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Who was Jessica expecting to see when Lawson unveiled the bust?

There has always been conjecture about the reason for Jessica’s reaction when confronted with the bust of Carl Webb. Some think it was because the likeness Lawson had replicated wasn’t the man she expected it to be and others because it was of someone she didn’t expect it to be, then there are some who think her reaction was a combination of the two.

Puzzling eh?

‘In fact the reaction later on viewing the bust backs up the possibility in my mind that Jess’s original response was sincere and the shock came when she recognized the bust as someone that PT had dealings with.’ Dude47.

‘That may well be the case, and the possible reason that Jessie answered with a ‘no, no, no’ to further questions.’ Clive.

‘She was most probably shocked NOT to see who she expected.’ Misca, thinking the bust itself didn’t resemble anyone.

When detective Canney interviewed Jessica after tracing the phone number written on the back of the Freeman Rubaiyat to her address it seems his visit was successful as she provided him with more than enough details for him to assume the body found on the beach belonged to Alf Boxall and no doubt he conveyed this positive news to his colleagues at the CIB headquarters when he returned, after all the case was six months old and growing whiskers.

Jessica too may have been convinced the body was that of Boxall because everything about it seemed to fit. Alf was roughly the same age and build as the corpse and she’d given him an inscribed Rubaiyat some years earlier, though she must have wondered why he’d come all the way to Adelaide only to die almost at her front door.

I’d say she was in for a sleepless night with all that on her mind.

The following day Jessica accompanied three detectives to Paul Lawson’s office at the museum where they waited for him to unveil the bust he had created. A moment of high drama for all of them, would you think? The police hoping their case would finally be cleared. Jessica entertaining a faint hope that it wasn’t Alf and Lawson expecting his bust captured a likeness good enough for her to recognise immediately.

The view held here is that Jessica was shocked twice when the bust was finally revealed.

Because it wasn’t Alf Boxall, that’s shock number one …


.. as it was Carl Webb, and there’s shock number two.


No wonder she was rendered almost speechless.

And what she didn’t do was show relief the body wasn’t Boxall, which is what you would have expected, yes?


24 Comments Post a comment
  1. cattledoggirl #

    Perfect question to ask: Who did she think she would see and who did she think she saw? Apart from the options above, could there be a faint possibility that she expected it to be Alfie, saw the poor replica of Charlie, but thought it could be Alfie? Both had big elfish ears? Any possibility at all? But the question then is why she didn’t hazard a guess that it could be AB? Apologies if, by forgetting some crucial details, I seem illogical here. Renata (aka CDG)

    September 10, 2022
    • Pity we don’t have whatever notes Canney made after the interview … or know what questions he asked her. Flying in the dark here.

      September 10, 2022
  2. misca #

    I’ve gotten rusty on the dates here but didn’t they interview Boxall fairly soon after she provided them with his name? Perhaps they had already told her that they had contacted him by the time the bust was made. It’s quite possible that she already knew it wasn’t him.

    September 10, 2022
    • Misca .. here you go:

      Friday 22 July – Freeman finds the book.
      23 July – He hands it in to DS Leane.
      26 July – Newspaper reports the Nurse / Boxall link
      Afternoon of 26 July – Harkness escorted to Museum to view bust.
      27 July – NSW police find Boxall at work at the Randwick Bus Depot.

      In the Littlemore Boxall notes, Alf describes the scene at Parer St when he came home from work that day, ‘cameras and journalists everywhere,’ he said, ‘blocking up the street.’

      September 10, 2022
      • Thedude747 #

        Whilst we can only speculate now we do have a very reliable I witness. I would rate Lawson has one of the most straight down the line street smart dudes you would ever come across. Even when I met him at the sprightly age of 99 at the missing pieces Doco he still cut a decent figure and cheekily wore the same outfit Carl was found in. Lawson was in absolutely no doubt that Jess knew exactly who the man was when she saw the bust. And that’s good enough for me.

        September 10, 2022
        • Yeah …. she knew it was Webb, but from where, Sydney Melbourne or Adelaide?

          September 10, 2022
      • misca #

        Thanks! So…Not much of a gap.

        September 10, 2022
  3. dude47 #

    Yeah well that’s a much tougher question to answer PB but my money is on Melbourne or Adelaide but possible both.
    Interesting some trove articles just surfacing now which have (reportedly) one of Carls nephews busted for car theft back in 34 in Melbourne. He would have been in a similar age bracket to Carl albeit younger. Wonder what tools Carls nephew was carrying at the time he got busted having stolen 3 cars in a single day

    September 10, 2022
    • Maybe the answer is in Bute, that’s where his wife scarpered to …

      September 10, 2022
  4. dude47 #

    I just can’t see the Bute connection personally. I have a mate that grew up there and its a blink and you miss it town , I spent a week there one night . Everyone knows everyone and I would reckon there would be a trace of her had she spent any significant time there yet the burrowers have found zip.

    I also think the timeline with the marriage break up a couple of years earlier makes the idea he was chasing Doff unlikely for mine.

    I do however find the recent news of 19 year old Leo Keane being a habitual car thief interesting at the very least.

    Carl being the baby of the family had nephews and nieces close to his age and appears to have a close connection with the Keane’s and its possible he was close to his nephews John and Leo Keane.
    Carl in his 20s when a 19 year old Leo was done for pinching cars is not a smoking gun but another brick in the car criminal wall IMHO.

    Interesting footnote that Leo goes on to be a writer fro prominent sports programs of the day.

