Identity of man found dead at North Sydney hotel remains mystery almost 60 years later

The Rest Hotel, Alfred Street, North Sydney, 1960. Picture: Noel Butlin Archives, Australian National University.

THE identity of a man found dead at North Sydney’s long-gone Rest Hotel has remained a mystery for almost 60 years.

The man, who was staying at the hotel under the name of ‘K. Cox’, was found dead in the communal bathroom on Friday, December 10, 1965.

Initial inquiries suggest he had died as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning. He was described as being aged between 50-55 years old, about 185cm tall, of medium build, fair complexion with greying hair and blue eyes.

Despite checking-in under the name of Cox, he was found to be in possession of clothes labelled with the names ‘P. Wilson’ and ‘West’. He was also found with a “to do” list, which included items such as “take dry cleaning, buy cup & teapot, spoon, visit bank, buy singlets & underpants, ring Harry & Peter”. It’s further understood the man told other hotel guests he had a wife and family who lived on Princes Street in Grafton.

Despite this information and efforts by local police at the time – including a media appeal for information – the man was never formally identified and remains a matter for State Crime Command’s Missing Persons Registry.

The Rest Hotel – once located at the corner of Alfred and Cliff Streets – has been closed for many decades, and today has been replaced with high rise apartments.

The Missing Persons Registry are re-appealing for public assistance to identify the body of the man as part of Missing Persons Week 2023.

Detective Inspector Ritchie Sim, Manager of the Missing Persons Registry, said with the focus of Missing Persons Week 2023 this year on unidentified bodies and human remains, it was appropriate to re-appeal for public assistance to identify this man.

“Technology has come a long way since the 60s, especially DNA technology, meaning – with the public’s assistance – we’ve never had a better shot at identifying this man,” Det Insp Sim.

“This week we’re calling on members of our wider community to come forward and voluntarily provide their DNA to a public database to help us piece together who this man is and what has happened to him.

“Forensic Investigative Genetic Genealogy or “FIGG” combines new DNA analysis techniques and traditional genealogy to identify remains using commercial DNA databases such as Family Tree DNA or GEDmatch – you just need to opt in to share your DNA with law enforcement.

“Missing persons investigations are not criminal investigations – our only goal for wanting access to your DNA is to ultimately identify unknown remains and provide loved ones of missing people the answers they deserve.”

Missing Persons Week is an annual national campaign to raise awareness of the issues and impacts surrounding missing persons and runs between Sunday, July 30 to Saturday, August 5, 2023.

Are you the missing link? For more information on the campaign, visit

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Categories: NSW hotels, Sydney hotels


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