(transcrição do episódio 91 do podcast Way Ahead: https://open.spotify.com/episode/3hhBPhHT2aVCzEQjXTaM0r?si=FZ8gjRQhSoSwS8vuAhSaMw )
Often times we are presented to stories that are so strange and mysterious that keep inhabiting our thoughts for days, sometimes years.
Such stories leave us with an eerie feeling of incompleteness. As if our brains put us on notice, forcing us to fill in the missing gaps until we get satisfaction.
One of those mysteries, without any shadow of doubt, is The Peter Bergmann Case, which has kept the police, journalists, and internet detectives, also called sleuths, on tenterhooks since 2009.
The story unfolds on a quiet beach in Ireland where a local man, Arthur Kinsella, discovers a human body on the beach. On first glance, it appeared as if the man had gone for a swim, drowned, and subsequently washed ashore during low tide. Bergmann was found naked, his clothes scattered along the shore.
But here was when things got strange.
There was no documentation of any kind found inside his clothes confirming his identity. Stranger still, all the tags from his clothes, including his undergarments, had been carefully cut away with scissors.
The police also could not find Peter Bergmann in the lists of people who arrived in the UK legally. And the address that Bergmann had left while checking in a local hotel turned out to be a fake.
Then things got even more bizarre. The last days of Bergmann were known to some extent thanks to an extensive network of CCTV cameras in Sligo, the town in Ireland where he stayed for three days. And video surveillance showed that Bergmann left his hotel at least 13 times with a filled purple bag. And every time, he came back with an empty bag.
Here again, another strange fact was discovered about Bergmann. The man was a professional in evading cameras. It seemed that somehow Bergmann knew about the locations of the cameras and used their “blind spots” cunningly to get rid of the contents of the bag without being noticed. The police checked all over the city, but found nothing.
What was inside that purple bag? What was he doing in Sligo, a sleepy little Irish town in the first place? And why didn’t anybody ask for him in the last 11 years?
In 2013, the documentary The Last Days of Peter Bergmann attempted to answer these questions and shed more light on the case. But so far nobody has been able to crack the jigsaw puzzle of Peter Bergmann.
Here’s the timeline:
The port town of Sligo is tucked away in the northwest corner of Ireland facing out towards the North Atlantic Ocean. Outsiders visiting here is uncommon; outsiders visiting here purposefully to die is a rarity indeed.
The CCTV cameras captured Peter Bermann’s journey from the bus station of Derry from where he took a bus to Sligo. Arriving in the late evening, he took a taxi to the centre of the town to find a hotel.
The first hotel he tried was full. The second one, however, the Sligo City Hotel, offered him accommodation. He registered in the name of Peter Bergmann and gave three days of payment in advance. It was a small place, and no one asked for identification.
The next two days passed without any incident. Peter was captured multiple times coming and going out of the hotel. He also paid a visit to the post office, where he purchased stamps and eight envelopes. He smoked an occasional cigarette outside the hotel lobby but kept mostly to himself.
On Sunday, he took the hotel’s taxi and paid a visit to Rosses Point, an isolated beach some distance away from the city. He surveyed the beach for 15 minutes and then went back to the hotel.
On Monday he finally checked out from the hotel. He was going to the bus station to catch a bus to Rosses Point. Peter Bergmann’s last sighting alive was by a woman at 11:50 p.m. at Rosses Point. He was carrying a plastic bag and walking along the edge of the ocean. High tide was to arrive within half an hour.
The next morning his body was found washed ashore, naked, his clothes scattered across the shore. The pockets were empty. No money, no wallet, no forms of identification. A post-mortem examination revealed that he had advanced prostate cancer and bone tumors. He also had a long history of heart attacks. Strangely, despite his conditions, he seemed to be taking no medication.
Now comes the bizarre part. The man was a consummate professional in evading CCTV cameras.
It soon emerged that Bergmann had left the hotel at least 13 times with each time carrying a purple plastic bag filled with something heavy. Every time he returned, the bag was empty. Sligo had CCTV cameras installed at a lot of public places. But despite that, not a single piece of footage showed Bergmann disposing of the contents of this bag, 13 times over.
Nor was there any evidence of Peter meeting somebody at Sligo at a hotel or public place, or even talking on the mobile phone. It seemed that he knew where the CCTV cameras were and took great pains to avoid getting caught on them. And the interesting thing was that not one person in the small sleepy town of Sligo found him disposing of the contents of the bag somewhere in broad daylight.
Here is what Detective Inspector Ray Mulderrig of Sligo Garda police station said:
“There seems to have been a purpose to it. Everything he did seemed to have had a purpose, from cutting the labels of his clothes and all the rest of it. The question you have to ask is: Why Sligo? If you want a scenic place to die, you’re spoilt for choice across the west coast of Ireland or even Scotland for that matter. Something must have brought him here, even if we’ve never been able to say what that was.”
So many questions about Peter Bergmann remain unanswered.
Why Sligo? Why dispose of all his belongings? Why give a false name? Did he ever post those letters? Did he die by drowning? And the biggest question of all, why has no one come forward to identify him despite the Irish police’s relentless appeals to the public for over a decade?
Ray Mulderrig addressed the mystery, he said that:
“It is now a waiting game that may go on forever. I liken it to a computer that has gone into ‘sleep mode. When something new comes up, or someone credible comes forward, then we will move the mouse and it will spring back into action.”
Peter Bergmann Theories
Over the years, many theories have been postulated to explain the strange case of Peter Bergmann.
Some say he was an intelligence officer, while others say that he was a gangster on the run. Some also say he was an extra-terrestrial human being who was ‘lost’ on Earth.
One theory says that Peter was the child of a Nazi criminal who wanted to hide his identity. The children of Nazi criminals often lived lives of anonymity, wishing to hide from the notoriety of their parents’ crimes.
And some even say that the whole thing was an elaborate hoax. But then it cannot be a hoax as the crime had happened and it was documented and validated by the police procedures of Ireland and the Interpol.
Peter tried his best to be anonymous. He was at the last stage of his illness and perhaps wanted to die in peace and anonymity, something that he executed with uncanny thoroughness. Hopefully, someone will come looking for him and end all the riddles surrounding his mysterious death.