Unanswered matters relevant to the Somerton Body Case
Detective Sergeant Leane’s responsibilities and case actions according to “The Unknown Man,” written by Gerry Felltus.
“Detective Sergeant RL (Lionel) Leane was at that stage (Nov 1948) one of a very small number of senior members holding that rank within the CIB.
He was directly responsible for overseeing general matters requiring direction and the supervisor of junior investigators.”
In the initial stages of the case Detective Strangeway (Glenelg Police Station) was delegated the duty of investigating the suspicious death, assisted by Detective (Hec) Gollan and Const. Sutherland.
On 8th January DS Leane was placed in charge of a dedicated Investigation Team which included Detective Gollan and Constables Sutherland and Horsnell.
On 11 January Detective Len Brown joined them, but despite the police manpower, DS Leane took it upon himself to personally investigate almost every aspect of the case.
As follows: courtesy of Gerry Feltus’ The Unknown Man.
Leane learns of an unclaimed suitcase.
On 14 January, after Leane had been enquiring with the staff at the Adelaide Station cloak room he learnt there was an unclaimed suitcase in their racks.
Leane visits the cloak room.
Later the same day Leane visited the cloakroom and took possession of some of the items in the suitcase, leaving the case in situ.
Leane arranges for certain items from the suitcase to be photographed.
Leane arranges for a photographer (unnamed) to take a picture of five items taken from the suitcase and laid out on a Masonic leather folder placed on a detective’s desk.
According to GF there was no significance intended in the placement of the items –
Leane collects the suitcase from the cloak room.
“At some stage” Leane collected the suitcase from the Railway Station.
Leane visits the School of Arts and Crafts.
Leane interviewed a Mr. Gray, the headmaster, who told him the the cut-down knife was, in his opinion, suitable for starting letters off and the scissors used for cutting around the letter.
Leane interviews a tailor.
Leane interviewed Hugh Possa who was of the opinion the coat worn on the body was of American origin or made by someone in Australia who was familiar with ‘feather stitching.’
Leane hands clothing to Prof. Cleland.
“At some stage” Leane gave the deceased’s property to Professor John Cleland, who examined the clothing and contents in the suitcase. Cleland found that the spooled orange coloured thread found in the case matched a similar thread in the clothing on the body and the clothing in the suitcase. (1) to sew up a trouser pocket (2) to sew buttons on the trousers worn by the deceased and (3) to repair the deceased’s coat collar.
Cleland also found that although tags had been removed from the clothing, he did not find any (loose) thread to indicate they had been recently removed.
Leane compiles a very comprehensive report.
On 18 January Leane compiled a very comprehensive report for the interstate police and media, including photographs and background together with recent developments and a list of property. This was followed up by another report on 29 April.
Leane is informed by Cleland of his finding of the Tamam Shud slip
On the 19th April, 1949, Professor Cleland informed Leane that he had found a small piece of paper in the fob pocket of the deceased’s trousers bearing the word Tamam Shud.
On the 15th of June, Leane, Brown and Detective Noblet inspected the completed bust.
A copy of a Rubaiyat with a hole torn in the last page is handed to Leane.
On the 23rd of July a ‘Mr Francis’ visits the Adelaide Detective Office and hands Leane a copy of the Rubaiyat with a hole in its back page that matches the Tamam Shud slip found in the deceased’s fob pocket.
Leane agrees to suppress Mr Francis’ name.
Leane soon noticed what appeared to be a telephone number written in pencil on the back of the book.
Leane notices the capital letters written in pencil on the back of the book.
Using a large magnifying glass, Leane also saw capital letters written in faint pencil on the back of the book.
Leane and others convey the nurse to view the bust.
Leane seeks assistance of the Naval Intelligence Office.
On 29 July 1949 a photograph of the letters and a copy of a similar Rubaiyat were forwarded by Leane to the Director of Naval Intelligence in Melbourne.
Detective Sergeant Leane’s unexplained 51 days of inaction with regard to the exhibiting and consequent publication of the finding of the Tamam Shud slip
On April 19th, 1949 Professor Cleland informed DS Leane that he had found the Tamam Shud slip in the fob pocket of the trousers worn by the deceased.
Then .. three weeks later
On May 3rd, an oblique mention of the slip was made in an Adelaide Advertiser news article . ” “New clues may identify Somerton Body. A small piece of paper printed in Turkish which was found in the dead man’s pocket has led police to assume he (the deceased) was able to speak that language.”
There was no mention in the article of the words Tamam Shud.
(1) Then .. on June 9th, 51 days after DS Leane learnt of Cleland’s discovery and after the closure date for any further depositions to be submitted the coronial inquest, the Adelaide Advertiser reported the finding of a Tamam Shud slip on the body.
“Cryptic note found on body.”
(2) This was followed by another Advertiser article mentioning the Tamam Shud slip on June 10th. “Tamam Shud.”
June 17th. The Inquest commences.
Evidence is heard from Detective Brown and Professor Cleland mentioning the finding and translation of the Tamam Shud slip.
June 21st. The Inquest is adjourned.
(3) June 22nd. The Advertiser carries news of the discovery of the Tamam Shud slip in the deceased’s pocket.
(4) 25th June. The Smith’s Weekly (Sydney) carries news of a cryptic note containing the words Tamam Shud found in the deceased’s clothing. “Body on beach still baffles SA police.”
(5) 10th July. The Truth (Sydney) “Who is the mystery man? Puzzle of beach find.”
(6) 20th July. The Melbourne Age. “Torn Page.”
(7) 21st July. The Sydney Daily Telegraph. “Clue at long odds.”
(8) 22nd July. The Melbourne Argus carries an article “Torn Book May Be Clue To Somerton Body Mystery.”
(9) 22nd July. The Adelaide News carries an article “Remote book clue in mystery death.”
(10) 23rd July. Border Watch (Mt Gambier) “Search for a book with a torn page.”
(11) 23rd July. The Adelaide Advertiser “Detective – Sergeant R. L. Leane has been trying for several months to trace a copy of the “Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam” from which the dead man is believed to have cut a piece of paper bearing the words “Taman Shud” (meaning “The End”) and placed it in the pocket of his trousers.”
Then, finally ..
23rd July. The Melbourne Herald “Detectives bring off a million to one chance. Rubaiyat clue may solve mystery death.”
23rd July. The Melbourne Herald. “Rubaiyat clue may solve mystery death. A motorist last night bought them a copy of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam from which the last two words had been torn.”
Detective Sergeant Leane’s deposition with regard to his list of items as found on the body on December 1st.
“The cigarette packet was Army Club but the contents were Kensitas, a different brand, there was also found a box of Bryant and May’s matches, 1/4 full, a packet half full of Juicy Fruit chewing gum, 2 combs, and Professor Cleland found a slip of paper bearing the words Tamam Shud that was on the body.”
PC John Moss’ deposition with regard to his list of items he found on the body on December 1st.