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Did Carl Webb come calling at 90a Moseley Street?

We know Webb could be a dangerous man.

‘Again in about July 1946 I called in Constable Carter of St. Kilda Road police, after being chased out of the flat and struck as I reached the front porch. The Constable entered the flat but the Respondent said very little to him other than that I only imagined these things and that I was quite mad at times. Outside the flat Constable Carter advised me to see about having him bound over to keep the peace, and agreed with me that he could be dangerous.’ Transcript from Dorothy Webb’s Divorce Petition.

Webb was an inveterate gambler and a volatile individual prone to erratic and extremely violent behaviour who once attempted suicide by overdosing on 40 phenobarbital* tablets after inhaling ether.


27 November 1948.

The Adelaide Advertiser.

Wanted bungalow, pay cash £1,500. Can give tenancy maisonette, all mod cons, rent 22/6, Glenelg. Phone Thomson X3239

The phone rings.

‘Hello, this is Sister Thomson.’

It’s a gentleman enquiring about the tenancy ad.

He mentions he’ll be in Adelaide in a day or so. Could he pop around to view the property?


Three days later he is found dead a hundred yards away from the advertised maisonette. His knuckles bloodied, his pockets emptied of all identification and cash.


Webb was known to like poetry and he had an obsession with death.

‘He has written many poems, most of them on the subject of death, which he claims to be his greatest desire.’ Dorothy Webb.

The police suspected suicide.


Six months later Sister Thomson was asked by the police to view the plaster-cast made of Webb’s head and shoulders and immediately upon recognising him she looked away, her reaction so intense they feared she might pass out.


“I was quite certain that death was not natural    …. when I sent in my report the poison I suggested was a barbiturate or a soluble hypnotic, and I think that is still consistent with the finding,”

“Assuming Dr. Cowan found no barbiturate or any common poison, I was astounded that he found nothing, as I thought he would. I know he is a chemist of considerable experience, and if he did not find any I accept his finding .but there are changes that could occur, particularly with certain quick acting barbiturates.”

John Matthew Dwyer LQMP.

*Phenobarbital (Luminal) is an anti-seizure drug that belongs to a class of medications known as barbiturates. It is rarely prescribed, due to a risk of toxicity and overdose.

Phenobarbital (Luminal) is a barbiturate drug that can be toxic and potentially lethal in very high doses. 


Supposition Number 3,298 ….

Jessica Harkness / Thomson, through her years of nursing recognised the volatility of Webb’s nature and sent him away, unwilling to rent the maisonette to a man with such obvious problems. This event, together with Webb’s ongoing misfortunes triggered his suicide and indicates it was he who tucked the TS slip into his own fob pocket then disposed of the Rubaiyat it was torn from through the open window of car parked nearby. The broader supposition is that he ate a pasty that night in conjunction with swallowing enough phenobarbital tabs to kill himself. To force them down if you will.

What’s more, perhaps Jessica’s refusal to give any substantive answers to Gerry Feltus’ questions and the ‘dark secrets’ her daughter said she hid were in fact an indication of the guilt she harboured, knowing that in her actions of turning Webb away from her door led to him taking his own life..

21 Comments Post a comment
  1. a lurker #

    Here’s an idea you dind’t ask for (but you’d be used to that 😉 )

    Webb comes looking, and is happy with 90A and gives Sister T a small deposit (cleared him out of cash) to hold the place for him once they find their bungalow. Next day he turns up dead (possibly related, possibly not). Sister T thinks it’s odd they don’t hear from him again, but no real drama – they’ve got the deposit, they’ll just wait for him to contact them again. Then the fuzz rock up asking why her number would be in a Rubaiyat. She genuinely has no idea (because at this point she has no idea that the body on the beach was the prospective tenant), and the Boxall saga is legitimately an unrelated tangent. She gets asked to view the bust, and is bit startled because he’s the potential tenant – she doesn’t really know who he is (other than the guy who came looking for a place), and she figures if there’s no connection maybe they can just pocket the deposit.

    I think there were other house-related ads linked to x3239 – might have a peek where abouts in Webb’s timeline they occur.

    Side thought: Is the phone perhaps in her name rather than Prosper’s because she was more likely to be home during the day, or because there might have been a reason people would look for her number (maybe related to her job as a nurse).

    November 17, 2022
  2. a lurker #

    Addendum: There’s another post 11th June. She wasn’t shown bust ’til about 26th. but don’t let that stop me.
    They wait 6 months, and not seeing Webb again decide to pocket the deposit and readvertise (and TBH probably well within their rights to do so). Now when she gets called to check out the bust and realises who it is she’s worried that she’ll have to surrender the deposit. She figures it’s not entirely a lie that she didn’t know who it was – and it’s not likely they’ll make the connection with the tenancy (otherwise they would have shown up sooner).

    A small problem with that idea occurs to me. I suspect the ads for the tenancy are an attempt to get someone else to take over the lease rather than to actually let the place out herself – but that might actually play to your idea 3298 – you’d be very careful choosing someone to take over a lease if it’s going to come back on you.

    But something else occurs to me re Webb calling at Moseley. Is there a possible Dorothy connection to Moseley St that Webb might have been chasing (not necessarily 90A, but probably somewhere within the group). Why did people think he was looking for Sister T – did he ask about her by name? by description? by “the person who lives here”? something else?

    November 17, 2022
  3. Clive #

    a lurker: Interesting slant on what may have happened. The “Shannon Flats” are on the corner of Bath/Moseley St, next door to 90a-I find it surprising that if these were the flats that the SM visited, asking about ‘ a nurse’, that the person who talked to him wasn’t aware about Jessie next door? Then again, perhaps the flat occupier knew of Jessie and, this stranger came across as an oddball, therefore, he/she kept their mouth shut and shook their head? And wouldn’t Jessie have given some type of receipt to the SM if he paid a deposit? Perhaps she did and it disappeared, along with other paperwork etc he had in his possession.

