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The Bloodstained Shirt .. Part 2


UPDATED 14 November

I read a comment today on Cramer’s blog where he suggests the bloodstains on Webb’s shirt may have come from an unclean morgue trolly or worktable when they laid Webb out and undressed him. The problem with that thinking is if the steel trolly or wooden table used in the morgue was left unclean and wet with a previous occupant’s blood, which is extremely unlikely, then Webb’s coat and pullover would have had bloodstains on them as well.


Ten years ago Derek Abbott managed to find Professor Cleland’s ‘personal notes to self’ in an archive and within these handwritten notes Cleland said he had found there was a ‘large blood-tinted stain on back of shirt near top on one side of [something] of a tear.’ 

Whether Abbott was unable to read Cleland’s scrawl or or thought the mention of a bloodstained shirt was irrelevant to the case is a question only he can answer.

Cleland doesn’t mention if the bloodstained shirt was the one Webb was found wearing or if it was the yellow Pelaco coat shirt or the business shirt (minus name tag) he had packed into his suitcase. It might be reasonable to suspect it was the one he was wearing as it was separated from the suitcase’s contents and was being stored at the morgue for Jimmy Durham to use when he re-dressed and photographed the body. What’s more, if the stain was on one of the shirts found in Webb’s suitcase the detectives would have certainly made mention of it.

The physics of blood spatter – Physics World

This bloodstain casts a new and peculiar light on the circumstances surrounding the death of Charles Webb as there was no corresponding wound found on his body.

Perhaps there’s someone astute enough to create a hypothesis that combines (1) the man wearing a suit and hat whom Olive Neill saw looking down at the semi-conscious body by the bottom of the steps for a long five minutes in the early evening and (2) her companion’s strong recollection that the body was wearing differently styled trousers compared to the ones Webb was found wearing the next morning and (3) Professor Cleland’s opinion that  “The lividity around the ears and neck was perhaps surprising in view of his position, but it was explainable. It would depend on how much the head was supported, it may have been slight, perhaps no more than one’s head supported on a pillow,” and lastly (4) the witness account of seeing a well-dressed man carrying a man along the foreshore of Somerton Beach at about 10 pm on the night of November 30th. The witness was was near a location called the Dugouts and walking north towards Glenelg, the man he was watching was walking south.

The physics of blood spatter – Physics World

Perhaps the well-dressed man was returning Webb to the steps after he had died elsewhere. In this case it’s helpful to remember that if Webb was poisoned with a glycoside then he would have made a mess of himself, particularly given that when his body was examined by Dr Dwyer he was found to have Acute Hemorrhagic Gastritis as well as Pharyngeal Congestion, a condition that can result in bleeding from the throat. Diarrhea can also be a byproduct of glycoside poisoning.

A closer look at the Somerton Man’s NINE medical conditions.

12 Comments Post a comment
  1. On the first full page of handwriting (P6) Cleland says “face mark”.
    In your previous posts you describe lobotomies.
    If a small hole was made (as per photo of face) in the groove where the top of nose meets the forehead for a “wire loop leucotome” the resultant discharge would flow across the eye socket, across the cheek and below the ear then around the neck to the upper back to a shirt.
    It could be wiped away but what about the shirt?
    Put a coat over it to cover it up. That’s why he was wearing the jacket, and YES, why wasn’t this made known?

    November 12, 2022
    • The ice-pick method had the long needle inserted into the top of the eye socket nearest the nose and apparently the procedure didn’t produce any noticeable bleeding or scarring.

      November 12, 2022
      • Agreed, but much more complicated with insertion at this angle for this length, then change to this angle for this length and move it backwards and forwards for exactly this distance. It hadn’t been widely mastered in SA and still more risky due to above procedure just for a cosmetic outcome given that 75% or more were done on women.

        November 12, 2022
  2. Clive #

    Interesting that on page 5 of the report remarks: “The deceased was so close to the steps that one would hardly expect anyone contemplating a quiet death by poison to choose such a situation”. Perhaps he suddenly took a turn for the worst and, had no choice but to lay down against the wall. Did anyone assist him or, had he been trying to get away from someone/someplace? Was the well dressed man, who looked down for 5 minutes, checking to see if the SM was still alive e.g. for any movements? Still not sure what Lawson’s diary entry of ‘original body’ meant.

    November 12, 2022
  3. Clive, given that PL was busy working on an imitation likeness of Webb’s body perhaps he needed to differentiate in his notes between that and the ‘original.’

    November 12, 2022
  4. Clive #

    Perhaps that was the case, but when I asked Paul about this ‘original body’ note, he couldn’t remember.

    November 12, 2022
  5. em #

    you have to also bear in mind that the stomach contents (pasty)of the day before was still there. if he was poisoned, wouldn’t he have thrown it up? Any ideas?

    November 14, 2022
    • Good question … who knows what he took? I read on Cramer’s blog that the bloodstains on Webb’s shirt may have come from an unclean morgue trolly or table when they laid Webb out and undressed him. The problem with that thinking is that if indeed the trolly or table used in the morgue was left unclean, which is doubtful, then Webb’s coat and pullover would have had bloodstains on them as well.

      November 14, 2022
  6. Nigel #

    It sounds like the stain was not even analysed to determine if it was blood, it was simply that colour. Certainly the subject would have come up at the inquest if the coroner had attached any importance to it. It was probably obviously too old to be relevant.

    November 14, 2022
  7. Nigel
    A ‘large blood-tinted stain.’ I reckon the old boy knew what he was talking about given his experience and reputation, and I can’t see Webb hanging onto let alone putting on a shirt with such a stain given the care he took with his appearance, particularly as he had another business shirt (carefully packed) in his suitcase.

    November 14, 2022
  8. Clive #

    The well dressed man seen carrying the body of the SM in a Southerly direction was probably, as you surmise, returning the body to the steps. It’s frustrating that (1) neither John Lyons, Olive and her boyfriend got a good look at his face and, (2) The jockeys were looking at the SM before John Lyons turned up, the following morning, yet the police never interviewed/questioned the jockeys-why not? I understand there was more than one jockey, in other words multi-witnesses who could have confirmed his features and, possibly other details not recorded by the police.

    November 16, 2022
  9. janpots #

    Sounds like he was poisoned forcibly (tear in shirt did I read?) and his money taken as a possible red herring. He could have been vomiting blood & grasping at his neck, hence the bloodied hands. Or trying to prevent being forcibly attacked around face. neck or mouth.
    Looking at the code like letters in the Rubaiyat, I thought his POW brother Roy Webb may have tried to get a message to him. Soldiers were told to let the world know of their plight & left coded messages on cigarette packets scraps of paper & anywhere they could. As he was a POW in Malaya MALAI 1 CORP & the book letters MLIA 01 I wonder if that was the case.
    Carl Webb was said to have visited a nurse. She was said to have a copy of the book. His brother died while a POW in 1943.
    Then there’s the wife of Roy Webb, Ruby Stella Webb. Whose kin were mentioned as gangsters. The Keanes.
    I think the answer to his death lies in his reason for traveling to Adelaide, the house he visited & where his money disappeared to. Perhaps some sort of scam involving property purchase/rental? Or news about his brothers suffering causing him to want to ‘end it all’ & he tossed his money himself?
    In my opinion the person/s he visited while there were not put under enough scrutiny.

    December 8, 2022

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