The Unsolved Mystery of Taman Shud
On December 1, 1948 at approximately 6:30 a.m. a lifeless body was discovered on Somerton Beach in Adelaide, Australia. The man's head was propped against a seawall and his feet were stretched out toward the sea. It was obvious that he died quietly with no visible injuries. A search of his clothing produced few clues to his identity.
The man had no wallet or any identification on or near his person. His pockets contained a used bus ticket to St. Leonards in Glenleg, an unused rail ticket to Henley Beach, an aluminum comb, believed to be American, a pack of cheap Army Club brand cigarettes, a fourth a box of used matches and a half a pack of Juicy Fruit gum.
All labels from his clothing had been removed.
Originally, the man was identified as E.C. Johnson. On December 3, 1948 a man who identified himself as E.C. Johnson presented himself at the police station therefore the search continued for the true identity of the unknown man.
Who is that man?
An autopsy was performed and the conclusion was the man died from a fast acting and undectable poison. Digitalis was believed to be the culprit. Further examination revealed interesting genetic clues. His calves were very well developed and his first and last toes were wedge shaped. One doctor reported that it was as if he had the legs of a dancer or wore high heeled shoes.
His ears were remarkable due to the shape of the ear canals. His upper ear canal was larger and the bottom ear canal was smaller. Only about 2% of the population has this genetic trait.
For each clue that is found another mystery seems to unfold. The truth seems to become narrow and then wide again like a river that meanders on without an end in sight. Just when the answer seems close another mystery springs up unexpectedly.
The man was described as being close shaven, hazel eyes, light brown hair with some gray, broad shoulders, narrower waist and in great physical condition with a frame that measured 5'11" in height.
Under more scrutiny, the unknown man's clothing revealed a hidden pocket that contained a rolled up slip of paper with the words, "Tamam Shud" printed on it. One of the pockets had been repaired with a waxy orange thread that was very uncommon at that time. The cheap cigarettes pack actually contained 7 expensive brand of cigarettes leading some to believe that may be how he ingested the poison.
Tamam Shud is a Persian phrase translated to mean "the end" but it is believed that it was changed to Taman as a result of translation.
The Brown Suitcase
A brown suitcase was discovered at the Adelaide Railway Station that was checked on November 30, 1948, some time after 11:00 a.m. The mystery deepened as investigators discovered the unclaimed suitcase.
It contained a dressing gown in size 7, a couple pairs of slippers, underwear, pajamas, shaving items, an electricians screwdriver, a pair of light brown pants, a pair of scissors, a card of that strange waxy orange thread, and a stenciling brush that would have been used for stenciling boxes of cargo being shipped.
The labels had either been removed from all the clothing or T. Keane, Keane or Kean was written on the remaining labels. There was a Sailor named Thomas Keane but his friends who could identify him said the unknown man was not him. Speculation includes the thought that the case was planted to mislead investigators.
There was an article of clothing that is believed to have come from the U.S. as the featherstiching was done nowhere other than America.
- The Voynich Manuscript - Decoded?
Who wrote the Voynich Manuscript? Intellects have been trying to solve the many mysteries of the manuscript for over a century - has it been cracked?
Interesting to note is that a man who left his car unlocked discovered a copy of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam that had been placed on the back seat of his car. He thought it belonged to his brother in law. When he learned it was not - a closer inspection revealed a missing chunck of a page. It was the scrap of paper that was found in the dead Somerton man's hidden pocket.
The man asked not to be identified but turned the book in to the police.
Inside of this particular copy of the Rubaiyat there was a printed code and two phone numbers. One of the unlisted phone numbers belonged to a woman who had gifted a copy of this book of poetry to an Army Lieutenant named Alfred Boxall. For decades her name was kept out of the press as she requested not to be named. She was referred to as "Jestyn" because she signed the nickname in the book to Boxall.
Was the unknown man a former lover of Jestyn?
"Jestyn" was visibly shaken upon seeing the bust of the unknown dead man. It was noted she instantly turned very pale but denied knowing the identity of the man.Alf Boxall was found alive and well and his copy of the book was intact. Incidentally he was rumoured to be involved in the spy business.
Jestyn's true name was Teresa Powell. Powell told police her name was Teresa Johnson and that she was married to another man (Prestige Johnson). Many years later it was found that Teresa was not a nurse at that time and was not yet married.
Powell gave the book of poetry to Boxall in Sydney, Australia prior to his military departure overseas in 1945.
In 1946 a pregnant Teresa Powell moved to Victoria to live with her parents. She changed her surname to that of her husband in 1947. Some people speculate that the child was Boxall's and Powell didn't want him to learn of her connection to the unknown man.
The Somerton man has never been identified, unequivocally. The code has also never been broken.
There are interesting cases that are connected to the Somerton Man. Keith Waldemar Mangnoson believed he could identify the unknown man and planned to do so just before he and his two year old son disappeared. The two were found four days later on river bank. Clive, the two-year old son was deceased and lying on the bank next to his fatigued father who was suffering from exposure. The elder Mangnoson was examined and committed to a mental facility. The mother Roma Mangnoson told police she had been threatened and chased down by a man who concealed his face with a handkerchief while he threatened her and told her to stay away from the police. Roma collapsed and also required medical treatment following the ordeal.
In June, 1945, a 34 year old man named Joseph Saul Haim Marshall was discovered in Ashton park, Mosman, in Sydney. A copy of the seventh edition of "The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam," published in London by Methuen, was found on his deceased body. His death was blamed on suicide by poison.
In 2010 investigators discovered that only five editions of the Rubaiyat had been published by Methuen.
On 2011 a woman found an identification card issued in the name of H.C. Reynolds that she found with her father's estate. The ID card was issued on February 28, 1918 and has a compelling similarities to the Somerton man. Anthropologist Maciej Henneberg is convinced H.C. Reynolds is the Somerton Man due to a mole the same shape and size and in the same place as the photo.
A search was done of all the military records in the archives and they have failed to find any records of an H.C. Reynolds.
The Somerton man lies in an unmarked grave with all of his secrets inside.
The South Australian Police continue to investigate all new information. I would say the end of his story is far from being told.
"Don't become a mere recorder of facts, but try to penetrate the mystery of their origin." ~Ivan Pavlov
More by this Author
Petits Fours are the hottest dessert bites on the table. Learn how simple they are to make right at home in your own kitchen!
The Patty Hearst ordeal has been a controversial topic in the media for almost 4 decades. The questions still linger on...was Patty a participant? A victim or was she the unknowing patsy for a C.I.A. conspiracy to...
Here is the scoop about sleep studies. What to expect for the sleep study and how you can participate in research studies and get paid!