Saturday, January 31, 2015

John List: Time to start a new life.

This crime has the distinction of being the first crime to give me nightmares.

There were two things which disturbed me about this crime - the crime scene as the cops found it must have been horrific; and that he managed to spend 19 years on the run after he killed his whole family. But let's start at the beginning.

John List was a respectable married man with three teenage children. He lived in a huge old three storey Victorian mansion, called "Breeze Knoll", with his family and his elderly mother, who had lent him the money to buy the house.

Things were not as they seem however - John List had lost his job and was almost bankrupt.

Using very fucked up logic, John List says he decided that the Bible said that poverty was a sin, so therefore he needed to kill his family before they became poor, and thus sinners. Using a gun, he killed his mother and his wife during the day, and waited for his children to come home from school, killing them as soon as they walked into the house. John, the middle child, had soccer practice, so List went and picked him up, brought him home and executed him.

As he killed each member of his family, he laid the bodies next to each other in the ballroom in a row, except for his mother who was too heavy to carry downstairs. He then wrote some letters to the school and his pastor, turned on all the lights, turned down the thermostat, tuned the radio to his favourite station, and left.

He was not seen again for almost two decades.

The neighbours called police after about a month. Imagine yourself as one of those New Jersey cops walking into that scene: Three story Victorian mansion; lights have been burning for weeks, and now the only light left on is on the second floor, casting a dim light over the rest of the house; the huge empty rooms filled with John List's favourite solemn classical music; the discovery of the row of bodies in the ballroom, and one upstairs; the smell.

John List changed his name, remarried and started a new life, with hardly a thought to the lives he had taken.  His new life was undone thanks to the Television Show "America's most wanted" doing a story on the case.  Someone recognised him, and the jig was up.

What bothers me is his psycho-pathology. How could you kill you entire family, including your three children, walk away and carry on like nothing happened for almost twenty years. No guilt. No remorse. No feelings.

Now that's just scary.

Crime Library

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The murderous Captain Bathtub.

You know that evil stranger that your mum always warned you about?  The one who comes to your house in response to a “flatmate wanted” ad and kills you.  The balaclava clad man, holding a sawn-off shotgun, who starts leading to you to a darker, more secluded location.  Ashley Mervyn Coulston is that evil being.  And in 1992 he terrorised Melbourne.

Ashley Coulston

 However, Coulston’s criminal career began long before 1992.  On April 29th 1971 he abducted two young school teachers, forcing them to drive to New South Wales, heading for Sydney.  He had stalked them for two weeks before the abduction.  Coulston’s choice of weapon was a .22 rifle.  When they stopped at a Gundagai roadhouse for food, the screams of the women attracted the attention of a truck driver and they were rescued.  He was 14 years old.  Coulston was sentenced to three months in juvenile detention.

Publicity photo from G'Day 88

Coulston moved around, living in New South Wales and Queensland.  He developed an interest in sailing and in 1988, during Australia’s bicentennial he came to national attention when he tried to sail the smallest boat from Australia to New Zealand.  He spent almost a year designing and building the G’Day 88 which was about the size of a spa bath.  His first attempt was thwarted by a cyclone, but he was successful on his second attempt.  He was featured in many media stories and dubbed “Captain Bathtub”.
Sailing also introduced him to his partner Jan McLeod, a woman more than 15 years older than him.  He lived with Jan on her boat docked at Hastings, on Melbourne’s Mornington Peninsula.

On July 29th 1992, three young people were brutally executed at a house in Burwood, a quiet middle-class suburb of Melbourne.  Someone had hog tied Kerryn Henstridge (22), Anne Smerdon (22) and Peter Dempsey (27, Anne’s brother-in-law) with cable ties and shot them all in the head.  Kerryn’s mother discovered the horrifying scene the following morning when she went to the house.  Kerryn had been moving out that day and had failed to meet her mother as planned.

