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Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Somerton Man: The Fingerprints, A Questionable Document


How do we know these fingerprints belong to the
Somerton Man?


This is the first of a series of posts that contain hitherto unknown/ unpublished information. The next set will include a significant range of documents and images that had been with held fro the public.
On first glance, this looks like a very ordinary image showing fingerprints but, as per a recent response made to a comment left by Nick Pelling, there's more to this image that makes it questionable perhaps beyond Nick's understanding of this case.

In the response I pointed out how the image shows what appears to be a photograph of the original fingerprint card laid on a piece of paper, the highlighted areas to the top left and right appear to show the edges of the card against a plain paper background. although at the base of this image it is difficult to discern where the card finishes.

The next issue with this image questions the apparent cut made to the top right corner of the card where there is some typing shown briefly describing the source of the fingerprints. You might ask why that would be a problem and the answer is that in essence those prints could belong to anybody because the fingerprint card itself does not contain anyone's signature nor the original description which should be shown in that top right area where the typed note appears. In other words the prints are not authenticated. The form on the top left has been left blank as has the 'Classified and Searched By' and 'Checked by' fields center right of the card.

So where does this leave us? We have a questioned image showing unauthenticated, incomplete fingerprints with no signatures and we have some more questions. Under what circumstances does it make sense for the prints to have been apparently kept in a folder of some kind? If the fingerprints were evidence then they would just be a plain photograph handed to the Coroner, they wouldn't be handed over in a book like this one, they would have been marked as specific exhibits.

Yet another question is where are the 'full finger' prints and or hand prints that would normally be expected to be taken? You can see in this image that there is a space for 'Left' and 'Fingers' yet no prints are shown.

My thoughts are that this is an image taken much later and perhaps relatively recently. This in turn makes me think that the original fingerprints may still exist and that there is a possibility that suspended in the ink on the card are DNA cells from the hands of the person from whom these fingerprints were taken.

I put it to Nick that someone should get in touch with SAPOL museum and ask whether they have an example set of blank fingerprint cards from the 1948 period plus an actual copy of a full set of fingerprints.

In the files, mention is made of the man's fingerprints being sent to Central Records in Sydney, the question I raise is were these the originals that were sent or photographs?

These are serious questions that need to be answered and my belief is that someone has those answers, they are not to be dismissed lightly and without any substantiating evidence as seems to have been so often the case.

I leave you with these final questions, when and where was this image taken, by whom and for what purpose?

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Somerton Man: DNA On Fingerprints Card & The Torn TAMAM SHUD Piece


The Torn Piece Could Provide The DNA Needed..

"...many cold cases whose samples were too small or degraded to prove useful are now resubmitting evidence to labs for Touch DNA analysis."



Much has been said in the press regarding Professor Abbott's desire to have the body of the Somerton Man exhumed for DNA identification purposes.

I understand that the Professor has already taken DNA samples from members of Jestyn's family in an effort to prove whether or not the Somerton Man was in some way related to them.

Exhumation is one way of accessing his DNA but is there another one or maybe 2 ways that DNA could be examined and without exhuming the body of the man? I think the answer is Yes.

Touch DNA


This science deals with the ability of Forensic officers to extract usable DNA samples from extraordinarily small samples, 5 to 30 skin cells is all that is required..

The image of the torn piece is to all accounts of the original taken from the copy of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam which had been thrown into the Hillman Minx car and on the back of which was written the now famous 'code'.

The torn piece was recovered during the autopsy, it was extracted, using tweezers, from a hard to find waistband fob pocket of the Somerton Man's trousers, the ones he was wearing on that fateful day. According to the surgeon, Cleland, the paper was tightly rolled up and quite small.

Somerton Man's DNA on The Torn Piece


When you think about how the words were carefully torn from the book and then equally as carefully handled, folded and then rolled up, how long do you think his fingers would have been in contact with that paper? 2 minutes? 90 seconds? All it takes, according to the Forensic DNA center, is 60 seconds and in that time the surface DNA is transferred to the article being touched, the DNA cells are sloughed off. In the UK all that is needed is between 5 and 20 nucleated cells in order for sufficient low copy DNA to be identified. 

It certainly appears to be that DNA samples could be extracted from the Torn Piece.

The argument will be that over the years a number of people would have handled this piece. My response would be 'And?' If there are 20 samples on the piece then all that you would be looking for is one of those, the one which had probably the most number of cells given the handling it had, and see whether it matched one or more from Jestyn's family.


Interestingly this torn piece still exists and it is in safe hands. To my knowledge neither Professor Abbott nor anyone else has ever mentioned or attempted to obtain DNA samples from the torn piece, the question would be would the person who has the piece hand it over? Perhaps they would hand it over to an independent party.


