Adelaide grave of mystery man dug up after puzzling 1948 death

·News Editor
·3-min read

The grave of a mystery man was being exhumed early Wednesday morning with police hoping to find more clues to solve a baffling 73-year-old puzzle

Police are still searching for answers after the body of a man was discovered on Somerton Beach in South Australia in 1948.

He has never been identified and the circumstances around his death remain a confounding mystery

The grave is being dug up with hope it will help solve the 73-year mystery.
The grave is being dug up with hope it will help solve the 73-year cold case. Source: SA Police

South Australia Police said in a statement they had been granted permission to exhume the man's grave, just another course of action in the ongoing investigation.

"Following recovery of the remains, Forensic Science SA will attempt to recover a DNA profile from the man," Detective Superintendent Des Bray said in a statement. 

Theories surround mystery man

The Somerton man's body was first found by passers-by who noticed him slumped against a seawall.

His cause of death remains unknown and many theories have been advanced over his identity, ranging from a jilted lover to a Cold War spy.

An initial police investigation and coronial inquest left the matter unresolved with the case particularly mystifying because of a number of items found with the body.

Persian poetry book, The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyama.
The man was found with Persian poetry book, The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyama. Source: Getty

They included a suitcase, items of clothing with the tags removed, incoherent writing believed to be a code, poetry book The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam and a torn scrap of paper with the Persian words "Tamam Shud", meaning it is finished.

'It's an enduring mystery'

Police hope they will be able to put together the man's DNA profile to finally identify him or at least where he originated from. 

“The technology available to us now is clearly light years ahead of the techniques available when this body was discovered in the late 1940s,” Forensic Science SA’s Assistant Director of Operations Anne Coxon said on Wednesday.

“Tests of this nature are often highly complex and will take time, however we will be using every method at our disposal to try and bring closure to this enduring mystery."

While it will be a challenging task, Attorney-General Vickie Chapman believes the Forensic Science SA (FSSA) team is well equipped to handle it. 

The body of a mystery man found dead on Somerton Beach.
The grave of the mystery man found dead on the beach will be exhumed. Source: Nine News

“For more than 70 years people have speculated who this man was and how he died,” Attorney-General Chapman said.

“It’s an enduring mystery – but I believe that, finally, we may uncover some answers, thanks to the combined expertise of SA Police and FSSA. 

This case is part of Operation Persevere which has been implemented in part to identify all unidentified human remains in South Australia.

It runs alongside Operation Persist, under which cold case homicides are actively investigated.

with AAP

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