I first read this story about the possibility of Australia’s Somerton Man mystery being solved over on CNN in the below article, written by Hillary Whiteman…
As someone who is fascinated by reading about so-called “unsolved” mysteries, the Somerton Man one was on my radar for many years.
Way back in December 1, 1948 a man’s body was found a beach outside of Adelaide, Australia. He was fully dressed and the first people to spot him thought he was sleeping. Soon, it was realized something was amiss and when examined, it was realized he was dead.
There were no identification papers on him and, as time passed, no one came forward to identify the mysterious man nor were any reports of missing people tied to him. In the end and over the years, police were unable to identify him and for well over 50 years who he was remained a perplexing mystery. The story gets a little more elaborate, involving re-examining his clothing and finding some bizarre seemingly coded notes, a suitcase found at the train station, and a book with a ripped passage which apparently belonged to the Somerton Man.
(This link, Have Scholars Finally Identified the Mysterious Somerton Man? found on Smithsonian Magazine and written by Melian Solly offers a very good background on the story and its many mysteries)
Anyway, thanks to DNA analysis of hair strands which were found on the Somerton Man’s plaster “death mask”, it appears the Somerton Man has finally been identified as Carl “Charles” Webb, an electrical engineer and instrument maker born in Melbourne in 1905.
Mr. Webb did indeed appear to “disappear” at roughly that time and there appears to be no information about his passing anywhere to be found. Further, his estranged wife was living in this general area at the time and it is possible he was on his way there to try to meet her.
So all those lovely theories of the Somerton Man being an international spy or other such devious ideas seem to be washed away with a more mundane reality.
If indeed Mr. Webb is the Somerton Man, the big question that remains is how did he die? The original examination was inconclusive and there remains thoughts that he was poisoned but, again, nothing was found to prove foul play.
The Somerton Man’s body was exhumed as part of the examination process so perhaps that mystery will also be solved in time.
A fascinating, fascinating story!