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CARL ’CHARLES’ WEBB and His Family Tree.

See end of post for family tree.


The Somerton Man is said to be Carl ‘Charles’ Webb.

Born 1905 Footscray, Melbourne.

He had six siblings.

He disappeared in ‘April 47, the same year Robin was born and Jessica moved to Adelaide from Melbourne.

Deserting his wife, Dorothy “Doff” Webb. Maiden name Dorothy Jean Robertson.

They had no children.

She divorced him in absentia in 1951 and by that time was living in Bute, South Australia, 90 miles from Adelaide.

Electrical Engineer – Instrument Maker.


DNA match made. First cousin three times removed on his mother’s side.

No photo of him found.

No official record of him found other than his record of birth.

No death record.

None of his family on record as having identified him as the Somerton Man from newspaper photos

Derek Abbott claims success. Colleen Fitzpatrick claims success.

SA police have no comment to make, neither verifying or confirming this claim.

Abbott has found Webb had a brother-in-law named Thomas Keane who lived in Brunswick, and believes the sharp objects were likely used in his work as instrument maker.

Abbott found family records showing he wrote poetry and liked a punt on the racehorses.

The following lifted from CNN, article written by Hilary Whiteman.

Who was Carl ‘Charles’ Webb?

According to Abbott, Webb was born on November 16, 1905 in Footscray, a suburb of Victoria’s state capital Melbourne. He was the youngest of six siblings.

Little is known about his early life, Abbott says, but he later married Dorothy Robertson — known as Doff Webb.

When Webb emerged as the prime person of interest on the family tree, Abbott and Fitzpatrick set to work, scouring public records for information about him. They checked electoral rolls, police files and legal documents. Unfortunately, there were no photos of him to make a visual match.

“The last known record we have of him is in April 1947 when he left Dorothy,” said Fitzpatrick, founder of Identifinders International, a genealogical research agency involved in some of America’s most high-profile cold cases.

“He disappeared and she appeared in court, saying that he had disappeared and she wanted to divorce,” Fitzpatrick said. They had no known children.


Courtesy of Byron Deveson.



60 Comments Post a comment
  1. The Sly Dog #

    The SM is sounding more & more like a dirty love rat than some shadowy international spy!

    July 27, 2022
  2. Yeah, now it’s more Agatha Christie than John Le Carre.

    July 27, 2022
  3. Dan Valentine #

    So, identity solved then you think? It’s all over?

    July 27, 2022
    • Not quite, Dan, there is some suspicion that Jessica was involved in the disposal of his body, not to mention the placing of the TS slip in his pocket and dumping the Rubaiyat it was torn from.

      July 27, 2022
  4. Clive #

    So, Carl Webb wrote the letter to Jessie in Melbourne? I wonder if he was the man who was knocking on the flats virtually next door to 90a Moseley St? No doubt in my mind that Jessie was involved in his demise,she knew what Prosper was capable of, or arranging.

    July 27, 2022
  5. Webb had six siblngs, parents grandparents cousins nieces aunts and uncles nephews workmates and school chums, friends and acquaintances, neighbours and in-laws, bookmakers publicans and his local shopkeepers. And none of them put their hand up if they saw his pic in the papers. Not even his wife.

    July 27, 2022
    • Byron Deveson #

      Suspicious, Yes?

      July 28, 2022
    • Corey Burns #

      I thought about this too. But it may go more to the times than being suspicious. They didn’t even have television back then, much less the 24-hour news cycle we have today. Maybe none of his relatives had a newspaper subscription. Or maybe they took a local paper only in another town. It was a different world.

      July 29, 2022
      • Byron Deveson #

        Corey, look at the newspaper subscription figures for the 1940s. Just about every family bought a newspaper at least every second day, How do you think the Packers, Murdoch families etc got to be .they are. Up to about 2000 newspapers were “rivers of gold”. It was (still is?) a legal requirement for joe public to read and be aware of any legal notices published in newspapers. Half of the men in Australia would buy a newspaper in the 1950s (personal observation).

