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The Unsolved Mystery of Taman Shud

Updated on March 24, 2013
Who is this  man?
Who is this man? | Source

Unsolved Mystery

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.

X Marks the Spot
X Marks the Spot | Source
show route and directions
A markerAdelaide, SA -
Adelaide SA, Australia
get directions

B markerHenley Beach, Australia -
Henley Beach SA 5022, Australia
get directions

C markerAdelaide Railway Station -
Adelaide Railway Station, Adelaide SA 5000, Australia
get directions

D markerSt. Leonards, Glenleg -
St Leonards Court, Glenelg North SA 5045, Australia
get directions

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.

Source

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 End"

Source
This code has never been cracked.
This code has never been cracked. | Source

The Rubaiyat

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.

Source

The End?

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.


Source

"Don't become a mere recorder of facts, but try to penetrate the mystery of their origin." ~Ivan Pavlov

Comments

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  • Hankscita profile image

    Sandy 3 years ago from Florida

    I really love this Hub. I Love mysteries such as these. Thank you

  • RealHousewife profile image
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    Kelly Umphenour 3 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Yah I'm still fascinated by this case...you'd think it would eventually be solved, right? Weird!

    Thanks for the comment!

  • cfin profile image

    cfin 3 years ago from The World we live in

    WEIRD!! I read this whole thing and I cannot for the life of me figure it out. Mob related maybe? And the clues left on the body were put their to throw investigators off.

    The further victims may have been murdered to prevent them from figuring out the truth. What did the guy who ended up in a mental institution have to say and what about his wife? So strange.

    Almost as strange as the Dyatlov Pass incident!

  • RealHousewife profile image
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    Kelly Umphenour 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Thanks so much howtoguides!

  • howtoguides2learn profile image

    Vidhya L 4 years ago from Chennai, India

    Came across this story by chance, but it was so interesting that I read word by word. Your writing made it very interesting. Thanks for the nice read!

  • daskittlez69 profile image

    daskittlez69 4 years ago from midwest

    Thanks for a little mystery this morning. I have never heard of this story before, I will have to look more into it.

  • RealHousewife profile image
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    Kelly Umphenour 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Hey Chatkath! Thanks and good to see ya!

  • Chatkath profile image

    Kathy 4 years ago from California

    Great read. I have never heard this before and I love a mystery. Thanks for sharing this strange story. Voted up

  • RealHousewife profile image
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    Kelly Umphenour 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Hey Minnetonka! How are ya?!

    Isn't this an interesting case? Who would think that after all these years the poor guy is not resting with his own people? Sad. I'm sure someone knows the answers!

  • Minnetonka Twin profile image

    Linda Rogers 4 years ago from Minnesota

    eew~I love a good mystery and this one's even real life. I am soo curious as to who this guy was. You did a great job keeping us on the edge of our seats with your great writing. How weird to hear that another hubber wrote about this.

  • RealHousewife profile image
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    Kelly Umphenour 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Thanks so much FlourishAnyway! I admit, I was hooked on this case and read everything I could find out about it. I'm a sucker for unanswered questions:)

  • FlourishAnyway profile image

    FlourishAnyway 4 years ago from USA

    What a well told tale of mystery and intrigue! I've never heard of the case but was so enthralled by the complexity, the twists and turns. Nice job. Voted up and more!

  • RealHousewife profile image
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    Kelly Umphenour 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Cool ytsenoh! I'll watch for it...I love those kinds of hubs! History and mysteries can capture my very short attention span:) lol. Thanks!

  • RealHousewife profile image
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    Kelly Umphenour 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Wow! You have that book? That's amazing....! Ok there's more info regarding the book, and perhaps a certain piece...I'll pull my notes and see if I can find anything interesting there. I'm going to keep watching the case...I have been for a while. I waited to publish until I could track down Jestyns true name...hard!

    Thanks and Ill for sure keep everyone posted!

  • ytsenoh profile image

    Cathy 4 years ago from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri

    Kelly, very interesting mystery you have here. Mysteries are really worth the research. I'm writing about a cold case. There's so much intrigue with unsolved cases, but when you want to know who the offender is, it's very difficult when you know you can't solve the mystery!

