Police in South Australia (SA) have exhumed a 73-year-old body in an attempt to solve one of the country’s oldest cold cases.
The remains of the Somerton Man were unearthed from a grave in Adelaide’s West Terrace Cemetery, marked “the unknown man” on Wednesday morning. The Somerton Man was found slumped against a wall at Somerton Beach in the suburbs of Adelaide on Dec. 1, 1948.
His identity and cause of death have remained a mystery ever since, sparking speculation that he was a spy and making it one of Australia’s most notorious cold cases. SA police announced in April that Attorney-General Vickie Chapman had given them the green light to exhume the body in the hope that a DNA profile could be developed.
Des Bray, a detective superintendent from the Major Crimes Investigation Branch, said that the exhumation was done with dignity and respect.
“The Somerton Man is not just a curiosity or a mystery to be solved. He’s somebody’s father, son, perhaps grandfather, uncle, brother, and that’s why we’re doing this and trying to identify him,” he told News Corp Australia.
Following recovery of the remains, Forensic Science SA will attempt to recover a DNA profile from the man.”If a DNA profile can be obtained…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.”
Previous requests to recover the man’s remains were denied but Forensic Science SA assistant director of operations Anne Coxon said doing so was now worthwhile because technology is “light years ahead of the techniques available when this body was discovered in the late 1940s.”
“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,” she told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).