        August 3, 2022
  6. Ruth Collins #

    It’s a Webb of extraordinary coincidence …Mr. Charles Webb who had an interest in horse racing (according to DA) was spared a paupers grave, when the Bookmakers League (S.A. Grandstand Bookmakers Association) paid for his plot. The attending Salvation Army Captain E.J. Webb was quoted as saying “he is known only to God”, and the public are advised via the papers. A seemingly respectful tribute, plus a nice photo. Has me thinking someone knew SM’s identity all along.

    July 27, 2022
  7. dude47 #

    Given the DNA links , the timing of Webbs disappearance and the connection to T Kean I am satisfied that Carl “Charles” Webb is our man so well done DA.

    However his reasons for being on dead on Somerton beach remain a mystery. I think this finally kills of the spy theory (thank god) eliminates old mate in Sydney who Jess gifted the ROK to (thank god) I always said he was an overrated red herring in this whole matter.

    DA seems to be indicating no DNA link to Rachel so that kills of the love child theory (thank god) I never bought it. I always though Jess was overrated and that the phone number was just as likely a link to George who has managed to fly under the radar almost entirely.

    I firmly believe had the energy pored in to Jess and old mate in Sydney been spent on Prosper Thomson that a link could have been discovered.

    Im not concerned that none of Webbs family identified him from the picture. If it happened today you would expect them to see the image via electronic media but this case pre dates all that. We didn’t even have television in 49. Ergo an article about a body found on a beach in another state could easily have gone unnoticed.

    During that era it was not un common for men to “shoot through” as they used to say. A bloke who had too many debts or had had enough of his wife kids whatever may decide to “shoot through” and start up again in another state. I think Webbs family / friends assumed Webb had shot through.
    Given his penchant for horse racing they could have easily assumed he was escaping some gambling debts.

    However is that the real story or was he in SA on dodgy business is the question now.

    July 27, 2022
    • Back in the day I put together a spreadsheet of PT’s car sales and purchases and equated the prices to current day AUD value.
      Some results were astounding, at times he dealt in some very serious money, one question being … was it his? Particularly when there were a few ads amongst them where it sounded like he was a little down on his luck.

      July 27, 2022
      • Catherine S #

        I lost interest in the case for a long time but started researching again since his identity became known. I’ve found several ads in Melbourne papers, from an address in Bromby St, Sth Yarra where we know Carl Webb lived. They are advertisements for used cars in the 1940s – using C Webb as the contact. Even after 1949 there are car ads from the same address with no or different names as contact person. From what I understand a car dealership named Kellows, which was the biggest car dealership in Victoria (now owned by Patterson Cheney) owned the entire block which icluded housing. I’m wondering if workers from the dealership lived in the flats, which are still there, opposite Melbourne Grammar School. I’m hoping there are archives and photos from back in the day where there may even be a pic or Mr Webb.

        July 28, 2022
        • Thanks Catherine, much appreciated. Everything helps.

          July 28, 2022
  8. dude47 #

    Yeah to money to be made on the Black in re birthing cars was phenomenal and re birthing a car was not hard. Motor reg in different states never communicated.

    July 27, 2022
    • Becci #

      Maybe the code was reg plates?

      July 29, 2022
      • Becci, no, a thousand times. Rego plates back in the day were about five characters, numeric and alpha .. believe me, I checked.

        July 29, 2022
        • Becci #

          Ok sorry

          July 29, 2022
          • Don’t be, it was a fair comment, that’s why I looked at it earlier in the piece.

            July 29, 2022
  9. Clive #

    “He is known only to God”, because his family have disowned him? What happened in this mans life, that no one who knew him, either family, friends, business etc raised their hand to say I know this man? Did his family cover up some event/misdemeanor he was responsible for?

    July 27, 2022
  10. Dude, I’m still a bit leery of Jessica’s almost perfect recollection of Boxall when he couldn’t remember a thing about her ..

