Bizzare | 

The mysterious people who remain unidentified, years after their tragic deaths

This week, almost 70 years after his death, a researcher revealed the identity of the mysterious Somerton Man.
Peter Bergmann captured on CCTV outside his hotel in Sligo

Peter Bergmann captured on CCTV outside his hotel in Sligo

Peter Bergmann captured on CCTV outside just inside the door of his hotel in Sligo

Peter Bergmann captured on CCTV outside just inside the door of his hotel in Sligo

A forensic sketch of the Isdal woman

A forensic sketch of the Isdal woman

A forensic sketch of Jennifer Fairgate

A forensic sketch of Jennifer Fairgate

A forensic sketch of Jennifer Fairgate

A forensic sketch of Jennifer Fairgate

Clodagh MeaneySunday World

Upon notification that a body has been found, authorities hope to be able to identify the deceased and contact their family. However, that is not always the case; some bodies remain unidentified for decades.

Just this week, after almost 70 years, a researcher revealed the mysterious Somerton Man as Carl 'Charles' Webb.

Webb was found dead on Somerton Park Beach in Adelaide on December 1st 1948.

He was lying on his back with his head resting against the sea wall, and it is believed the man died while asleep.

The man was dressed in a suit, and there were no apparent signs of injury.

The cause of death could not be determined, with authorities branding it an "unparalleled mystery".

Searching his pockets found various items, including cigarettes, matches, a comb and an unused second-class rail ticket.

An artist's impression of the man whose body was found in 1948

An artist's impression of the man whose body was found in 1948

Months after his death, a small rolled-up piece of paper with the words 'Tamám Shud' was found in a pocket sewn into his trousers. The text, meaning "ended" or "finished" in Persian, is included on the final page of Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.

After a public appeal, the same book from which the phrase was torn was located.

The book was found in an unlocked car, not far from the beach where the man's body was discovered.

In the back of the book, a coded message was written, fuelling a theory that the man was a spy.

The man's body was exhumed last May and taken to a forensic lab in the hope of obtaining DNA to carry out testing to identify him. Then, after some painstaking work by researchers, they could give him his name back.

But his story is not unique. While many people are found deceased in mysterious circumstances, few prove to stand out among the crowd for the bizarre and sad situations surrounding their deaths. Here are their stories.

  • Peter Bergmann

The body of 'Peter Bergmann' was found face down and partially clothed in the early hours of Tuesday, June 16th 2009, on Rosses Point beach in Sligo.

When he was found, the deceased man was wearing a T-shirt tucked into his underpants and swimming trunks underneath those.

On a rock nearby lay his neatly folded jumper, jacket, jeans, shoes and socks - all the tags had been removed, and no ID was found on his person.

While trying to establish who the man was, Gardai discovered that he arrived in Sligo days earlier on Friday, June 12th, where he checked in to the Sligo City Hotel.

He checked in under the name Peter Bergmann and gave his address as Ainstettersn 15, 4472, Vienna in Austria.

When Gardai traced the name and address, both were fake. And so, a mystery that remains unsolved to this day began to unfold.

Peter Bergmann captured on CCTV outside just inside the door of his hotel in Sligo

Peter Bergmann captured on CCTV outside just inside the door of his hotel in Sligo

Peter's case became even more baffling for Gardai when they found CCTV that captured him in and around the Sligo area for a few days before he was found dead.

During his stay at the hotel, Peter was seen on security footage leaving the building with a plastic bag full of items.

However, when he returned to the hotel, he was no longer carrying the bag.

Authorities believe he was making trips out of the hotel to dispose of his belongings in bins around the city.

On Saturday morning, he visited the post office and bought eight stamps and airmail stickers.

As they were not found with his body, it is assumed he used them to post letters to his loved ones before he died.

The following morning, he took a taxi to Rosses Beach to scope it out before returning to the city with the same driver.

After requesting a late check out on the last morning of his stay, Monday, June 15th, he was seen on CCTV leaving the hotel carrying a black shoulder bag and a black luggage bag. Neither was with his body when he was found.

Peter took a bus to Rosses Point Beach, where he was spotted numerous times throughout the day, pacing up and down the beach.

He was last spotted at 11.50 pm by a woman who said she saw him walking along the lapping waves of the incoming ocean.

The following morning, after his body was found, Peter was taken to Sligo University Hospital, where a post-mortem was performed.

Foul play was ruled out, and it was found that he died from acute cardiac arrest.

The pathologist discovered during the autopsy that 'Peter Bergmann' had prostate, lung and chest cancer and cancer in his bones.

His heart also showed signs of previous heart attacks, and he only had one kidney.

While it appears the man went to Rosses Point beach to die, the toxicology report found no painkillers or poisons in his system. There were also no signs he had inflicted injury upon himself.

