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Money is usually the best motive for murder

In order to appreciate what might tempt an individual to commit murder in 1948, the following pre-decimal inflation calculator is an essential tool.

This calculator changes the numbers in Prosper Thomson’s ad on the 27th of November 1948 for  ‘Wanted bungalow, pay cash to £1,500. Can give tenancy maisonette, all mod cons, rent 22/6, Glenelg. Phone Thomson X3239’  to ‘Wanted bungalow, pay cash to $93,874.82 Can give tenancy maisonette, all mod cons, rent $70.41, Glenelg. Phone Thomson X3239

I’m not making this up.

Prosper Thomson advertised that he had over $93,000 available in cash three days before a stranger named T. Keane arrived in town and was found dead two hundred yards away from his home.

Keane had Thomson’s phone number: X3239, and found hidden on his body was what could be construed as a Bon Voyage message taken from of a copy of the Rubaiyat.

Torn out, folded up and secreted in his fob pocket.

It is finished

Keane’s body was found stripped of all ID including the ticket stub for a suitcase he left at the Adelaide Railway Station’s luggage office the day he died. The case was unlocked and no key was found on Keane’s body.

Prosper Thomson’s live-in companion, Jessica Harkness, knew Mr. T Keane well enough to show a dramatic reaction when shown a bust of his head and shoulders. Harkness was also very familiar with Omar Khayyam’s  Rubiayat.

T. Keane has proved to be an elusive character as no records have been found of him in Australia and no fingerprints on the FBI files in America.

There it is.

What do you make of it?

45 Comments Post a comment
  1. thedude47 #

    Well its a mystery as to how a guy who was sailing so close to the wind financially that he was having to auction off the extra seats in his car on his county and interstate trips as well as running around town as a non licensed cab driver offering the cheapest rates is all of a sudden has that kind of “cash” to spend a matter of weeks later.

    March 5, 2020
    • 17 March 1949 –

      FOR SALE. Dodge Fluid Drive De-Lux sedan, 1948 model, fitted with radio and many extras, finished in all leather upholstery, covered very low mileage. For immediate delivery. Price £1,725. Phone Thomson X3239 evenings, or write 90A Moseley Street, Glenelg.

      That’s $98,678 in today’s money.

      March 5, 2020
  2. Prosper McTaggart Thompson had over $93,000 in cash to spend in November 1948 and a car for sale worth over $98,000 four months later.

    Yet during the same period he was scouting for spare cash by spruiking seats for country trips in a hire car …

    Then, in June 1949 – this:

    WANTED, house, suit small family, eastern suburbs preferred, cash $85,807 to to $114,410 : can give tenancy of maisonette Glenelg, rental $71.51 weekly if required. Thomson, 90A Moseley st, Glenelg. Phone X3239

    What do YOU make of all this, reader ?

    March 5, 2020
  3. Пожалуйста #

    Did he move to the eastern suburbs, or is this someone else’s money?

    March 6, 2020
  4. thedude47 #

    He moved to Partridge st after Mosley which is certainly a step up. I know this having grown up in the same area , my street intercepted Mosley and Partridge.

    March 6, 2020
  5. thedude47 #

    Mine is , not sure about Prospers. Mine was on the broadway.

    March 6, 2020
  6. Dude, if PT was responsible for Keane’s death as you say, then it follows that he, or someone close to him may have owned the Rubaiyat and was responsible for placing the farewell message in his fob pocket.
    What thinkest thou?

    March 6, 2020
  7. thedude47 #

    We are in speculation territory here but my feeling is that the ROK was simply used to facilitate to the dead drop. I have previously described , as have a number of other contributors here and on the Domes site , how this could have played out.

    Given the phone number was in the ROK I suspect that the ROK was in Keanes hands when he arrived in Adelaide and he was handed the slip by his contact in Adelaide. At this point the ROK is matched to the slip and contact confirmed.

    The slip is handed over to Keane . Keane hands over book to contact with Keane retaining the slip in his pocket. When the deed was done the book was turfed out.

    Thats one scenario although Dome has a more complicated idea which is also feasible with Keane leaving the ROK in a car which formed as insurance/proof of ownership should he need to..

    I like this type of scenario far more than the dark and sinister idea that it was left as a killers calling card. Would sound really cool in a Stephen King book but I cant buy that myself.

