News, Culture & Society

Inside the painstaking forensic examination of ‘Somerton Man’

Inside the painstaking forensic examination of ‘Somerton Man’ whose death has baffled investigators for 70 years amid claims he was a ‘cold war spy’ or murdered by an ex-lover

  • The man’s body was found on Somerton Beach on December 1, 1948 
  • The circumstances of his death have remained an open police investigation 
  • His body was found slumped against the seawall by beach walkers 

The man’s body (pictured) was found on Somerton Beach on December 1, 1948

South Australian forensic specialists will begin attempting to build a DNA profile of the so-called Somerton man from his exhumed remains.

The man’s body was found on Somerton Beach on December 1, 1948, with the circumstances of his death remaining an open police investigation.

Major crime detectives and staff on Wednesday spent twelve hours recovering his body from a burial plot at the West Terrace Cemetery.

Four pallbearers carried a coffin containing his remains out of the cemetery under police escort.

They will be taken to Forensic Science SA in a bid to solve the more than 70-year mystery over his death and identity.

Forensic Science SA assistant director Anne Coxon said modern technology was light years ahead of the techniques available when the body was discovered in the late 1940s. 

Attorney-General Vickie Chapman gave permission for the exhumation. Pictured: Forensics and cemetery staff during the exhumation

Attorney-General Vickie Chapman gave permission for the exhumation. Pictured: Forensics and cemetery staff during the exhumation

The case is in the hands of the Major Crime Investigation Branch, with detectives to be on hand as his body was exhumed

The case is in the hands of the Major Crime Investigation Branch, with detectives to be on hand as his body was exhumed

‘Tests of this nature are often highly complex and will take time,’ she said. 

‘However, we will be using every method at our disposal to try and bring closure to this enduring mystery.’

Attorney-General Vickie Chapman, who gave permission for the exhumation, said the forensics team was well equipped to handle the challenging task.

South Australian police are to exhume the remains of the so-called Somerton man in a bid to finally determine his identity

South Australian police are to exhume the remains of the so-called Somerton man in a bid to finally determine his identity

A mysterious note found in his pocket is believed to be a code (pictured) and was found alongside a scrap of paper with Persian writing - with the words translating as 'it is finished'

A mysterious note found in his pocket is believed to be a code (pictured) and was found alongside a scrap of paper with Persian writing – with the words translating as ‘it is finished’

Forensic Science SA staff, South Australia Police, major crime detectives and staff from the West Terrace cemetery are seen during the exhumation

Forensic Science SA staff, South Australia Police, major crime detectives and staff from the West Terrace cemetery are seen during the exhumation

The Somerton man was first found by passers-by who noticed him slumped against a seawall.

The cause of death remains unknown and many theories have been advanced over his identity, ranging from a jilted lover to a Cold War spy.

It is known as the ‘Tamam Shud’ case, with those Persian words – loosely translating to ‘it is finished’ – found on a torn scrap of paper in his trouser pocket.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk