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What might be the truth about the Somerton Body Case investigation?

Catchy title that … they usually take about as long to create as it does to write the post. Like a headline, it’s supposed to grab a reader’s attention. Yours, the few of you left alive who persist in following this mystery, not that there are many others chasing the same Will-‘o-the-wisp. Pelling seems to have gone into a deep hibernation and Cramer is chasing so many rabbits we should be laying traps to get rid of some of them.

Whatever. Good luck to them. But we’re here to lay out the facts then stick them together with a little speculative glue.

Like timing.


Previous posts have covered the instances where SAPOL appeared to have gone to sleep on the job: the striped trousers, the Bryant & May matches and the delay in translating and subsequent publicising the finding of the Tamam Shud slip.  Now we can move onto a couple more.


If both SAPOL and Coroner Cleland had taken note of Gordon Strapp’s deposition they may have suspected the man seen alive by him in the evening was not the man found dead in the morning.

If Coroner Cleland had taken notice of Moss’ deposition with regard to the Bryant and May matches, he may have suspected the dead man’s body had been interfered with and the cigarette placed under his chin was intended to connect him with the man Lyons saw the previous evening, whom he thought may have been trying to get at a cigarette when he saw him raise an arm then let it drop.

He may also have questioned Leane as to why his deposition included matches when Moss’ did not.

If SAPOL and Coroner Cleland had taken notice of Olive Neill’s deposition they may have suspected that the man she saw on top of the road observing the man on the beach may have had something to do with the finding of a dead man in the same position the following morning.

If SAPOL had not delayed in publicising the Tamam Shud slip’s connection to the Rubaiyat, Chemist Freeman’s recollection of finding one in his car may have been prompted earlier.

If SAPOL had taken possession of the Rubaiyat from Freeman earlier they would have traced the phone number to Jessica Harkness earlier.

If SAPOL had taken Harkness to view the bust earlier they may have determined by her reaction that she was a person of interest then taken steps to include her in the number of deposed witnesses.

Given all the above, was the objective for the inexplicable delay in reporting the finding of the Tamam Shud slip – together with the investigative and coronial lapses as outlined – purely to avoid Harkness being formally interviewed then deposed as a witness at the inquest?

11 Comments Post a comment
  1. пожалуйста #

    The best speculative glue might be a motive. Why would SAPOL want to prevent Jessica Harkness from having to answer questions and testify?

    August 18, 2020
    • Oh yes … motive. You wanna go first? Clive?

      August 18, 2020
  2. пожалуйста #

    I don’t think there needs to be a motive. Because I don’t think there needs to be a conspiracy.

    August 19, 2020
  3. Exit Boris …

    August 19, 2020
  4. Clive #

    The man at the top of the steps was making sure where the ‘first’ SM was laid, so the ‘second’ SM, to be seen the following morning, would be in more or less the exact position. Speculation, but if the higher authorities knew that Jessie was involved in this case, than merely knowing Alf Boxall, no wonder that Leane played for time, falsifying evidence? Questioning Jessie would have seriously de-railed Leane’s investigation and, opened a can of worms the higher authorities desperately wanted to remain canned. So, the police accepted Jessie’s ‘no,no,no’ and she was free to go. If Lawson noticed how Jessie reacted, what did the other detectives do, look down at the same time as Jessie? Not one of them, as far as we know, ever raised a suspicion about her reaction. This to my mind, is very strange in itself. Or, were they following instructions? Clive

    August 19, 2020
    • My sentiments exactly, Clive. Three detectives and Lawson, one of them the sergeant in charge of the investigation and all of them watching a woman displaying the unmistakable signs of knowing a man nobody else does and everybody wants to. A man they suspect was murdered and left close to her home. A mystery that had been gripping Adelaide for months. Article after article appearing in the local and national press .

      The police knew she was connected but they let her walk. Probably drove her home, and not surprisingly, didn’t tell the newspapers of her giveaway reaction. Even Lawson waited years until he came out with what happened in the museum. Little doubt that the police had another quiet chat with him at the time, asked him to keep things on the quiet.

      Imagine if the newspapers of the day had got hold of it … four men in the room watching her and not one of them leaked the real story. Even Brown, the press go-to man.

      There must have been a powerful breath down the back of their necks … and I still like the Delprat / MI5 link. Dr. Lica was spotted in Glenelg in late October 1948 … seems like she may have been a regular visitor down that way. Probably drove down from Unley, ten minutes away. Doctors don’t catch buses.

      August 19, 2020
  5. пожалуйста #

    Two things spring to mind here:

    1) Is Lawson the only source for the Harkness reaction? He has a record of insinuating that various people recognized the corpse (the Littlemore interview). Is that not a bit of a scattergun approach? How likely is it that:

    a) Jess recognises the bust
    b) so do other unnamed parties who attend (“ordinary men off the street”, as Lawson puts it)
    c) the SM is also engaged in (or part of) some conspiracy, in particular espionage related?

    In short, is Lawson a credible witness?

    2) Some time ago I made a similar statement in passing about the case “gripping Adelaide for months”. At the time, that was refuted by respondents (don’t recall who… may have been Byron), whose interpretation of the coverage was that it was actually relatively low key. Personally, I find this hard to judge from the cuttings we see, but it doesn’t seem that this was really ‘front page news’. The Littlemore interviews also compound the impression that the police didn’t feel a huge amount of pressure regarding the case at the time. They were content in their lazy assumptions and fanciful theories (“n****’s spears” and all that). If the case had been gripping Adelaide, would you not expect more lurid, sensational and ultimately critical reporting?

    August 19, 2020
    • Boris:
      Littlemore. “Well that seems to suggest .. well you’re a very cagey man Mr Lawson. It seems to suggest to me that, maybe, somebody did know him.’

      This statement doesn’t preclude Littlemore querying whether somebody knew who the deceased was before the bust was taken to the inquest .. and if we take the 2017 admission by Lawson that the police knew about a relationship existing between Harkness and Boxall prior to the inquest, the reason he was avoiding answering Littlemore’s enquiry may have been because that somebody was Jessica Harkness.

      And Adelaide was never a ‘lurid’ city. It’s long been known as the city of churches.

      August 19, 2020
  6. Sometimes human nature preference is to overlook facts that don’t fit what they’ve predetermined had occurred.

    The fact that he was missing a wallet probably should’ve spoke volumes. This little fact should’ve screamed out that the body was interfered with at the very least.

    August 19, 2020
  7. пожалуйста #

    I agree PeteD… but probably come to a different conclusion in doing so?

    I think the missing wallet is consistent with the removed clothing tags etc. that led the police to assume suicide. In a way, it fitted their assumption a little too well. The comparable case is that of ‘Peter Bergmann’ in Ireland… a very similar M.O.

    SAPOL didn’t so much overlook the missing wallet as blithely taking it as an indicator toward their (perhaps lazy) assumption. In that context they did not assume a missing wallet was evidence that the body had been interfered with. And frankly, nor should they have done without any other corroborating evidence – a missing wallet, hat, matches, etc. tell us absolutely nothing on their own.

    Here again, you could argue that the evidence points toward lazy assumptions and shoddy police work.

    August 19, 2020
  8. Clive #

    And no sign of the SM having worn a wristwatch, well, nobody appears to have looked at his wrist to confirm either way?

    August 20, 2020

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