Taman Shud Case, Who Was That Somerton Man?

Indeed, indeed, Repentance oft before. 
I swore–but was I sober when I swore?
And then and then came Spring, and Rose-in-hand. 
My thread-bare Penitence a-pieces tore.

The Rubaiyat – Ommar Khayam

December 1, 1948. The Somerton Beach, Adelaide, Australia. 

It was 06.30 in the morning at the peaceful Somerton Beach when J Lyons found an unknown man sprawled lifeless. This case is known as Taman Shud case (or sometimes Tamam Shud).

The Anonymous Corpse
On November 30, 1948, A couple named O’Neill and Strapps were walking throughout the Beach when they realized a man was lying near the breakwater wall. They assumed the man was presumably sleeping  or drunk. Due to the man’s condition she realized something is wrong with him

“I’ll have a look at him,” O’Neill said to her companion. 

“Oh, don’t be a stickybeak,” Strapps replied.

“Perhaps he’s dead,” she said jokingly.

Hence, they leave the man alone and continued walking. Several minutes later when they were about heading back home, they realized the man didn’t even move a single millimeter.

The next day, approximately at 06.30 in the morning, a man named Lyons had just finished swimming  with friends when he spotted a suspicious anonymous man lying unconscious near them. Then he . Thus immediately he called the Brighton Police Station.

A Police officer Moss and his friend, Strangway arrived at the following location and started to examine the corpse, he did not found any violence traces within his body. In other words the physical condition of the man’s body is just fine. The man was approximately 45 years old with healthy physical condition. The man has European visage and wore formal yet expensive outfit. So, the man was taken by the Police Ambulance to the Royal Adelaide Hospital. The doctors claimed that the man was died at 2 2 a.m. Due to nobody claimed the corpse withing 2 days, they started to autopsied the corpse. Hereupon, the mystery had just begun despite they couldn’t find the cause of death.

Who is he?
Indeed, his physical condition was fine. But evidently the internal condition of his body was bloodcurdling!

“The heart was of normal size, and normal in every way …small vessels not commonly observed in the brain were easily discernible with congestion. There was congestion of the pharynx, and the gullet was covered with whitening of superficial layers of the mucosa with a patch of ulceration in the middle of it. The stomach was deeply congested…There was congestion in the 2nd half of the duodenum. There was blood mixed with the food in the stomach. Both kidneys were congested, and the liver contained a great excess of blood in its vessels. …The spleen was strikingly large … about 3 times normal size … there was destruction of the center of the liver lobules revealed under the microscope. … acute gastritis hemorrhage, extensive congestion of the liver and spleen, and the congestion to the brain.”

See? Most of his internal organs were damaged  and there was indication of cardiac failure. Peculiarly they didn’t traced any poisonous substances nor bruises nor injuries. In his pockets, they found unused train ticket to Henley, a bust ticket to Glenelg, two different cigarette pockets, chewing gum and some matches. No money was found. Peculiarly, all labels in his outfit  has been eliminated and the man’s hat is quite bizarre–he used unusual type of hat in that period.

It has been several days yet still nobody claimed the corpse.

Police started to take this case seriously.

They printed the photograph and fingerprint publicized to the entire Australia, New Zealand an other English spoken countries, but nobody knows about the man wandering around the streets.
Because of this bizarre circumstances, police preserved the corspe in December 10, 1948.

Mysterious Briefcase inside the locker

In January 1949, something had leaded them into a bright spot; they found mysterious briefcase inside a locker at the Adelaide Train station. They claimed this briefcase was belonged to the Somerton man.

According to the data, it was put inside the locker on November 30. They found shoes, pajamas, tie, shaver, screwdriver, a knife and a scissors. The briefcase was in a good condition and all the labels have been eliminated, just like the man’s outfit. Peculiarly, the briefcase has an unusual type which was not available in Australia. Police also discovered something bizarre;

the name “T.Keane” on a tie

“Keane” on a laundry bag

and “Kean” on a singlet

Seriously, what is he trying to imply? Was it some kind of riddle? well I don’t think so.

Taman Shud
In April, five months after the occurrence there was another clue. Turns out, when Prof John Burton Cleland examine the man’s outfit more conscientiously, there was a hidden pocket where they discovered a small piece of paper.

“Taman Shud”

These two words sounded unfamiliar with the police, therefor they called a librarian to translated. Turns out, the paper was shredded from a Poem Book “The Rubaiyat” which was written 900 years ago by a Persian poetry known as Omar Khayyam. Shockingly, there were only two copies left in the whole world, how could the man owned such a scarce book?  The Rubaiyat tells about one must live happily by not regret it when it’s over. “Taman Shud” means “The End”.

And so Police immediately searched for the book to make sure the paper was really torn from that book, so they publicized it. No longer after that, a doctor who lives not so far from Glenelg came to them by carrying the book.

But the doctor claimed that he suddenly found the book sprawled on top of his car where he parked in front of his house on November 30. Hence, it doesn’t helped very much yet the case was still remains unsolved. In other words, the more clues were to be founded, will just increasing the improbable percentage to be solved.
When the book was inspected they discovered 4 lines “code” at the back of the book.

These codes were remains unsolved up until now. Even when they were handed to the ministry of defense, claimed that these codes don’t have meanings. Even a mathematician and an expert code breaker couldn’t resolved it.

Besides those bizarre codes, they found a telephone number that leads to a former nurse who lives in Glenelg. The women claimed that after she worked at the Royal North Shore in Sydney, she did owned the Rubaiyat book. But then in 1944 she gave it to a man named Alfred Boxall who works at a Military department. When police gave her the Somerton’s man photo, she did not claimed that it was Boxall.

The Police was pretty sure the corpse was Boxall, until Boxall himself came with the Rubaiyat Book, complete with the “Taman Shud” page which hasn’t been torn apart, unlike the previous book.

The Police believed that this woman had many relevance with this case, later he asked to keep her name a secret in order to keep her privacy, peculiarly the Police agreed with her. Regrettably, the woman died in 2007 along with the mysteries remains perplexing.

And yet many questions were left unanswered,

“Who is he?”
“How did he died?”
“He was killed? Well, who killed him”?
“Could it be, he’s a spy?”

On June 14, 1949, this mysterious man from Somerton was buried. Several years after his funeral, there were many flowers scattered on top of his grave. Witnesses claimed there’s a woman who often sowed flowers to his grave, but when Police asked the woman, he denied that she knows him.

With them the seed of Wisdom did I sow,
And with mine own hand wrought to make it grow;
And this was all the Harvest that I reap’d–
“I came like Water, and like Wind I go.”

Ommar Khayam – The Rubaiyat


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