Historical Items of Alan Turing Returned to England After Forfeiture in Colorado District Court

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado on Aug. 22 announced the return of historical items that belonged to Alan Turing to the Sherborne School in Dorset, England. Alan Turing was an English mathematician and computer scientist instrumental in codebreaking during World War II.

As part of a ceremony this week, USAO noted several items belonging to Alan Turing were returned to his boyhood school, including his Ph.D. diploma from Princeton University, the Order of the British Empire Medal, a personal note from the King George VI of England, a number of school reports and various photos. According to the announcement, these items were removed from the school archives nearly 40 years ago and were recovered in Colorado and subject to a forfeiture action filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado. 

USAO noted that, according to the second amended complaint, U.S. officials learned certain items originally belonging to Alan Turing were located in Colorado when they were offered to be displayed at the University of Colorado Boulder in 2018. An investigation by Homeland Security Investigations revealed the items were removed from the Sherborne School, which Turing attended from around 1926 to 1931, and the items were originally placed there by his family.

In 1984, USAO explained a person named Julia Schinghomes arrived at the school and took the items into her possession. She later changed her name to Julia Turing, according to the announcement. After the U.S. filed the forfeiture action, the case was resolved in a settlement that resulted in a final order of forfeiture of the items in May 2021.

“Together with Homeland Security Investigations, our office ensured that historical artifacts belonging to Alan Turing are now back in the place where they belong,” said U.S. Attorney Cole Finegan in a press release. “We celebrate the accomplishments of Alan Turing and are thrilled that the historical significance of these artifacts will continue to be appreciated by scholars and generations to come.”

“Sir Alan Turing was named a national hero for the crucial role he played in cracking coded messages during World War II, enabling the Allies to defeat the Axis Powers,” said HSI Special Agent in Charge Ryan Spradlin in a press release. “I’m very proud that HSI Denver investigators and our partners at the U.S. Attorney’s office were able to recover his effects after being missing for nearly 40 years.”

The Sherborne School invited HSI Special Agent Greg Wertsch and Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura Hurd to attend a repatriation ceremony. USAO noted the repatriation represents years of hard work and the dedication of HSI agents, the Department of Justice and local law enforcement. 

The case number is 20-cv-00152-STV.

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