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Mrs. Ina Harvey revisited

Ina Harvey was interviewed on the 1st of December 1982 by Tom Loftus of the Adelaide News where she recounted checking a man into Adelaide’s Strathmore Hotel for a few days before December 1,1948.

She remembered the man as looking ‘strong and fit with an air of refinement’ though what struck her as odd was that ‘he didn’t have any baggage other than a small black case such as a doctor or musician who played the flute might carry.’

Mrs. Harvey, her managerial suspicions aroused by the man’s lack of baggage for what was a multi-day stay asked one of the hotel employees to have a look at his room when he was absent to be told that the case was unlocked and when opened was seen to only contain a needle shaped object.

Flute cleaning needle

Mrs. Harvey also mentioned to Loftus that her visitor didn’t visit the bar during his stay and when he spoke ‘his grammar was correct and lucid and he certainly didn’t murder the Queen’s English.’

When he finally left she described him as looking tired and distraught and to her surprise he left her the gift of a small box of powder with blue markings, saying ‘I won’t be seeing you again.’ 

When publicity started flowing on the mystery of the unidentified body Mrs Harvey approached her brother Laurie Elliott, the funeral director who had embalmed the unknown man and asked to see the dead man’s picture, saying ‘I was struck by the distinct resemblance with the man I had met.’ When asked why she didn’t go to the police, Mrs Harvey said ‘I had no conclusive proof and hotel receptionists had to be discreet.’ 

Thirty four years later Mrs Harvey told Loftus ‘I am still of the opinion that the man I met was the Unknown Man – but it wouldn’t stand up in court.’


Gerry Feltus called Harvey’s account ‘all crap.’

Derek Abbott said ‘It’s best to ignore her and even her relatives thought she was a bit queer.’

Their record.

Gerry Feltus didn’t question why DS Leane didn’t use the Henley Beach train ticket to trace the Somerton Man’s movements the day before he was found. He didn’t question why it took the same detective 51 days to allow the press to photograph the Tamam Shud slip. Neither did he question the appearance of a box of matches with the evidence and the only comment he made upon the existence of the Freeman Rubaiyat was that two ‘reliable sources’ told him they had seen it. He didn’t name them.

Derek Abbott is on record as saying the Somerton Man was wearing a buttoned up cardigan under his coat when found, not the brown pullover as witnessed by the police. Abbott is also of the opinion that wearing a buttoned up cardigan is a sign of good breeding.


All of which which leaves some un-answered questions.

(1) What could have been the reason for him to be carrying an empty flute case?*

(2) Was Harvey inferring he was foreign born when she said ‘his grammar was correct and lucid and he certainly didn’t murder the Queen’s English.’

(3) Would she have said the same thing about an American an Englishman or an Australian?

(4) Why was Feltus so dismissive of her account when he believed without question the one submitted to Detective O’Doherty in 1959 about the man seen carrying a man along the Somerton Beach foreshore?

(5) Would it be reasonable to assume, seeing Harvey was Lauries Elliott’s sister, that the two of them would have discussed in detail the likeness between her visitor and the Unknown Man?

(6) Would Gerry Feltus and Derek Abbott have viewed Harvey’s account in a different light if her name was Ian Harvey?

(7) What custom was the Somerton Man following by leaving her a gift of a small blue box of powder?

and finally …

(8) Why would he have booked himself into a hotel when it appeared he had no intention of staying there?

  • For the purpose of recognition?

Header pic is a flute case

6 Comments Post a comment
  1. Clive #

    Interesting that Ina states that the visitor didn’t visit the bar and his grammar was correct, does this seem to point in the direction of a certain faith/foreign background. Pity she didn’t mention if he had any accent when he did speak, or, whether he smoked. Why did she ask her brother for a photo of the SM, when it was in all the papers?

    May 23, 2022
    • She may have remembered some mark on his face that her brother too would have noticed, and he may have had copies of Durham’s clearer original pics. Byron thought he had a scar by his nose somewhere.

      May 23, 2022
  2. The Sly Dog #

    Did that needle shaped object observed in the mystery man’s room get later described as a syringe?

    May 25, 2022
    • Yep .. by someone who didn’t see it. The hotel employee was the only person who did, describing it later as looking like a needle.

      May 25, 2022
  3. The Sly Dog #

    Great… so for all the oldies out there when did word needle become synonymous with hypodermic syringe in Australia? Is this only a recent thing??

    May 25, 2022
    • My read is that rudely informed speculation ruled then as it still does now. The whisper was that he was poisoned, ergo injected … that’s when what was an obvious flute cleaning needle morphed into a hypo syringe.

      May 25, 2022

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