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Somerton Man, Australian Mystery

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  • Somerton Man, Australian Mystery

    Not quite sure where to put this. It is not necessarily about a crime but is a mysterious death which has been mentioned a few times on the Forum.

    December 1, 1948 an unknown man was found dead at Somerton Park Beach near Adelaide. This has come up one the Beaumont Children's thread and I don't want to dilute that with this information on Somerton Man. I actually thought he was recently identified but apparently not. (?) There is an article here from a Voynich Cipher letter I get by email. It is interesting. To start things off with good background information I am also linking a Wikipedia article.

    (I hope. If all this fails How should certainly delete this post of let me forward the article.)

    Well, I made links that work but it is in the PDF format where it goes into a file and the reader has to dig it out. I'm sorry but at least the links work. Might be quicker to just go straight to the Wiki article and then decide if the other article might be worthwhile. Sorry, as usual....
    Attached Files
    The wickedness of the world is the dream of the plague.~~Voynich Manuscript

  • #2
    Hello Anna,
    Both Adam Went and I have had an interest in the Somerton case for a few years, not that we came to any solid conclusions.


    I had occasion to communicate with Dr. (Prof) Derek Abbott concerning tracing Jessica Thompson through New South Wales Nursing Registration Board. As an ex RN I had tried to find some reference to her, but without success, Perhaps, Abbott might have been able to pull a few string ? My idea was that if she was part of a cadre; there might have been reference of other people that she had trained with that might be able to provide more information about her. According to her daughter, Jessica could speak in the Russian tongue, now if this true where might she have been tutored? 'Jo' Thompson, was certainly an enigma, thus unlike Prof Abbott, I'm not sure that I would have wanted to have been related to her!

    The last I heard that having been eventually granted permission to disinter the remains of the mystery man. Abbott was in on track to establish a 'Go Fund Me' quest to raise Aud $20 K required for both removal forensic investigation.

    The last mention I recall was in October 2018 when it was reported in the local South Australian press that the matter was still pending, no doubt due to lack of public interest ann lack of donations, I assume. Historically, there seems to have been some reluctance on behalf of the SA authorities to sanction and further enquiries into this very cold case. One does wonder why?

    As an aside, you will be aware that South Australia was, in the 1950's home to the British Woomera nuclear weapons testing programme, which would attract interest from the Soviet Union and elsewhere.

    So, Derek Abbott remains in the dark ( as does the Somerton man) as to whether his wife, Kate, is the daughter of a possible spoof which ever side of the intelligence community he might have worked for. So, we will just have to wait and see until some DNA becomes available..
    Be nice to one another!
    Merv

    Comment


    • #3
      Hi Anna,

      Merv has already answered and I have little more to add, other than to say that there's recently been a revival of interest in spies operating in Australia, and specifically in Adelaide, during that period of time, so it's possible that a mention or two of Somerton Man might have arisen in regards to that as there was a suggestion at the time (and it's still bandied about) that he may have been operating as one of the said spies, given the cryptic findings with his body and the lack of identification.

      I think we've probably covered the case in general in more depth on the other thread you mentioned here. As with the Beaumont Children, there was no suggestion of a memorial or similar that I could find when I visited Adelaide and the Glenelg Beach area earlier this year.

      I thought more may have been made of the case given the 70th anniversary passed not so long ago, but nothing solid as of yet.

      Cheers,
      Adam.

      Comment


      • #4
        As I understand it, the initial DNA test on The Somerton Man's presumptive granddaughter determined, with the help of family trees, that TSM was possibly a first or second cousin of Yale Professor Julian Randolph Pleasants. (TSM had numerous distant cousin matches in Virginia and the Pleasants were on the Virginian side rather than his wife. Although, there is definite resemblance to Mary Jane Brady and her side of the family, we don't have much photo evidence on the Pleasants' side for comparison and it might be coincidental, so the wife's side is generally excluded.)

        Exhuming TSM would certainly help confirm the accuracy of that test, or more accurately determine the exact familial relationship to Julian Pleasants but, other than that, it might not be helpful. Unless there was a major margin of error in the first test, then you'd still end up with the same family trees to look at and the same candidate pool. It wouldn't give you a parent or sibling match unless they were in the DNA database.

