The Tamám Shud case, or the Mystery of the Somerton Man, is an unsolved case of a man whose identity remains unknown. He was found dead on December 1st, 1948 at 6:30 am on Somerton Park beach, near Adelaide, South Australia. The case got its name from a scrap of paper found later, reading "Tamám Shud" or "ended" or "finished" in Persian, which was found in the man's trousers pocket.
The Tamám Shud Case
The scrap of paper found in the case read "Tamám Shud," which is taken from a 12th-century Persian poetry book. However, the word "Tamám" has been misspelled as "Tamán" in early reports, leading to the case also being known as the "Tamán Shud" case.
The phrase "Tamám Shud" translates to "it is finished," which did not provide much insight for the Australian investigators when they found the man's body on Somerton beach. This was the only lead they had to work with.
After discovering the body, investigators found a car parked near the beach, containing the book from which the scrap of paper came from. Inside the book were a local phone number, another unidentified number, and a handwritten text that appeared to be an encrypted message. Despite attempts, the cipher has not been successfully deciphered or interpreted by authorities investigating the case.
The Phone Number
The phone number found in the book belonged to Jessica Thompson, a nurse in Somerton who claimed to have never met the unidentified man. However, some of her neighbors reported that the man had visited her house the day before his body was found.
A Suitcase At The Adelaide Railway Station
On November 30th, 1948, a brown suitcase with no label was found in the Adelaide railway station cloakroom. It was believed to belong to the man found on Somerton Park beach on January 14th, 1949.
Police found various personal items, including clothes, shoes, and shaving items, in a suitcase. However, all identification marks had been removed. They did find the name "T. Keane" on a tie and "Keane" and "Kean" on other items. They believed the name may not have been the dead man's and that the tags were left intentionally or missed. Notably, no spare socks were found in the suitcase.
The Tamám Shud Case – One Of Australia's Most Profound Mysteries
Despite their efforts, the investigation team was unable to solve the mystery of the "Tamám Shud" case.
The Tamám Shud case, known as "one of Australia's most profound mysteries" since the beginning of the police investigation, continues to generate speculation about the identity of the victim, the reason for their death, and the events leading up to it.
The Tamám Shud case continues to garner significant public interest for a variety of reasons, including its timing during a period of increased Cold War tensions, the presence of a secret code, the possibility of an undetectable poison being used, and the ongoing inability of authorities to identify the victim.
Was The Somerton Man A Soviet Spy?
It was only after Thompson passed away that her daughter revealed that her mother was a former Soviet spy and had an affair with the unknown man. Whether Jessica Thompson was connected to the man's death remains unclear as government officials declined to exhume the body for DNA testing and the autopsy results were not definitive.
Recently, new evidence has come to light, including an old identification card that may identify the Somerton Man as H. C. Reynolds. The ID card, numbered 58757, was issued in the United States on February 28th, 1918 to H.C. Reynolds, with his nationality listed as "British" and his age as 18. Despite these findings, further research has been unable to locate any records related to H.C. Reynolds.
The South Australia Police Major Crime Branch is currently investigating the new information and has the case listed as open. However, some independent researchers contend that the ID card belongs to Horace Charles Reynolds, a man from Tasmania who died in 1953, therefore cannot be the Somerton Man.
The South Australian Police Historical Society possesses a plaster cast of the Somerton Man's head and chest, which was made by police in 1949. It includes some of the man's hair. However, identification efforts have been hindered by the fact that formaldehyde used in embalming has severely damaged the man's DNA.
Key evidence, including the brown suitcase, is no longer available for examination as it was destroyed in 1986. Additionally, the police file has been compromised over the years with some of the witness statements missing.
Authorities have dubbed the case of the Somerton Man an "unparalleled mystery" due to the failure to uncover his identity and determine the cause of death. They speculate that the cause may never be known.