Perth scientists have breathed life into a decades-old German mystery of an unknown man’s body found floating in the North Sea, using the adage “you are what you eat” to discover he may be from Australia.
The man, dubbed “The Gentleman” by investigators in 1994 after his body was found by police off the coast of the Helgoland, a German archipelago, was weighed down by cast iron cobbler’s feet.
He earned The Gentleman nickname due to his smart clothing; a wool tie, British-made shoes, French-made trousers and a long-sleeve blue dress shirt.
The case has baffled German police for 28 years, but criminologists and forensic scientists from Murdoch University may have helped to unravel the mystery after they ran new tests.
They found the man spent most of his life in Australia. Investigators in the 1990s determined he was 45 to 50 years old.
The discovery marks the last day of Australia’s National Missing Person’s Week on Saturday.
Scientists made the discovery by following the principle of “you are what you eat”, performing an isotope ratio analysis of The Gentleman’s bones.
Differences in climate, soil and human activity across the globe change the isotopic compositions of food, water and even dust – reflected in the isotopic compositions of human tissue.
Analysis showed the man likely spent most of his life in Australia.