How and where did the Somerton Man die – and who was he with at the time?
Why would somebody go to the trouble of moving a suicide’s body from one place to another when the normal course of action would have been to call the police and or the ambulance and let them deal with it?
What would have been their motive?
If he was poisoned, as appears the case according to the Coroner, and the poison was deliberately taken with the pasty he was found to have consumed not long before his estimated time of death, then where would have been the most likely place his death occurred, 90A Moseley Street?
Putting that scenario together would mean whoever was in the house with him not only watched him die, possibly unable to be of any assistance; they laid him out, cleaned him up, took any ID he had then organised some form of transport to move his body out of the house and down the road to the beach where he was found.
Lividity doesn’t lie and Coroner Cleland remarked that SM may have died with his head slightly elevated, perhaps only by a pillow and not as he was found. Cleland also remarked that if the Somerton Man had been taken to the place where he was found the difficulties disappear.
Not only that, it is thought that whoever who was with SM when he died removed the Tamam Shud slip, tucked it into his fob pocket then dumped the book it was torn from in Freeman’s car after disposing of the body.
This was not a murder disguised as suicide, it was a suicide underlined!
And all of this within 24 hours of the Somerton Man’s arrival in Adelaide.
What is unknown in this scenario is whether the Somerton Man arrived in Adelaide prepared to take his own life or whether he endured such a distressing scene with Jessica he left the house only to return later with the means to do so.
What is also unknown is whether Jessica presented the Somerton Man with the Freeman Rubaiyat earlier in their relationship as a memento of sorts – as she did with Alf Boxall – In his interview with Stuart Littlemore, Alf Boxall mentioned Jessica may have been in the habit of doing so, saying, ” because of her essentially friendly behaviour she could have given a little present of some sort to anybody and not have it misjudged, or her act misjudged.”
One question that never appears to have been asked is, did Jessie drive? If he did die at 90a Moseley St, Jessie must have had assistance in moving his body, I can’t imagine her trying to move him without some one helping her.
Well, if you believe the witness who showed up ten years later and gave a statement to Detective O’Donohue about seeing a man carrying a man along the beach on the night of 30th Nov, and who was later found and interviewed by Feltus and found credible, then maybe one of Prosper’s shady mates was asked for a favour … it’s not as if the old lad didn’t have a quid or three, given the value of his car sales.
As you mention, one of Prosper’s ‘acquaintances’ may have owed Prosper a favour, so what better way of paying off a debt, by giving a free ride to a body?
I don’t reckon many successful 2nd hand car dealers managed a membership to the Adelaide Club, even though they probably had more money than most of them. Prosper turned over some big bucks in his day, some flash motors.
I think jury’s out on how well off Prosper was. While he seems to have regularly been turning over nice cars, some of his small ads smell more like someone desperately selling off anything they can find (like today you might find on Facebook marketplace) – like trying to fill seats for his trips to Mt Gambier or Melbourne or wherever. It could be an opportunist who recognises every opportunity to make money but it feels a bit more like someone hoping to offset some costs he can barely afford.
Maybe he had a rich backer (Duffield?) helping him get off the ground with his car business.
But if we’re talking cars, why dump a stiff on your doorstep? Doesn’t it seem a bit weird to load a body in the car to shift it 500m? Maybe you don’t want to risk a long trip because you don’t want to be pulled over with a body, but surely at least take them up to Marino rocks or somewhere a little further out of your backyard.
The TS in the fob pocketis a slightly obscure attempt to flag suicide. Why not put it in a more obvious place like the main pocket? Or why chuck the rest of the book in a car? Is that because you WANT it to be found rather than using a bin, or perhaps some time later you realise you still have it and panic?
I’m liking the O’Donohue witness for the explanation of how the body was transported so maybe a car trip was just to get the corpse out of the proximity of the house. Putting the TS slip in the fob pocket makes it a bit special, rather than leaving it with the dross in his other pockets … as far as chucking the book into Freeman’s car is concerned, maybe that’s what they figured a suicide might do as he made his way to the beach …. for him the consequences are all over anyway.
Looking at the scenario, I suppose putting the TS slip, with the rest of the dross in his pockets, as you state made it more than likely it would not have been given a second look, whilst on it’s own it did stand out. Having said that, why make it so difficult to find? Getting rid of the body, perhaps Jessie & Prosper couldn’t agree how far, from 90a, they should dump the body. I wonder what they dumped first, the Rubaiyat or the body? And, if J & P did throw the Rubaiyat into the back of freeman’s car, would they have done so if they knew X3239 was to be found inscribed?
No that difficult at all, Clive, I did the exercise myself a few years ago (check the Taman Shud Test post, 2nd from the bottom of the post list) .. though maybe PC Moss didn’t have my sensitive pianist fingers because I found it no problems. And that phone number, according to Feltus, was written in the same fashion as the code …. hard to spot at first, remember that Det. Brown is on record as saying the number was in ‘tiny writing’ though Feltus discounts this, saying it was years later when Brown made the statement. So who knows, with all the drama happening maybe nobody took a close look at the back of the book at the time.
Only problem about the Rubaiyat is, that according to Freeman’s relative, the book was already in the car by circa 20th November, if the SM threw it into the car, his timeline arriving in Adelaide is way off line. So, who did throw the Rubaiyat into the car, that’s assuming, of course, that Freeman and his relative were not covering something up and the police turned a blind eye?
According to Feltus the book was found in the car ‘ just after the man was found dead on the beach at Somerton,’ and in this particular scenario the person who tossed the book there is thought to be the same one seen carrying a body along the beach the night before SM was found. In instances where accounts differ I’d always go with the one from a known, trusted source, and in GF’s case, someone experienced in investigations.
I take your point, Pete. Perhaps there was a second Rubaiyat involved? Whatever happened to Wytkins statement about a Rubaiyat he found on a tram/train, did the police do anything about it? So many promising leads leading to….
Clive, if Adelaide was like any other city in the Western world (in 1948) then a copy of the Rubaiyat would have been readily available, as an indication I can quote from the University of Texas Harry Ransom Centre’s article – The Persian Sensation – published in 2008.
“It’s difficult for us to understand today just how important a part of Victorian and even Modernist literature this (Fitzgerald) translation was,” said Molly Schwartzburg, the Ransom Center’s curator of British and American literature and co-curator of the exhibition. “A century ago, the average American and certainly every poet writing in English could quote stanzas of this poem verbatim.”
By 1919, 447 editions of FitzGerald’s translation had been published. Into the 1950s, the poem was so widely quoted that more than half of the “Rubáiyát” appeared in “Bartlett’s Quotations” and “The Oxford Book of Quotations.”
“During the first decades of the 20th century, the ‘Rubáiyát’ made its way into nearly every facet of people’s lives,” said Michelle Kaiserlian, co-curator of the exhibition and “Rubáiyát” scholar. “For example, the exhibition documents the popularity of ‘Rubáiyát’ parodies, written on subjects ranging from courtship to automobiles, and from religion to politics. The ‘Rubáiyát’ became a tool to explore both the thrills and the anxieties of modern life.”
Not surprising then that a copy might be found on a bus.
Jessie seems to have had access to different pirated copies of the Rubaiyat. IIRC the one associated with TSM was a New Zealand edition look-alike, but the legit one was just a bit more square. Also the Boxhall copy was a bogus “7th edition” from a publisher that only came out with five.
Matt … When you say, legit one, what ROK are you referring to?
One of the Whitcombe and Tomb editions that Feltus found. However I believe I read in Nick’s write up saying they were pumping out a lot of different layouts in those days, and we don’t have TSM’s copy anymore to inspect it.
Well, there’s the thing about GF, Matt, all he had to say was that two unnamed but ‘reliable’ police sources told him they had seen the original ROK. To me, that’s not a winning hand.
So here’s the screenplay. What is missing, or doesn’t fit?
Carl Webb comes to Adelaide a few days before November 30, the number of days depending on train schedules and his starting point. He knows Prosper from the car trade, and may have at least met Jessica. He goes to stay with Prosper (maybe Prosper picks him up at the train station). He keeps a low profile, mostly staying in the house. They all know that he came to Adelaide to commit suicide, and carefully plan it.
He does Prosper a favor and rolls back a couple of odometers, slightly scraping his knuckles while working in tight quarters behind the dash.
On November 29 or early on the 30th, Prosper takes him to the train station. He blends in with people getting off an arriving train, and checks his suitcase. He buys a train ticket for deception purposes, then takes the bus to Glenelg.
After that, Carl changes into his best clothes and goes to the beach, knowing that people will see him and he will be memorable because of the way he’s dressed.
Once it’s dark he returns to Prosper’s place. He takes a fatal dose of digitalis along with his last meal, then undresses for bed. (Because he knows, or a trained nurse knows, that he will vomit before he dies, and he doesn’t want to soil his clothes.)
Once he is dead, his body is cleaned up and dressed then moved somewhere a mile or two away. It’s no big deal if somebody happens to find the body and notify the police. The clothing will make the connection to the earlier beach appearance, and he will be assumed to have walked to the new location.
But the body isn’t found, and is later moved back to the spot where he had earlier been and where it is certain to be found soon.
This scenario doesn’t explain why Jessica seemed about to faint when she saw the bust, which of course would have looked exactly as she expected.
Nice job, Jerry, not many want to try doing a full scenario.