Anne Smerden

Kerryn was moving home to Hamilton, a town west of Melbourne.  The other tenants had advertised for a new flatmate, and had been interviewing prospective tenants on the night of the 29th.  One man attended the house at 8pm sharp, and left about 8:10.  He was the last person to see the trio alive.  There was another man scheduled to visit that night, a 40 year old man named Duncan.  It is now believed that Duncan was Ashley Coulston.

Kerryn Henstridge

Police appeals for information did not turn up any leads. 

Peter Dempsey
Five weeks after the execution of three young people rocked the Melbourne suburbs, Richard and Anne Shalagin were returning to their car near the National Gallery of Victoria on St Kilda Road when they were approached by a man in a balaclava, who silently pointed a gun at them.  Thinking he was there to rob them, they threw a few $50 notes at him, which he took, but he kept menacing them.  He motioned for them to go to a darker area, under a tree.  St Kilda Road is a very busy road near the Melbourne CBD.  He told Anne to lie facedown, kicking her even though she complied with his demands.  The man took out some cable ties to bind Anne, and while doing so, put his rifle down.  Richard took this opportunity to grab the man in a bear hug, and after a brief struggle, both the Shalagins managed to run away.  Richard’s actions almost certainly saved their lives.

The shouts of the Shalagins drew the attention of two security guards who radioed for police.  The approached the man, who shot one of the security guards in the hip.  Despite this, they managed to grab him and hold him until the police arrived.

Coulston's gun with a homemade silencer, made from an oil can.

Police took the man back to the police station.  He was Ashley Mervyn Coulson and he had a murder kit on him that night – sawn-off shotgun with a homemade silencer, knife, balaclava, high velocity .22 cartridges, handcuffs, thumb cuffs and cable ties.
When the police did ballistic tests on the shotgun they found a match to two of the bullets used in the Burwood murders.  The third bullet was too badly damaged to be compared.  The homemade silencer had high velocity bloodstains matching the Burwood crime scene.  Police also found a map book with Coulston’s fingerprint on the page for Burwood. They had their man.

Coulston refused to say anything to police during questioning.  His partner Jan gave him an alibi, stating he was visiting her in Frankston Hospital that night, but this was not able to be verified.  He claimed he had lent his gun to a friend.  The person he named stated he did not know Coulston, and was out of the country at the time of the murder.

Coulston was charged with the Burwood murders and 11 other offenses.  He remained mute throughout his trial.  He was found guilty, but successfully appealed that verdict.  He was found guilty again at his second trial, and his appeal was denied.  He was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. 

Because of Coulston’s refusal to speak, the motive for the execution of three innocent young people remains unknown.  It is speculated it was just a thrill killing.  Three lives full of potential were ended just for kicks.

In a troubling incident, Coulston was able to access the names of 51 nurses working at Frankston Hospital the night of the murders in Burwood through a Freedom of Information (FOI) application.  This led to changes in the FOI laws in Victoria preventing names of public servants being released.  He was also able to access records about a notorious Melbourne child killer call Mr Cruel.

It is highly unlikely that Coulston did not commit any crimes between 1971 and 1992.  He is suspected of being the “Balaclava Killer” who terrorised the Gold Coast and Tweed Heads, on the border between New South Wales and Queensland between 1979 and 1980.  Coulston lived in the area at the time.  He is also a prime suspect for being the “Sutherland Rapist” who attacked women in Sydney between 1981 and 1984.  The rapist wore a balaclava and carried a sawn-off shotgun.  Coulston was living in Sydney at the time.  He was investigated in related to the disappearance of Sarah McDiarmid from Kananook railway station in Melbourne in1990.  No evidence was found to link him to her death, and her body has never been found.  Coulston was even considered a possible suspect for the “Mr Cruel” crimes.  (I’ll discuss Mr Cruel in a later post).

Considering that Coulston refuses to talk about the crimes he is known to have committed, he is unlikely to ever confess to any further crimes.  He remains in prison alongside some of the most dangerous men to have terrorised the city of Melbourne.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Katherine Knight: Australia's most gruesome female killer?

Not many Australians have heard of Katherine Knight.  Yet Knight is one of the most gruesome murderers in Australian history.  So why haven’t we heard about her?  Because the media, the same media that revels in all stories of murder and mayhem, voluntarily decided that this story was just too horrific.