    July 27, 2022
  11. пожалуйста #

    So were any Webbs or associates thereof in the group of people who trouped through the taxidermist’s office over the years?

    He was convinced that he had encountered people who knew who the plaster bust was of.

    July 27, 2022
  12. Sonya #

    Would be interesting to look at Melbourne newspapers of the time to see if there was any coverage and publication of the photos. If not, then not surprising none of the relatives identified him.

    July 27, 2022
    • Sonya, scroll down to the bottom of this page and click on Barry Traish’s newspaper file … they are all there, every mention of the Somerton Man in every Aus newspaper. But be prepared to lose a few hours looking through them.

      July 27, 2022
  13. Clive #

    Unfortunately, I understand there are no records of the individuals who viewed the body, I’m sure, however, that Paul Lawson must have looked twice at some of the viewers.

    July 27, 2022
  14. Come to think of it, Clive, as Ruth said, why would a Bookmakers Association have an interest in burying him?

    July 27, 2022
  15. Metin Tezcan #

    So if not a spy, the code is probably just shorthand of his thoughts ( initials for each word). In the 4 line code the crossed out line of letters have the same first four letters as line 3. The letters in line 3 could easily stand for ” My Life Is All But Over And I Am Quite Content” ( with the crossed out “X” directly above the O for “over”. It was moved down to more eloquently fit his poem.

    July 27, 2022
  16. Ruth Collins #

    Pete…Check CM to refresh recent examination of Salvation Army Captain E.J Webb. J.S., Clive and Milongal had taken a closer look at Webbs identity for authenticity. J.S. was acting on a ‘man hunch’ that something wasn’t quite right with SAO Webb…or maybe he’s just a bit psychic seeing as only yesterday, SM turns up with the same surname. Thus SP Bookmakers pay, and Captain Webb’s officiating. A private dignified affair that just happens to be captured by the camera man for the papers, with a nice shiny coffin (a prop, only used for the photo). It’s a very audacious act if in fact they already knew SM’s identity. Thus we’ve 2 Mr. Webbs in the same little funeral possession, one known, one not known. Charles Webbs horse racing interest and links to the Bookmakers Association must be further explored, and there’s also the very strange possibility that the wrong Mr. Webb got the chop. What if poor Charles gets buried while E.J. soldiers on and tells no-one. Also if E.J.’s dipped into the Salvo’s donation box, it could explain the missing labels on some of SM’s clothing. It doesn’t explain why Charles wasn’t later identified by relatives, friends or work colleagues. And of course there now needs to be a photo / facial match for Charles Webb, showing the same unusual ear configuration,and the mole above the lip.

    July 28, 2022
  17. dude47 #

    The story goes that the bookmakers association headquarters / regular drinking hole was the Elephant castle Hotel which was right next door to the morgue on west terrace and not more than a hundred meters from the spot in the west terrace cemetery where they laid our man to rest.

    Our man was on ice next door to the pub for months whist they tried to figure out who he was.
    The staff from the morgue mingled with the bookmakers at the pub and were aware of the unknown man being housed next door and in fact as a running joke gave him a name of which I can’t recall, lets say it was Bruce.
    So when the lads from the morgue wandered in for their after work bevies one of the bookies may shout out “how’s Bruce” “worked out who he belongs to yet?” this went on for months until finally it was decided they would bury him. The bookies heard that Bruce was going to get a paupers burial and felt sorry for him so either put the hat around or dipped into the coffers to see that Bruce was laid to rest with some dignity.

    July 28, 2022
  18. Glen #

    I do not believe that someone didn’t know who this man was. I’m thinking there was an underlying reason as to why nobody would come forward and identify him. I’m currently researching all the information that is available on multiple forums. I suspect that his family knew all along and have been spreading misinformation for years. I give Derek Abbott a huge round of applause for his efforts. I wonder to myself if money was involved.