    November 17, 2022
  4. Gentlemen … the point of this post is to demonstrate that Webb may have ingested enough phenobarbital to succeed in entering the netherworld, despite Dr Cowan’s findings ..

    November 17, 2022
  5. Clive #

    And the Phenobarbital dosage may have been at the hands of Jessie, hence 7 months later, her visit to view the bust, only brought silence from her.

    November 17, 2022
    • In other words, she was able to stuff more than 40 tabs into Webb’s mouth without his resistance ? … Clive, mate, no cigar.

      November 17, 2022
  6. em #

    I suspect that CW was a long-time user of Phenobarbital. i think that this was prescribed to him either due to a) seizures or b) as i suspect he was neurodiverse – on the spectrum – to treat anxiety. I think phenobarbital contributed to his depressive and mood swings. I think that the several suicide attempts weakened his heart. i think that is why he moved to Cottesloe – time away. i think CW went to Adelaide on business- he found Prospers ad and called him from a pay phone jotting down directions in a shorthand code on the rubaiyat as he didn’t have anything else to hand. I believe on the fateful day while meeting Prosper, whether during a game of poker or gambling CW started feeling unwell collapsed hitting his fist on a table as he went down, I believe Jo Thomson as a nurse was called to help CW. Jo thinking CW suffering from a heart attack requested digioxin from the pharmacist which could have been nearby. Jo administers digoxin, the combination with the other medication proved fatal. Prosper etal not wanting implication to arrange for the disposal of the body. The Rubaiyat fell out of CW coat pocket in the pharmacist car.

    November 17, 2022
  7. lurkalot #

    Phenobarbital could also have been the cause of his suicidal ideation and depression if he was prescribed it.

    November 18, 2022
  8. thedude747 #

    em# I don’t mind your hypothesis and have discussed similar here. Remember PT wasn running a flea cab and had been convicted and fined in court only a month prior to Carls death.
    Im not sure what the penalty was for a second offence within a month for running a flea cab , could it mean severe fine of jail time? We know PT panics in Perth when arrested threatens to kill himself.

    So the connection to PT could be as you say Carl jots PT’s number down from his driver for hire add on the book he happens to have in his hand and PT acts as Carls driver in Adelaide.

    Late in the arvo Carl is starting to feel crook PT offers to take him to get a bite to eat at his local bakery “”Wenzels” but Carl doesn’t perk up.

    PT takes him to Mosley st to see if the nurse can help but Carl expires right there in the Mosley st bungalow leaving PT with a serious conundrum. How does he explain the dead guy in his lounge room?

    He’s exposing himself for having once again been running a flea cab and what questions will they ask? will they blame PT. Bugger it ill just dump him down the beach, its not my fault the guy carked it.

    November 18, 2022
  9. Clive #

    Didn’t realize the amount of tablets involved, good job I don’t smoke!!

    November 18, 2022
  10. Clive, have you, like me, believed for a long time that Cowan’s list of common poisons he tested for unsuccessfully included barbiturates?
    Dude, you?
    Lurkinglout, you?
    misca, you?
    Dogger, you?
    AlanH, you?
    Eligh, you?
    JerryK, you?
    Nigel, you?
    Boris …… you?

    Sanders, you? And while you’re at it ask Dome.
    I’d ask Cramer and DA but both those blokes think I’ve got the plague.

    November 18, 2022
  11. The Sly Dog #

    Forty tablets didn’t do it the first time he tried… so we are talking a lot of pills / 40+ to assist SM to the other side, if that was his poison. Even if Cowan didn’t find chemical trace as part of his analysis surely there would be some remaining evidence of a huge number of tablets still in his digestive system if taken in a huge oral dose?? We are most probably talking old school hard pressed tablets, prob intended for slow release to treat medical conditions they were prescribed for.

    November 18, 2022
  12. Clive #

    As “The Sly Dog” states, no trace of any tablets in his system seems hard to believe. So, if not tablets, some type of injection more likely? Since Cowan couldn’t even determine what the Black substance from the brush, found in the suitcase, was composed of, is it possible that Cowan overlooked a vital clue?

    November 18, 2022
  13. dude47 #

    In the 70s doco an ageing Leane from memory mentions finding a syringe close to the body.

    November 19, 2022
    • Yeah, I remember that, and the old lad remembered incorrectly that the TS slip was found in Webb’s coat pocket, which coincidentally agrees with the University of Adelaide’s Critical design review page as it too states that the slip was found in Webb’s coat pocket. Looks like the two honours students who put it together were a bit sloppy on research, being Andrew Turnbull and Denley Bihari, both working like beavers under the supervision of Professor Derek Abbott and Dr. Matthew Berryman. To top it off they never twigged the 4 A’s either despite what looks like a very complicated de-coding attempt.

      November 19, 2022
  14. Clive #

    I read, somewhere, that a syringe had been found, near the steps on a nearby bench. If this story is true, this raises more questions as to (1) Why has this fact been covered up; (2) How could the SM have injected himself, leave the syringe on a bench and manage to walk back to the sea wall?; (3) Someone else did the necessary injecting.

    November 19, 2022
    • If SM was injected it was probably PT since he was standing right behind SM and both PT and JT were acting strangely that night.

      November 22, 2022
  15. Eligh #

    I thought they tested for barbiturates. As I recall they didn’t test for Digoxin (digitalis), and in those days the test methods for it were not well developed. That would make it a good candidate for an undetected poison. Judging by ads, you could get digitalis for your dog at the chemist.

    November 20, 2022

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