Katherine Knight is the first Australian woman to be sentenced to life imprisonment without parole for the murder of her defacto husband John Price, known to his mates as Pricey.

Katherine grew up in an extremely violent and dysfunctional house, where her father would use intimidation and violence to rape her mother up to ten times a day. Her mother in turn would tell her children how much she hated men and sex.  But her mother’s advice to young Katherine, when she mentioned her boyfriend wanted to her to do a sex act she didn’t want to do, was “put up with it and stop complaining”.

Katherine was described as a pleasant young girl, but she was also prone to murderous rages in response to minor incidents.  She was a school bully, assaulting pupils and teachers alike.  By contrast, when she was not in a rage, she won awards for her good behaviour.

Katherine’s first husband, David Kellett, remembers the advice he received from Katherine’s mother on their wedding day in 1974 “You better watch this one or she'll fucking kill you. Stir her up the wrong way or do the wrong thing and you're fucked, don't ever think of playing up on her, she'll fuckin' kill you.”  It seems her mother knew her well.  Katherine fractured David’s skull with a frying pan one night after he returned late from a darts tournament.  He was late because he made the finals. 

David Kellett and Katherine on their wedding day.
David left Katherine shortly after the birth of their daughter Melissa, heading to Queensland with a new girlfriend.  Katherine suffered post natal depression and was hospitalised in Tamworth for several weeks.  Upon release from hospital she placed two month old Melissa on the train tracks, and took an axe into town, threatening to kill several people.  An old forager found Melissa before the train came along, and Katherine was readmitted to hospital.  She checked herself out the next day.

A few days after this, Katherine slashed the face of a woman, and demanded she drive her to Queensland to find David.  The woman escaped at a service station, but Katherine took a little boy hostage, and had a standoff with police.  They finally disarmed her with a broom, and she was admitted to a psychiatric hospital.   Katherine had targeted the service station because the mechanic there had fixed David’s car, allowing him to go to Queensland.  She planned on finding David, and killing him and his mother.  Upon hearing of the incident, David left his girlfriend, and he and his mother decided to head back to New South Wales and support Katherine.

Katherine eventually left David in 1984, by which time they had a second daughter, Natasha.  Katherine had begun working in an abattoir, which she thoroughly enjoyed.

Katherine began a relationship with 38 year old David Saunders in 1986.  David moved in with Katherine, but kept his apartment in a neighbouring town.  During the volatile relationship, David would often leave Katherine and return to his apartment.  Katherine would inevitably follow and beg him to come back to her.

In 1987 Katherine cut the throat of David’s two month old dingo pup in front of him to show him what would happen if he ever cheated on her.

1988 saw the birth of Katherine’s third daughter, Sarah.  During an argument with David, Katherine hit him in the face with an iron and stabbed him in the stomach.  David left, and upon his return he discovered that Katherine had cut up all his clothes.  At this point, he took long service leave from work and went into hiding.  After several months he returned to see his daughter, only to find that Katherine had gone to the police and obtained an Apprehended Violence Order (AVO) against him.  She told the police that she was afraid of him.

Katherine gave birth to her fourth child in 1990, a boy named Eric.  Eric’s father, John Chillingworth, lasted three years with Katherine before she left him for a man she had been having an affair with – John “Pricey” Price.

Katherine and Pricey.

Pricey was a typical Aussie country bloke.  Easy going, and liked by all who knew him.  Divorced, his two eldest children lived with him.  He knew of Katherine’s violent reputation, but allowed her to move in with him anyway.  His children liked her, and although there were violent arguments, the relationship was generally happy.

Katherine wanted to marry Pricey, but he was reluctant.  His reluctance cost him the job he had held for 17 years.  In retaliation for refusing to marry her, Katherine told Pricey’s boss that he had stolen equipment from him, and Pricey was fired.  The fact that it was out of date first aid kits, taken from the company rubbish tip, was apparently irrelevant.
They separated for a while, but then Pricey took her back.  This time he refused to let her move back in with him, and the fighting was more frequent than ever.  Pricey’s friends now started avoiding him, because they didn’t want anything to do with Katherine.