Interpol has said there is no match for him on their database as either a missing or wanted person.

After Gardai's five-month investigation, they were unsuccessful in finding the real identity of Peter Bergmann, and he was buried in Sligo.

Who he was and why he went to Sligo to die remains a mystery.

  • Jennifer Fairgate

Another person who died in a shroud of mystery after checking into a hotel under a fake name was Jennifer Fairgate.

On Wednesday, May 31st 1995, the young woman checked into the Crown Plaza in Oslo, Norway using a fake moniker and address.

A man named Lois Fairgate also checked in with her but was not seen for the remainder of her stay.

Based on data from her hotel room key, authorities discovered that the woman was not in her hotel room for the two days after she checked in.

A forensic sketch of Jennifer Fairgate

A forensic sketch of Jennifer Fairgate

On Friday, hotel staff saw her returning to her hotel room and placing a "do not disturb" sign on the door handle.

The following day, on Saturday, June 3rd, a hotel employee knocked on her bedroom door and immediately heard a gunshot.

Disturbed by what they had just heard, they rushed to reception to report it, and security arrived 15 minutes later.

Upon arrival, they found the double-locked door as if someone had locked it after exiting the room.

While initial observations of the scene suggested that Fairgate took her own life by shooting herself in the head, there was also circumstantial evidence that suggested she may have been murdered.

The gun used in the incident was found placed in Fairgate's hands, and the serial number had been professionally removed using acid.

Neither gunshot residue nor blood was found on her hands, which would be expected if she had pulled the trigger herself.

This inconsistency and lies about her identity and the untraceable weapon led to theories that she may have been killed as part of a covert operation.

All the labels had been removed from her clothing, and police found no passport or identification among her belongings. No toiletries such as toothpaste or a toothbrush were found in the room either.

A forensic sketch of Jennifer Fairgate

A forensic sketch of Jennifer Fairgate

Among her items of clothing were several bras and jackets but only one pair of stockings and underwear. The bizarre mix of clothing appeared to suggest she had packed in a hurry.

A small black holdall was also found, which contained 34 bullets. Lois Fairgate's room key was also discovered in the room, suggesting he had never used it.

In November 2016, her body was exhumed to collect a DNA profile.

While authorities successfully obtained a sample of her DNA, the real identity of Jennifer Fairgate and the mystery surrounding her true identity remain a mystery.

  • Isdal Woman

25 years before Jennifer's death and almost 500km away in Bergan, Norway, one of the most profound mysteries of the Cold War in Norwegian history began to unfold.

On November 29th 1970, while a man and his two daughters were hiking in The Ice Valley, they came across the charred body of a woman.

They notified the police, who rushed to the scene and launched a full investigation.

The woman was found lying on her back, posed in a stance similar to that of a boxer. Known as a pugilistic pose, it occurs when muscles contract due to burning, which causes joints to flex.

Items such as an empty bottle of liquor, water bottles, a plastic passport cover, rubber boots and other items of clothing were found near her body.

A fur hat with traces of petrol was also discovered at the scene.

Like Somerton Man, Peter Bergmann and Jennifer Fairgate, the labels had been removed from all of her clothing.

Three days after her body was found, police located two suitcases belonging to the woman at Bergen railway station.

A forensic sketch of the Isdal woman

A forensic sketch of the Isdal woman

In the lining of one, they found money from Norway, Belgium, Switzerland and Britain.

Other items such as clothes, shoes, wigs, make-up, maps and a notepad were found, along with a pair of sunglasses with a partial fingerprint that matched the body.

An autopsy found that she died from drug-induced incapacitation and carbon monoxide poisoning. The pathologist established that she consumed a significant amount of sleeping tablets before being lit on fire in a bid to destroy her body.

Soot was also found in her lungs, which indicates that she was alive as she burned.

Police launched an appeal for information in which they discovered she was last seen alive six days before her death when she checked out of a hotel nearby.

Staff told police that she was "good-looking and roughly 5 ft 4, with dark brown hair and small brown eyes.

They said the woman remained mainly in her room and "seemed to be on guard."

After she checked out, she requested a taxi, and her movements between then and her death remain unknown.

Authorities could decode notepad entries which indicated the dates and names of places she had visited.

They determined that she had travelled around Europe with fake passports as part of the investigation.

Police determined that she had previously stayed at several hotels in Bergen and was known to change rooms after checking in. In addition, she often told people she met that she was a travelling saleswoman and an antique dealer.

Based on witness descriptions and analysis of her body, composite sketches were made and circulated via Interpol.

While authorities concluded that she died by suicide, others believe she may have been murdered.

It is unknown why she went to such lengths to conceal her identity, and it remains a mystery to this day.

Today's Headlines

More World News

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices