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Thirteen bullet points on how to reconstruct a police investigation in an acceptable manner, given the times.

  1. Interview the nurse. Find out why the body had her phone number.
  2. If she’s an innocent party get her an alibi then have her sign something official.
  3. Instigate a delay in having Prof. Cleland report his finding of the suicide slip to DS Leane for about two and a half months. (Jan to Apr 1949.)
  4. Instigate a delay in having DS Leane instruct Det. Brown to source the suicide slip for a further 50 days. (Apr to June 1949.)
  5. Delay informing the Press about finding the suicide slip until June.
  6. No matches found on a body showing signs of being a heavy smoker needs fixing otherwise some smart copper might think he was done in locally and we don’t want anyone knocking on 90A’s front door.
  7. Give the police a marked up copy of the code found written on the book that looked like one of those Rubaiyat editions – but only AFTER the inquest. Keep the book. Make up some cock and bull story about finding it close to his body and not in his pocket.
  8. It’s got to look like suicide, so be creative. Refer 3 4 5.
  9. Have the police give a copy the code to the Press straight away.
  10. Have the police interview the nurse again then give it to the Press straight away.
  11. Have everyone involved in the case sign official paper.
  12. Then sign the investigation over to someone with little interest in the case.
  13. Make sure no smart-arse gets ahold of the Matchbox file until next century.

One last thing: remove page 4905.

13 Comments Post a comment
  1. Clive #

    Perhaps the matchbox contained more than matches? A slip of paper?

    July 9, 2021
  2. Since the headline is “question everything” I dare to question some of these questions. You don’t need to conspire to conduct a horrible investigation. All you need is a bunch of uninspired police; like a Moss, who later brags he had a feeling something was wrong, ’cause he found no matches – which were later found on the man, although tucked away neatly. Who still just calls an ambulance – not a photographer to a probable crime scene. Who (probably) doesn’t conduct a thourough search around the body and sees no disturbed sand near the man, although at least 4 men and 2 horses plus he himself had approached and / or touched the body. You then need a detective in charge who is a racist with wild west mannerisms, “well… ah… you know the stuff they put on the end of the nigger’s spears..”, one who couldn’t care less about a dead poetry reader that’s obviously a foreigner (let alone someone who is probably an illegal immigrant)… A DS, who is used to – unchallenged! – always doing it “his” way and to take “his” cases / “his” documents home etc. etc. I am sure DS Leane was a great investigator whenever Smith and Wesson shot each other on the saloon’s front porch, but a real case? And since he stuck to his firm belief SM suicided and given his surprise, almost anger, about the attention the dead man later got, I wonder if he spilled his Coopers on the original Rubáiyát on his kitchen table and just secretely dumped the wet thing without giving it a second thought at the time. That’s the kind of plot I consider him capable of.

    July 9, 2021
    • “There is no fact that I know of which points towards suicide and abolishes the possibility of murder.” DS Leane from his deposition. We are ruthless about the facts here, Regine S.

      July 9, 2021
      • Спасибо #

        Points toward.

        Abolishes the possibility of.

        Leane’s conclusion leaves so much wiggle room it could be Miami nightclub.

        July 10, 2021
        • nacho … Remember this ?

          “Mrs. Thomson,” asked Detective Gerry Feltus, “I wonder whether you would mind answering a few questions with regard to your association with Alfred Boxall and the Rubaiyat you said you gave him in 1945.”

          Feltus writes:

          (1) She continually diverted the topic from the subject in question.

          (2) I formed the opinion she was evasive.

          (3) I formed the opinion she did not wish to talk about it.

          (4) She did not have a copy of the Rubaiyat.

          (5) She said it was a book of love poems.

          (6) She did not know why it was significant.

          (7) She did not remember Alf Boxall.

          (8) I mentioned that she gave police his name and address when they first spoke to her.

          (9) At a later date I had a further discussion with her that produced nothing of any significance.

          Now we might know what the reason was for her silence, you think?

          July 10, 2021
          • Then there’s this:

            Mrs. Thomson,” asked Detective Canney, “I wonder whether you would mind answering a few more questions with regard to your association with the serviceman you mentioned and the Rubaiyat you said you gave him about four years ago.”

            This is how that went according to the details in Feltus’ book.

            “His name was Alfred Boxall and we met through friends. He lived in Parer St. Maroubra and was attached to the Water Transport Company, Australian Army Service Corp. He used used to drink regularly at the Clifton Gardens Hotel after work, even when it was supposed to be closed. We had lunch one day before he was to be posted to the South West Pacific and that was when I gave him a personally inscribed Rubaiyat.”

            Harkness didn’t divert from the topic. She wasn’t evasive and she didn’t mind talking about it.

            July 11, 2021
      • Right. That’s his answer asked if he knows of any points toward suicide – because he wouldn’t let go of the suicide theory, and he had to negate that question. Even in ’78 he was sure SM “suicided” and came up with the “stuff on the spears (…)” which good old Leane then phantasized: “he injected himself with it” (his interview with Stuart, ABC). He doesn’t theorize about where that spear, needle or else with Curare would have gone afterwards.

        July 13, 2021
  3. due47 #

    14 “Is there anyone else who uses this phone number for any reason ? ”

    Never asked

    July 11, 2021
  4. dude47 #

    “Yes my de facto partner ,who’s not actually my husband despite my using his name, uses it to run an illegal taxi service and sell second hand goods of questionable origin to strangers. Oh and he’s a divorced convicted fraudster from Melbourne”

    mmm may have been worth checking out

    July 11, 2021
    • dude: the police apparently didn’t canvass the neighbourhood, not even the houses across the road … That surely would be part of the normal investigative process when a body is found don’t you’d think?

      July 11, 2021
  5. Clive #

    You would have thought that Canney would have also visited Prosper, at his city business, and asked him a few questions. When/Where did you marry Jessie? Marriage certificate, if you please, Did you recover/find the Gold watch you ‘lost’, per your newspaper ad?

    July 11, 2021
    • I think Canney did exactly as he was instructed and no more.

      July 11, 2021
  6. Clive #

    Yes, I’m sure you are correct, but surely, at the back of Canney’s mind, there was something he could not put 2 & 2 together? Going the extra mile might, just might, have helped in this case.

    July 11, 2021

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