    July 28, 2022
  19. Michele McDonald #

    I never bought the whole ballet dancer thing. The case is fascinating that no one came forward to ever identify him, whether it was family, friends or even co-workers. The wife that he deserted never saw the newspaper articles that showed the man they found on the beach?

    July 28, 2022
    • Michele, Glen … perhaps they were part of the great cone of silence that stopped Jessica from talking, and including the other occupants of Chemist Freeman’s car. On the other hand, if it is something out of an Agatha Christie novel ….. then where did he die, who knew about it and who moved his body to the beach etc etc. This isn’t over until we know all the answers and I’m certain a whole new line of theorising will be created, particularly given the lack of records about Webb. The man was a ghost.

      July 28, 2022
  20. Clive #

    As PL found out, in the morgue, how/when did Carl get those calf muscles-exercise? Odd that no dentist came forward about his teeth? Seem there are more questions now about Carl and his background than ever.

    July 28, 2022
  21. Fair enough .. Webb must have had some work-out routine to keep up his physique, a bloke over 40 would have to, to look like he did, and it wasn’t just his over-developed calves – he had the thighs, stomach pecs and shoulders .. plus the BIG hands.
    How many gyms operated in Melbourne back then, Clive, you reckon?

    July 28, 2022
  22. And another thing. Any electrical engineer / instrument maker who showed up for a job with those pathetic tools wouldn’t get in the front door. Tradesmen carried tool boxes.

    July 28, 2022
    • There was a sale of an engineer’s kit from flat 3 next door. I’ll see if I can attach it.

      October 29, 2022
  23. Clive #

    I can’t imagine that many gyms operated in the late 1940’s. As to his tools, or lack of them, two trains of thought (1) He was desperate for money, before he died, and sold them or, (2) He knew Prosper who had an ‘arrangement’ with him to do jobs, no questions asked?

    July 28, 2022
  24. Byron Deveson #

    An electrician/electrical engineer would have no trouble hot wiring any car in the 1940s.

    July 28, 2022
    • And his six pencils and the black powder shaken out of the particle brush …. Were they a graphite source for fiddling a car door lock you think? Cowan didn’t test the powder for anything other than common poisons.

      July 28, 2022
      • Byron Deveson #

        Yes, could be. Soft black pencil could also be used to make an impression of a door or ignition key (when a car was being worked on by a mechanic. A soap impression of a key was also used and the suitcase contained a soap dish.

        July 28, 2022
  25. dude47 #

    Well Dome has uncovered a bunch of small adds relating to Carls address in Bromley st and guess what ? Carl was selling cars and other assorted goods from small adds just like guess who was out of Mosley st around the same time……………!!!!!!!

    Factor in Georges regular trips to Victoria on black market car business and dealing with people “you don’t go to the police about” all admitted in court in the Daphne Page case .

    So we know Carl was a gambler and was in the second hand car business , running small adds. His other small ads have him selling items like tennis rackets hardly used so Im gonna suggest a guy who’s rolling in cash isn’t about to waste his time selling second hand personal items. Im. gonna suggest that sounds somewhat desperate.

    So we’ve got a small time second hand car dealer who has walked out on his wife ,short on cash , in Adelaide with the phone number of a local black market car dealer and convicted fraudster. He’s a sparky and he’s got a very peculiar set of tools hand made and fashioned to be caried on his person. Think the little sheath he made for the scissors.

    People get so hung up that his family never considered that the John Doe in Adelaide may be their brother husband friend. I see it like this as a pointer to Carl being in Adelaide on dodgy business.
    Ive said this before on this forum. Remember the strange case of Herman Rockefeller. He was a wealthy business man who told his wife he was off to Sydney on business when in fact he was in Melbourne hooking up swinger sex with randoms but would up getting murdered by an angry husband. So here’s Herman dead in Victoria and being disposed of by the killer. His nearest and dearest think he in another sate so they’re not interested in some John Doe in Melbourne. AND people who he arranged to meet weren’t about to go to the coppers so he’s a John Doe, dead thousands of miles from home and 2 states away from where everyone thinks he is.

