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The Body By The Steps. Why There? Updated.

Update at bottom of post … courtesy of Clive.


Not everybody believes Webb was the man being carried along the foreshore of Somerton Beach the night before he was found dead, witnesses notwithstanding, after all it took them ten years to speak up.

Feltus writes that there was a statement typed up and signed to that effect but like pretty much everything about this case it’s no longer available to read. Maybe it was one bloke carrying his too drunk to walk mate home after a big session at the pub, though the witness did say the man doing the carrying was well-dressed.

Guzz put forward the view that Webb’s body may have been transported to the top of the steps by car late at night, removed, carried down the steps to the sand and propped up against the sea wall, had a smoke tucked under his chin then the villain shimmied back up the steps to the car he’d parked on the Esplanade and sped off in a cloud of exhaust smoke.

Job done.

… and there was no specific intent to connect the body’s positioning with the Crippled Children’s Home across the way. The steps were handy. Nobody was about. A walk in the park, yes?

But what if a night nurse happened to be taking a break and was looking out of any one of those windows overlooking the top of the steps and the Esplanade? You think our man might have considered that? Dumping bodies has got to be a fraught enterprise particularly during a balmy summer night and across the road from a two-story building holding a couple of dozen kids with polio or cerebral palsy* and their night support staff. Lights burn in those places at all hours. Doctors come and go. Nurses come on and go off their shifts. Kids have to be taken to the toilet or cleaned up. Busy busy day and night. Some children with these conditions have no control over their limbs or bodily functions. None. Sometimes they fall and are unable to save themselves, breaking their under-developed bones like this little bloke. Though it doesn’t stop them from smiling.

Caring for them is a 24 hour-a-day job.*

There may too have been a canoodling couple down there in the shadows of the sea wall, or a fisherman sorting out his kit. Perhaps our man took the steps down for a quick look-see before loading up.

Then of course he’d have to be ready to duck for cover if a car came out of nearby Ferris Avenue or Bickford Terrace  .. or, mercy upon mercy, a patrolling cop car on the lookout for men too drunk to walk home from the pub!

So much to think about.

Probably best to drive the stiff out of town and dump it in the scrub.

But no  .. despite all these dangerous variables our man dropped Carl Webb right in front of the Crippled Children’s Home and to add to the mystery either he or someone else made sure the event would eventually be connected to Nurse Jessica Thomson.

Brighton Beach and The Esplanade. | Australia history, Brighton beach, Aerial view

Brighton Beach and The Esplanade. Somerton Beach 3.5 kms away.

Coroner Cleland – “Although he died during the night of the 30th November – 1st December, I cannot say where he died.”

Professor John Cleland – “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.”

Professor Sir Stanton Hicks – ” …. If it (the poison) had not been self-administered, and the body brought there (Somerton Beach), that would remove any doubts as to the time at which death took place, as well as any other difficulties.”


*Initial symptoms of polio are fever, fatigue, headache, vomiting, stiffness of the neck and pain in the limbs. One in 200 infections leads to irreversible paralysis (usually in the legs). Among those paralysed, 5–10% die when their breathing muscles become immobilized. Polio mainly affects children under 5 years of age. There is no cure. From 1944 to 1954 there were over 1,000 deaths from polio in Australia..

World Health Organisation.,under%205%20years%20of%20age.

*The author spent 10 years working at the Spastic Centre of NSW. The Somerton Crippled Children’s Home commenced housing children with cerebral palsy in 1944.

Update 13 Apr.

Clive has just found exactly what Sly Dog was suggesting may have existed. I’m in the company of geniuses.


9 Comments Post a comment
  1. I know it’s being pedantic, but could we refer to SM as SM and not Webb or Carl Webb? All we know is that he may have modelled for the bust, and even then, just the hairs on any coat collar would be pointing in the right direction (roots out).

