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Where was Jessica Harkness on the night of November 30th?

Where were you, Jessica Harkness, on the night of November 30th?

Do you think that might have been one of the questions the detectives asked her ?

Did Feltus?


Sometimes it’s easy to lose track of where we really are with regards to this mystery with the flicking back and forth between dated websites and old newspaper articles which only repeat what is commonly believed to have happened on the night of 30 November, or by simply following the set-in-stone Abbott doctrine.
Gordon Cramer’s zealous pursuit of tiny writing has him backed into a very tight corner and Nick Pelling, with his absolute denial of anything hinting at a conspiracy has hamstrung his own efforts considerably.
Which leaves this place, stuck out there like a shag on a rock.

It’s as if all the questions have been answered and no advances have been made in the case since 1948 when in fact we know they have, though none of them shed any light on the identity of the dead man. All they do is partly open the door of the dark room that hides Jessica Harkness’ secrets.

The Pier Hotel, Jetty Road Glenelg.

The first witness, John Lyons, said he saw a many lying by the Childrens Home steps at about 7:00 pm on the evening of 30 November 1948. He thought the man was drunk, which suggests he had been holding up the bar at the Pier Hotel which was situated on Jetty Road Glenelg and the most likely.

The second and third witnesses, Olive Neill and Gordon Strapps, thought he either looked dead to the world, or, in her case, plain old D.E.A.D! Neill also noticed a fellow in a suit and wearing a hat who was looking down on the dead-drunk from the esplanade with what appeared to be an uncommon interest in that he remained there for about five minutes.

That’s three people saying pretty much the same thing about the fellow they saw splayed out on the sand on Somerton Beach that evening.

But how could a man who appeared to be too drunk to stand have walked the 2.3 kilometres from the Pier Hotel at Jetty Road to Bickford Terrace, unnoticed, then navigate the steps down to the beach before falling into a near comatose state?

So what was all that about?


Coroner Cleland – “Although he died during the night of the 30th November – 1st December, I cannot say where he died.

If the body of the deceased was not that of the man mentioned (seen on the previous evening), and if the body had been taken to the place where it was found, the difficulties disappear.”

Professor John Cleland – “The lividity around the ears and neck was perhaps surprising in view of his position, but it was explainable. It would depend on how much the head was supported, it may have been slight, perhaps no more than one’s head supported on a pillow.” (So much for positional asphyxia, a theory long propounded by Prof. Abbott)

Professor Sir Stanton Hicks – ” …. If it (the poison) had not been self-administered, and the body brought there (Somerton Beach), that would remove any doubts as to the time at which death took place, as well as any other difficulties.”


The body was found near Bickford Terrace, which is south of Harkness’ address at 90a Moseley street

Gerry Feltus – “They saw a man carrying another on his shoulder, walking south, near the water’s edge.”


“She had a dark side, a very strong dark side,”

Kate Thomson.

17 Comments Post a comment
  1. Clive #

    Surely Kate Thomson must have some papers/documents etc that could throw further light on her mother? What about it Kate? Or, is Jessie’s life story gathering dust in a government filing cabinet?

    September 16, 2020
    • I recollect transcribing some sentences from a letter written by Harkness of one of her visits to the UK … it was published online by Prof Abbott, half hidden under his hand. She wrote of the misery of a life changing bed pans and dealing with soiled sheets and her delight at being back in the Auld Dart.
      I have an image of it here, somewhere, and will get back to it once I’ve dealt with Sanders and his bullshit.

      September 16, 2020
    • Byron Deveson #

      From memory, jessie’s family did not, or could not, provide her birth details to the undertaker and the cemetery. “delight at being back in the “Auld Dart.” My hypothesis (based on very little) is that Jessie was not born in Australia. In 2022 we might find out.

      September 17, 2020
  2. Clive #

    Wayne Groom produced the film “Missing Pieces” (Australian Intl. Pictures) It would be interesting to know how he obtained various film footage of Jessie and her family?

    September 17, 2020
  3. Byron Deveson #

    Back in the early 2000s the WeekEnd Australian ran an article on the SM case. A SA policeman (in charge of the case?) asked that anyone with any information should contact him. So, I did. I had noted that the National Library of Australia held 4 (? my memory is a bit unsure here) files dealing with the SM case. “Body found on Somerton beach 1st December 1948″or some such. There were two South Australian police files.
    What was the NLA doing with two SA police files?
    That is why I think the SM case involves security matters.
    On that note, how and why does the Australian Archives file on Charles Mickelsen also hold his 1930 Norwegian passport?

    September 17, 2020
  4. MDBevan #

    So as the “difficulties disappear”… does this not imply that he was carried (already dead, presumably) and placed in his final resting position? And I would presume that Alf was man in the hat… Now if it was a yellow hat, there may have been some other monkey business going on. Sorry. Couldn’t resist.

    October 3, 2020
    • Forget Alf … seriously though, if doubts about the circumstances of when and where he died can be raised now, 70 plus years later, then is it surprising those involved at the time had the same misgivings?

      October 3, 2020
      • MDBevan #

        I’m guessing the answer to your question is ‘no’… but I’m not sure what conclusion that leads to…(?)

        October 3, 2020
        • Simple .. the book was handed in too late for Harkness to be summonsed as a witness. Now that would have changed everything. But she wasn’t, and it didn’t. A man doesn’t have to be Dick Tracy to suspect some influence in the proceedings.

          October 3, 2020
          • MDBevan #

            Ok, but I’m really only interested in understanding the sequence of events of that evening. The associated context is part of that The details of the investigation, or any related conspiracy, are of no value to me.

            October 3, 2020
            • Ok, as soon as you find out what the ‘sequence of events’ was, be sure to let us know.

              October 4, 2020
              • MDBevan #

                I apologize if I’ve offended you somehow, but the reason I’m in this forum is to try to better understand the timeline… not sure why that would piss you off…(?)

                October 4, 2020
                • Nobody apologises to anyone here, Bevo, we just suck it up ..

                  “The details of the investigation, or any related conspiracy, are of no value to me.”

                  This is what you wrote. NO VALUE TO ME.

                  You being who, Bevo?

                  You also want to understand the sequence of events of that evening .. well, you cannot have one without the other because nobody has any idea of the sequences of the events of that evening. All we can do to try and understand what went on is to somehow get into the mind of the police and then try to fill in the many gaps … have a look at today’s post. See what we don’t know.

                  You’ve had the best of attention here, Bevo, but let me ask you, what do you know?

                  October 4, 2020
                  • MDBevan #

                    And where would I find today’s post? I’m on my phone, I don’t feel like booting up my laptop.

                    October 4, 2020
                    • You believe this bloke?

                      October 4, 2020
                    • MDBevan #

                      Ok, I found it.

                      October 4, 2020

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