In the summer of 2009, a man who went by the name of Peter Bergmann arrived in an Irish town. Four days later he was dead. It’s a case that has led to much confusion, especially given the circumstances.
Upon investigation, it transpired that Peter Bergmann didn’t exist.
The man in charge of the investigation, Detective Inspector John O’Reilly, believed the man went to great lengths to erase every trace of his existence off the face of the earth.
It started when the middle-aged man (we’ll just call him Peter) arrived – via a bus – to the town of Sligo, in the North-West of Ireland. He proceeded to check into Sligo City Hotel under a false name and address; one which lead to a vacant address in Austria. CCTV footage revealed how the man often left and entered the hotel, carrying only a purple plastic bag with him, which was half-filled with possessions.
However, when he would come back, he’d often be empty-handed.
It is assumed by the Police Service that the man was disposing of his personal possessions on his frequently-occurring trips. Nothing is certain though, as somehow the man was able to avoid CCTV whilst on his outings.
On 13th June, he visited the post office to buy some stamps and airmail stickers. The recipients of his letters were never successfully traced.
The next day, one day before his death, he asked a taxi driver to take him to the quietest beach where he could swim. He was taken to Rosses Point and eventually went back to his hotel.
On the day of his passing, the man checked out of the hotel with a black shoulder bag and the purple bag, this time not filled with the usual random possessions.
Video recordings show him walking to a bus station and ordering a sandwich and a cappuccino. As he sat down, he examined a piece of paper thoroughly before ripping it up.
He then bought a one-way ticket to Rosses Point and the took the bus there.
Witnesses on the shore described his behaviour as erratic, saying he was walking parallel to the water, constantly pacing back and forth.
Later on, his naked body was found washed up on the beach with his belongings scattered along the shore. A jacket, jumper, pair of trousers, shoes and socks were among the items along with a small amount of cash.
Despite the fact that his body had washed up on the shore, however, a subsequent autopsy revealed that the man had not drowned. Similarly, there were no signs of foul play.
With all of that said, the autopsy did find that the man had advanced cancer of the prostate, bone tumours and he had previously suffered from a heart attack. Despite this, in the toxicology report, there were no signs of painkillers in his system; something very unusual for someone suffering from such ill health.
The tags in his clothes were also cut out.
You can imagine the controversy surrounding this case. So many questions and so little to go on.
Who were the letters going to? Similarly – and this may sound tenuous and like it shouldn’t have crossed my mind – if the man knew he was going to die that day, would he really bother relieving his hunger by buying a sandwich.
Obviously, I could never comment on the thoughts going through one’s head in his position, but I feel like if I knew I were dying that day, I wouldn’t be able to stomach a sandwich – I would get very drunk though.
Did he know he was dying that day?
A documentary was made on the man’s last day on Earth. You can watch it here.