Tag: Mystery

Solving The Mystery Of The Somerton Man With Professor Derek Abbott – Episode 22

Derek Abbott is a professor of electrical engineering at the University of Adelaide in Australia who, along with genetic researcher Colleen Fitzpatrick, finally solved the mystery of the Somerton Man, an unidentified man found dead on a beach in Australia in 1948. He joins me to talk about his decades-long quest to find this man’s identity, how the discovery was finally made, and the stunning advancement in DNA technology that has happened only in the last few years.

They Thought It Was Hail. It Was Something WAY Weirder.

Over a period of 6 weeks in 1994, the small town of Oakville, Washington was hit with a bizarre string of storms that rained weird gelatinous blobs all over the town. It was all just a funny sidenote – and then people started getting sick. This is the weird and still unsolved mystery of the Oakville Blobs.



CIA operative Todd Delmonaco drove his ’53 Buick to meet Kieth Kincaid. It had rained that day. But was it normal rain… Or was it Chubby Rain?
If you get that reference, awesome, if you don’t, it’s from a movie called Bowfinger, it has Steve Martin and Eddie Murphy in it – one of my favorite movies, it’s about a down and out movie director who cheats his way into the business by just following around a big movie star who doesn’t know he’s in a movie, just suddenly all this weird stuff starts happening around him.
I honestly think it’s one of Eddie Murphy’s best performances, he plays the big movie star, Kit Ramsey but also his brother who’s super nerdy and awkward, anyway, it’s a great movie if you haven’t seen it.

But the movie that they make in the movie is called Chubby Rain, and it’s about aliens that invade Earth by falling from the sky in rain drops, making the rain “chubby”. Chubby rain.
This is a ridiculous premise, obviously, that’s what makes it funny, nothing like that could ever happen in real life…

A Strange Rain

In 1994, the small town of Oakville, Washington (pop. 600) was hit by a rainstorm.  Nothing unusual in the Pacific Northwest.  It rains there most of the year.Only this rain was different.  It looked like hail, but when people touched it, it was squishy. Gooey. One might even say… Blobby.
Yeah, this was 1994… The Toxic Lady story that I just covered last month, that was in 1994. 1994… Weird year.

Anyway one person who experienced this was a police officer named David Lacey.
His story, which was actually featured in an episode of Unsolved Mysteries, was that he was out on patrol on the morning of August 7th, and this rain started coming down. But when he ran his wipers, all it did was just smear it all over the windshield.
So he pulled over into a gas station to clean his windshield and put on some latex gloves just to be safe.

They Thought It Was Hail. It Was Something WAY Weirder.
Unfortunately that extra caution didn’t seem to help because within 24 hours, Officer Lacey would stumble into the emergency room, barely able to breathe.  And he wasn’t the only one.
In 1994, the small town of Oakville, Washington  was hit by a rainstorm. Nothing unusual in the Pacific Northwest, it rains most of the year there. But this rain was different.
It looked like hail but when the residents touched it, it was a gelatinous substance.
There’s the story of the police officer who talks about how it smeared across his windshield.
And Dottie Hearn noticed it on her porch.
Nobody could figure out what it was. And this would have just been another case of weird things falling with rain… Raining frogs has been a thing The Red Rain of India phenomenon
Except then people started getting sick.

Mysterious Illnesses

Worse off was a woman named Dotty Hearn, who passed out at home.  She was found on her bathroom floor an hour later by her daughter, Sunny, and her son, Donnie
Dotty was admitted to hospital.  Initially, she was treated for Meniere’s Disease, which is an inner ear condition that can cause dizziness and confusion.  But after four days in the hospital, Dotty’s doctor said a virus had been responsible.

She did recover over time.  So did Officer Lacey and the other sick humans, thankfully no people died, but there were a lot of reported deaths of animals that were out in the rain. In fact, Dotty had several barn cats that died.
Luckily larger animals seem to have fared better; Dotty had 2 dogs that got sick, but they recovered.
Dotty seems like quite the animal lover.
Sadly, more animals would die in the 5 different rains that happened over three weeks in August.

Bacterial Growth

Sunny was understandably alarmed by all this.  She had a background in occupational safety, so knew some people at the Washington Department of Health and sent some samples to them.
And the DOH found two types of bacteria in the sample:
Pseudomonas fluorescens, which is a common bacteria that can be harmful to humans, but usually only those with compromised immune systems.
And the other was enterobacter collacae, is also found all over, but it’s known to contribute to infections of the lungs, blood, and urinary tract.

Missing Samples

So these were fairly common bacteria, nothing too weird, but the blobs themselves… that’s a whole other story.
The opinion of the epidemiologist who studied the sample was that it was man-made. Which is a pretty bold conclusion that would require more testing to be done on the sample.

So did they do more testing on the sample? Well put your tin foil hat on people because here’s where things get even weirder.
The sample disappeared. They suddenly couldn’t find it. (a beat – X-files riff) And here come the theories!
The police officer (Officer Lacey) got to where he could barely breathe and had to go to the hospital.
Dottie Hearn was found on the floor of her house with extreme vertigo and confusion. She was diagnosed with Melier’s (sp) disease, which is a chronic condition but she never experienced it again.

There were dozens of other flu-like cases around the town that apparently went on for several weeks and even months. Also many animals died.
A sample of it was brought to a microbiologist (Mike McDowell) who found white blood cells in it (though I’ve seen in other places it was more like a white blood cell).
He also found two bacteria, Pseudomonas fluorescens and Enterobacter cloacae.

Mike Osweiler of the Department of Ecology tested the cells and found the samples contained “a number of cells of various sizes” and that they came from a once-living creature.  He didn’t find any human white blood cells though. The cells he found had no nuclei.
The blobs fell at least 6 different times over 3 weeks and then stopped.

Star Jelly

Star jelly is sort of a catch-all term for jelly-like substances that are occasionally found on the ground.  These days, they’re sometimes pollution.
One famous case that happened in Texas involved bunches of purple goop that looked like whipped cream.  A lady found three on her front lawn.  They were probably a chemical used to clean batteries that fell off a truck.https://www.straightdope.com/21341699/did-mrs-sybil-christian-of-frisco-texas-find-blobs-from-space-on-her-lawn

A more ancient explanation for star jelly is slime molds.
Slime mold tends to get frothy and congeal when they multiply.  Clusters of frog or toad eggs have also been called star jelly, even certain types of bird puke.
Nature’s ah… kinda gross.

