The Grave of the Tamam Shud Man

Who doesn’t enjoy a good mystery?

Well, here is one just waiting for more insight Take a trip to Adelaide, Australia, visit the West Terrace Cemetery, and look up the plot identified as “The Unknown Man.”

The Tamam Shud Man

“Here lies the Unknown Man who was found at Somerton Beach 1st December 1948,” it says on his gravestone. The man, first thought to be a drunk, was found dead sitting up against a seawall with no identification and no obvious signs for reason of death.

An autopsy performed revealed only excess blood in some of his organs, opening the possibility of death to be through poisoning, yet no traces of any poison were found through toxicology. News of the man found and a lack of clues to his identity and reasoning of death began to percolate around the area. Some came forward saying they had noticed the man on the beach the night before, and believing he was drunk, ignored him.

With more questions than answers, authorities decided to look for any unclaimed luggage held at the local railway station and came upon a briefcase checked in days prior to the man’s body being found. In it was a spool of orange thread which matched a repair on one his pockets. Some clothing items in the case were labeled with the name T. Keane, although for some reason this was ruled out as his name.

Months later the pocket repair was further investigated to hold a small pocket watch. Within that was a tiny rolled-up scroll, on it said the word “Tamam Shud,” which translated from Persian, equates to “It is ended.”

Now a Never-Ending Cold Case

The last two words of a popular poetry book, The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, were Tamam Shud. Two men came forward saying they had found a copy of the book in the front seat of their car parked near the beach that prior December. Each thinking it belonged to the other, it was tossed into the glove compartment and forgotten about until one read of the developing mystery. The last page had been ripped out.

The final result of the case, still unclosed today, was that the man could have been jilted by his lover, perhaps a nurse by the name of Jestyn, or Jessica Thomson, who claimed at the time she did not know the man, and/or he was a Russian spy.

Inside the book turned into the police, was found an inked in code, which only shown when placed under a black light. Neither naval intelligence at the time, nor backyard sleuths were able to decipher the code, nor has anyone since.

It is the nurse’s daughter, Kate, whose father was unknown to her growing up, who said, she believed the Tamam Shud man to be her father. In 2013, she said during a 60 Minutes interview, she further believes her mother was a Soviet spy, and the Tamam Shud man to have been a Russian agent.

Prior to the 60 Minutes story airing, Jessica’s granddaughter, Rachel, fathered by Kate’s half-brother, along with an Adelaide University physicist studying the cold case, had requested the Taman Shud’s body be exhumed. Her hope was to garner insight into her ancestry. The request was denied, and the case continues to linger.

We wish Stephen Spielberg and Tom Hanks would get on his one.