30 November 2012

Unsolved Mysteries


I love mystery. Be it the wonder of how a magician created the illusion or the unexplained murders that Robert Stack menacingly intoned on NBC, then CBS. I am in.

The internet is a boon and an ill-advised hole for people like me. The research-minded. I love reading about events, pouring over details, deciphering meaning. I love to know all the things about a topic. I remember little of it, but the point is in the looking.

The internet is full of the unsolved.

Take the story of Benjamin Kyle in Florida. He was discovered on August 31, 2004 naked in the trash area of a Burger King in Richmond Hill, Georgia. He had no identification, no memory of who he was or how he got there. There was evidence of several blows to the head and he was covered in blood.

He is believed to be in his 60s, from Indiana and he possibly went to college in Boulder, Colorado. He has oddly detailed memories of movie theaters in those two states as well as kitchen equipment.

He was given the name BK for Burger King ans later took the name Benjamin Kyle. Recently a documentary has been made about him and Senator Mike Weinstein was able to get him a Florida ID card so he could start to build an 'official' identity. He has no social security number and thus does not exist. A White House petition exists to help get him one. Without a SSN he cannot legally stay at homeless shelters or get a better job.

Recently I moved back to New Mexico so I'm feeling a little hyper-connected to my history. The concept of a blank slate may sound great, in theory, but it terrifies me. Watching this man attempt to go about his life without a history amazes me. I couldn't imagine it.

A different type of blank slate is the mysterious dead man.

The Taman Shud case is so odd. So very very very odd. That I really want to write a book about it. And will someday.

On December 1, 1948 a body was found on a beach in Australia. He was well-dressed, in good shape, and there was no obvious cause of death. The labels had been removed from all of his clothing. On Jan 14 a suitcase was found with clothing labeled 'T. Keane'. They connected the case to the body through a ball of orange thread that matched some used to fix a hole in the dead man's pants.

A sailor named Tom Keane was missing but his friends and family said that the clothes were not his and the body did not match.

Sewn in the man's pants was a slip of paper that read 'Taman Shud'. The phrase translates from Persian to mean 'finished'. It is the last line in a book by Omar Khayyam. They found the book. It had been left in a man's unlocked car three days before the unknown man died. In a different town.

The image above is what was found in the back of the book. A cypher that has never been decoded. Also in the book was the unlisted phone number for a woman. She claimed she had no knowledge of the man, though she nearly fainted when seeing the photos of the body. Coincidental, (or not) she had given a copy of the book to a different man 3 years earlier. A man who still had the copy. That man would only give half answers and innuendo when asked questions.

The woman's son shared rare genetic disorders with the dead man. The likelihood of this being a coincidence is estimated at 1 in 10,000,000.

And there's more! A man was found unconscious next to a bag containing his dead 3-year-old son's body in June of 1949 after being missing for 4 days. The man's wife claimed her husband thought he knew the dead man in the Taman Shud case. The wife had been terrorized by masked men for the days prior to the discovery of the husband and son. The man was committed to an institution after he recovered.

In 1945, three years before the Taman Shud case, another man was found dead with a copy of Khayyam's book open on his chest. A woman who testified at the inquest into the death was later found face down, wrists slit in a bathtub.


It's the perfect knot. Everyone involved is dead. Everyone involved refused to be helpful. What is most amazing is that despite all the information I just dumped on you, none of it leads anywhere conclusive. It is blank.

And that mystery is what I love. The inability to know. The desire to know. To fill in the blanks. Who was the Taman Shud man? Who is Benjamin Kyle? What led them to where they ended up? How does anyone get where they end up? That's the real point of the mystery. That ?