Who was lawson’s original body?
There were two suicides in Adelaide in December 1948.
We know that two middle-aged male bodies occupied shelves in the same refrigeration unit at the Adelaide mortuary from the 15th of December to the 23rd of February, both had been poisoned, both had similar autopsy incisions. One man had left only his name in a hotel register, the other body had no identification when found.
During this period there were many visitors to the mortuary, all claiming to know the man whose face and profile had been published by the local press. These photographs were of the body discovered on the 1st of December and were taken by Police Photographer PJ Durham on the 3rd.
No photographs of the body discovered on the 15th of December were released to the press.
Laurie Elliott, a skilled embalmer, returned to Adelaide from England in early January and was invited by the police to visit the morgue where he was asked if he could embalm one of the two male bodies stored in the refrigeration unit. Elliott obliged and commenced work on the 10th of January assisted by Const Sutherland, who observed the body had three small scars inside the left wrist, one inside the left elbow and a scar or boil mark on the upper left forearm.
One body was buried on February 23rd. The other remained in the mortuary and under Elliott’s maintenance until June, when taxidermist Paul Lawson made one plaster cast of its head and shoulders and one each of its ears. The flesh of the head, by all accounts, was in an advanced state of rot despite the embalming.
Prior to casting the ears and removing the hardened plaster covering the body’s head and shoulders and piecing it together Lawson was visited by the police. Then he received a call from Police Photographer PJ Durham.
Lawson and Durham talked about the disposal of the original body. Some think they were talking about the first body found, in particular its ears as Lawson had yet to commence making his ear casts. They think the shape, size and structure of the ears Lawson attached to the bust were the result of the conversation he had with Durham, and were not those of the body he was working on.
*the hair, the back of the head, the elimination of any signs of deterioration of the flesh.
Was the Somerton Man replaced by Tibor Kaldor?
The Somerton body – 5’11”, eyes hazel, hair gingery turning grey, well-built, slight scar on the upper left arm*, about 45 years.
Tibor Kaldor’s body – 5’6″, eyes grey, hair brown turning grey, build medium, 45 years.
Laurie Elliott embalmed a body with five scars, Dwyer LQMP examined a body with one.