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Somerton Man, Australian Mystery

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  • #16
    Originally posted by San Fran View Post
    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".
    The law may be different in Australia, but in the UK the consent of the next of kin would normally be required, so - even if it hadn't been for the other difficulites - Mary Kelly couldn't have been exhumed without strong evidence that she was the same person as Elizabeth Weston Davies.

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    • #17
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      • #18
        Originally posted by Chris Phillips View Post
        The law may be different in Australia, but in the UK the consent of the next of kin would normally be required, so - even if it hadn't been for the other difficulites - Mary Kelly couldn't have been exhumed without strong evidence that she was the same person as Elizabeth Weston Davies.
        In Canada, they exhumed our top John Doe. Permission was granted to a production company and a university. He had no known relatives. An author tried to get an exhumation order in the 80s or 90s but was unsuccessful.

        Fortunately, in The Somerton Man case, the husband of the presumptive granddaughter is a university professor. A partnership with a university appears to be a prerequisite.

        As a side note, I might add that I don't think it's absolutely necessary to exhume any John or Jane Doe (especially if you know their granddaughter, and you have the John Doe's luggage filled with his belongings) unless he's or she is a complete mystery person with absolutely no clues to their origin.

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        • #19
          'Unless the la w intervenes, I don't see why the family can't exhume their alleged family member' From what I understand by comments Prof Abbott made there is no legal impediment ,or resistance to exhumation/autopsy from the South Australian authorities.. The difficulty arises when the cost of subsequent DNA testing and re-internement is added to the overall tally. As you are aware ,It seems the whole business would run into several thousand dollars that Derek Abbott was trying, unsuccessfully, to raise two or three years ago.

          At the end of the day all that would be likely proven the ballet dancing Robin was to be the son of TSM . What it would not tell us is the precise identity of the deceased, his occupation, nationality nor anything as to why, Jessica apart he died a somewhat bizarre death on the town beach. That said, it is interesting that the case continued to generate some interest.
          Be nice to one another!
          Merv

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          • #20
            Doeology is a growing crowd-sourced field these days. Somerton Man is right up there, perhaps the most intriguing of the John Does.

            With an exhumation and a direct DNA test, I agree that all you would be proving what is already suspected -- that Robin was his son and Rachel his granddaughter. But does it not also prove therefore that the original DNA test on Rachel was adequate for determining the Family Trees you needed and how far you had to look to find TSM? That's about as precise as it's going to get.

            As far as 100% positive direct DNA match, that is what the law needs for arrest and conviction in a criminal case, but a familial DNA match is adequate in the identification of John Does. If it's good enough for the law, it should be good enough for the family and the public. Of course, in those cases, the family acknowledges a missing relative, and the DNA confirms the likelihood that said John or Jane Doe is said relative. That's the only difference, which I think can be overcome with other corroborating evidence like description and timelines and photographic proof.

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            • #21
              Here's the obituary/news report to go along with the headstone. Swope is an Anglicization of the German name Schwab, his grandmother's maiden name.

              Son of the late Dr. John Swope Mathias and Mary Louise Lynch Mathias, and formerly of Westminster, died of a heart attack on Wednesday, July 7, 1948 at Kingman, Arizona. He is survived by three brothers and one sister: Mrs. A B Pleasants, Rockville, Md., C. Roberts Mathias, Hilliard, Fl., John Swope Mathias, Kansas City, Mo., and J. Julian Mathias, Wichita, Kansas.- The Times July 15, 1948
              Maybe someone could see if this is an actual obituary. I seem to recall it might have been a news report. An obituary would obviously be easier to fake than a news report, to go along with what I think could be fraudulent epitaph.

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              • #22
                Thanks, Howard. It was an obituary written in Kansas about a death in Arizona where he was “buried”.



                Click image for larger version  Name:	AA935706-1D3E-4B98-B333-6CF51254343F.jpeg Views:	0 Size:	115.8 KB ID:	574568
                Last edited by Markus Aurelius Franzoi; February 13, 2021, 12:01 AM. Reason: Burch Bros were in Scott City, Kansas, not Kansas City, MO.

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                • #23
                  There was some evidence of an "undetectable" poison being involved in The Somerton Man's death, such as blood in the stomach. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/histo...each-50795611/

                  The obituary mentions William Mathias' brother who was president of a chemical lab in Kansas City and here's one of his patents for a poisoned bait dispenser:

                  https://patents.google.com/patent/US2768469


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                  • #24
                    I think this is very much a case of I'll believe it when I see it happen. Whilst it's all very interesting and I agree in regards to the likely identity and the DNA connections that would probably be made, somebody putting their money where their proverbial mouth is, and navigating all of the red tape required, is another matter entirely. Especially after more than 70 years has elapsed.