The fights increased in violence, until one night in February 2000 when Katherine stabbed Pricey in the chest.  That was the last straw and he finally kicked her out of his house. 
He got an AVO against her on February 29th 2000.  That afternoon at work he told his colleagues that if he didn’t come into work the next day, Katherine had killed him.  They begged him not to go home, but he felt he needed to protect his children.
During the day Katherine had bought new black lingerie and videoed her children in what appeared to be an informal Will of sorts.

On arriving at his home Pricey found that Katherine was not there, but that she had sent his kids for a sleep-over at a friend’s house for the night.  Pricey had dinner with his neighbours, went home and went to bed.  Katherine arrived later, letting herself in.  She watched TV for a while, had a shower and woke Pricey.  They had sex and he went back to sleep.

The next morning Pricey’s neighbour noticed that his car was still in the driveway, long after he should have left for work.  When he didn’t show at work, a colleague went to his house to check on him.  There was no answer at the door or bedroom window.  Police were called after the colleague noticed blood on the front door.

When the police broke down the door, they found Pricey’s body, as well as Katherine unconscious from an overdose.  Katherine had stabbed Pricey with a butcher’s knife while he slept.  He woke and tried to escape, making to the front door before she dragged him back in.  She eventually stabbed him 37 times.  Katherine then left with his ATM card and withdrew $1000 from his account.

Now here is the gruesome bit – stop reading now if you don’t want to know what she did.

Katherine was an experienced abattoir worker, specialising in skinning the animals.  Several hours after he died, Katherine skinned Pricey and hung his skin from a meat hook in the kitchen.  She then decapitated him, and cooked parts of his body.  She served the cooked flesh on plates with vegetables, with name tags for each of Pricey’s children.  There was a third meal thrown on the back lawn.  Police speculated that she had tried to eat the meal, but couldn’t do it.

An almost illiterate note left on a bench implied that Pricey had raped Katherine’s daughter.  This accusation was found to be completely groundless.

Katherine offered to plead guilty to manslaughter, but this was rejected, and she was charged with murder.  During the jury selection Justice Barry O’Keefe allowed potential jurors to be excused if they would not be able to cope with the details of the crime.  Before the trial was able to commence, Katherine changed her plea to guilty.  Despite this plea, Katherine still refused to take responsibility for her actions, and appealed her sentence.  She was sentenced to life, without the possibility of parole.  Her file has been marked “Never to be released”, the harshest sentence imposed on a woman in Australia’s history.

I first heard of Katherine when I read the book “Beyond Bad: The Life and Crimes of Katherine Knight” by Sandra Lee.  If you get a chance, and you have the stomach for it, I recommend it.  I found it to be extremely well written, painting the picture of Katherine and Pricey and their lives in rural New South Wales so well that I felt like I was there with them.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The murder of Rachel Barber.

Rachel Barber

Rachel Barber was a beautiful 15 year old girl.  A talented dancer, she had the whole world in front of her.  Unfortunately for Rachel this made her the target of a deranged woman who wanted to take all that away from her.

Caroline Reed Robertson was only 19 herself.  Their families were friends; Caroline had babysat Rachel and her younger sisters.  Caroline was chubby, and suffered from teenage acne, which led to a very negative self-image. As a teenager Caroline was a prolific writer, documenting her inner torment.

In Rachel, Caroline saw everything she was not, and an obsession began.  In Caroline’s twisted thoughts, the fact that Rachel was beautiful automatically meant that she would be happy, something she desired so badly for herself.  The obsession with Rachel festered and grew for several years.  As early as 1997, two years before the murder, Caroline would take photos of Rachel, supposedly for school projects.  It seems that for Caroline, coveting what Rachel had was not enough.  She had to take it from her, and somehow transfer it to herself.

