In the early morning hours of July 16, 2009, Arthur Kinsella and his son Brian went to the Rosses Point beach in County Sligo, Ireland, where Brian planned to run and swim in preparation for a triathlon. As reported by Irish Times, Brian and his father spotted something unusual as they approached the rocky shore. Arthur Kinsella said he and his son were stunned to realize “it was the body of a person.”
Arthur said the man, who appeared to be in his mid-60s, was lying face down in the sand and “appeared to have drowned.” Although he thought the man was dead, Arthur’s suspicions were confirmed when he touched the man’s ankle and found it to be “marble cold.”
Irish Times reports there were no footprints leading to the location of the body, so he and his son assumed the man washed up on the shore during the high tide — which had since receded.
Sergeant Terry MacMahon was dispatched to the scene shortly before 7:00 am. When he arrived on scene, he confirmed the man was dead. However, he did not believe he had been in the water very long.
MacMahon also noted that the man was dressed in an unusual way, especially if he planned to go swimming. Although he was wearing a “purple striped Speedo-type” swimsuit, he was wearing his underwear on top of the swimsuit. Irish Times also reports he was wearing a navy blue t-shirt, which was tucked into the underwear.
The mystery man arrived in Sligo City on June 12, 2009
As the man found on Rosses Point beach did not have any form of identification, authorities were tasked with identifying him based on his movements in the days prior to his death. However, as reported by Vice, he seemingly appeared in Ireland three days before he died with few resources and no indication of his true identity or his past life.
The first sightings of the man were on June 12, 2009, at the Ulster bus station in Derry, Ireland, where he boarded a bus to Sligo. Upon his arrival, which was just before 6:30 p.m. on Friday, he took a taxi to the town center and started looking for a hotel. Vice reports he eventually booked a room at the Sligo City Hotel on Quay Street.
Authorities said the man, who was described as having a “slight frame” and “greying hair,” signed the register with the name Peter Bergmann. He listed his address as Ainstettersn 15, 4472, Vienna, Austria. Hotel officials said the man was not required to provide proof of his identity or address during check-in.
As reported by Vice, the man who identified himself as Peter Bergmann had only a few pieces of luggage and booked his room for a total of three nights. Over the next three days, Bergmann’s movements were captured on CCTVs throughout the city. Numerous witnesses also observed the mysterious man’s behavior in the days prior to his death.
Peter Bergmann spent June 13 disposing of personal belongings
On Saturday, June 13, 2009, Peter Bergmann was observed leaving the hotel wearing a black leather jacket and carrying a purple plastic bag — which appeared to be filled with numerous items.
As reported by Irish Times, the man left the hotel with a full bag, and returned with his hands empty, a total of 13 times. Although a number of surveillance cameras recorded his movements throughout the day, there is no footage of him disposing of the items from the plastic bag. There were also no witnesses who reported seeing Bergmann throw anything away.
John O’Reilly, who was the detective inspector assigned to Peter Bergmann’s case, said he thinks the mystery man was disposing of clothing and other personal effects. However, he has no way of confirming what was actually in the bags.
Irish Times reports the man who called himself Peter Bergmann also went to the General Post Office on Saturday, where he purchased eight postage stamps and several airmail stickers. However, it is unknown whether he mailed any letters or packages, as some of the post office’s camera footage was unintentionally destroyed.
During his multiple trips in and out of the Sligo City Hotel, Bergmann was not observed using a cell phone or speaking to anyone other than taxi drivers and shopkeepers. In an interview with Irish Times, Sergeant MacMahon said the mystery man could have been “ex-military or ex-police,” as he evaded several security cameras.
Peter Bergmann spent June 14 scoping out Rosses Point Beach
On Sunday, June 14, 2009, Peter Bergmann flagged down a taxi outside his hotel and told the driver he wanted to go swimming. As reported by Irish Times, taxi driver Gerald Higgins agreed to take him to Rosses Point beach, which has pristine sandy beaches and is a popular place for swimming.
Higgins said Bergmann “was a bit chatty” during the ride. According to Higgins, Peter Bergmann said he was from Austria. He also asked the taxi driver if there were any busses that went from Sligo City to Rosses Point beach and how often the busses ran.
When they arrived at Rosses Point, Higgins said he “drove around” and “showed [Bergmann] two beaches.” However, when he parked the taxi for Bergmann to get out, he appeared to change his mind.
As reported by Irish Times, Peter Bergmann asked Higgins to take him to a bus station instead. Higgins said the mysterious man paid his fare and appeared to be “grateful” for the taxi driver’s time and his advice about the bus schedules.
The following day, which was Monday, June 15, Peter Bergmann arranged for a late checkout. According to hotel personnel, he left just after 1:00 p.m. wearing a black tank top, a pale blue long-sleeved shirt, dark pants, and a black leather jacket. He also had three bags, including the purple bag he was seen hauling in and out of the hotel on Saturday.
The Mysterious death of Peter Bergmann
Peter Bergmann was next seen at the Sligo bus station at 1:32 p.m. As reported by Irish Times, one of his bags, which was described as a soft black “holdall” appeared to be missing when he arrived at the station.
Bergmann ordered a cappuccino and a toasted sandwich at the bus station café before taking the 2:40 p.m. bus to Rosses Point beach. Vincent Dunbar, who was the Sligo station depot inspector, said he spoke with Peter Bergmann prior to his departure and the man appeared to be “stressed or in pain or not himself.”
Irish Times reports several people saw Peter Bergmann near the Yeats Country Hotel at around 3:00 p.m. and near the yacht club at around 5:00 p.m. He was also seen walking along the beach at 9:10 p.m. and again at 9:30 p.m.
Peter Bergmann was last seen alive walking along the beach, near the water, at 11:50 p.m. He was not seen after that time, and his body was discovered the following morning.
Although it was assumed that he had drowned, an autopsy revealed no signs indicating a “classical salt water drowning.” Instead, it was determined that he died of a heart attack. Irish Times reports the autopsy also revealed the man who called himself Peter Bergmann had terminal cancer, which had spread to his chest, bones, and lungs.
Despite conducting an extensive investigation, authorities were unable to find any clues about the true identity of the mysterious man.
Irish authorities have DNA but have not submitted it to DNA databases
Authorities believe the man who called himself Peter Bergmann took great pains to ensure nobody would ever learn his true identity. As reported by Independent, officers found some of the mysterious man’s personal belongings, including a wrist watch and a black leather jacket, around 1,000 feet from the location where his body was discovered. However, they believe he discarded a vast majority of his belongings, which may have included identifying information, in the days prior to his death.
As the man claimed to be from Austria, and witnesses said he had a strong German accent, Australian and German newspapers ran stories, including photos, about the mysterious man. However, nobody has even come forward with reliable information about his identity.
Over the last 12 years, the story of Peter Bergmann, and surveillance video footage, have been shared internationally in newspapers, television programs, and on social media accounts — to no avail.
As reported by Irish Times, one of the most popular questions about the case is whether authorities collected DNA from the man who called himself Peter Bergmann and whether the samples were compared with any international DNA databases. However, Irish authorities said, “We don’t send DNA to Ancestry or other sites. While it might advance an area where Peter night (sic) have come from, it doesn’t advance his identification.”
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