                    Somerton Man is unfortunately a victim of circumstance, that being the fear of spies around that time, and Adelaide was known to be a bit of a hot spot for it. Here's a story that may be of some interest to understand the broader picture:

                    https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.abc...ticle/12531120

                    Cheers,
                    Adam.

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                    • #25
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                      • #26
                        Here's a site comparing his DNA to actor Stephen Boyd. The Man Who Was Never There Pt2.

                        The blogger did the same thing I did going all the way back to the 1700s, to create a tree and giving up. You really don't need to go that far back IMO, since the DNA indicated a 1st-2nd cousin match born in 1918. That match would have on average 4 or 5 uncles, 4 or 5 male 1st cousins and 20 male 2nd cousins.

                        https://tomsbytwo.com/2020/12/05/the...na-haplogroup/

                        I just saw a cold case that was solved with a second cousin match. They share about 3% DNA. The Somerton Man initial test done on his (need I say presumptive) granddaughter. A granddaughter has 25% shared DNA. That's 25% of billions of markers. So I have no doubt it's accurate and reliable.

                        The age estimate, as I understand it, was done by eye on the dead body. I think age-estimating a corpse by sight is difficult. A dental analysis would be in order if it wasn't done.

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                        • #27
                          It is interesting that the topic of what drug(s) might have caused the death of the SM has reignited. Dr john Dwyer did express the view that perhaps a barbiturate, or some type of 'soluble hypnotic' was responsible, as he did not consider death to be of natural causes.

                          It was not until the Coronal Inquest that there is any reference as to the substance responsible for the death. Prof Hicks furnished the Coroner with what was later titled' Exhibit 18C. This amounted a note naming Digitalis and Ouabain as the possible poisons. Both are cardiac stimulants , colorless, almost tasteless and highly toxic . Of the two, it would be more likely that Digoxin would have been the drug of choice because it was in widespread medical use and readily available. On the other hand Ouabain is a toxic plant extract of African origin which was used a an arrowhead poison and later in homeopathic medicine.

                          These substances, in 1948 were not able to be detected post mortem by pathological analysis of that era. That is not so nowadays.Eessentially , Prof Hicks's contribution to the case was not that in impressive. It is rather curious that Hick's opinion was not made public until the 1980's

                          Digitalis poisoning symptoms,amongst other manifestations invariably include vomiting however at no stage was the presence of vomitus noted in the evidence at the beach , or on any article of the deceased person's clothing. The drug is usually administered orally, but certain circumstances may given intravenously, or by intramuscular injection. No needle puncture sites were identified on the body.
                          The autopsy reports do not mention any unusual bruising around the mouth area which tend to negate the possibility that someone might have attempted to force medication into the individual's mouth. SM was a solidly built man and it would probably taken two or more people to overpower him.

                          This is ,but one aspect of this fascinating case. Among all there theories that have been floated around for years , I am left wondering whether possibly suicide has been overlooked ,or perhaps all the players that were involved in the case may have' received advice' to wrap the matter up as quickly as possible !
                          Be nice to one another!
                          Merv

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                          • #28
                            John Swope Mathias (Jr) who is on the Somerton Man's family tree ran the pest control company, mentioned above, in Kansas City. The drugs you mentioned - Digitalis/Digoxin and Ouabain were both used in pest control.

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                            • #29
                              Originally posted by San Fran View Post
                              John Swope Mathias (Jr) who is on the Somerton Man's family tree ran the pest control company, mentioned above, in Kansas City. The drugs you mentioned - Digitalis/Digoxin and Ouabain were both used in pest control.
                              Quite so. The rationale' behind my comments on the drugs concerned just one smallish example of many inconsistencies in the reported details of the case.
                              Be nice to one another!
                              Merv

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                              • #30
                                Yes, there are numerous discrepancies in the details of the case, but we can rest assured that the family tree is consistent with the known details. Here are the points of congruence between what we can say about the candidates from the Family Tree Files and what we can surmise from the CSI evidence:
                                • He's an American (First Nations DNA and American necktie, etc.)
                                • He's somehow related to the Burch Brothers of Scott City, KS (Burch Brothers operated with Prosper Thompson)
                                • He's in a family with at least one member involved in ballet
                                • He's part German from the Swope/Schwab side (to me he looks somewhat German)
                                • He has a relative with the same features including attached earlobes (image page 1)
                                It is quite possible to determine someone's grandfather with a DNA test and a Family Tree from a genealogy site. (I was able to determine a forum member's assumed great grandfather was likely not her biological great grandfather.) I don't see why you can't determine Rachel's grandfather using solely her DNA results, barring illegitimacy.

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