    March 6, 2020
    • I speculate in my sleep.
      Many of PT’s newspaper ads, the ones I’ve found, contain about the same number of words as the capitals in the 5 lines of code. The problem is that none of them match .. but I like the two lines starting with W. Being W for wanted. Not to mention the line that appears to be crossed out and done again.

      One problem I have with the dead drop scenario is that it’s unwieldy, and if business was repetitive, would they (Keane) be likely to go through the same routine with every contact every time?

      March 6, 2020
  8. thedude47 #

    Yes if Keane was doing the run for the first time.

    Perhaps replacing a previous player who had moved on. (got caught , gone to jail , double crossed someone, went straight or was unreliable)

    I suspect Keane was unfamiliar with Adelaide for 2 reasons,

    1 I believe the Henley Beach ticket was bought by mistake and that he only discovered after buying the ticket that it was going to the wrong beach.

    2 The bus Keane took was a very inconvenient way to get to Mosley st. The tram stops right on the corner of Mosley and Jetty rd. The St Leonards bus he caught added almost a full kilometer walk to the journey.

    Anyone who knows Adelaide even a little bit would know that the Glenelg tram is faster and takes you directly in to Jetty rd. The heart of Glenelg and minutes from 90a Mosley

    March 6, 2020
  9. thedude47 #

    PS The tram leaves from the very front of the train station meters from the ticket box and takes half the time that the bus does.

    March 6, 2020
  10. How did Keane get his hands on the ROK ?

    March 6, 2020
    • Пожалуйста #

      Why did Keane ever have the ROK? He had one part of the recognition code on him: the Tamam Shud slip. The counterfoil (the book) may never have been in his possession. If the two had been matched up to establish contact, I’m not sure why there would be an exchange of the items. They both become redundant at that point.

      March 6, 2020
  11. thedude47 #

    He received it in Melbourne either by post from PT or was given it by his colleges , partners or superiors depending on exactly where he was in the food chain although the bosses arnt usually the ones doing the dirty work are they.

    March 6, 2020
    • Too many people in on the secret, dude, which makes it a not so secret, and crooks have no honour … If Keane had PT’s number a simpler arrangement could have been made over the phone – like one of them to wear a straw hat and carry a week old copy of the Advertiser at a pre-arranged place and at a pre-arranged time.
      Works for me when I’m up at Nimbin buying quality green. That way I never meet the same bloke twice. Wouldn’t want to.

      March 6, 2020
      • Пожалуйста #

        But Keane ain’t buying a ‘teenth for personal use. He’s the bagman and delivery boy for Mr. Big.

        March 6, 2020
        • Пожалуйста – with a name like that I’ll have to call you Boris, ok?

          So who was Mr BIG in 1948 … ? The ‘Ndrangheta?

          March 6, 2020
          • Пожалуйста #

            Possible. Keane’s name and haplogroup suggest he’s of Irish descent. Other circumstances suggest he’s American or Americanised. That would put him on the east coast of the US. Pennsylvania was an early ‘Ndrangheta theater in US. Scorsese’s latest suggests there was room in the Italian mob for an Irishman, even though US family history is in part characterised by Irish-Italian rivalry.

            So, yes: Keane may have arrived with a letter of introduction to the Calabrian expat club.

            March 6, 2020
            • Then there would be no need of complicated acknowledgment routines being blood brothers, would there?

              March 6, 2020
    • Пожалуйста #

      Supply of one part of the recognition code over distance, e.g. by post, would further support the notion that Keane’s piece was the slip (found in his possession), NOT the book (not found in his possession).

      We can not use the evidence to determine whether the contact was actually made, because it’s not clear that the artefacts would be exchanged at that point or disposed of immediately. There would be no need for exchange: the two parties merely have to present to each other their parts of the code and mutually agree that they satisfy as a match. Immediate disposal would be more secure… and we have to admit that both parts were disposed of very poorly indeed. Does that suggest that the meet never happened?

      March 6, 2020
  12. yorick #

    Alas poor Dude the 30 minute alternating bus puts you off at Somerton which the Glenelg tram don’t do.

    March 6, 2020
    • Don’t push it, Yorick … any bullshit and it’s all over

      March 6, 2020
  13. Clive #

    By Aug 1950, Prosper & Jessie had moved to 104 Partridge St, Glenelg, Tel: X3930-House is still there. Do we know why Prosper moved to Adelaide, late 1946/early 1947, he was living at 7 Main St, Henley Beach early 1947.

    March 6, 2020
  14. thedude47 #

    Not really the records of these rings describe well organised multi state operations including fixers, dodgy dealers mechanics etc. This was more than a sneeky bag of weed in a night club or a car stereo thats fallen of the back of a truck deal.

