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Mystery remains of ‘Somerton man’ whose body was found on Adelaide beach to be exhumed

Chilling moment body of mystery ‘Somerton man’ is exhumed at a cemetery 70 YEARS after he was found dead on a beach with a baffling note left in his pocket

  • Remains called ‘Somerton man’ were found in 1948 on the Adelaide beach 
  • 70 years on, police still have no idea who the man was so are exhuming him
  • The corpse will now be DNA tested to try and establish a possible identity 
  • His body was found slumped against the seawall by beach walkers 

The remains of the so-called Somerton man are being exhumed at an Adelaide cemetery in a bid to solve the more than 70-year mystery over his death and his identity. 

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

The case is in the hands of the Major Crime Investigation Branch, with detectives to be on hand as his body was exhumed at the West Terrace Cemetery on Wednesday morning.

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

The remains of the so-called Somerton man are being exhumed at an Adelaide cemetery in a bid to solve the more than 70-year mystery over his death and his identity

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

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’

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

An initial police investigation and coronial inquest left the matter unresolved with the case particularly mystifying because of a number of items found with the body.

They included a suitcase, items of clothing with the tags removed, incoherent writing believed to be a code, the poetry book The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam and a torn scrap of paper with the Persian words ‘Tamam Shud’, meaning ‘it is finished’.

‘Following recovery of the remains, Forensic Science SA will attempt to recover a DNA profile from the man,’ Detective Superintendent Des Bray said.

The man's body (pictured) was found on December 1, 1948, on Somerton Beach with the circumstances of his death remaining a mystery

The man’s body (pictured) was found on December 1, 1948, on Somerton Beach with the circumstances of his death remaining a mystery

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

Attorney-General Vickie Chapman gave permission for the exhumation

Attorney-General Vickie Chapman gave permission for the exhumation

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

‘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 she believed the Forensic Science SA team was well equipped to handle the challenging task.

His cause of death remains unknown and many theories have been advanced over his identity, ranging from a jilted lover to a Cold War spy (pictured, his body)

His cause of death remains unknown and many theories have been advanced over his identity, ranging from a jilted lover to a Cold War spy (pictured, his body)

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

‘For more than 70 years people have speculated who this man was and how he died,’ Ms Chapman said.

‘It’s an enduring mystery but I believe that, finally, we may uncover some answers.’

The case is part of Operation Persevere which seeks to put a name to all unidentified human remains in South Australia.

It runs in tandem with Operation Persist, under which cold case homicides are actively investigated.

South Australia Police are now exhuming the body from a graveyard (pictured on Wednesday morning) to run DNA tests

South Australia Police are now exhuming the body from a graveyard (pictured on Wednesday morning) to run DNA tests

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk