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35 Who was the ‘real’ Jessica Harkness?

Most know what it feels like when they see this in their rear-view mirror, even if there’s no booze or dope in your system a man gets a little jumpy.

Police are trained you see, and there’s a dozen things that can go wrong even before he exits his vehicle and slowly approaches you, not to mention all the nerves on show when he leans into your window and fixes his world-weary eyes upon yours. Because now you remember all the wrong stuff you’ve done in your life and got away with .. until now. Because he’s a cop, and cops know just by looking at you.

Because it shows.


Meet Gerald Preston

Gerald Preston walked into a Lonsdale auto repair business back in 1996, shot two men dead and wounded another. Just like that. He was commercially obliged to do so as he had been hired by a Terrence Tognolini, a Hells Angel, and had been paid $10,000 for the job. In advance.

Meet Terrence Tognolini

Then, in 1999 Preston was questioned after the execution of his former partner, Vicki Jacobs, who was shot six times as slept next to their son, Ben, 6. She had been a key prosecution witness in Preston’s murder trial in 1998 and had refused the offer of police protection.

Where this becomes relevant to the Somerton Man case is that Gerry Feltus led the investigation into the Lonsdale executions and said he remembered Preston as one of the “most calculating killers” he had ever encountered during his three decades of homicide investigations. Feltus said he was remorseless, meticulous, and was prepared to kill everyone in the workshop just to make sure his target, Les Knowles, was dead.

Four years later Feltus interviewed Jessica Harkness and she lied to him.

Lied to his face, a detective with thirty homicide years on the clock, the cop who got to Gerald Preston.

But he couldn’t get to Jessica Harkness.


“In 2002 I had a lengthy conversation with Jessica Harkness.”

7 Comments Post a comment
  1. Clive #

    So, GF, with all his experience in police work, instinct for knowing if an individual was telling the truth or not, etc. etc.couldn’t get Jessie to spill the beans. What was the reason that Jessie couldn’t reveal the truth? Official Secrets Act, perhaps? Or, her involvement in the SM’s demise?

    December 15, 2021
    • Strength. She maintained the line even after fifty years. Whatever she did, she thought it was right. And whatever she thought was right she took to her grave. The job we have, unprepared as we are, is to fit the murder of SM into that framework.

      December 15, 2021
  2. Byron Deveson #

    The NSW birth registration index hs been released for 1921 and contains the following record.
    Jessie E. Harkness born 1921 in Marrickville, Sydney. Reg. No: 2727/1921. Father: Thomas l. Harkness, mother Ellen.

    January 3, 2022
    • Byron Deveson #

      Jessies’ birth was registered at Marrickville, 18th February 1921.

      January 3, 2022
  3. Thanks Byron … if Rachel Egan’s Thomson DNA was the result of a successful intimacy between her mother Roma and one of Prosper’s family … who do you think might be the most likely, logistically speaking?

    January 3, 2022
  4. Byron Deveson #

    Ahh! On the surface, Robin. But, Colleen Fitzpatrick’s remarks can be interpreted in another way and the fact that Colleen did not fully clarify the situation suggests to me that it may not be Robin. More likely it was Robin, but SM was also related to Prosper’s line.
    I would have to have the full details in order to work out what was what (or rather, who was who).

    Regarding the DNA testing of SM’s remains, it is not common knowledge but the Federal Government now essentially has enough DNA data from Australian citizens to quickly identify the Australian source of any DNA. I don’t want to go into any further details of how they achieve this.Yes, SM could very well have been born outside Australia. If for arguments sake we say SM was born in Finland. There are plenty of people in Australia of Finnish or part Finnish descent and I would estimate they constitute perhaps 1% of the Australian population. So, the Australian authorities (I expect the data is also shared with the Australian States) have DNA data for at least 1,000 people of Finnish or part Finnish descent. And that is enough to find 3 or 4th cousins for SM. From there it is just a matter of paper genealogy which the authorities can do quite easily because they have full access to Australian BD&M records, and can probably call on help from the authorities in other countries. Yes, there can be complications such as non paternal events, but the connections can be cross checked. DNA doesn’t lie.
    Bottom line? DNA data does not have to be obtained from a close relative in order to establish the source of that DNA. The link could be to a distant cousin for example, and once that link is made it is just a matter of checking other distant relatives and then working upstream and down stream. The degree of redundancy is such that the process is error correcting.

    January 3, 2022
  5. Byron, if SM was indeed related to Prosper’s line, then Jessica’s shock at seeing his bust might be interpreted in a different light ….

    January 4, 2022

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