More than 250 items belonging to super-Brit Alan Turing, including his OBE medal, that went missing decades ago were found hidden behind a bathroom wall in America, according to new court documents.
The items, which include photos of the revered mathematician and school reports from his teenage years, vanished 36 years ago from the Sherborne boarding school he attended in Dorset, UK. Turing’s mother had, a few years prior, donated the belongings to the school. Turing died in 1954 from cyanide poisoning although suicide is strongly suspected.
The woman accused of the theft, Julia Mathison Turing, visited the school in 1984, and when left unattended, it is claimed, stole the items, leaving a note that read: “Please forgive me for taking these materials into my possession. They will be well taken care of while under the care of my hands and shall one day all be returned to this spot.”
In 2018, she approached the University of Colorado, claiming to be Turing’s daughter, and offered the possessions for display, alongside artwork she made based on the documents, it is alleged. But investigations by the university quickly revealed Turing had no daughter – he was gay and persecuted as such in the UK – and raised the alarm.
Armed with a federal search warrant, US Homeland Security agents raided her house and, it is claimed, uncovered a treasure trove of Turing memorabilia, including letters that she had exchanged over the years with the bursar of the boarding school.
According to court documents filed by the American government, it appears she had been carrying the belongings with her for the past 30 years as she moved from Arizona to California to Colorado, and had got away with the theft in large part because she returned some items to the school a few years and claimed to have retained only a single photograph.
The school did not have an inventory of the memorabilia, and took her at her word, we're told. But the 256 items belonging to Turing, allegedly found by agents stashed in a leather briefcase hidden behind a removable piece of wall in her bathroom, tell a different story.