In the months leading up to the murder, Caroline decided that she needed a new identity. She spoke to Rachel’s younger sister and asked her for Rachel’s date of birth.  The police believe she used this to get a copy of Rachel’s birth certificate.  Still a prolific writer, hand written notes later found at Caroline’s flat showed that Caroline planned to kill and disfigure Rachel, and then create a new identity for herself as “Jem Southall” a wild 16 year old, a “total revhead”.   She wrote detailed plans of how she was going to kill Rachel, and create a new life for herself as “Jem”.

Eventually Caroline’s plans were put into action.  She lured Rachel to her flat in the trendy Melbourne suburb of Prahran under the guise of getting her assistance in a psychology assignment.  It was a secret study, so Rachel had to not tell anyone what she was doing.  Rachel was last seen on the afternoon of February 28th 1999 on a tram with a woman resembling Caroline. 

Sometime that night Caroline strangled Rachel with a telephone cord and, according to her later statement, she kept her body in her flat for a couple of days before taking it in a taxi to be disposed of.  She buried her body on a property at Kilmore, just outside Melbourne, which was owned by her father. 

Caroline’s attendance at work over the next two weeks was sporadic.  On one of her sick days she applied for a car loan.  She didn’t drive, so it is suspected she wanted the money to fund her new life.  The loan was declined.  She pressured a colleague to return a small amount of money that she had lent her.  For all of her careful planning for the murder itself, she left a lot of the details of the next stage of her plan to chance.  The police now wanted to talk to her.  The net was closing in. 

After several unsuccessful attempts on March 12th to talk to Caroline, police gained entry to her flat and found her apparently unconscious, next to an empty bottle of Tegretol (which she took for her epilepsy). Upon searching her flat, police found clothes that would not have fit Caroline, but would have fit Rachel.  After being treated at hospital, Caroline was questioned by the police.  She confessed everything.  The police retrieved Rachel’s body from her shallow grave the next day.

The questions which occur to me are: why not just create a new persona?  Why did a beautiful girl have to die for this to happen?  I’m sure Rachel’s friends and family have asked those questions repeatedly for the past 16 years.  She specifically mentioned wanting to disfigure Rachel after she killed her.  To hate someone so much, for a physical attribute that they have no control over, blows my mind just a little. 

This week Caroline Reed Robertson was released from prison, much to the horror and anxiety of the Barber family as well as Rachel’s boyfriend Manni Carella.  While the Barber family don’t want Caroline to contact them, they don’t wish her harm.  However, they are very concerned that Caroline will reoffend, and put another family through the same torture that they have had to endure over the past sixteen years.  Time will tell if their fears are justified.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

I don't like Mondays - Brenda Spencer, the first school shooter.

The silicon chip inside her head,
Gets switched to overload.

Brenda Spencer lived with her father after her parents divorced.  It would be a massive understatement to say it was not a normal relationship.  Not many 16 year old girls sleep in the same bed as their father.
She had been depressed for quite some time, but her father refused the doctor’s advice to admit her to a psychiatric facility.  She asked for a new radio for Christmas, instead he gave her a gun.
Brenda had already been in trouble for shooting her BB gun out of her front window at the school across the road, shooting out the windows.  Now she had a real gun.

And nobody's gonna go to school today,
She's going to make them stay at home.

Unfortunately for many students, they were already at Grover Cleveland Elementary School in San Diego, lining up outside, waiting for Principal Burton Wragg to unlock the gates and let them in.  It was January 29th 1979 and Brenda Spencer was about to become the first school shooter.

She used her Christmas present, a Ruger 10/22 Semi-Automatic .22 calibre rifle with telescopic sight, to shoot at the children lining up across the road.  Principal Wragg tried to protect his charges, and was fatally wounded in the process.  The school janitor, Mike Suchar, came to assist his boss protect the children, and paid for his heroism with his life.  One of the first responding officers, Officer Robert Robb, was wounded in the neck.  The shooting was only stopped because another brave police officer drove a garbage truck between Brenda’s house and the school, blocking her view of the children.  After 30 rounds of ammunition, 2 men lay dead, and a police officer and 8 children were wounded. 

Tell me why?
I don't like Mondays.

