Somerton Man: Professor claims he has solved the identity of man found on Adelaide beach in 1948


‘Somerton man’ mystery is ‘SOLVED’: Extraordinary twist in Australia’s most baffling death 70 years after he was found dead on a beach with a coded note in his pocket

  • Professor Derek Abbott says he has solved the enduring Somerton Man mystery
  • The body of a man was found on Somerton Park beach, Adelaide, in 1948 
  • Strange clues sparked theories the unidentified man may have been a spy 
  • Abbott says the man was Carl “Charles” Webb, an engineer from Melbourne 
  • He used hair to build a family tree profile – linking the DNA to Webb’s relatives  

One of Australia’s most baffling mysteries may finally be solved as a university professor claims he has deciphered the identity of the Somerton man using DNA analysis. 

The man’s body (pictured) was found on Somerton Beach on December 1, 1948

The body of a fully-clothed man was discovered by two trainee jockeys near the shore of Somerton Park Beach, Adelaide, on December 1, 1948.

A post-mortem ruled he had died from being poisoned, but the man known only as the ‘Somerton Man’ was never identified after no one claimed him.  

The peculiar case has sparked wild theories he may have been a cold war spy or murdered by a scorned ex-lover after a series of strange clues – including a coded note and book of Persian poems – were found among his belongings. 

Now, more than 70 years later, Adelaide University researcher Derek Abbott says the man was Carl “Charles” Webb, a 43-year-old electrical engineer and instrument maker from Footscray in Melbourne. 

Mr Abbott, who has been working alongside renowned American genealogist Colleen Fitzpatrick, used hair from a plaster mask police made to construct a DNA profile, building a family tree containing around 4,000 people. 

On Saturday, Abbott and Fitzpatrick successfully matched the DNA from the hair to samples from Webb’s distant relatives.  

‘By filling out this tree, we managed to find a first cousin three times removed on his mother’s side,’ Abbott told CNN.

The victim, known as the 'Somerton Man', was found on Somerton Park Beach in South Australia on December 1948 with a coded message in his jacket (pictured)

The victim, known as the ‘Somerton Man’, was found on Somerton Park Beach in South Australia on December 1948 with a coded message in his jacket (pictured)

The body of a fully-clothed man (pictured) was discovered by two trainee jockeys near the shore of the Somerton Park Beach, south of Adelaide, on December 1, 1948

The body of a fully-clothed man (pictured) was discovered by two trainee jockeys near the shore of the Somerton Park Beach, south of Adelaide, on December 1, 1948

‘It just felt like I climbed and I was at the top of Mount Everest.’ 

Webb was born the youngest of six children in 1905 in Melbourne, but no death records or photos exist on file. 

Abbott said they also found a link between Webb and the name ‘T.Keane’ – which was printed on the Somerton Man’s tie.

‘It turns out that Carl Webb has a brother-in-law called Thomas Kean, who lived just 20 minutes drive away from him in Victoria,’ Abbott told ABC News. 

‘So it’s not it’s not out of the question that these items of clothing he had with T. Keane on them were just hand me downs from his brother-in-law.’

More to come. 

TIMELINE OF EVENTS 

December 1, 1948: Trainee jockeys find the Somerton Man’s body on Somerton Beach in the early hours

January 14, 1949: Adelaide train station staff find suitcase believed to belong to Somerton Man in the station

June 1949: Inquest into the man’s mysterious death is launched

June 1949: The Somerton Man is buried in West Terrace Cemetery

March 2009: University of Adelaide Professor Derek Abbott begins investigating the case. His research leads to Rachel Egan. The couple later marry and have three children

October 2019: South Australia Attorney-General gives conditional approval to exhume the body

May 2021: South Australia Police exhume Somerton Man’s body for further testing 

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