    March 6, 2020
    • You can’t pinch a spy’s routine and say it wasn’t a spy scenario …

      March 6, 2020
  15. thedude47 #

    Slip came from book

    Book had phone number to 90a Mosley

    Keane travelled from the city to 90a Mosley st

    Keane dies same day at or near 90a Mosley st.

    Keane had slip at time of death.

    Book found elsewhere but in the general area.

    Why would PT or Jess carry a book with their own phone number.

    Keane must have had started the day in possession of the book.

    Did Keane tear out slip and give the book to Thomson same day?

    Was the book sent to Keane sans slip?

    March 6, 2020
    • Пожалуйста #

      The killer here is why would PT/Jess so carelessly dispose of a book that had their own phone number in it. Unless in a panic. Unless they didn’t know their phone number was in it.

      March 6, 2020
      • Good question … and why would the killer dispose of the body so close to the home of the phone subscriber?

        March 6, 2020
        • Пожалуйста #

          And so publicly. So posed. So WANTING to be found.

          These questions seem to be manoeuvring the whole thing back to spy territory. The whole “it’s a message” (pour en/discourager les autres) thing.

          Secret Services do that kind of thing to this day.

          But do secret families too?

          March 6, 2020
          • Spies don’t leave messages, Boris, they are secret in that respect.

            March 6, 2020
            • Пожалуйста #

              Tell that to Messrs Skripal and Litvinenko.

              March 12, 2020
  16. thedude47 #

    Sorry Yorick got your busses all wrong dude.

    I lived within a few hundred metres of 90a Mosley and caught that tram to and from the city 5 times a week for a decade.

    I think these boys used skills (routines ) with skills acquired from their military service.

    March 6, 2020
  17. Пожалуйста #

    What makes you think either PT or Keane were paid up members of the family?

    Keane is the delivery boy, a contractor. And PT? Is he just a supplier?

    March 6, 2020
    • You did … and no straight-out supplier ever had a couple of hundred thousand dollars to spend in 1948.

      March 6, 2020
      • Пожалуйста #

        Just because he’s not burned the bloodied santino doesn’t mean he has to be small fry.

        Plus, didn’t Col. Sanders say something about PT’s venerable old pa cashing in and sharing out the chips among the offspring?

        March 6, 2020
        • Byron Deveson #

          Prosper’s father Ernest Chalmers Thomson didn’t die until 15th December 1956 (at Gosford, NSW). It would probably be possible to get a copy of Ernest’s will to see how much Prosper inherited.

          March 7, 2020
          • Where are you on this, BD?

            How could a fellow who was crying poor in May ’47 (WANTED. Employment of any kind. Good refs Thomson – WANTED DESPERATELY. Car, any type, pay cash) have the equivalent of $100,000 to buy a bungalow a year and a half later ?

            No pressure.

            March 7, 2020
            • Byron Deveson #

              Pete, I am with you on this. Prosper came into money as SM died.

              March 9, 2020
              • D47 brought up a good point with that general scenario in mind when he wrote that it made no sense for PT to throw Keane’s Rubaiyat away when it had his phone number written on the back cover .. but according to Leane it was only visible under UV light, so perhaps PT didn’t see it.

                March 9, 2020
  18. thedude47 #

    It seems that almost to the day Keane disappears PT s circumstances improve dramatically. By the early 50s he’s gone from small adds to director and owner of Century motors. Propsers adds boast “George Thomson known around town for giving a square deal”
    Obviously the copywriter never met Daphne Page

    March 7, 2020
  19. Пожалуйста #

    PT’s old man wouldn’t have to buy the farm to free up some moolah for sonny boy. Sanders claims – somewhere among the verbiage, can’t find it again – that he did the opposite and sold up on his 80th. Not sure how this can be verified.

    March 7, 2020
  20. Clive #

    One thing that comes to mind is, wasn’t there another telephone number on the Code page, the number was for a bank in Adelaide? Did Keane deposit money in a bank account?, just supposition.

    March 7, 2020
    • DA says so, Feltus said he saw no evidence of it .. the elephant in the room is the mysterious absence of a complete photo of the back cover. There must have been a reason for not distributing one.

      March 8, 2020
  21. thedude47 #

    Hey Russian I wouldn’t put to much stock in anything the Colonel says. In case you aint heard he’s been court-martialled.

    March 8, 2020

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