The 60 Minutes video segment on the Somerton Man has just gone live, but you’ll have to navigate down the thumbnails on the right hand side of that page to find it – alternatively, this direct link to the video might possibly work for you.
Though it’s always nice to see Gerry Feltus and Derek Abbott on screen 🙂 , the whole point of the programme was that it also included a series of on-screen interviews with Jestyn’s direct family members (daughter Kate Thomson, daughter-in-law Roma Egan, granddaughter Rachel Egan) that revealed some new titbits of information – though (as is normally the case with cipher mysteries) only really enough to tantalize rather than definitively prove or disprove.
As a result, the things we now know are:-
* That Jessica Thomson lied to the police (as just about everyone suspected), i.e. that she did indeed know who the Somerton Man was;
* That Jessica Thomson told her daughter that the whole mystery wasn’t “at a State Police level”;
* That Jessica Thomson told her daughter that she “was teaching English to migrants”, and could speak Russian (if a bit rustily);
* That Jessica Thomson’s daughter now believes that her mother was linked in some way to Soviet spying; and
* That Jessica Thomson’s granddaughter now suspects that the Unknown Man might well have been her actual grandfather.
The first bit of good news is that if (as claimed) Jessica did know the Somerton Man, then we can’t really call him the “Unknown Man” any more, because he was manifestly “The Known Man”. Having said that, I somehow doubt that Gerry Feltus will be changing his book’s title any time soon, though. 😉
As far as the whole Soviet spy scenario goes: ASIO (Australian Secret Intelligence Organization) had an office in Adelaide, and I expect that there is a huge amount of stuff in the archives relating to Russian spies in Australia during that edgy post-WW2 period. Of course, it may be many years yet before anything in such grey archives get declassified… but if this side of the story is even partially right, then that could – much to my surprise – well be where any kind of genuine historical answer will lie.
But all the same… if Jessica Thomson was indeed a Soviet spy, it still makes no sense that she would silently poison another Soviet spy visiting her, even if she were a double agent (other countries’ spies were often far more useful alive-and-known-about than dead-and-buried). Personally, I still think it far more likely that the Somerton Man died by accident or by someone else’s hand than by Jessica’s hand – though I really wouldn’t be at all surprised if it was she who meticulously cleaned and polished his shoes after his demise. Shame the hat was too far gone, though. 😐
Moreover, the notion that the Somerton Man was Robin Thomson’s father (and Rachel Egan’s grandfather) is still a little bit hard for me to digest. Before anything so radical as an exhumation could take place, the simplest explanation of all – that Prosper McTaggart Thomson was the biological parent of both Robin Thomson and Kate Thomson, as you’d basically expect – would surely need to be eliminated first.
Even though Y-DNA testing is not possible here (because it only works for two direct male descendants of a single male ancestor), I would be pretty sure that there must be some other DNA test that could look for some kind of shared allele pattern between Kate Thomson and Rachel Egan that would indicate whether or not they were related (or very probably related) via a shared male ancestor. (I’m not an expert on genetics, though, so please tell me if this is just plain wrong.)
Only if it could be shown beyond reasonable doubt that the two did not share such a male ancestor would it make any obvious sense to push for exhumation – so, has this kind of testing already been done? The programme was silent… but maybe such tests have already been done, who knows?