Brenda then barricaded herself in her house for nearly seven hours.  She told police negotiators that she was going to “come out shooting”.  A journalist began ringing all the local phone numbers, to ask residents of the area if they had witnessed the events, trying to get a scoop.  He unintentionally managed to call Brenda, and so he asked her “Tell me why?”  Her response, according to that journalist, was the now iconic “I don’t like Mondays”.  She ended the conversation by saying “I have to go now.  I shot a pig, and I want to shoot some more”.  The journalist had his scoop.

Brenda claims to not remember this exchange, but it would be safe to say that on that day she was not strongly connected to reality. 

Eventually, she surrendered, and walked outside, dropping her rifle on the front lawn.  The person terrorising an elementary school and a whole neighbourhood was a 5’2”, very thin girl, with long red hair.  Police searched the run-down house, finding evidence of beer and whiskey, although Brenda tested negative for any substances in her system.
Brenda was tried as an adult.  She pled guilty to two counts of murder and assault with a deadly weapon and was sentenced to 25 years to life.

Brenda clearly had a mental illness at the time of the crime, which doesn’t seem to have ever been effectively treated.  At her first parole hearing she told the parole board that she was hoping that the police would kill her.  She claims to have attempted suicide the previous year, and she felt that her father wanted her to kill herself, which is why he gave her a gun.  She also claimed to the parole board that she was under the influence of drugs, but the police conspired to falsify the drug test results.  She has self-harmed several times in prison, once using a heated paper clip to burn the words “courage” and “pride” into her chest after a relationship break up.    Brenda has been treated for epilepsy and depression while in prison, but still seems to be significantly disconnected from reality.

At her parole hearing in 2001 Brenda claimed her father had sexually abused her.  This was the first time she had mentioned it to authorities, so they did not believe her.  After Brenda’s arrest, her father went on to have a relationship with Brenda’s 17 year old roommate from juvenile detention, later marrying her.  Brenda’s roommate looked just like her.  In a cruel twist of fate for one of the children shot by Brenda, a child of Brenda’s father and Brenda’s roommate – Brenda’s half-sibling – attended the child care centre where the now adult victim worked.
Brenda has expressed concern that she is responsible for the school shootings which have occurred since. 
“With every school shooting, I feel I’m partially responsible,” she told the parole board back in 2001. “What if they got the idea from what I did?”
Sadly, I suspect that even though Brenda was the first, she did not create nearly four decades of copy cats.

Long before my interest in crime, I loved the song “I don’t like Mondays” by The Boomtown Rats.  The first two songs I asked for on vinyl, aged 5, were ”I don’t like Mondays” and “Video Killed the Radio Star” by The Buggles.  I clearly had excellent taste.  It was more than 30 years later before I discovered the story behind the music, after watching the documentary about Brenda titled “I don’t like Mondays”.  If you get the chance, I recommend watching it.  It gives a fascinating insight into Brenda, both at the time of the crime, and throughout the years in prison.  It really is a story of a mentally ill person who needed help, but didn’t know how to get it.  As a result two heroic men died, 9 more people were injured, and psychological scars were inflicted on scores of innocent people, many of them children.  She is still in prison, and I doubt she will ever be released.  At her last parole hearing in 2009 the parole board decided that she would not be eligible again until 2019. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Somerton Beach Man.

