Who was the Somerton Man? Solving Australia’s coldest case | Tech News

An amateur sleuth has spent years tracing the identity of a mysterious body found on a beach 70 years ago. Finally, he is finding answers close to home

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Somerton Man artwork

IT WAS a mild evening in Brisbane and Rachel Egan had just got home after a long day teaching at a primary school and attending a ballet class. She greeted her cat, Billy, and listened to the answering machine. There was a message from a man called Derek who wanted to talk to her about her family history. “I thought he was a telemarketer and deleted it,” she says.

At that moment in 2010, Rachel had no idea of the secrets locked up in her past. But she and her family were about to become entangled in one of Australia’s oldest and most baffling cold cases. She would end up intimately connected to the man trying to solve it – and her own blood would provide him with a vital clue.

The case centred on a man who was found dead on Somerton beach in Adelaide, South Australia, on 1 December 1948. Growing up with adoptive parents in New Zealand, Rachel had never heard of the Somerton Man, or the rumours that swirled around his strange death on the other side of the Tasman sea.

Those rumours did not begin straight away. At first, everyone assumed the case was a cut-and-dried death by suicide. Why else would an athletic, elegantly suited gentleman with no outward injuries be found lifeless on the sand?

The problem was, the police could not work out how the Somerton Man had died. Extensive internal bleeding hinted at an unnatural death, but no poison was found in his body or nearby. Nor could they work out who he was. He had …

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