  • tammyswallow profile image

    Tammy 4 years ago from North Carolina

    What an intriguing mystery. You have a real knack for the investigative details, this is so well told. Before my poetry tutor died, he gave me a vintage 1930s pocket edition of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam and told me to study it. I am going to look over it now. If you learn any new details, I hope you will share. I am hooked. :)

  • RealHousewife profile image
    Author

    Kelly Umphenour 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Thanks Martie! I had fun with this mystery...I always want to know the answer...someone has it! Darn!

  • MartieCoetser profile image

    Martie Coetser 4 years ago from South Africa

    How very-very interesting, RealHousewife! Oh, and how I hate unsolved mysteries!

    I wonder what had happened to the l-o-n-g arm of the law?

    Excellent hub, absolutely engrossing!

  • RealHousewife profile image
    Author

    Kelly Umphenour 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Hi SubRon7 - Thanks!

    Usually when people die - we know who they are - if a photo is flashed in the media someone has information. It is quite rare that someone goes unknown when we have a photo of the body and 65 years to figure that out!

  • RealHousewife profile image
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    Kelly Umphenour 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    I know wvugirl2007 - I want to know who this guy is!

    I wondered if he could be a sailor and maybe he painted ships?? That would make sense as to why his upper legs are built and feet wedged (I think they hang on something to chip and paint the boats while they are moving) ...and that would also explain why he had the stenciling kit!! To maybe repaint letter of the name on the ship itself???

    That is the best conclusion I have drawn so far in my head!

  • RealHousewife profile image
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    Kelly Umphenour 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Thanks Paula and you have a wonderful holiday too! I have been out quite a bit recently with family stuff, a back injury - the bathroom upstairs flooded and the roof fell in - lmao - I know! Wonderful to see your gorgeous mug today!

  • RealHousewife profile image
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    Kelly Umphenour 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Hi Cindy and thank you too! I loved this mystery and it was just fun! To read and write about!

  • RealHousewife profile image
    Author

    Kelly Umphenour 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Hey J.S.! Good to see you! Thanks so much - I was so interested in this and it's just compelling...it took me literally weeks to write and re-write this with research - but it was worth it and I had fun!

  • RealHousewife profile image
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    Kelly Umphenour 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    HI Phyllis Doyle! Thanks and I am so glad you guys enjoyed it as much as I did - I just couldn't stop reading about this.

  • RealHousewife profile image
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    Kelly Umphenour 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Maybe the DINGO ate his baby?? hahah lmao

    Thanks Lela - It's a cool mystery isn't it??!! This is the one I was talking to you about on the phone most recently!

  • RealHousewife profile image
    Author

    Kelly Umphenour 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    I hope they do allow the body to be exhumed for DNA testing! It would be nice to have an answer and for this man to find a resting place with his people, you know? Thanks Susan!!

  • SubRon7 profile image

    James W. Nelson 4 years ago from eastern North Dakota

    RealHousewife, quite the hub. I would make a wild guess here and suggest that if most of us were to die under unknown circumstances, that if the police, or someone, were to investigate, that they would come up with all kinds of mysterious findings.

  • wvugirl2007 profile image

    wvugirl2007 4 years ago from Virginia

    Awesome article. This is another one of those mysteries that I hope gets solved some day. Till then it will bother me like the others I read about.

  • fpherj48 profile image

    Paula 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

    Kelly.....YOU, have done a superb job with this fascinating and mysterious tale.....pulled me right in and "fixed" on your every sentence. I adore a good mystery, although sad, as in this particular case, I cannot help but want to know MORE now. Simply awesome work, Kelly.....you just keep getting better & better all the time......

    Have a wonderful Easter. I am hoping to get back here "full-time" in the near future. I have missed all of you, so much.....Effer

  • homesteadbound profile image

    Cindy Murdoch 4 years ago from Texas

    This was a great story told by a master storyteller. You left me with wanting more.

