Monday Mystery: The Man Who Never Existed

On a bright, sunny day in June, 2009, a man named Peter Bergmann checked into a hotel in Sligo, Ireland. He had no reservation, but arrived alone and requested a room for three days.

Bergmann was quiet, say the staff, and kept to himself. He declined to let the cleaners into the room. Every time he left the hotel, he was caught on the lobby cameras with a purple shopping bag. When he came back, he carried nothing. He stopped at the post office and bought a number of airmail stamps, presumably to send mail to friends, family, or business associates, but otherwise seemed to contact no one, local or distant.

Peter Bergmann checked out at the end of his stay, and vanished. Temporarily. He was quickly traced to a café, where he had purchased a sandwich, and from there to a local scenic beach. His body later, sadly, washed ashore; an autopsy found he was suffering from late stage bone and prostate cancer, among numerous other health problems.

Curiously, the same autopsy showed no clear cause of death. Peter Bergmann hadn't drowned.

Peter Bergmann also hadn't been Peter Bergmann.

The police in Sligo made every effort to trace his next of kin, and send his body home, only to find the dead man thwarting them at every turn. Bergmann was an assumed name. No passport had been issued to a man of that description with that name anywhere in Europe, North or South America. The Austrian address he had given did not exist. He paid for everything in cash. He had clearly been divesting himself of his worldly possessions in that purple bag, but none of them were ever traced. The people to whom he sent those airmail letters were never found. He had even cut the tags out of all of his clothes.

The Sligo police have concluded that whoever this man had been, "Peter Bergmann" had likely only existed for the last few days of his life. No one may ever know who he was, or why he was so determined to disappear completely.

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