Problem is you might  have noticed none of that stuff falls from the sky.  Even birds tend to puke when they’re on the ground.

Jelly Fish

Which brings us to another theory, jellyfish.  Which also don’t typically fall from the sky.
But, many local residents reported an increase in military air traffic around the time of the blob rain.  Turns out, there were bombing exercises going on relatively close by.
So the theory is that the U. S. Navy jets blasted a bunch of jellyfish out of the ocean.  And all those jellyfish bits got swept up into the clouds and rode the jet stream.
That would explain what the blobs felt like, I guess, but almost nothing else.  They would have had to fly fifty miles and rain down sporadically for 21 days.

Human Waste

Something that does fall out of the sky is human waste. Sometimes.
One Washington ecologist suggested that the blobs were waste from an airplane.  Airplanes do sometimes release the contents of their toilets over unpopulated places. But the main piece of evidence for this was something that I actually didn’t mention before.
So I mentioned Sunny sent samples to the Washington Department of Health well she also sent some to the hospital where her mom was admitted.

And a lab tech claimed to have found a human white blood cell mixed in with the blob.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, that sample has also disappeared. (X-Files riff)
Nobody else found human cells, but the ecologist I mentioned did see evidence of something biological in the gel.  Human waste is biological, obviously.
The problem with that theory is that everything that goes into a plane’s septic tank is dyed blue from antiseptic. And the Oakville blobs were colorless.
Plus we kinda know what septic tank stuff looks and… smells like. Pretty sure that would have been solved fairly quickly.

Not to mention, again, this happened over 21 days. So, if it was an airplane… What were they serving on that thing?

Secret Military Experiments

Yeah, now we’re getting into the good stuff.
As I said before, there were some military exercises that were happening right around the time of the blobs, waging war against jellyfish apparently.
So the rumors are that these jets might have seeded the atmosphere with… something?

Like whatever made up the blobs was a kind of microorganism medium designed to hold the bacteria or virus or whatever it is that made so many people sick.
This is very tin-foil hat-y but it has actually happened before.
In 1950, the U.S. Navy conducted a test over San Francisco called Operation Sea Spray where they sprayed Serratia marcescens and Bacillus globigii bacteria over the city to see how it would fare in the event of a biological attack.

Those are fairly harmless bacteria – that’s why they were chosen – but there was a rash of extremely rare urinary tract infections reported just after.
Similar tests were done in New York, Key West, Panama City, Washington DC, and along the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
In fact, a lot of this was revealed in a Senate Subcommittee hearing in 1977, where the Army admitted to doing open air tests of biological agents 239 times between 1949 and 1969.
So… It’s not the craziest idea? In fact Sunny Barclift, who I keep quoting for this story, she thinks this is the answer.
Not to mention if it’s some secret military thing, that would explain why the samples went missing.

Here come the theories

The first assumption was jellyfish The military had been doing air training exercises in the ocean and it was thought they had blasted some jellyfish so much they got obliterated and swept up into the clouds. The town even proposed a jellyfish festival But none of the blobs seemed to have jellyfish material, plus the ocean was 50 miles away, which seems too far away to travel.

Another theory was airplane waste material This would explain the white blood cells in the sample but airplane toilets use blue antifreeze so it would have been blue-tinted. There are stories of this happening though, maybe we could point to one of those here. Another thought was that it might be beads of sodium polyacralate Sodium polyacralate is a substance that absorbs water and is used in all kinds of things like ice packs (think orbeez), but it can also be used in agriculture to spray onto fields and help retain water. The theory is that maybe a storm swept up a stockpile of this stuff and then it absorbed water in the clouds and rained down on Oakville. Apparently something like this actually happened in Great Britain a little while back?

Then there’s Star Jelly. WHAT? Star Jelly is a blanket term applied to all kinds of organic blobs from slime molds to amphibian reproductive goo to undigested bird puke.  It’s a natural phenomenon but unlikely that much star jelly got swept up into clouds.

Last but not least, the military experiments theory Some suggest that the blobs were like a microorganism medium meant to contain biological weapons and the military dropped it over the town to test it on the unsuspecting population. First of all, this is absolutely something that has happened before. They dropped spores and bacteria over San Francisco and the UK tested on their own citizens as well. There’s a surprising number of times this has happened. Also, residents reported military planes flying over their town quite a bit around the time this happened. The question is, would the bacteria that were found on the goop be good candidates for it?
One last little detail that might support the government testing thing – the sample in Mike McDowell’s lab disappeared.

Fact vs Fiction

Of course another explanation for why they went missing is because… They just went missing. Things get misplaced all the time. Especially if it goes into my wife’s purse.
The people that tested the samples probably didn’t know they were sitting on a mystery that would still be debated nearly 30 years later. They probably didn’t have a post-it note on there saying, “Mystery sky shit, don’t throw away.”
The cooler may have needed to be cleaned, maybe they had a bunch of life-saving medicine they needed room for, maybe Kevin didn’t have anywhere else to put his leftover pork sandwich.

Dammit Kevin!
Maybe it was a secret experiment, maybe some gelatin dust from a factory or a farm or something got swept up in the clouds and soaked up the condensation and gathered some cooties along the way.
There could be a totally natural and rational explanation for this. Nature be crazy sometimes. It just hasn’t been decisively proven. And it probably never will be, unless it happens again.

But as always with stories like this, they tend to become embellished over time until it’s hard to sort truth from legend. Which honestly made writing this kinda challenging, when most of the details came from Unsolved Mysteries.
I did try to use info from various places as much as possible, in fact, my writer Ryan found an article from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer earlier that month puts an interesting twist on everything.
It reported that the National Weather Service took a phone call from a concerned father who complained of “hot, metallic particles from the sky that burned holes in his children’s trampoline.

Maybe… that was the remnants of an alien spaceship that exploded in the upper atmosphere and then the aliens scattered into the clouds and fell down to the Earth in the rain… In the Chubby Rain…
In the end, we’ll probably never know exactly what happened nearly 30 years ago in Oakville. It’s never happened since. Also, since it was featured on Unsolved Mysteries, a lot of what we know about it has been kinda hyped up and made into legend. So it’s actually hard to distinguish fact from fiction in a lot of this.

