Body of Somerton Man exhumed, South Australia

On December 1, 1948, the body of a man was found on Somerton Beach. The man has never been identified and as such the investigation into his identity and the circumstances of this death remain an open inquiry.

Following approval by the Attorney-General Vickie Chapman, his body will be exhumed this morning (Wednesday, 19 May).

The case is in the hands of the SA Police’s Major Crime Investigation Branch, who have continued to review and investigate the matter.

Detective Superintendent Des Bray said the exhuming of the man’s body is yet another course of action in our ongoing active investigations.

“Following recovery of the remains Forensic Science SA will attempt to recover a DNA profile from the man,” Detective Superintendent Bray said.

“If a DNA profile can be obtained, and subject the amount and quality of the DNA a forensic case meeting will be held to formulate the most appropriate DNA strategy which will then require considerable investigation work to have any chance of identifying the man or where he originated from.”

“The technology available to us now is clearly light years ahead of the techniques available when this body was discovered in the late 1940s,” Forensic Science SA’s Assistant Director, Operations Anne Coxon said.

“Tests of this nature are often highly complex and will take time, however we will be using every method at our disposal to try and bring closure to this enduring mystery,” Ms Coxon said.

Attorney-General Vickie Chapman said she believes the Forensic Science SA (FSSA) team is well equipped to handle the challenging task.

“For more than 70 years people have speculated who this man was and how he died,” Attorney-General Chapman said.

“It’s an enduring mystery – but I believe that, finally, we may uncover some answers, thanks to the combined expertise of SA Police and FSSA.

This case is part of Operation Persevere which has been implemented in part to identify all unidentified human remains in South Australia. It runs in tandem with Operation Persist, under which cold case homicides are actively investigated.

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