The Taman Shud Case: 14 Highlights from Somerton Man Expert Professor Derek Abbott’s Reddit AMA

Somerton Man codeOne of the world’s foremost experts on the Somerton Man/Taman Shud case, Professor Derek Abbott of Australia’s University of Adelaide, took to Reddit last night to do an AMA on r/UnresolvedMysteries. Primarily a physicist and engineer — he holds a BSc in Physics and a PhD in Electrical and Electronic Engineering — he’s well known for his work on the applications of both to complex systems. He also finds uses for them regarding multi-displinary problems, including forensics (hence, his interest in the Somerton Man).

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If you’re at all interested in the case, I highly suggest heading over to r/Unresolved Mysteries to read the whole thing; for those who want the Cliff Notes version, though, here are a few highlights (click the images to make ’em bigger):

1. What Are Your Favorite Theories?

By which we mean not necessarily the most likely, but the most hilarious/entertaining/bizarre/etc.:

Abbott AMA theories2. Was the Somerton Man a Spy?

Abbott remarked that it seemed unlikely; other scenarios the evidence some people believe points to the Somerton Man being a spy include the following:

Abbott AMA spy3. Concerning the Destruction and Loss of Evidence

The Somerton Man’s suitcase was destroyed sometime in the ‘80s; witness statements have also disappeared from the police files. Here’s why (and how the police’s organizational systems have improved since then):

Abbott AMA thrown out

4. Was Thomas Torrance Keane the Somerton Man?

If you’ve ever seen this posted anywhere:

“Thomas Torrance Keane, born in Charters Towers in 1896 to Isabella Beaumont and her husband[d] Francis C Keane. Himself a part of the extended Beaumont clan and known to the Harkness family through Thomas’s marriage to Clarice Isabella Victoria Beaumont. Although he is noted as being deceased in 1949 this is probably a red herring. He was the Somerton Man.”

It’s probably not true. Sorry.

Abbott AMA T Keane

5. What Does the Nurse, Jestyn, Have to Do With It?

A lot, apparently:

Abbott AMA Jestyn

And concerning the woman herself:

Abbott AMA Jestyn 26. Was He Poisoned?

Maybe, but maybe not.

Abbott AMA Poison

7. What’s With That Cigarette?

It’s been pointed out that “shorting” a cigarette — smoking half of it and then squirreling the other half away for later—is a little bit at odds with the possibility of suicide. Here’s why:

Abbott AMA cigarette

8. What If He Was Poisoned by the Cigarette?

Unlikely. (Sorry, Breaking Bad.)

Abbott AMA poisoned by cigarette9. Is There Any Particular Reason Why So Many Weird Things Have Happened in Adelaide?

See also: The Family Murders, the Beaumont Children, the Snowtown Murders, etc. (I’ll likely be covering the Family and Snowtown cases at some point. Just, y’know… FIY.)

Abbott AMA Adelaide

10. Why Were Fingerprints Only Taken from the Somerton Man’s Body?

The whole thing didn’t strike anyone as suspicious until later on. Whoops.

Abbott AMA fingerprints

11. What’s to Be Gained by Exhuming the Somerton Man’s Body?

Forensics! If you

want to help the exhumation get the official sanction, head on over to to sign the petition for it.

Abbott AMA exhume

12. Are There Any Misconceptions or Lesser-Known Facts About the Case We Should Consider?

Goodness, yes:

Abbott AMA misconceptions

13. Concerning Red Herrings and Clues No Longer Worth Looking Into:

Time waits for no man, even if he’s long dead.

Abbott AMA red herrings

14. So What Is Worth Looking Into?

Plenty. Any volunteers?

Abbott AMA things to do


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