At 6:30am on December 1st 1948 Adelaide police were called.  A local resident had found a man sitting on Somerton Beach, leaning back onto the seawall.  His feet were crossed and pointing toward the sea.  An unlit cigarette was tucked behind his ear, and one which was half smoked was tucked into his collar.  He was wearing a modern grey double breasted jacket, crisp white shirt, red and blue tie, brown pants and a brown knitted pullover.  His shoes were clean and shiny.  The strangest part of his appearance was that he was missing a hat, which was unusual for such a well-dressed man.  Also, he was dead.
The X marks the location of the body.
Witnesses had seen the man sitting on the beach the night before, stretching his left arm out and dropping it limply, where it continued to lay.  His right arm was curled up towards his face.
In his pockets were a used bus ticket, a used train ticket, a comb, cigarettes and matches and half a packet of Juicy Fruit.  The bus ticket would have taken him to the bus stop about 1,100 meters up the road. 
No form of identification was found. 
An autopsy was ordered, which found no apparent cause of death.  The coroner ruled that the man had died of probable poisoning, most likely an untraceable barbiturate, although he ruled out the pasty which remained in the man’s stomach as the cause.  The man was described as between 40 and 45, of “Britisher” appearance and in top physical condition.  His dental records could not be matched to anyone in Australia.  His clothes were searched, which revealed that all the clothing labels had been removed.
Police circulated the man’s photo and fingerprints to no avail.  Some people came forward, believing they knew the man’s identity, but upon investigation they were all mistaken. As he could not be identified his body was embalmed, which was the first time in Australia’s history that this was necessary.

On January 14th 1949, staff at the Adelaide Railway Station found an unattended brown suitcase which had been checked into the cloakroom on November 30th.  The suitcase contained clothes, sharpened scissors and a merchant marine stencilling brush.  It also contained a needle and thread.  The thread was an unusual brand and matched a repair made to the pants of the dead beach man.  All the labels of the clothing had been removed bar three which read the name “Keane” or “T Keane”.  Police renewed their search with this information, searching internationally as well, but could find no T. Keane reported missing from any English speaking country.  The only other clue from the suitcase was that it was a style which could only have been made in America due to the type of machine work.
An inquest was held into the man’s death, and during this time, his belongings were searched again.  This time police found a tiny piece of paper rolled up inside the fob pocket in the man’s trousers.  The paper had two words on it – Tamam Shud, which is Persian for “ended” or “finished”, written in a distinctive font.  It was the last two words from a book of Poetry called The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.  The book had been extremely popular in Australia, and now police searched for a copy that was missing a section of its last page.  The media joined in the search, and the very next day a man found a copy of the book had been placed in the backseat of his unlocked car in Glenelg, a beach side suburb of Adelaide.  He recognised the book from the newspaper story.  The copy of the book was missing a section which exactly matched the piece of paper in the dead man’s pocket.
In the back of the book were faint pencil markings of five lines of capital letters with the second line struck out. The strike out is now considered significant with its similarity to the fourth line possibly indicating a mistake and thus, possible proof the letters are code:
Code experts, including the department of defence, were unable to decipher it.
Also written in the book was an unlisted phone number, which belonged to a former nurse who lived in Glenelg.  She appeared very shaken when shown a photo of the dead man, but denied all knowledge of him, or why he would be so near her home. She seemed so shaken that police were concerned she might faint during questioning. She told them that she had owned a copy of The Rubaiyat when she had worked in Sydney, but had given it to a patient in 1945.  The patient was traced and found to be alive and well.  She asked not to have her name recorded as she was now married and wanted to spare her husband any embarrassment, so was given the pseudonym “Jestyn” in the police report.  This severely hindered follow up investigations.  Years later it was discovered that she was not actually married at the time. 
The lack of information about the dead man, and the mysterious code in the book led to contemporary rumours that he was a spy.  It was the early days of the cold war, and many believed that the man may have been a Russian spy en route to the Woomera US military base in central South Australia.   
A plaster cast was made of the man’s head and shoulders and he was buried in a pauper’s grave in Adelaide.  Years later flowers began appearing on his grave, although police were not able to establish who was leaving them.
After the death of the Jestyn, her daughter and daughter-in-law sold their story to the Australian edition of 60 minutes, claiming that Jestyn was a Russian spy and knew the identity of the dead man.  They claim she told them that the man was “known at a level above the Adelaide police”.  They stated that Jestyn was an admitted communist sympathiser who spoke fluent Russian.  The women even speculated that she may have borne him a child – their deceased brother and husband.  An investigator sought to have the body exhumed, but the Attorney General denied permission, citing a lack of public interest beyond curiosity.
The case is still listed as open in South Australia, but it is unlikely we will ever know the identity of the Somerton Beach man.