Decade Later, Police Can't Crack Mystery of Beach Visitor

'Peter Bergmann' was found dead in Ireland, but nobody really knows who he was
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 25, 2019 8:31 AM CDT
Updated Jun 29, 2019 1:04 PM CDT
10 Years Later, Mystery of Man on the Beach Endures
Stock photo of an Irish beach.   (Getty/Ronniejcmc)

A decade ago, a man calling himself Peter Bergmann checked into a hotel in Sligo, Ireland, and turned up dead on a local beach a few days later. Police are now sure the name was a fake, but they don't know much else about the man in his 60s. And as the Irish Times explains, the mystery endures because of odd details. For starters, he was seen on CCTV cameras leaving the hotel repeatedly (13 times in all) with a purple plastic bag filled with ... something. But when he returned, the bag was always empty. But he was never spotted discarding anything, or using a phone, or mailing letters despite buying 10 stamps, or doing anything that might shed light on his case. "It would be easy to see that he was ex-military or ex-police," says a local resident. "In relations to the cameras, how he was able to go about his business without people learning anything more about him.”

Bergmann, who spoke with an apparent German or Austrian accent, also scouted out a location to swim at a local beach with the help of a taxi driver, though he didn't actually swim at the time. He would return there later. Beachgoers reported seeing him walking along the shore at night, his trousers rolled up, and he was found the next morning, face down in the sand, a seeming drowning victim. Except the autopsy revealed that he didn't drown; he had a heart attack. The autopsy revealed one other telling clue—Bergmann had advanced prostate cancer. He is now buried in an unmarked grave in Sligo. Writer Rosita Boland ticks off some questions: "Why give a false name and address? Did he ever post those 10 letters, and, if so, who were they to? Did he intend to die by drowning? How did his cardiac arrest come on? Will anyone who knew him ever come forward?" Read the full story. (More Longform stories.)

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