New Evidence In The Dyatlov Pass Mystery

In 1959, a team of experienced hikers in Russia went missing. When they were finally discovered, all 9 of them lie dead, under very mysterious circumstances. This event, known as the Dyatlov Pass incident, has gone down as one of the most mysterious deaths of all time. But some new data may have solved the mystery once and for all.


Maybe a similar story of a mystery that conjured up all kinds of crazy theories that turned out to be something basic and mundane.


Basic bitch version…

A couple of years back I did a video on 4 Mysterious Deaths and Disappearances, which no list of mysterious deaths would be complete without talking about the Dyatlov Pass incident.

So, I’ve covered this topic before, but there’s a lot more to the story than I was able to get across in just a few minutes, and there’s been some research in the last year that seems to kinda tie this mystery up in a bow. Most of it anyway.

So why waste time? It’s the Dyatlov Pass incident, it’s one of the weirdest internet mysteries in the world, and it might be solved, let’s talk about it.

On Jan. 27, 1959, seven men and women went on a hiking and skiing trip in the Ural Mountains of Russia.

Their plan was to hike from the city of Vizhay (vee-zhy) to the top of a mountain named Otorten. It was going to cover 306 kilometers (190 miles) over 14 days.

Let me stop for a second and acknowledge something I never hear people talk about when this mystery comes up, this was an ambitious and dangerous trip these guys were on.

They were going to be hiking, camping, and skiing for two straight weeks over nearly 200 miles of mountains in Russia, in January. I think it’s safe to say there were a lot of opportunities for things to go wrong.

The group consisted of graduates and students from Ural Polytechnical Institute. All of them were experienced hikers and skiers. Which they would have to be to attempt a trip like that. In fact, that’s one of the things that people point to, is that the fact they were such experienced hikers makes this whole thing even weirder.

To be fair, there are some super weird circumstances around this particular expedition.

Okay, so they left on January 27th. There was a 10th member of the group named Yuri Yudin. He got sick at the start of the trip and dropped out.

Dyatlov told Yudin he would send a telegram to their sports club when they returned to Vizhay.

This was supposed to happen by February 12th, but he told Yudin it could be longer.

So, that day passes with no message. Nobody thinks anything of it.

But then more and more days pass. Relatives got concerned and demanded a rescue mission.

The first rescue group of volunteers set out on February 20th. Then the army and police got involved.

The hiking group was located on February 26th. This is when things get strange.

Let’s start with an abandoned tent.

It was half torn, covered in snow, and all of the hikers’ belongings were still in it, including their shoes.

Even stranger: It looked like it had been cut from the inside.

Footprints were found. They lead to the woods nearby to the bodies of Doroshenko and Krivonischenko, who were beside the remnants of a fire.

Also, they were wearing only their underwear.

A nearby tree had broken branches up about five meters (16 feet) that suggested they climbed the tree to look for something.

Traces of skin in the bark supported that theory.

Searchers found Dyatlov and Kolmogorova’s bodies the next day between the tent and the woods. Slobodin’s body was found on March 5.

All three looked like they tried to return to the tent, and like the others, were found in only their underwear. Medical examiners named hypothermia as the cause of their deaths.

While the fact that they were found half-naked is strange, there is a logical explanation.

It’s called paradoxical undressing, and it’s something that happens a lot in the final stages of hypothermia.

As the nerves become damaged and brain functions start to dwindle, it creates a sensation of extreme heat. People feel like they’re burning up, so they strip off their clothes, which of course only accelerates the process.

The searchers found the rest of the bodies over the next couple of months. But more mysteries appeared.

It took the searchers longer to find the other group members because they were in a ravine covered in snow, 76 meters (250 feet) from the tree mentioned earlier and close to an improvised shelter.

These members were dressed better than the others, but they had fatal injuries, like chest fractures and skull damage.

One of them was even missing her tongue.

One doctor described the internal injuries as similar in force to what you’d receive in a car crash, but there were no external wounds.

The weirdest thing of all: Some of their clothes were radioactive.

The government’s official statement at the time was that Dyatlov committed a series of mistakes and the group died from overwhelming natural forces.

Some of the mysteries have logical answers.

We already talked about the reason for the disrobing. An animal may have taken the missing tongue.

But the strange jumble of other evidence has caused some wild speculation about what happened to the hikers.

Why did they abandon their tent, cutting themselves out instead of just unzipping it?

What caused the internal injuries with no external ones?

And what’s with the radioactive clothes?

So, there are a few theories about what exactly happened to them.

One is that an Indigenous people in the area called the Mansi attacked them. But the Mansi are known to be peaceful, and there were no indications of an attack.

Another theory is wild animals killed them. Investigators didn’t see any evidence to support this.

And then some people think the group ate psychedelic mushrooms, which lead to their disorientation.

Of course, some people believe things like a Yeti or aliens attacked them.

An interesting bit is that other hikers in the area did report seeing orange globs in the sky around the same time the hikers were traveling.

But that could be related to parachute mine tests the Soviet military was conducting at the time in that region.

Those mines are known to cause internal, but not external, damage to bodies. So, maybe that was it?

Or could infrasound lead to their deaths?

A wind phenomenon named the “Kármán vortex street” can create a powerful and terrifying sound.

Winds blowing through the pass could’ve been warped as they hit the sides of the mountain. This would’ve created a series of small tornadoes with deafening noise.

Under certain conditions, the noise can be subtle and produce infrasound, a vibration in the air with a frequency so low human ears can’t detect it.

Studies have shown that it can affect humans with sleep loss, shortness of breath, and extreme dread.

While that sounds interesting, I think the most plausible explanation is something more common than that: An avalanche.

Now, the area they were in wasn’t very steep. Plus, their diaries said the snow was thin at the time.

But there are some new findings that show it could’ve been a slab avalanche.

There are two main types of avalanches: loose snow and slab. And they behave very differently.

All avalanches have massive potential energy, how much depends on their height and the mass of snow.

For example, if a small avalanche contains 1,000 kilograms of snow, its force is 9,810 newtons.
Loose snow avalanches often start on a small area and expand as they move.

