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  • A corpse discovered with over-developed  athlete's legs, strange, wedge-shaped feet,  

  • a scrap of paper torn from a poetry book withsingle phrase hidden in a secret pocketwho was  

  • the man behind the most weird unsolved death ever? November 30th, 1948, Adelaide, Australia.  

  • It was a clear, warm night, the first  summer day of the southern summer.  

  • John Bain Lyons and his wife decide to take  the opportunity of nice weather and beautiful,  

  • clear night sky to do some star gazing down by  the beach. As the couple walk along the sand,  

  • they spot a man up ahead of them- he's dressed  in slacks, suit jacket, and a button up shirt  

  • with a smart tie, but is laying in the sand  with his head leaning against a sea wall.  

  • The man lifts his right arm up and  then lets it fall back to the ground.

  • Assuming they had stumbled across a drunk  sleeping off a bender, the couple ignores him and  

  • continues their pleasant stroll. Thirty minutes  later, a second couple comes across the man.  

  • As they walk along the sea wall they see  the smartly dressed man done up in a suit,  

  • with shoes spit polished to a perfect shineThe man isn't moving, and mosquitoes cover  

  • his face. The boyfriend jokes, “He must  be dead to the world not to notice them.”

  • He has no idea how right he is,  

  • or that he's just stumbled across  the most mysterious death in history.

  • The next morning a small crowd has gathered  around the man, and it has become clear to all  

  • that he is well and truly dead. The body is coldand a half-smoked cigarette rests on his collar  

  • as if it had fallen out of his mouth while being  smoked. The police are immediately contacted,  

  • and the body removed to Royal  Adelaide Hospital for inspection.

  • The coroner suspects that the man was poisonedleading to heart failure. Try as they might  

  • though, the authorities can't identify the  man. He carries no ID, no wallet, or cash.  

  • His clothes have no name tag and all but one of  the clothing designer's labels have been cut off.  

  • Inside his pockets are tickets from Adelaide  to the beach where he was found dead,  

  • a pack of chewing gum, matches, two  combs, and a pack of cigarettes with  

  • seven cigarettes of a differentmore expensive brand inside of it.

  • The police begin questioning localsbut nobody knows who the man is.  

  • Meanwhile the coroner continues his  own investigation, deducing that the  

  • man had indeed been poisoned but not by foodCuriously, the man has unnaturally small pupils,  

  • and his spleen was three times normal sizeThe liver is greatly distended with blood.  

  • Despite being in his late 40s, the man  has extremely well defined calf muscles,  

  • clearly the legs of a very accomplished athleteHowever, his toes are wedge-shaped, leading an  

  • expert to suppose that the man had been in the  habit of wearing high-heeled and pointed shoes.

  • Was the man a cross-dressing fitness enthusiastOr perhaps a ballet dancer? Nobody knew.

  • Fingerprints were taken and shared  throughout the entire english-speaking world,  

  • and yet no identity for the mysterious  corpse could be ascertained. His photos  

  • were published in newspapers, and  dozens of locals brought to the  

  • morgue to identify the body- yet nobody  recognized the mysterious, dead stranger.

  • As the investigation intensifies, a poison  expert believes he knows how the man was killed-  

  • but the poisons that may have been used are so  deadly he refuses to name them out loud in court.

  • Sir Cedric Stanton Hicks instead writes the  names of two poisons on a scrap sheet of paper:  

  • digitalis and strophanthin. Both of  these poisons are incredibly toxic  

  • and have the added benefit of breaking down very  quickly after death, leaving no trace behind for  

  • police to discover. One of the poisons is so  rare it can only be made from a combination of  

  • the oil inside the seeds of specific plants in  Africa, parts of a poisonous fish native to the  

  • Benue river, and snake venom. The poison  is used by one Somali tribe for hunting,  

  • and has a terrifying reputation for its ability  to kill an adult human in ten minutes or less.

  • Police are now broadening their investigation  across Adelaide and checking with every hotel,  

  • dry cleaner, lost property  office and railway station  

  • for lost or abandoned luggage- perhaps the  victim left behind some personal belongings  

  • that could shed light on the mystery. On  January 12th, detectives at the main railway  

  • station are given a brown suitcase that  had been deposited there on November 30th.

  • The suitcase has no identifying characteristicsin fact it's clear that somebody went through  

  • a lot of trouble to remove all labels and brand  markings. Only a single label on a shirt remains,  

  • with the name T. Keane written inside, but police  quickly conclude that the name is a red herring,  

  • meant to throw people off the trail of the  owner's real identity. However, police do  

  • find orange thread inside the suitcase that's  identical to the thread used to repair a hole  

  • in the dead man's trouser pocket. This suitcase  and its strange contents belonged to the victim.

  • Other than three shirts, the suitcase also  contains a stencil kit used to stencil  

  • labels on cargo aboard merchant ships,  a table knife missing part of its haft,  

  • and a coat stitched in a style  native to America, but not Australia.

  • Just when police thought the  mystery couldn't possibly deepen,  

  • a shocking new find on the corpse  would open up a bevy of new questions.

