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Has Rachel Egan’s DNA finally ended Derek Abbott’s involvement in the Somerton Man Mystery?

‘More recently, (Rachel Egan’s DNA) links were also found to the grandparents of the man that Jo Thomson eventually married.’ NYT 22 May 2021 (see footnote)

Professor Derek Abbott has been the face of the Somerton Man Mystery for years. Together with his conscripted students at the University of Adelaide he put together a trove of data about the case that is used extensively by researchers and is considered by them to be invaluable, together with the book written about the case by ex-Detective Gerry Feltus, the cold case investigator.

Derek Abbott’s long-held belief was that Jessica Harkness and the Somerton Man were the parents of Robin Thomson, his wife’s father, a belief pinioned by similarities in their teeth and ears and one he tirelessly pursued through the media year after year.

Abbott’s voice on the subject was everywhere, drowning out all others.

Then there were the published images of himself and his wife posing by the Somerton Man’s gravesite – considered unnecessary by some – or wandering the sandy expanses of Somerton Beach, reclining against the sea wall where the body was found.

His eager participation in TV projects and interviews, newspaper and magazine articles, podcasts and a wide and consistent exposure in the press of most English speaking countries. Abbott became an Adelaide celebrity and was sought after by many only peripherally involved in the mystery as well as those eager to gather a little of the Somerton Man’s currency for their own purposes.

All this in the belief that Derek Abbott’s wife and their children were related to the man at the centre of one of the world’s most intriguing mysteries. A belief that now sadly appears to be ill-founded.

An interesting footnote to this story is that Rachel was left in New Zealand for adoption by Robin and Roma when very young – hence the Egan surname. This may indicate Robin was not her natural father and provide an explanation for the well-publicised falling out between Rachel and her mother.

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