They are caused by snow getting deposited at a steeper angle than the snow’s natural angle of repose.

Slab avalanches are different. And way more dangerous.
With slab avalanches, instead of a little bit of snow slowly accumulating and spreading out, an entire layer of snow slides away all at once.

Basically the force of gravity overcomes the bond between the snow layers and they just separate.

This massive amount of snow falling all at once packs a giant whallop, and it doesn’t take a lot to trigger them; sometimes it’s the wind, sometimes it’s the victim themselves.

The avalanche theory for the Dyatlov Pass is the most plausible.

But it was the slab avalanche theory that was proposed by two scientists based in Switzerland in a study published in Communications Earth & Environment in 2021.

The scientists in question are Johan Gaume and Alexander Puzrin, and what they did was they scoured Soviet archives about the incident, and then applied computer avalanche simulations to it.

There were some questions they wanted to answer:

  •  Such as why there weren’t obvious signs of an avalanche when the search team arrived 26 days later,
  • whether the slope angle above the tent was steep enough for an avalanche,
  •  why the skull and thorax injuries weren’t typical for avalanche victims.
  • And whether the hikers made a cut into the slope for the tent,

That last one has been a bit of a debate for a while but that’s a common thing that campers do in the snow, they clear out a little space in a snow bank and then use that snow bank as a barrier against wind.

The theory is that the campers did that when they set up their tent, and may have triggered a slab avalanche that then fell on top of them.

The big question is what caused the delay in the avalanche? Why didn’t it trigger an avalanche right when they cut it? Why did it wait until several hours later before it fell on them?

Their theory suggests that there might have been a deeply buried weak snow layer that might have been strong enough to support the weight above at first, but that strong katabatic winds in the area slowly accumulated snow over the hours, eventually causing the weak layer to give way.

And according to their computer models, this would support the argument that an avalanche could have occurred between 7.5 and 13.5 hours after the hikers made the cut.
As the researchers wrote in their study:

“Dynamic avalanche simulations suggest that even a relatively small slab could have led to severe but non-lethal thorax and skull injuries, as reported by the post-mortem examination.”
They concluded that pitching a tent on an even mild slope of fewer than 30 degrees can be dangerous.

There were some objections to this theory.

These included that there wasn’t any snow cover on the slope, there wasn’t any wind the night of the incident, the slope is too flat, and avalanches don’t happen in that area.

They did find two Russian scientists to confirm that there was snow on the slope and that wind was present that day and night.

For the objection about how flat the slope is, the researchers helped organizers who were producing a documentary called “The Dyatlov Mystery.”

Two expeditions to the area were completed in March and September 2021. The winter expedition had snow cover, so they weren’t able to see the terrain’s topography.

But the summer session was clearer, and they were able to use a drone to create a high-res 3-D digital model of the area’s terrain.

And what they found was steps in the terrain with inclinations exceeding 28 degrees, and many steeper slopes of more than 30 degrees.

The slopes weren’t just local. They were everywhere, meaning you would likely be below one no matter where you pitched your tent.

To test the theory that avalanches don’t happen in that area, the organized another expedition to see for themselves, but it didn’t go well.

They set out on snowmobiles but hit some nasty weather. Like the wind was gusting so hard it was blowing them over kind of weather.

And when they finally got there, they found evidence of not just one slab avalanche, but two of them.

In fact, since the study’s publication, there have been several documented slab avalanches on the eastern slop away from the Daytlov group tent.

The mountain guides reported that one of the slab avalanches was invisible after less than an hour of snowing.

So the fact that they didn’t find any evidence of an avalanche three weeks after the incident, doesn’t really mean much.
As the researchers wrote:

“In such severe weather conditions the Pass cannot be easily accessed by hikers, while traces of small slab avalanches disappear within few hours.”

As for some of the other mysteries, like the fact that one of the bodies was missing a tongue… That’s not that unusual with bodies found in nature.

Yeah, when scavengers find a body, they often focus on the mouth and the eyes because… well, they’re holes.

Why spend the energy tearing a hole through the flesh of an animal when there’s a perfectly good hole right there? One with a big, loosely connected muscle just hanging out inside of it.

It’s an easy meal for a scavenger. So, there’s nothing really weird about that.

Another part of the mystery is that their clothes were slightly radioactive, which has led some to think that they were killed by some kind of nuclear test.

But the amount of radiation on their clothes was way too little to be harmful or be from a nuclear blast. My guess is they had some old items with glow in the dark paint on them.

I know old school clocks used glow in the dark paint that had radium in it – I did a whole video on the Radium Girls, which was insane.

But I imagine there could have been multiple pieces of camping equipment that had glow-in-the-dark paint on it so you can use it at night, and when impacted by the avalanche may have broken and scattered that paint on their clothes.

The only other bit of woo-woo around the story were the reports of seeing lights in the sky by other people in the area on the night it happened.

This is mostly unsubstantiated and most people believe that if there were any lights in the area they were probably from military exercises.

Which, to be fair, might have helped set off the avalanche.

I think mostly the avalanche theory wasn’t considered for a long time because they didn’t think there was enough of a slope, that’s just not something you see on areas that flat.

And these guys were experienced enough hikers to know what is a dangerous slope and what is safe.

But maybe in this instance, there might have been an optical illusion that made it look flatter than it was, they might have been a little off due to exhaustion, combine that with a hidden weak layer of snow and some unfortunate winds… Well there you go.

Now the researchers are quick to point out that they haven’t completely solved the case, there’s no way to definitively prove this is what happened. But they did show that it was plausible.

And in my experience with these types of cases, the most mundane answer is usually the most likely.

I know, I’m a huge buzzkill.

But I actually like finding answers like that, when you think there’s a big fantastical mystery and then you find out that oh, it’s just, you know, the guy tripped or something.

Kinda shows just how random life can be sometimes. And to me that’s the most interesting thing of all.

For the record, I don’t think there’s anything random about a group of hikers on a 2-week trek through the Russian mountains in January getting hit by an avalanche. In fact, I’d call it pretty darn inevitable in the long run.

All the same, rest in peace comrades.