  • J.S.Matthew profile image

    JS Matthew 4 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

    This is very interesting and full of twists! Nice job Kelly! Up and shared.

    JSMatthew~

  • Phyllis Doyle profile image

    Phyllis Doyle Burns 4 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

    Wow! This is a very interesting and very well-written hub. All the similarities in the several deaths are amazingly obvious that some well hidden organization is behind these deaths. I wonder if the truths will ever come out?

    Voted up and interesting.

  • Austinstar profile image

    Lela 4 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

    I had never heard of this case! But then, I rarely hear anything about the lands down under.

    Perhaps the guy was raised by dingoes and finally made it to civilization only to run into a serial cigarette killer.

    At least he had a pretty good book to read.

  • sholland10 profile image

    Susan Holland 4 years ago from Southwest Missouri

    How INTERESTING! You should write a novel or a screenplay around this. I wonder if there is any DNA evidence to link him to Reynolds. Great stuff! Votes and shares!! :-)

  • RealHousewife profile image
    Author

    Kelly Umphenour 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Hi and thank you so much sen.sush23! It was fun to read and write about!

  • sen.sush23 profile image

    Sushmita 4 years ago from Kolkata, India

    Very interesting mystery story- that it is real, makes it more enthralling. Since you say there was a lot of information on this guy, I think you have done a wonderful job, with brevity and yet maintaining the tension of the unknown factor in the story. Had a good time reading it. Voted up.

  • RealHousewife profile image
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    Kelly Umphenour 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Thanks Jonmcclusk! There is so much information on this case that it was very difficult to pare down. It could have turned into a novelette!

  • jonmcclusk profile image

    Jonathan McCloskey 4 years ago from Cinnaminson, New Jersey

    Very interesting, RealHousewife; my mind was swimming in the ideas of time travel, space portals, secret agents, and dirty dealings. Perhaps I'll write a story based on this one day.

  • RealHousewife profile image
    Author

    Kelly Umphenour 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Hi Ruchira! I am so glad you had not heard of this before! Totally makes it more fun to write when it's new to someone else - gets boring to me by the time I publish because I am so tired of it by that point:) lol

  • RealHousewife profile image
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    Kelly Umphenour 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Thanks duffsmom - I was pretty interested in this and I read a ton so by the time I published, I was thinking, "Is this only interesting to me?" lol

  • RealHousewife profile image
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    Kelly Umphenour 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Hi Frog Prince!! It is interesting isn't it? We have spies, sex, secret romances, poetry and intrigue! ha!

  • RealHousewife profile image
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    Kelly Umphenour 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Hi travmaj - thank you! Someone, somewhere must know this guy, right? I mean he didn't just appear out of thin air! I just think the right person hasn't been notified of his death or back in 1948 it wasn't easy to share news like it is today.

  • RealHousewife profile image
    Author

    Kelly Umphenour 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Hi Goodlady:) Thank you! I was fascinated by this case! I am so glad you liked it too - I was afraid everyone may have already heard about this but since it happened in Australia I thought it might not have circulated here in the states.

  • Ruchira profile image

    Ruchira 4 years ago from United States

    Gosh..never heard of him until now.

    What a sad way to end....soul rest in peace!!

    Voted up as interesting

  • duffsmom profile image

    P. Thorpe Christiansen 4 years ago from Pacific Northwest, USA

    Wow, this was fascinating...and mysterious.

  • The Frog Prince profile image

    The Frog Prince 4 years ago from Arlington, TX

    Watson? Are you there? This calls for Sherlock Holmes for sure!

    Nice mystery Kelly.

    The Frog

  • travmaj profile image

    travmaj 4 years ago from australia

    Thanks for this, your hub fascinated me - what a mystery. I just want more clues so I can solve it. Intriguing isn't it, seemingly no family, no friends, no connections.

    Labels cut of clothes and Taman Shud - so weird.

    Yes, iin the 1967 our prime minister Harold Holt went swimming and was swept away in the surf - his body never recovered. Not much mystery attached although several ideas have surfaced. We do have a Harold Holt Swimming Pool - amusing but a bit heartless perhaps.

