and colour enhanced
Shoe Polish

Typical shoe ID marks location

US Military Issue