        However, the possibility exists that he's illegitimate and a direct test on TSM would help narrow down the identity of the parents. So, even if he's not illegitimate, exhumation does appear to be the next step. I've looked at all the 1st and 2nd cousin equivalent matches, including uncles, and the only real candidate I found is 64 and has a death record. That would dissuade most people....

        Comment


        • #5
          Here's the link to the Family Tree going back to Thomas Jefferson. It doesn't specifically mention Julian Randolph Pleasants but it does say "living child" of Alban Pleasants and Mary Mathias and he's the only living/surviving child.

          Julian, born in 1918, would be about 20 years older than TSM, so they wouldn't be on the same level. So, as 1st or 2nd cousin matches, they're more likely once removed from the other, or an uncle and nephew which would be closer than first cousins. If an exhumation and new DNA test shows a close relational match to Julian R Pleasants, then TSM would have to be an uncle or an older half brother, I believe.

          https://phys.org/news/2015-06-years-...mystery_1.html

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by San Fran View Post
            As I understand it, the initial DNA test on The Somerton Man's presumptive granddaughter determined, with the help of family trees, that TSM was possibly a first or second cousin of Yale Professor Julian Randolph Pleasants. (TSM had numerous distant cousin matches in Virginia and the Pleasants were on the Virginian side rather than his wife.)

            Exhuming TSM would certainly help confirm the accuracy of that test, or more accurately determine the exact familial relationship to Julian Pleasants but, other than that, it might not be helpful. Unless there was a major margin of error in the first test, then you'd still end up with the same family trees to look at and the same candidate pool. It wouldn't give you a parent or sibling match unless they were in the DNA database.

            However, the possibility exists that he's illegitimate and a direct test on TSM would help narrow down the identity of the parents. So, even if he's not illegitimate, exhumation does appear to be the next step. I've looked at all the 1st and 2nd cousin equivalent matches, including uncles, and the only real candidate I found is 64 and has a death record. That would dissuade most people....
            Sorry, but although I have read about the Somerton Man in the past I can't remember all the details.

            Are you writing on the presumption that Robin Thomson was the Somerton Man's son? Wouldn't a direct test at least remove the word "presumptive", apart from being two generations closer to source?

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Chris Phillips View Post

              Sorry, but although I have read about the Somerton Man in the past I can't remember all the details.

              Are you writing on the presumption that Robin Thomson was the Somerton Man's son? Wouldn't a direct test at least remove the word "presumptive", apart from being two generations closer to source?
              For those interested, the Casefile podcast has a pretty good overview of the Somerton Man case, and discusses this possibility; it's about 45 minutes in length. (Casefile #2). I just happened to listen to it only about a week ago.

              It's an interesting theory, but why would a long lost lover cut all the tags from his clothing?

              Welcome to Casefile: True Crime Podcast (casefilepodcast.com)

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Chris Phillips View Post
                Are you writing on the presumption that Robin Thomson was the Somerton Man's son? Wouldn't a direct test at least remove the word "presumptive", apart from being two generations closer to source?
                Yes, I'm working under that "presumption" which I think is which I think is a good one, to the point where I only remind myself to add the world "presumptive" for accuracy sake.

                I know a lot of people don't move forward on presumption, no matter how strong the case is, so I can see the point of a direct DNA comparison between TSM and Rachel. Until that happens, I accept the grand-paternity. It obviously corroborates the theorized American background.

                P.S. The mother of the "presumptive" first or second cousin is listed as a ballet dancer in a carnival ball in 1900. Mary Josephine Mathias' brother is the best match for TSM at this point and I'll be laying out the pros and cons. The cons are pretty big though, including advanced age and a tombstone in Arizona.

