Peter Bergmann case
Morgue photograph of the man who used the name Peter Bergmann
Probably between 1949 and 1954|
Unknown, possibly Austria
|Status||Unidentified for 9 years, 4 months and 1 day|
16 June 2009|
Rosses Point, County Sligo, Ireland
|Cause of death||Drowning|
|Resting place||Sligo, Ireland|
|Other names||Peter Bergmann|
|Known for||Mysterious death|
The Peter Bergmann case is an unsolved mystery pertaining to the death of an unidentified man in County Sligo, Ireland. From 12 to 16 June 2009, a man using the alias "Peter Bergmann" visited the coastal seaport town of Sligo, in northwest Ireland. He used this alias to check into the Sligo City Hotel, where he stayed during the majority of his visit, and was described by the hotel staff and tenants as having a heavy German accent. The man's movements were captured on CCTV throughout the town; however, the details of his actions and intentions remain unknown. His interactions with other people were limited, and little is known of his origins or the reason for his visit to Sligo.
On the morning of 16 June, the naked body of the unidentified man was discovered at Rosses Point beach, a popular recreation destination and fishing area near Sligo. Despite having conducted a five-month investigation into the death of "Peter Bergmann", the police have never been able to identify the man or develop any leads in the case.
The mystery is often compared to the Tamam Shud case, of Australia, in which an unidentified man was found dead on a beach shortly after World War II, though the Peter Bergmann case has not achieved nearly the same amount of notoriety or international coverage. This case remains obscure to the public, and the official investigation has not extended to outside of Ireland.
The case received renewed attention in the 2010s. It was the subject of a 2013 documentary, The Last Days of Peter Bergmann, which was shown at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival and has developed a small following on social media websites such as Reddit, where readers have constructed theories of the case.
Bergmann had a slender build, short grey hair, and appeared to be in his late 50s or early 60s. He stood five feet and ten and a half inches tall with blue eyes and a tan complexion. From witness reports, the man was of Germanic descent and spoke with a thick German accent. He was neatly groomed; his face was shaven and his hair was clean and combed.
The man was well dressed wearing a black leather jacket, blue trousers (size 50), blue socks, a black leather belt and a pair of black shoes (size 44). His clothes were from C&A, a popular fashion retail store in Europe with most of its stores in Germany and Austria. From the man's appearance it was assumed he was a professional worker. He was a frequent smoker and several surveillance videos show him smoking outside often.
Timeline of events
On Friday, 12 June, the unknown man was first spotted at the Ulster Bus Depot in Derry between the time of 14:30 and 16:00. He boarded a bus headed to Sligo Station, carrying a black shoulder bag and a standard carry-on luggage bag. He arrived at 18:28 at the Sligo Bus Station and took a taxi to the Sligo City Hotel where he paid €65 per night in cash. While checking in, he gave the false name of "Peter Bergmann" and listed his address as Ainstettersn 15, 4472, Vienna, Austria.
During his stay at the hotel, the man was seen on security camera footage leaving the building with a purple plastic bag full of items or personal effects. However, when he returned from his long walk he was no longer carrying the bag. It is presumed that he was disposing of his belongings throughout the town of Sligo and then folding the bag and putting it in his pocket. Authorities were unable to identify what he was throwing away in the public rubbish bins as the man used the blind spots of the surveillance cameras to his advantage. His movements were very meticulous and methodical as if he knew where to hide his personal belongings that could have identified him.
On Saturday, 13 June, the man is seen walking to the General Post Office at 10:49 and purchases eight 82-cent stamps and airmail stickers.
On Sunday, 14 June, between 11:00 and 11:30 the man left the Sligo City Hotel and asked a taxi driver recommendations for a nice quiet beach where he could swim. The taxi driver stated that Rosses Point would be the best place and proceeded to drive the unknown man to the beach. The man returned with the same taxi and was dropped off at the bus station in Sligo.
The next day (Monday, 15 June), the man checked out of the hotel at 13:06 and handed in his room key. He left with a black shoulder bag, a purple plastic bag, and a different black luggage bag. He did not have the same black carry-on luggage bag he had when he first arrived in Sligo. He walked to the bus station via Quay Street, Wine Street and stopped at Quayside Shopping Centre and awkwardly waited in the doorway for a number of minutes. At 13:16 he left the Quayside Shopping Centre and walked along Wine Street in the direction of the bus station, still carrying all three bags. At 13:38 he ordered a cappuccino and a ham and cheese toasted sandwich at the bus station. While eating his food, he looked at pieces of paper that he kept in his pocket. After reading the pieces of paper, he tore the paper in half and threw it away in a nearby rubbish bin. He then mounted a bus that departed at 14:20 for Rosses Point. It was reported that he was seen by 16 people while walking on the beach, casually greeting the passersby.
The following morning, Tuesday 16 June, Arthur Kinsella and his son Brian, who was training for a triathlon, found his naked body lying on the beach at 6:45 in the morning. Arthur and Brian said the Lord's Prayer for the man, and then called the Gardaí. At 8:10, Dr Valerie McGowan officially pronounced the man dead. Following the discovery of the man's dead body, a five-month investigation was conducted by Gardaí.
Upon the police investigation following his death, the address he gave belonged to a vacant lot. This implies that the man wanted to remain unknown and he pre-emptively planned his moves so that he could not be identified.
According to the post mortem report, the body of the man was found naked on Rosses Point beach with his clothes scattered along the shore, with no wallet, money or form of identification. The Sligo medical examiner deemed the cause of death to be drowning and found no signs of foul play that would give reason to believe the man's death was a homicide. The man's teeth were in good condition and showed signs of frequent dental work in his life. He had bridging, root canals, crowns and had a full gold tooth on the upper back right side of his mouth and a small silver filling along the gum of a tooth on the left side of the lower jaw.
Despite his well-groomed and dressed exterior, the man was in very poor health. The post mortem showed that he had advanced stages of prostate cancer and bone tumours. His heart showed signs of previous heart attacks and he possessed only one kidney, the other being removed. For a man who had serious health conditions, the toxicology report stated that he had no medication of any sort in his system. The medical examiner stated that, due to his heart attacks and health status, the man would have been in significant pain and required prescription pain medicine or at least over-the-counter pain relievers to manage his pain.
In 2015, the French newspaper Le Monde reported that they had contacted the Austrian police about the case and that the Austrian police commented that the Irish police had never contacted them. Le Monde also reported that there is no Interpol notice for the unidentified man, stating that as the body is recovered he does not fall into the two Interpol categories of 'missing person' or a 'wanted person'. It is up to his country of origin to report him as missing.
- List of unsolved murders and deaths
- Isdal Woman
- Tamam Shud case
- Lyle Stevik
- Lori Erica Ruff
- Joseph Newton Chandler III
- "The man who went to Ireland to disappear (VIDEO)". irishcentral.com. 3 March 2016. Retrieved 1 October 2016.
- Julien Guintard. "L'homme qui voulait effacer sa vie". Le Monde.fr. Retrieved 13 December 2015.
- "In 2009, a man arrived in an Irish town with a plan to disappear forever – Aeon Videos". aeon.co. Retrieved 1 October 2016.
- http://www.bka.de/nn_198456/DE/Fahndungen/Personen/UnbekannteTote/IrlandMann/IrlandMann.html[permanent dead link]
- "'The Last Days of Peter Bergmann' at Melbourne – Film Ireland". filmireland.net. Retrieved 1 October 2016.
- "News RTÉ TEN'S TV picks for Tuesday January 6". News TV Genre. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 13 December 2015.