The Taman Shud Case
It all started at 6:30 AM on December 1st, 1948, when the body of a man who appeared to be in his forties, in top physical condition, and of “Britisher” ( a word used by the coroner) descent was found undisturbed in the sand at Sommerton Beach, Australia. Witnesses would later come forward and say that they had seen him near or on the same spot the evening before. A search of the body yielded only a train ticket, a bus ticket, some cigarettes, and a scrap of paper with the words “Taman Shud” printed on it (later translation revealed this to mean something similar to “ended”). After an autopsy, the coroner came to the conclusions that he had died around 2 AM, his last meal was a pasty (a meat filled pastry), and that although he had brain congestion consistent with being poisoned, no poison was found in his system. Upon further inspection, it was found that all the identification tags were removed from his clothes, even those that were later found in his suitcase. The identification tags shouldn’t have mattered though, since even in the 1940s, they had the ability to ID a body using dental records and fingerprints, but they did matter. It seems that when they tried to match up his records, they couldn’t find a match anywhere…in the world. So for all express purposes, this man didn’t exist, and they had no idea how he died.
A break was thought to have occurred when the aforementioned suitcase believed to be his (it’s tag matched his bus ticket) was found at the bus depot, but it only served to enforce the fact that they had no way to ID him. It was, however, discovered that the scrap of paper in his pocket belonged to a copy of a poetry book known as The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, and a subsequent search found the exact copy. In the back of the book, which had been found tossed into a “random” car on the night before the body was found; there was written (in pencil):
- These writings, while they appear to be jibberish at first, quickly came to be considered some kind of code or cypher (the strike through the second line is believed to indicate a mistake in decoding), but again, no one could figure it out. Also in the back of the book, an unlisted telephone number was found written. The number belonged to a nurse and mother who worked less than a mile from where the body was found. When asked about the Rubaiyat and the man, she was unable to identify the man (by the time she was found, his body had already been buried and a plaster cast of his upper half was being used for ID), but had once owned a copy of the book, which she had given to a soldier with the last name Boxall a few years earlier. This led to speculation that the Boxall was the man…until Boxall was found, along with his copy of the book. The woman, whose real name was withheld before being lost to time but was referred to by investigators as “Jestyn” stated that a “mystery man” had asked her neighbors about her right around the time the body originally turned up. Years later, a photographic comparison of Jestyn’s son and the Sommerton Man showed that they shared very rare genetic conditions concerning their teeth and ears, and that the odds of this being a coincidence were slim to none. Also, rumors abound that Boxall was in military intelligence, and that intelligence leaks to the Soviet Union (remember, the cold war was just starting around this time) were being experienced at a missile site miles away from Sommerton. These revelations, combined with other perceived connections between the Sommerton Man and other deaths of the time have led to many theories as to who Sommerton Man was, and why he died. None of which have been proven, or disproved.
- So you really have to ask yourselves folks; was the Sommerton Man a Soviet spy? Or an estranged father? Or was he none of the above? Time will tell, as the Taman Shud case remains open…