The Somerton Woman 1
She is the other half of this mystery.
The mystery being the basis of the what was an obvious relationship between Carl Webb and Jessica Harkness, the Somerton Woman, who, once she knew the body found close to her home was not that of Alf Boxall said not another word to anyone about any aspect of the matter, not even to her daughter, keeping silent for decades.
Silent to her deathbed. A secretive woman. A woman with a hidden, dark side to her nature.
How many different types of relationships could there have been for a young woman, a nurse, to have had with a middle-aged man whose known background suggested he may have had some mental issues?
Perhaps they met at a hospital in Melbourne when Webb was admitted for treatment because of another self-harming episode or to have his appendix removed. But why keep that a secret? Nurses treat hundreds of patients and attend to hundreds of ailments.
Maybe they knew each other socially when they both lived in Melbourne. Why keep that a secret? Post-war Melbourne was a lively city with thousands of returned soldiers on the loose, not to mention the Yanks who hung around frightening the horses rather than go home.
Perhaps he was a family friend and the harsh treatment he dealt out to his wife was known to them. So what? That would have been Webb’s secret to keep, not Jessica’s.
Maybe they knew each other intimately when they both lived in Melbourne prior to Jessica becoming pregnant with Robin. She wasn’t married at the time so why the secret? Jessica was no shrinking violet given her post-war patronage at one of Sydney’s best harbour-side hotels. That Verse 70 inscribed on the fly-leaf of the Rubaiyat she gave Boxall is pretty indicative of the nature of their relationship. Booze, parties and hangovers. Who hasn’t been there?
Perhaps Webb had his dastardly way with Jessica when she was much younger, something shameful. Something to be kept secret.
Perhaps Webb had a relationship with Jessica’s mother, something Jessica found out about. Something to be kept secret.
Though it would seem that she had little doubt her secret, whatever it was, would harm her relationship with Prosper, marrying him a few years later. So perhaps he didn’t know Carl Webb after all.
Perhaps, in 1949, since Jessie wasn’t married to Prosper, the last thing she wanted was to have Prosper find out that she and Carl had known each, for a few years. Something that may have given food for thought to Prosper, who may have wondered just how ‘well’ Jessie and Carl had known each other. Since Jessie had a baby to bring up, and, presumably relying on Prosper for a roof over her head, she wasn’t going to blab to Det. Canney when he knocked on her door? Even more so, if her ‘relationship’ with Carl had left her with bitter memories.
One of the big questions is why, seemingly, the police gave Harkness a free pass.
The police must have known that Harkness knew exactly who this guy was but they seem to have let her off…unless, of course, she did identify him.
But if that was the case, then the police must have had a better reason to have not gone public with his identity than that it would hurt Harkness’s relationship with Prosper.
After all, the police would have been duty bound to have informed SM’s nearest relatives.
Guzz Rating: Interesting issue you’ve raised. Perhaps Jessie’s ‘No’n0,no’ to Paul Lawson and the other police detectives was just that. On the way back home, she told Canney a different story & he promised the press would never learn the true facts. What could she have told him?
Clive…”What could she have told him?”
Wish I knew mate. It’s baffled me for years. What DID she say that made the police give her a free pass?
Let’s not forget that they were probably already pee’d off with her for sending them on a wild goose chase by naming SM as Alf Boxall….so you can only imagine how the next visit from the police with Harkness went.
Something along the lines of… “RIGHT, smart arse, stop buggering us about…who is this dead dude on the beach, right next to your house and why did he have your phone number.??? ”
I don’t think that tip-toeing around in order not to damage her situation with her latest boyfriend, Prosper, would have been high on the police list of priorities by this stage.