The Somerton Man FINALLY Has A Name

This is a re-upload of my previous Somerton Man video with new information that has just broken in the case. Professor Derek Abbott announced that he and Colleen Fitzpatrick (I mistakenly call her “Fitzgerald” an embarrassing number of times in this video) have found the identity of the Somerton Man, an unidentified man found dead on an Australian beach in 1948.


On Tuesday of this week, July 26th, headlines around the world declared that the Somerton Man, the unidentified man found dead on an Australian beach in 1948, had finally been identified through DNA evidence.

And my inbox exploded; I literally got more links sent my way than I could count. And thank you to everyone who reached out and asked me to revisit this.

So here’s the deal – I was thinking of reuploading that video anyway because guess what… It got demonetized.

Yeah, YouTube’s been pretty bad about that lately.

Apparently one image we used of the body on the beach was a bridge too far for YouTube, the irony is that it wasn’t even a real photo, it was a photoshopped recreation, but anyway, I was thinking about taking that photo out and reuploading it, and now there’s new information, and a reason to do a new video.

So this video is an attempt to kill two birds with one stone, I’m going to include the original video in its entirety – with the exception of that one image – and then add the new information to the end of it.

So if you’ve already seen my Somerton Man video and just want to hear the new stuff, feel free to jump ahead, it won’t hurt my feelings, I’ll put time stamps so you can find it on the timeline here, or you can go to here… Just skip over to here… I don’t know as I’m recording this where here  is so…

But if you have the time I would encourage you to watch the original because I’ve always been proud of this video, it’s a real roller-coaster of a story, and I do think it provides some interesting context to the new info at the end.

So, without further ado, let’s roll that title sequence again and pick up where we left off.
Which brings us to the next darn thing.

All right, so as I said at the beginning, on Tuesday the 26th, Derek Abbott announced that they have an identity for the Somerton Man, and the name is… drum roll please…  Actually, we’re talking about a dead man, a drum roll doesn’t feel right – turn it off.  His name was Carl Webb.

Actually his name was Carl but he went by Charles, thus affirming that he’s Australian.

He was born in 1905 outside of Melbourne, actually, the youngest of 6 kids, and not much is known about his early life but he grew up to be an electrical engineer and instrument maker, and would have been 43 when he died, assuming he was the Somerton Man.

He married a woman named Dorothy Robinson, who went by “Doff” Webb – because Australia – and she filed for divorce from him in 1947, claiming he had disappeared. And in fact there are no public records of him after this point, including no death certificate.

The next record they could find of Dorothy was in 1951, showing that she lived in Bute, South Australia, which is about 144km from Adelaide.

So it’s possible that he was in Adelaide trying to track her down. But that is just speculation.

There is one other thing that ties him to the Somerton Man case, as I mentioned the name T. Keane that was found on some of the Somerton Man’s clothes, apparently Carl Webb had a brother in law named Thomas Keane, and those clothes could have just been hand me downs.

But, before we go too far, you’re probably wondering how they landed on Carl Webb, well Professor Abbott was working with an American forensic genealogist named Colleen Fitzpatrick of the group Identifinders International – her name pops up a lot on these cases because she’s like a badass at this.

And they used the DNA that Abbott had extracted from the hair follicles from the plaster cast, specifically focusing on the halogroup H1a1a1a.

Yeah, it’s important to note, they did exhume the body, but as far as I could tell from the articles I’ve read, this has nothing to do with any tests that might have been done on the body, this is only from the hair follicles, so I’m going to assume further tests on the body will be needed to verify all this.

ANYWAY, they ran these DNA results against a genealogical database and found a living descendant that would have been Webb’s first cousin three times removed on his mother’s side.

From there they constructed a family tree that started with 4000 names, and were able to painstakingly trace it back and triangulate it to Webb, a man who disappeared right around that same time.

And though Fitzgerald and Abbott claim that they’re 99.999% sure Webb is their guy, this has yet to be corroborated by the South Australian police, and like I just said, this needs to match up with the tests being conducted on the body.

And by the way in case you’re wondering, so far they’ve been unable to find any photos of Carl Webb to verify his identity.

But like any good mystery, this kinda just raises a lot more questions.

Like what happened when he disappeared in 1947? Where was he for those 18 months between the divorce and his death? Why and how did he die? If he was from just one state over in Australia, why did nobody come forth to identify him when his picture was being shared all over the place for nearly 75 years? Why was Jo Thompson’s number in his book? What was that code all about?

This is where we enter speculation time.

As for the code, they claim to have evidence that Carl bet on horse races regularly, so they may have just been him keeping track of horses.

As for why he disappeared, you know, they found stencils in his bag and one theory was that he may have worked on a merchant ship because they often used those to label crates – maybe he had been out to sea during that time, maybe that explains why he had some items from America that weren’t available in Australia.

Perhaps he and “Doff” had had a falling out so he took a job like that to get some space, and then when he came back he found out she had divorced him and moved and he went to Adelaide to track her down.

As for Jo Thomson… Maybe Dorothy knew Jo, maybe they’d met in their past and she turned to Jo for help after her divorce, maybe moved in with her briefly. And in the course of tracking her down, he found Jo’s number and wrote it down in his book.

By the way, I didn’t mention this in the previous episode, a lot of people focus on how coincidental it is that there are multiple copies of this obscure book of ancient Persian poetry in this case, it was actually fairly popular back then, it had experienced a bit of a resurgence of interest in literary circles so it wasn’t that random.

To go deeper into speculation territory, and this is just the storyteller in me taking over… I can’t help but wonder if his relationship with Dorothy was toxic… Maybe even abusive. Maybe she took the first opportunity to divorce him and then moved away trying to escape him and turned to Jo for help.

Jo claimed to not know who the person was, but her reaction to his death mask suggested otherwise. Now that could have just been her being uncomfortable looking at a dead man’s face, but she did later tell her daughter she knew him but couldn’t say anything. Maybe she was protecting her friend.

And if he was someone unstable enough to pose a danger to her, then maybe he was also a danger to himself. And took himself out.

Like I said… more questions than answers.

Abbott and Fitzgerald haven’t found any living relatives that ever knew Carl Webb, and after all this time it’s unlikely they will but with 5 siblings, I find it hard to believe that there’s no photo of him out there somewhere. That’s what I want to see, I want to see a photo.

Maybe with this new exposure, someone in that lineage has an old photo album laying around that will come forward. That would be cool.

