List of facts on the Taman Shud Case that are often misreported

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There are many details about the case that have been misreported in the media. We shall collect a list of sins of omission and commission, as follows:

  • 1. The Somerton Man used a train ticket from Adelaide Railway Station at 10:50 am to Henley Beach. This is wrong. The Somerton Man in fact had this ticket in his pocket unused.
  • 2. It is incorrectly reported that the Somerton Man died penniless. He in fact had sixpence in his suitcase.
  • 3. There are many contradictory reports on how many telephone numbers written in The Rubaiyat. There was number of the nurse Jestyn. And there was also the phone number of a bank. As the book is lost it is difficult to confirm if there really were any other numbers or not.
  • 4. It is reported Jestyn was a 'nurse' at the time of Somerton incident. We have not been able to find evidence she was actually working in 1948 as yet. She trained in Sydney's North Shore Hospital, as a nurse at the time she met Alf Boxall. Before that she was an orderly in a hospital in Victoria. Later in life, from the late 1960s onwards she was a mental health nurse in Adelaide. We have not been able to find any evidence of nursing qualifications as yet.
  • 5. It is sometimes reported that Jestyn identified the bust of the dead man as Alf Boxall. This is incorrect. She claimed she wasn't able to tell if the bust was Boxall or not. All she claimed was she once gave a copy of the The Rubaiyat to Alf Boxall.
  • 6. It is often reported that the dead man had an uncanny resemblance to Alf Boxall. They in fact do not resemble that well. This can easily be seen by comparing photographs.
  • 7. It is sometimes suggested that because the nurse's name was withheld, the name 'Jestyn' was simply invented by the police as a way of identifying her. Although 'Jestyn' is not her actual first name, it was some sort of nickname. She signed herself 'Jestyn' in Alf Boxall's copy of The Rubaiyat.
  • 8. Reports sometimes refer to the man who found the copy of The Rubaiyat, tossed in the back of his car, as a 'doctor' or 'chemist'. This is not certain. In fact both his name and real occupation have been withheld. Also the reason why his details are withheld is also suppressed. All we can assume is that he was some kind of professional.
  • 9. It is sometimes suggested in media reports that is it remarkable that the dead man's shoes were so clean and well polished given that he spent a day "walking around on a beach." This is somewhat inaccurate. We don't actually know that he walked around much in the sand at all. He was only observed sitting on the edge of the beach. He was never seen walking around.
  • 10. The code is often reported in newspapers as: "MRGOABABD MTBIMPANETP MLIABOAIAQC ITTMTSAMSTGAB." This contains a number of inaccuracies. Some of the letters are in fact ambiguous and cannot be transcribed with certainty. Also there are spaces that are missing. The extra spaces could be significant. There is also an extra line that appears to be crossed out. This extra line may be significant. There is also an 'x' written above the last 'O'. The code also contains a hooked 'S'. If we disregard the extra line, it is interesting we are left with 4 lines. After all, a Rubiayat is a four line poem.
  • 11. It is stated in some recent media reports that DNA testing is impossible because the body was embalmed in formaldehyde. It is true that formaldehyde will degrade the DNA in the soft tissues of the body. However, DNA is still potentially viable in the teeth and bones, and possibly the hair.
  • 12. It is sometimes stated in media reports that DNA is useless for this case as we have nothing to compare it with. This is incorrect. There is significant statistical information that can be gathered by running the dead man's DNA through a large database containing millions of people's DNA around the world. We can then concentrate on the statistically closest matches and see if they cluster around particular regions of the world or not. This can give us location information. We can then examine the surnames of the closest matches. If the same surname comes up significantly more times than the others, it is highly likely we then have a good lead as to the Somerton Man's surname and family group. Also if many of his matches have names ending in "ovski" it would lend credence to the Russian spy hypothesis. Another good reason to have his DNA, is that people do come forward wanting to check if the man is a known missing grandfather. This could then be checked with certainty. In the future, descendants of Jestyn may well come forward wanting to be tested to put an end to speculation they might be related to the Somerton Man in some way. This in itself would shed light on the case.
  • 13. The gravesite itself is often referred to as that of the Somerton Man, but the reports omit to mention there are in fact three bodies in the same grave stacked on top of each other. The Somerton Man is the third body on the top. The reason is that once the lease of your grave runs out, the cemetery is allowed to stack other bodies on top of you and change your headstone.
  • 14. Sometimes it is reported that the meaning of "tamam shud" is "the bitter end". This is in fact an overstatement, attempting to fit in with the suicide hypothesis. In Persian "tamam" is a noun that simply means "the end" and it can also be used in the sense when something is finished or completed. The "shud" bit on the end is an auxiliary verb that puts it into the past tense, so "tamam shud" means "ended" or "finished".
  • 15. Newspapers often report Jestyn as being married at the time the Somerton body was found. Her future husband was previously married and in those days divorce proceedings took a long time come through. So there was delay before they were able to be officially married. There were in fact married in 1950. Everyone that knew them were led to believe they were married in 1947, only Jestyn's mother was let in on the secret at the time.
  • 16. Some newspapers overly emphasize the man as having an "Eastern European", "Bulgarian", or "Russian" appearance. This is an overstatement designed to dramatize the "spy hypothesis." The fact that the public thought he was Walsh, Johnson, or McClean means to them he looked Australian. Also the pathologist J.B. Cleland himself stated that he thought the man to be a "Britisher."
  • 17. Some newspapers report that the Somerton Man had no vaccination mark. In fact we do not know if he was vaccinated or not. In the Coronial Inquest Cleland said: "I could not be certain there was no vaccination some cases the vaccination marks are hard to see."

See also