    July 29, 2022
  26. Glen #

    My head is absolutely spinning so to speak. I’m the sort of person that has a really good memory and I remember things. I’m 100% certain that the name Carl Webb was brought up on another forum on the big internet and was dismissed as trolls. I’m currently searching the internet high and low to find this information. It would be nice if Derek Abbott would admit that Rachel is absolutely nothing to do with Carl Webb and instead of dismissing and ignoring people. I’m just thinking of all the TV shows and articles that are floating around. Derek Abbott and his wife would have been paid money for these types of things. I’ll go away and find that old forum / discussion and I’ll be back.

    July 29, 2022
  27. Byron Deveson #

    My reasons for constructing a family tree for Carl Webb are twofold. First, to identify any additional blood relative who might be willing to undertake a DNA test to further strengthen the identification (the identification is already very strong IMHO but more will not hurt). Second, it identifies people who might have knowledge concerning Carl and might have photographs of him. Any media people listening? Go get em’.

    July 29, 2022
  28. Clive #

    Sorry for my ignorance, but back in the 1930/40s did drivers licences have a photo?

    July 29, 2022
  29. Pat #

    Hi Byron, I don’t have an ancestry account to view CW’s family tree. I just would like to know where did you find the info about Dorothy’s death date? Is it 1996?

    July 30, 2022
    • Byron Deveson #

      Pat, I am not sure about her date of death now, sorry Pat.

      August 3, 2022
  30. Clive #

    According to the local newspaper, Carl went to bed at 7.00pm every night and was a ‘cranky’ husband, per his wife, I presume.

    July 30, 2022
  31. Glen #

    So Carl Webb is being labelled as an abusive cranky husband now. I strongly believe he has family hiding away in the woodworks. It would be interesting to see if his pension was ever cashed in during the later years. I am sure all this is one big fraud on his families part.

    July 30, 2022
    • It’s worth checking Cramer’s blog, he’s got a dead Webb found on Somerton Beach and whose address was in Moseley Street, trouble being it was back in 41.

      July 30, 2022
  32. Clive #

    I glanced at ‘The Advertiser” whilst in a queue! I think all the info. was via DA. Married Dorothy in 1941.

    July 31, 2022
  33. Clive #

    Per today’s ABCNews, apparently, Dorothy Jean Robertson, moved to NSW and died there in the late 1990’s.

    August 2, 2022
  34. Mary Spencer #

    Kudos to Prof. Abbot and Ms. Fitzpatrick for solving this, but I can’t understand why the ‘elephant in the room’ has not been addressed; Somerton man, Mr. Webb, had Jo (Jessie) Thompson’s phone number on that piece of paper they found on him. She also had lived in Melbourne and supposedly moved to S. Australia around the time he left Melbourne in April 1947. If he had her number he must have known her. Supposedly she knew who he was but refused to tell anyone, and the police felt she was lying when she said she didn’t know him when his body was found. The fact he had her phone number is something that needs investigating in my opinion. Did he know her in Melbourne? Did they have a brief affair? Did she find out he was married? Was she involved with Prosper Thompson and denied knowing Webb because she didn’t want him to find out she had had some kind of relationship with Webb? Was Webb enamored of her more than she was of him and he went to Adelaide/Somerton to see her? Prof. Abbot seems to think maybe Webb came to the area to try to find his estranged wife, but then WHY was Jo Thompson’s phone number in his possession? I hope someone can find an answer, but we may never know…

    August 3, 2022
    • Mary, some believe Webb had the phone number because Prosper was using it for his classifieds.

      August 4, 2022
      • Glen #

        Thumbs Up 👍

        August 4, 2022
  35. Clive #

    “The Swinburnian Journal” Dec 1922 Vol. 1 no. 1 states that a Scholarship Winner on an Engineering Day Course for 1921 was a C. Webb.

    August 11, 2022

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