But what this new evidence does seem to prove is that Robin Thomson and his daughter Rachel Egan are definitely not descended from the Somerton Man. Which Abbott says is actually a relief to finally know the answer for her.

And I will say, you know, Derek Abbott had a theory that he had been working on for decades, and when the evidence pointed in a different direction, to his credit, he didn’t try to change the evidence to fit the theory, he changed his theory to fit the evidence. That’s admirable.

But the South Australian police have not made a statement on this yet – it’s only been a couple of days but as far as I know they’re still doing tests on the body, it’ll be interesting to see what they come up with. And like I said, there could still be some photo evidence out there that would help tie this up with a bow.

So, it’s not 100% over. There’s still many questions to answer and a lot of investigations taking place. It’ll be interesting to see what darn thing happens next.

And when it does, I’m sure I’ll get a million emails about it.

All right, thanks for watching – again – we’ll see if YouTube buries this one as well, but I’ll put links in the description to some articles so you can go check it out for yourself. And I’ll see you next time. Love you guys, take care.


The Mystery Of The Isdal Woman

On November 29, 1970, a body was found on the side of a mountain near Bergen, Norway. She has never been identified. Known only as The Isdal Woman, the trail she left behind and weird clues to her life have left investigators and the public searching for answers for 50 years. Who was this enigmatic woman, and what led to her bizarre death?


Bergen, Ulriken, and IsdalenBergen, Ulriken, and Isdalen

Bergen, Norway is surrounded by mountains. How many mountains depends who you ask.

Seven is the popular number, probably because there were Seven Hills of Rome.

Though, there seems to be disagreement on which mountains make up the seven. Every list is a little different, but every list includes Ulriken (over footage)Its snow-caped peak tops out at 643 meters above sea level, and it’s visited by thousands of hikers every year. Some take the long way around the mountain, others ride the cable car to the top, where waiting for them is one of the most amazing views in all of Norway— other sources say Ulriken is tallest, but hikers report at least two higher points

But those who really want to rough it head to the north face of Ulriken – the face away from the city. It’s a rugged and picturesque landscape that’s not for the casual hiker. Though it’s relatively safe… in the summers. In the winters, things get a bit more dangerous.

After all this valley is named Isladen – Ice Valley. Many hikers have died on this face of the mountain, and there’s a particular section of it that has a reputation as a popular suicide spot. This led the locals to call this section of the mountain by a different name – Dødsdalen, Valley of Death.

The Body

And it was in this valley where on November 29th, 1970, a middle-aged professor and his two young daughters were taking a hike. It was cold and wet that morning, and as they entered a dense forested area of black spruce trees, one of the girls saw something that made her stop in her tracks.

It was the badly charred body of a woman sprawled amongst the rocks. By the way, if you think that’s the kind of thing that might scar a child for life.. You would not be wrong. The two girls refuse to talk about that day even now as adults.

According to the police reports the woman’s right arm hugged her chest, and her left was extended, as if to ward off a blow.

This is what’s known as a “boxer pose” or a “pugilistic stance”, it happens because of contraction in muscles that dehydrate as the tissue burns.

I suppose I should do a content warning. I don’t normally do those but there’s some graphic stuff to talk about here.

The body was naked, though police thought she was clothed when she caught fire. Her skin was red and charred and sooty, and her face was unrecognizable.

So the police turned to her belongings to figure out who she was and what happened. And this… was not helpful.

At the Scene

The complete list of items found at the scene include:

  • Cuffs on the arms of synthetic material
  • The blackened remains of textiles on stomach, crotch, hips and left knee
  • The remains of dark blue stretch trousers and a stocking on the right foot
  • Matching left stocking nearby One rubber boot, of the type known as seilerstøvel, or “sailor boot”
  • Outline of a rubber sole on the right knee
  • Plastic remains of a bag or purse
  • Wool from a sweater
  • Skeleton of a blue nylon lady’s umbrella
  • Mostly empty bottle of Klosterlikør liquer
  • Two bottles with carabiner hooks, one partially melted, found to contain water
  • One partially melted plastic white cup Shapeless remains of a plastic spoon
  • One partially burnt, round, plastic lid One green, checked, woolen scarf with burnt end
  • https://bg-bg.facebook.com/groups/deathinicevalley/permalink/599870630382823/
  • quoted nearly verbatim from translated Kripos report
  • A wristwatch found under her knee whose plastic cover had melted, freezing the hands at 12:32. And the remains of a matchbox,  Burnt bread or crackers,  And a fur hat that smelled of petroleum.

But that was the only evidence for any fuel for the fire, there was no wood, no charcoal, no container of flammable liquid. But there was a container missing.

The partially melted plastic white cup I mentioned earlier was the type that comes with a thermos. Which was not found nearby. A 1970 thermos would have been made of plastic or metal, with an inner layer of glass, so if it was full of gasoline, it might have melted completely.

Or… Her killer took it away. So police set out to figure out who this person was, and whether her death was suicide, an accident of some kind, or murder.

The Forensic Examiner concluded that the body had been dead for about 6 days before it was found, which corresponded to eyewitness accounts of smoke in that area at 12:05 on the 23rd.

But the rest of the report from the forensic examiner’s office… was not helpful.

Cause of Death

Because the cause of death was a combination of carbon monoxide poisoning, which is expected with a fire, and 50 to 70 sleeping pills.

It was a drug called Fenemal. It was a barbiturate that was often prescribed for epilepsy, insomnia, and anxiety. It was also, unfortunately, a popular pill for people use to commit suicide at the time. It’s recommended dose is 30 to 320mg per day.  The pills she took were 60 milligrams each, at 50 to 70 of those would have been 3000 to 4200 milligrams.

That’s more. Twelve pills were undigested in her stomach, which means she took them close to her death. She probably took the first handful a couple hours before.
So, did she take all those pills at the hotel and then head out there? Chances are she would have had a lot of trouble walking at that point, especially on the rough terrain.

Unless… Someone was helping her.

There were no cable cars until later that afternoon so she couldn’t have taken one of those. And there are roads on the mountain, but even if she was driven partway, she had to descend a considerable distance to where she ended up.