                https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/l...arRange&page=1




                Comment


                • #9
                  William Augustus Mathias


                  PROS

                  Relative and circumstantial matches/evidence

                  -Height (given as 6’1″ in 1942 draft record)
                  -Hair color “mixed gray”
                  -non hands-on physical labor work (election worker, census taker, company proprietor, civil engineer, lumber manager…}
                  -same (close cousin/uncle) relationship to TSM’s close cousin DNA match
                  -amateur ballet connection (sister Mary Josephine Mathias 1900 newspaper report of Carnival Ball)
                  -1914/15 (Mathias/Fowler) newspaper articles perhaps suggesting he’s gay (recall high heels theory for his calves)
                  -wife (second) went to Australia in 1920
                  -WM initials for possible Morse code prosign “Source” in cipher

                  CONS

                  -Age 64 (b. 1884)
                  -an obituary and a tombstone stating he died in Kingman, Arizona, on July 7, 1948
                  Last edited by San Fran; February 4, 2021, 12:33 PM. Reason: Changed "news report" to "obituary". An obituary would not be fact-checked.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Someone named "Dusty" commented on a TSM site about his alleged lover's husband Prosper Thompson being involved in some shady deals with the American Burch brothers. It turns out the Burches had a half brother named Rupert Birdy Kern who shows up on a Family Tree File for TSM's familial DNA match cousin, although the relationship is not presented, probably, I believe, because they're distantly related.

                    Here is a picture of Birdy's son Eldon. See the family resemblance? Eldon died in Saipan in WWII.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Casket and Case Closed?

                      Click image for larger version  Name:	23221293_119665480904.jpg Views:	0 Size:	23.1 KB ID:	574242

                      https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/...liam-a-mathias

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        It's fortunate we have TSM's presumptive family pursuing the case to the point of exhumation. Already their work is commendable, as working with a Close Cousin Three or Four Times Removed match with the presumptive granddaughter is more than most people would ask in a John Doe case.

                        It's also great to wait for an exhumation and an expected unquestionable Close Cousin or First Cousin to Close Relation match. Son/Daughter/Father/Mother/Uncle/Aunt?

                        However, I hope no one is waiting for an official rubber stamp. Don't we know that law enforcement for one would not publicly announce an ID based on even a Close Relation match? They only seem to announce when there's a 100% DNA match to the CSI evidence.

                        But this is a suicide or a murder victim we're trying to ID. It's very similar to MJK in that respect.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I haven't really been keeping up to date with the latest on this case, but realistically how likely is it that an exhumation will take place? I would think there would have to be some fairly conclusive evidence to be had for the authorities to support something like that after this length of time has elapsed. It hasn't been done in other cases and I wouldn't be surprised if they weren't a bit gun shy after instances such as the build up to the dig for the Beaumont children at the old Castalloy factory (also in Adelaide) a few years back, which came up empty handed.

                          Cheers,
                          Adam.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Unless the law intervenes, I don't see why the family can't exhume their alleged family member. All they need is 20000 dollars. The last "Boston Strangler" victim was exhumed by the family, and Mary Kelly could have been exhumed but her grave was disturbed and "lost".

                            I still have confidence that the first DNA test on Rachel was accurate and adequate. However, all the members in the given tree at the given relationship-match appear to be eliminated.

                            But even if all people on the tree are ruled out, I'd still believe the DNA and not start believing TSM's a more distant relative of Julian Randolph Pleasants. Instead, I'd go with TSM being an unknown, illegitimate member of the Mathias/Pleasants branch a level up from JRP, rather than the DNA result being off. I'm not ruling out the possibility that he had an illegitimate relative, but then he'd only be a half brother.

                            That would make the person a "half uncle" of the Nephew/Cousin Match. Is there such a thing? And would that make a difference in the familial DNA comparison match?

                            As for all candidates being ruled out, I still think it should be noted that anyone from Maryland can commit a pseudocide in Arizona in 1948, and we know William A Mathias went to court in 1914 to get an old dead man's money, after getting him to create a joint account.

                            https://www.casemine.com/judgement/u...d7b0493470ce72

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I'm not ruling out the possibility that he had an illegitimate relative, but then he'd only be a half brother....That would make the person a "half uncle" of the Nephew/Cousin Match. Is there such a thing? And would that make a difference in the familial DNA comparison match.
                              Okay, half uncles would have the same relationship match as a first cousin so, DNA-wise, a half uncle would work.

                              Comment

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