Australian Story: Oct 14

Australian Story turns its attention to one of Australia’s most baffling unsolved mysteries.

This case stems back to Somerton Beach, Adelaide, in 1948.

“It’s one of the most incredibly interesting unsolved cases in our state’s history.” Vicki Chapman, SA Attorney General.

More than 70 years after an unidentified body was found on an Adelaide beach, a solution may be in sight to the long running mystery of the “Somerton Man” case.

South Australia’s Attorney General, Vicki Chapman, has given conditional approval for the man’s body to be exhumed, in the hope that modern DNA testing may finally give him a name.

“This is a breakthrough that the Attorney General wants solved,” according to Professor Derek Abbott, an Adelaide University academic who has become one of the world’s leading experts on the case.

“There’s now an imperative to go ahead and do an exhumation,” he told the ABC’s Australian Story program.

On the first of December 1948, two young jockeys exercising their horses found the body of a well dressed man on Somerton Beach in Adelaide.

Police assumed that somebody would soon come forward to identify the body, but nobody ever did.

The case has since become famous as one of Australia’s most baffling unsolved mysteries.

Bloggers and amateur sleuths around the world have posted their own theories about who the man is, why he was on the beach, and how he died.

Was he murdered? Was he a Russian spy? Was it suicide? Or was he the victim of a love triangle?

DNA testing may finally unearth the truth.

“I would be very confident that after 70 years, we would likely be able to recover some DNA from the body,” says Associate Professor Jodie Ward, a DNA expert who works with both NSW Health Pathology and UTS.

“I would like to see this case resolved, as I would all of our unresolved, unidentified remains cases in Australia.”

Viewers interested in learning more about the case can tune into the ABC Somerton Man podcast, available now.

Producer: Ben Cheshire

8pm on Monday 14 October on ABC.

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