It’s kind-of hard to imagine after taking that many sleeping pills that she would be coherent enough to get to that spot, much less to set herself on fire once she got there. And why would someone take that many sleeping pills, easily enough to kill you, and then set themselves on fire. Sounds like overkill to me.

The Suitcases

The police struggled to find an answer, but then three days after the discovery of the body, they caught a break. A coin operated storage locker at the Bergen train station had expired, and the station attendants had found two suitcases inside.

This got the police’s attention because the bags had been put in there on the morning of the 23rd, just a few hours before the woman died.

In one of the suitcases was a pair of glasses that had a very clear fingerprint. These prints matched the Isdal woman.

So these were her bags, this was a huge clue. And what they found in the bags… Was not helpful.

The listed items found in the suitcases include…

  • 500 German deutschemarks
  • Several pairs of shoes and boots
  • Two bags from different shoe stores
  • A number of clothing items, with the labels cut out
  • One steel soup spoon with engraving One bottle of perfume
  • One package of a clay-like substance
  • One scalpel-like knife
  • One map of Southern Scandanavia
  • Three detailed road maps of Norway, all marked “16/6” in pen, one with a list of train stations in pencil
  • Multiple hats, including a Cossack hat of beige sheepskin A wig, made in France, described as “mahogany brown”
  • Prescription exema cream with all the identifying information scratched away.
  • And two notebooks, one blank but with some pictures stuffed inside including:  A picture of the Madonna with child Postcard of religious scene Postcard of a horse-drawn sleigh.

The second notebook though… It was very much not blank.

On one page of the notebook were four tables of numbers in a sort of code.

Clean PIC of codes here 

Full code sheet, with fingerprints

The Code

Nobody knew what this code meant, it didn’t have an obvious cypher to it, and the entries were too brief to find any patterns. The cops were stumped. So they called in the experts. A specialist in the Norwegian Military Intelligence Service looked it over and figured it out pretty quickly. Turns out it was barely a code at all. The codebreaker said it was some sort of travel record. The numbers are dates, the first letter after each number a month, and letters at the end of a column stand for cities.

For example when you look at the first column, second entry, you see the code “11 M 16 M L” According to the codebreaker, this means that from March 11 to 16, the writer stayed at a city whose name begins with “L”

Witness Sightings

This combined with the items in the suitcases, let investigators start to piece together this woman’s movements. Remember the shoe shop bags I mentioned earlier? One was from Rome, Italy, the other from a shop in Norway Police interviewed employees and got a description of the woman who bought a pair of “sailor boots”

From the interviews, police learned that the woman was a foreigner, though there were different ideas about where she came from.

One described her as a young American tourist, one said she was French, others described her as Jewish, Slavic, or Asian. So not super helpful.

At least two hairstyles were mentioned by witnesses, one of which matched the wig in the suitcase, the other might have been her natural hair. this was what police used in 1970 — the colored pencil sketch on BBC pages is recent

Her teeth were distinctive, with several gold crowns and a gap in the front. And she was described as slim, with wide hips.
A taxi driver went so far as to call her sexy.

Many Cities

Using these descriptions and the coded notebook, they were able to track her signature to hotels in at least five Norwegian cities. And while the coded travel record matched her movements closely, it wasn’t perfect.

There are discrepancies between the recorded dates and some of the known arrivals and departures in some of these cities. But, was it a diary, written down after the fact, or an itinerary, written in advance? We don’t know.

The code is mostly deciphered but there’s still some that haven’t been figured out. Rome seems to have been an important spot for her because she went back there often.– undecoded cities: L, G, R, F, V, W, N, A, M

Many Names

But all in all, they found nine hotel registries and four travel forms showing ten different names in her handwriting. All the names were checked by investigators, along with past addresses and passport numbers. All of it was made up.

Whoever this woman was, between the secret codes and disguises and fake names, it seems she had done everything possible to hide her identity. Combine that with the mysterious and unexplained way she died and you’re bound to get a ton of wild theories. So let’s consider those.

Spy Theory

Theory #1: She was a spy.

You probably saw this coming a mile away. Makes sense, considering all the secret identities and codes and whatnot and also, this was the height of the Cold War, and Norway was pretty close to the Soviet Union.

Well, on the podcast Death in Ice Valley, which is a great series all about this one story, they interviewed Norway’s most famous spycatcher, Ørnulf Tofte (EARN-uff Tuff-tuh), and he didn’t think this was a spy situation.

He had actually investigated this story back in 1970 and felt that it wasn’t consistent with other murders of known spies, his theory was that a can of hairspray exploded, though no can was found nearby. Death in Ice Valley also consulted former KGB officer and current British journalist Alexander Vassiliev. And he saw inconsistencies as well.

He said that a Soviet spy would only have 1 or 2 fake identities, each of which backed by a wealth of fake documents establishing a “legend” for that persona. That wasn’t the case for The Isdal Woman – she went by 10 different names, but had no documents or “legend” for any of them, besides some fake passports.

But even those are spurious. Only one hotel manager claimed to have seen a passport, and even that one may have only seen the cover, not the inside.

Vassiliev also made the point that a Soviet spy would also have done everything possible to avoid attention. And the Isdal Woman didn’t really do that… As investigators tracked her movements and talked to hotel managers, they started to see a pattern of very strange behavior on her part.

She had a habit of switching hotel rooms, and of moving the hotel furniture around, sometimes putting them out in the hallway. (Maybe because she was worried the furniture was bugged?)

It seems like whatever hotel she was in she was, “that guest”, the one you have to deal with, so she stood out to the hotel staff, which made them notice other things about her.

Like the fact that she spoke little to no Norwegian, instead usually speaking in German, English, or French.
And then there was the smell.

Witnesses at the shoe store and hotel reported an odor around the woman, something like garlic and BO, some witnesses described it as nauseating. The KGB expert said a female spy from Russia would have smelled like Chanel N°5, and concluded she was probably not a spy from a major Cold War country, though she might have been a spy for a smaller country with an unconventional intelligence service.

By the way, if you’re hearing all this and thinking why would a spy be hanging out in Bergen Norway, like if that feels like a random thing to assume, it’s actually not.

Bergen was kind-of an espionage hotbed in 1970, specifically because of missile testing nearby.

A guided missile known as Penguin was developed in Norway from the early 1960s to 1972. It’s actually still in use by several countries, including the United States.
)But yeah, the area they were doing this testing was near Bergen, so it wasn’t unusual at all to hear about spies around the area.