    September 11, 2022
  5. Well, let’s go back to the suitcase … do you think anything was missing, correspondence say?

    September 11, 2022
  6. Clive #

    Blank envelopes in the suitcase, but no writing paper and no address. So, where/whom was he going to post those envelopes to? No wallet, diary etc

    September 11, 2022
    • a lurker #

      Perhaps the blank envelopes were to send out little booklets (like the Rubaiyat) to establish people’s identity. But between that and the pencils maybe it makes the code page more interesting – perhaps it was some sort of code on where the meeting was to happen (I don’t like this because there’s some stuff too specific so it can’t be a predetermined code…. ITTMTSAMSGAB – It’s Time to Meet TS* At Moseley St – Tuesday – G.A.B. *TS being reference to the piece of paper that will identify the meet).

      With a lot of characters appearing multiple times in the last 2 rows (and the layout appears a little different) I do wonder if it’s some sort of directions, eg:
      Start ML follow instructions IA to BO, then AIA to QC. ITTMTSAMST to GAB (if we consider the bits with the M (TM or MT (or even MTS) and AM or MS) might also be locations, then there’s 4 characters ATIS which night essentially be forward, back, left, right or NESW (point being you don’t need people to know what the intermediate locations refer to, as long as there is a sign somewhere that they can confirm they’re on the right track). Or it could be more simple or more complex (or a cross between code and acrostic) ‘TSAMS’ – Turn South At Moseley St….etc.

      One thing that strikes me is that if we assume the MLIAOI that is possibly struck out is possibly a mistake for the MLIABO line (wrong place and wrong spelling) then it’s worth seeing how much more spread out the former is – so if they were directions of some sort, perhaps the spacing gives clues over distinct instructions.

      September 14, 2022
  7. dude47 #

    I don’t think anyone ie coppers removed any correspondence. The suitcase looks like a bog standard pack for a 2 to 4 day day work trip. A decent outfit , some casuals ,jocks socks plus toiletries. Stationary could for his work or personal. The biggest clue in the suitcase is the tool kit.
    As far as his wallet its always been a possibility in my mind that he died with a full wallet but over the coarse of a whole night there’s very chance an opportunist came across a well dressed dead guy all alone out of view and just though f… it , and helped himself to the his wallet.

    September 11, 2022
    • Fair enough …. next question: do you think he was planning a long term stay in Adelaide or in and out quickly?

      September 11, 2022
  8. dude47 #

    How long did he intend too stay?
    The suicide theory is not without merit frankly but so many things go against the norm for someone about to take his own life. The fact that he ate a meal so close to his demise, dressing and shaving polishing his boots etc but its possible.

    My point is I think he wasn’t planning on being in SA very long. He packed enough necessities to get him through for a few days by the end of which he would either be back home (wherever that was for Carl In Nov 48 or if he was planning to end it all he needed to see him through to his demise.

    So long story short he was planning to be in SA for no more than a few days one way or the other.

    September 11, 2022
    • That being the case, what would he have left behind at his permanent lodgings?

      September 11, 2022
  9. dude47 #

    Carl being a middle aged divorcee ,possibly depressed with a bit of a gambling problem almost certainly didn’t own property ie a house or land so and of in determinate employment probably lived in a typical mens boarding house popular in that era where he kept whatever his belongings were. Such joints being pretty used to transients disappearing with un paid rent probably assumed he’d done similar and bagged up his goods and stored or sold them off inline of rent.

    September 11, 2022
  10. Clive #

    I’m just wondering if he had little money, and lived in a boarding house, whoever sorted what he left behind, took a liking to socks? Whatever remained was donated to Salvos etc or binned.

    September 12, 2022
  11. a lurker #

    I like the idea of expected one but saw a different one __that she recognised__. But I’ve often thought a few different scenarios (and many more – some variations on these themes, some different stories again):
    1) She knew it was someone mixed up with Prosper (and possibly suspected Prosper of being involved). Seeing someone had been killed brought home the reality that Prosper may have killed this poor sod, so her reaction was more about the whole thing becoming “real” when she saw the bust. In this situation, she has no idea who the person is, but is overcome with pity when she thinks “some random got killed by PT”
    2) She expected it to be someone (possibly Boxall, but what if she hasn’t seen Prosper a while and thinks at first it might be him?). She realises it’s not whoever she expects and gets emotions somewhere between relief and a sense of pity for the deceased. (I think there’s a plausible similarity to Boxall that she may have thought it was him – given she may not have seen him for some time, although if she was happy to mention him re Rubaiyat it seems odd she wouldn’t say if she thought it was him).
    3) She had engaged someone to be taken out. She is shocked to see the wrong person got hit (or the reality of seeing the right person was hit, I suppose).
    4) Variation on a theme, she asked someone to go scare or threaten someone, and is horrified to see they’ve turned up dead

    I think there’s a lot of possibilities for her reaction – which as per the ones above would have different implications for what her role in the whole thing really was.

    September 14, 2022
  12. Clive #

    a lurker, Take your pick as to which scenario seems most likely, I guess. As going by Kate’s description of Jessie and both PL’s & GF’s encounters with her, she was quite adept at playing the role which suited the occasion.

    September 14, 2022
  13. Clive #

    The last three letters on the ‘Code’ page, GAR or GAP-could these be the initials of an author?

    September 14, 2022
    • I remember searching for a horse named Saint Gabriel a few years back .. no luck.

      September 14, 2022
  14. Clive #

    The letter ‘S’ with the serif must mean something, you could be close to the truth with ‘St’.

    September 14, 2022

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