  • GoodLady profile image

    Penelope Hart 4 years ago from Rome, Italy

    Amazing story, really grippingly told. Fascinating mystery. It's also incredibly tragic. Sharing, voting etc.

  • RealHousewife profile image
    Author

    Kelly Umphenour 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Hey Bob! Interesting! I am going to have to look into that a bit - I've never heard of the surf guy. I know in 1948 there wasn't a great international way to spread news - who knows if this guy was from Australia? I thought it was worth circulating the story again in the U.S. I'm glad not everyone has heard about this case - I love good mysteries!

  • RealHousewife profile image
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    Kelly Umphenour 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Thanks DDE - it took me a long time to get this one done...so much information and so much time has gone by.

  • RealHousewife profile image
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    Kelly Umphenour 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Thanks Skarlet - I do think the whole thing is rather strange. For every answer found there seems to be another huge question revealed!

  • RealHousewife profile image
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    Kelly Umphenour 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Patriot Quest - well he only had sixpence in the luggage so you'd have to confiscate something of equal or greater value:) lol

  • Patriot Quest profile image

    Wayne Joel Bushong 4 years ago from America

    You found him! That guy owed me $40 dollars! I should have known he would do something to get out of paying me back! ARGH!

  • diogenes profile image

    diogenes 4 years ago from UK and Mexico

    Mmmmm...where was Sherlock when we needed him. Seems to be a good area for mystery, such as that when the Aussie PM disappeared down that way in the 1960s; they never found his body or were sure how he died, or even why he went swimming in that dangerous surf. (Was it Harlold Holt?)

    The trouble is, too, when these things aren't solved early, so much other information turns up, some real and much imagined or invented.

    Very interesting story.

    Bob

  • DDE profile image

    Devika Primić 4 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

    A mystery indeed such cases keeps one thinking for a while and you wrote it so well.

  • Skarlet profile image

    Skarlet 4 years ago from California

    Very interesting and unusual hub. Voted up. Very sad too. Its rather baffling that his identity was not soon discovered after his death.

  • RealHousewife profile image
    Author

    Kelly Umphenour 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Hi Drbj! Very cool! I did not know all his works ended that way! I did just a tiny bit of research in that area because there was so much! Crazy story isn't it?!

    I love old cold cases because after time passes sometimes people are willing to divulge the truth. I love it when you get the answers!

  • RealHousewife profile image
    Author

    Kelly Umphenour 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Thank you so much guys! I was truly intrigued by this story. It's just sad a man has died and his family might not know his whereabouts? What if he had kids and they thought he just abandoned them? I do hope he finds his way home and can be buried with his real name.

  • drbj profile image

    drbj and sherry 4 years ago from south Florida

    Hi, Kelly. This may be the coldest cold case I have read about in a long, long time. But you did make it very interesting, m'dear. By the way, 'tamam shud' is an Iranian/Persian phrase which you can find at the end of most of Omar Khayyam's works and it means ended or finished just as we say, 'the end.' Now that you are experienced, would you like to work on the Jack the Ripper case?

  • NateB11 profile image

    Nathan Bernardo 4 years ago from California, United States of America

    This is an absolutely fascinating story and has quite an ominous quality; people disappearing, threats, deaths. The book, the code, the poison. I was kept engaged and I'm still curious, I think I'm going to Google for more information. Thanks for sharing, I learned something new and fascinating.

  • Sue B. profile image

    Sue B. 4 years ago

    Wow- this was so interesting! What an intriguing story. Now I'll always have this mystery on my mind. I hope it is solved one day.

  • Jeff Gamble profile image

    Jeff Gamble 4 years ago from Denton, Texas

    Great Hub! Great research and terrific facts. It was a super read.

  • RealHousewife profile image
    Author

    Kelly Umphenour 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Seriously? Aw who else wrote about this? I will hafta see! Thanks Bill!

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

    Okay, this is just weird. This is the second hub I have read about this guy, and I have never heard of him or his mystery. How strange that two Hubbers I follow would write about him in the same week!

    Anyway, good job and thanks for the information. Good luck in that snowstorm.