And there’s one eyewitness account that may corroborate that she was there to get missile intelligence.

In December 1970, police heard the story of a fisherman who thought he saw the Isdal Woman near a Penguin testing site. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penguin_(missile)
He apparently saw her talking for some time with a naval officer.


Now, if this was really her, that still brings up a lot of questions, could that officer have been an embedded foreign agent? And would this make her a courier, a spy who mostly carries messages from other spies?

There’s a lot of twists and turns here but the question of whether or not she was a spy is still up for debate.

Prostitute Theory

Theory #2: She was a sex worker.

There is the possibility that the Isdal woman was a high-end prostitute and the coded travels could have been an itinerary from her… employer. (a beat) Are they still pimps at that level?
Or a log sheet, like that was how she reported back to her employer.

What she was doing was illegal, that would make sense that she would avoid getting caught and use different identities, maybe the wig was in case the clients wanted a brunette?

There were some eyewitness reports of men visiting her in the rooms, others were seen eating with her or shopping with her.

None of this of course tells us anything about who killed her or why.

Theory #3:  There Were Multiple Women

The American Woman

When you have so many threads around one person, at some point you have to consider the possibility that it’s not just one person. It’s possible that some of the reports and eyewitness accounts the investigators tracked down were about more than one woman.

That’s the theory of another author who has looked into the case, a criminologist named David Morgan. He wrote a book called Isdal Woman: A New Perspective, I’ll put the amazon link in the description, but he was kind enough to respond to our emails on this.

So in David’s investigation, he focused on a young American woman that was sought by police. Early witness reports made her seem like a good fit for the Isdal Woman, but there were some issues with her. For example, one employee at the shoe shop described her differently than others.

The customer described is a bit taller than usual, and no mention is made of her teeth.

And she carried a bag with “California” printed in large letters, which appeared in other descriptions, she also had the apparently noteworthy BO. Police at the time ruled out the American woman because some friends of hers received a card postmarked two days before the body was found, which would have been at least three days after the woman died.

But… someone else could have sent that postcard.

Bottom line is, as if this case couldn’t get more complicated, there may be multiple suspects thought to be the Isdal Woman.

Theory #4: The Serial Killer Theory

Serial Killer Theory

2 years after the Isdal Woman was found, in September of 1972, something else happened in Bergun. Another young woman, similar in age and general physical appearance, was found murdered. But at least in this case we know who she was.

Her name was Mariann Thunestvedt, and her death also went unsolved. Her murderer was never found.

Some have suggested that this could have been the same killer who took out the Isdal Woman, and that there may be others out there that he’s killed that we don’t know about yet.

There is a tiny amount of connective tissue between Mariann and the Isdal woman. Mariann’s mother Edith was a maid at the last hotel the Isdal woman had stayed in and had given detailed descriptions of her to the police.

Could it have been another guest in the hotel who came back through town and stayed at the same place? Or, as Edith had wondered, could it have been some kind of revenge against her for all the information she gave the police?

Perhaps this guy had murdered multiple women, but the Isdal Woman just happened to be weird enough to draw a lot of attention. This theory is very much up for debate.

Why We Try

The story of the Isdal Woman is so convoluted and has been around for so long that we’ll probably never know the truth. Not that that stops us from trying. And we try because… well, we all love a good mystery, but as we get so wrapped up in trying to solve it, it’s important to remember that this was person.

Tourist, spy, or prostitute, the woman found on that cold November morning was a human being. And her death was tragic. And horrific.

Even though she had taken so many sleeping pills, we know she was alive when she caught fire.

Soot was found in her lungs meaning she literally choked on smoke from her own burning flesh. This was someone’s daughter, maybe sister, or friend. Someone out there is seeking closure after all these years.

Death in Ice Valley And maybe they could still have that closure.

Podcasts like the Death in Ice Valley podcast I mentioned before are still researching this story and finding new clues that they couldn’t have found back in the 70s. For instance, tests on the Isdal Woman’s teeth detected chemicals that suggest she came from an area near Nuremberg, Germany.

Other tests say she was older than she claimed on forms, maybe 40 or 45, which would actually contradict most of the witness testimony that put her in her 20s or 30s.

Maybe she used a lot of moisturizer? Or maybe the tests were wrong. Some argue that the teeth had been washed with a substance that removes DNA and invalidated the age test. And that the chemicals that tied it to Nuremberg can be found in lots of places.

Just like everything else in this story, there are multiple explanations.

Another group that’s looking into this is the DNA Doe Project.

DNA Doe has identified numerous John and Jane Does since the group formed in 2017.

The most famous is a formally unknown victim of the Killer Clown, John Wayne Gacy.

As of June 2019, Colleen Fitzpatrick of the DNA Doe Project was starting legal proceedings to request access. Here’s hoping that this will be another of the Project’s success stories.

The Funeral

On February 5, 1971, the Isdal Women was buried at the Møllendal cemetery in Bergen. Based on items found in the suitcases, they chose to have the service conducted by a Catholic priest.

It was attended by a handful of police officers including the Chief Detective. And she was laid to rest in a zinc coffin. This is common for unidentified people, because they can be hermetically sealed to preserve the body.

The hope, in 1971, was that relatives of the deceased would come forward and claim the body and relocate it to her homeland. So far this has not happened. And so she remains in Bergen, waiting for someone to figure out exactly what happened that morning in Ice Valley.

Peter Bergmann: The Man Who Never Existed

On June 15 of 2009, the body of a middle-aged man was found on Rosses Point Beach in County Sligo, Ireland. He had no identification on him, no passport, even the tags had been removed from his clothes. Over the following days, as authorities reviewed his activity with security camera footage, they found that he went to great pains to dispose of his personal effects without anybody seeing. This was a man who wanted to disappear completely. And he was almost successful. But one random thing went wrong and turned him into one of the biggest internet mysteries of all time.
Who was Peter Bergmann?

5 Unsolved Space Mysteries

Space has been blowing our minds from the beginning. And yet it feels like every question we answer only brings up more questions. From evidence of a parallel universe to the young surface of Venus to everybody’s favorite, Omuamua, here are 5 space mysteries that have not yet fully been solved.

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