  • The authorities brought in an expert pathologist  to re-examine the corpse and its possessions in  

  • the hopes of gathering more clues. While the new  investigation into the body revealed nothing new,  

  • a more thorough search of the man's  clothing revealed a small pocket  

  • sewn into the waistband of the man's trousers,  

  • and inside it a tightly rolled up scrap of paper  with the words, “Tamám Shudwritten on it.

  • A reporter for the Adelaide Advertiser recognized  the words as Persian and recommended the police  

  • look into the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, a book of  Persian poetry from the twelfth century that had  

  • been translated by Edward Fitzgerald and become  quite popular in Australia during the war years.  

  • The words are discovered to be the last  words in the english translation of the book,  

  • and meanIt is ended”. Despite a search of  libraries, book sellers, and publishers though,  

  • the police can't find a copy of the book with  the same font as that on the scrap of paper.

  • By now the body had begun to decompose but police  were reluctant to give up their only real leads,  

  • so they had the body embalmed and  buried in a plot specifically chosen  

  • to be easier to exhume should the need arise.

  • A full eight months after the mysterious death,  a man walked into the police station in Adelaide  

  • with a rather mysterious tale. Shortly after  the discovery of the unidentified body,  

  • he and his brother in law went for a ride in  a car that he kept parked just a few hundred  

  • yards from the beach the dead man was found  on. The duo spotted a copy of the Rubaiyat  

  • lying on the floor of the rear seats, but  each assumed that it belonged to the other.  

  • Upon reading a newspaper account of the mysterious  death, the man had a hunch and checked the book,  

  • discovering to their surprise that the  final words of the book had been torn out.  

  • It was a perfect match to the scrap of  paper found in the dead man's secret pocket.

  • But that wasn't the only secret the book held. Written on the back cover so lightly in pencil  

  • as to be almost missed was a phone numberalong with a few letters written in capitals.  

  • The phone number is unlisted, but belongs to  a young woman that police refused to identify  

  • in order to protect her identity. The woman  confirms that she once gifted the book in  

  • question to a man during the war: Alfred  Boxall. At last the police had a name,  

  • and it took only days to find his  home in Maroubra, New South Wales.

  • Mystery solved- except for one problem,  

  • Boxall was still alive and still had the copy  of the book that the nurse had gifted him.

  • The police are at a dead end again, and  return to the nurse. The nurse tells the  

  • police that sometime the year before some  neighbors told her that a man had come by  

  • and asked for her. When police showed hercast they had made of the dead man's face,  

  • the nurse looked as if she would  faint, but denied she knew who  

  • he was. Though police suspected the  nurse knew more than she was telling,  

  • they were once more at a dead end, until they took  a closer look at the book found in the parked car.

  • Under a UV light police discover a jumble of  letters and realize that they have a code of  

  • some type on their hands. The code is published  in the press and sent to Naval Intelligence and  

  • the best code breakers in AustraliaThe Navy reports back that the code  

  • seems to be unbreakable, there's simply  not enough of it to make sense of it.

  • Police never did crack the code, and no  further clues would be forthcoming in  

  • the case of the world's most mysterious  death. Amateur sleuths in modern times  

  • would re-examine the case and suspect that the  nurse and the dead man clearly knew each other,  

  • given the intensity of her reaction to being  presented a cast of the dead man's face.  

  • The identity of the nurse, which the police  had kept hidden, was finally revealed and  

  • photos of the woman's son suggestedstriking similarity to the dead man.

  • A second dead man would be found with a copy of  the Rubaiyat in Australia- a Jewish immigrant  

  • from Singapore named George Marshall. He was  discovered with a copy of the book near him,  

  • a seventh edition from a publisher in LondonThere was only one problem: the book was only ever  

  • published in five editions, making this seventh  edition publishing as fake as that linked to the  

  • original dead body in 1948. Finally, a careful  review of police files discovered that in 1959  

  • a man gave a statement that on the night in  question, he had seen one man carrying another man  

  • on his shoulder near the water's edge, and very  close to where the dead body was later discovered.

  • Recently DNA was successfully extracted from hairs  found in the casting of the man's face made by  

  • police. An investigation into possible relatives  discovered that the man may have had a large group  

  • of relatives living in the east coast of the  United States, potentially making our mystery  

  • man an American, and not Australian. Howeverno living relative has been confirmed as of yet.

  • What does any of this mean? Who was our mysterious  dead stranger with unusually small pupils,  

  • enlarged internal organs, well-defined athlete's  legs, and a copy of a book that may have been part  

  • of a secret code? Some have theorized that the  man must have been a spy, given the location of  

  • a top secret British rocketry base a few hundred  miles away. Other theories posit that the man may  

  • have been part of a very influential criminal  underground network, and crossed the wrong  

  • people. Whatever the truth may be, it seemed  that it died on that summer night back in 1948.

  • Only adding to the mystery, flowers would  be left on the dead man's grave until 1978-  

  • with nobody ever discovering how they  were left there or who was responsible.

  • Now go check out Man From A Country  That Doesn't Exist for more mystery,  

  • or click this other link instead!

A corpse discovered with over-developed  athlete's legs, strange, wedge-shaped feet,  

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The Most Weird Death Ever

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    Summer posted on 2021/04/30
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