DNA from Fingerprints

It stands to reason that if you can obtain DNA samples from a piece of paper or other surface, then you should also be able to obtain it from fingerprints. That turns out to be true as well, the same techniques are used, Touch DNA, to collect DNA samples from fingerprints. In the case of Somerton Man, what we have is a reasonably clear set of 10 fingerprints taken using the type of fingerprint ink used at the time. It is highly likely that by default, DNA cells from the man's hand were deposited into the ink and on to the fingerprint card where they will still be. I believe the original fingerprint card is still in existence.



Here's a table showing the various types of crime cleared up by the use of Touch DNA:

You can download a detailed PDF document that discusses Touch DNA methods and techniques.

In this video clip you can see how one US Police Department cleared up 38% of Burglaries using Touch DNA

It could be that there is a reasonable explanation why the extraction of DNA from the torn piece or the fingerprint card has never been mentioned, that is as far as I am aware, and why apparently no efforts were made to examine the torn piece and the fingerprint card for DNA. 

How Touch DNA Works & Why it Matters



This technology has been called a breakthrough by many in law-enforcement for its ability to derive evidence where there is a lack of visible DNA (such as blood, semen, hair, or saliva). It can also be used on fingerprints that are too smudged or incomplete for fingerprint analysis.

Finally, many cold cases whose samples were too small or degraded to prove useful are now resubmitting evidence to labs for Touch DNA analysis.


The process of extracting Touch DNA for forensic analysis involves swabbing, taping, or scraping for trace amounts of epithelial cell-tissue from surfaces like doorknobs, countertops, windows, and even clothing and food. This starter DNA is then amplified using Polymerase Chain Reaction technology to create identical copies that are large enough for proper analysis. 

According to Ryan Forensic DNA Consulting, “the amount of DNA needed to yield a full DNA profile with most commercially available amplification kits is approximately 1 nanogram (ng) of DNA and partial profiles can be obtained with even less starting material."

That comes out to about to the infinitesimally small number of about 5-30 skin cells. With those numbers in mind, it's easy to see why Touch DNA has been embraced by police departments across the country. Of course, if you want Touch DNA evidence to work for you, it's essential you adhere to specimen collection best practices to avoid compromising a sample.

Please feel free to comment I will answer all questions if I am able to.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Somerton Man: The Engraver





In the last post we covered off on the fingerprint issue and detailed why SM was right handed and that he had scars and markings on his right thumb, forefinger and middle finger. These things suggested he had been using a hand tool and that the markings were indicative of that hand tool being an engraving tool. Here's some solid information that supports the evidence.


In the image above you can see the prints from the man's thumb, forefinger and middle finger in that order.

In the image of the thumb print, note that the wear/indentations are near the top.

The Forefinger print shows wear almost exactly radiating from the centre of the print.

The Middle finger print shows its wear off to the left as you look at it.

Now lets look at the typical grip used by an engraver as per the images below:



Notice the thumb pressed close at the top, the forefinger almost central and the middle finger, somewhat hidden has a grip off to the left.

The closeness is obvious and is entirely consistent with the wear in the fingerprints submitted as being from the Somerton Man.

The next image below shows a slightly different grip style but nonetheless still consistent in the location of the wear, in this case the image shows part of the Intaglio printing technique:



Once again the fingerprint wear and the grip used in the Intaglio printing process are consistent.

Now let's look at further evidence that completely supports this argument, below are two images, the first image shows the knife found in the suitcase and the image to the right shows a vintage engraving tool:














You can clearly see the similarities between the two, almost identical in shape, this particular tool is for engraving wood. Wood block printing techniques were much in use during the 1940s. The shape of the tool means a different grip to the one shown prior to this. Here's a video clip link showing one Intaglio process:
The above is all new information but based on the hard evidence that remains, all that was needed to be done to uncover these additional and important facts was to treat this case as an investigation.

An interesting fact is that engravers were extremely well skilled at fine details including micro writing so yet again we have brought even more evidence to support the existence of micro writing in a number of places in this case.




The image above is of President Lincoln's fob watch, as you can see a message was engraved into it, it deals with details of a military attack. I have included this image because at one time one of Jestyn's relatives told me that there was a watch and something had been engraved into it on the inside. I can't vouch for the watch's existence, it is interesting though given the discovery that the person's fingerprints are consistent with those of an engraver.

Here's the message in Lincoln's watch:
"April 13th 1861, Fort Sumpter was attacked by rebels on the above date. J Dillon'
The second part of the message is repeated and states the location as Washington and then states
"Thank God we have a government"

I have more posts coming soon with further information on another item of evidence, I hope you'll drop by again soon.