    April 12, 2023
    • Well, that’s fair enough Loner, though somebody new to the game might come by this post and not be able to connect SM with Carl Webb, so best keep up with developments eh? Besides, calling out Doc Colleen Fitzpatrick is a bit major.

      April 12, 2023
    • Guzz Rating #

      loneranger… Another thing to consider about the tested hair.

      Who supplied the hair to the DNA tester?
      Did Doctor Fitzgerald pluck them out of the plaster cast herself?
      In short…How certain are we about the provenance?

      OK… I have to hold my hands up and admit I don’t WANT the SM to be Webb. Carl Webb is far too boring to be the end product of one of the 20th Century’s biggest mysteries…AND…no matter how hard everyone tries, we just can’t find any link between Webb with Harkness or Thomson or even Adelaide, for that matter.

      And, at the risk of being accused of being a conspiracy theorist (who?… moi!) I think that such an ordinary chap, like Webb, being put forward as the SM makes things much more comfortable for SAPOL and the other authorities who’s “balls up” of the original investigation can surely not be put down purely to incompetence.

      After all, SAPOL can now say, without raising too many eyebrows…”why would we put so much effort into covering up the identity of someone who was already a no-one !”

      April 13, 2023
      • I believe Abbott and Fitzpatrick did all that they could with what they got and their results are likely correct. I also now believe SAPOL’s actions weren’t a “balls up”. Your last sentence says it all.

        April 13, 2023
  2. Guzz Rating #

    Pete… ” …. and to add to the mystery either he or someone else made sure the event would eventually be connected to Nurse Jessica Thomson.”

    If Harkness was being set-up then the person trying to frame her must have…

    1, Knew Harkness’s phone number was in the Rubaiyat. (Probably wrote it in there himself)
    2, Have been confident the person who’s car he had thrown it in would come forward with it. (Like I said in earlier threads, I wouldn’t have come forward with that book, injecting myself into the investigation…and in any case, the minute I’d have noticed such a book of pure poetic bollocks in my car, I would have binned it….I mean, who would read crap like that?)
    3, The person trying to frame her must have put the “Tamám Shud,” bit of paper in his pocket.
    4, and then…must have been really sweating it when, after the initial search of the body, no one had found that bit of paper tucked in his pocket.

    Why would the “setter-upper” leave so many things to chance when he could have left the whole, unripped, book with the corpse?

    April 13, 2023
  3. a lurker #

    What if he was ill but not dead and someone thought he’d be found and looked after there? Perhaps they’re not local and had meant to take him to the steps up near Weewanda St hoping he’d end up in Patawilya (South Glenelg Hospital)? Or perhaps they realised there was more activity (and more likelihood of being found) at Alvington….

    April 13, 2023
    • What You Say makes sense, it is possible he was given a dose to make him pass out and was placed on the beach where the drug would wear off He would wake up confuse and probably missing a watch or any other valuable. But maybe SM or Carl had some other preexisting condition like sugar in the Blood or a Bad kidney and the drug triggered his death. Probably Thompson being protected in his ilegal activities knew he would have no problem against any acusations Made by SM when SM woke up. But I Guess we can’t be sure until we find out how Somerton Man knew the Thompsons and where he was working at the time.

      April 13, 2023
  4. The Sly Dog #

    Maybe the SM wasn’t carried down the stairs that were opposite the intersection of Bickford Tce & The Esplanade (and probably at each of the streets with an intersection along The Esplanade), but rather carried down the graded ‘ramp’ that was located just a bit north of the Cripple Children’s Home. A ramp that was probably constructed to help get disabled kids staying at the CCH down to enjoy the beach, link in that B&W photo of the nurse and children.
    Now, I reckon carrying a limp, lifeless body would much easier down a ramp to the lower seawall (and walking back south a bit more to be closer to the base of the stairs) rather than negotiating stairs! And to know about the ramp vs stairs was there would probably require some local knowledge. Dumped where he was found because it was easy access while carrying a load.
    There is a Black & White aerial photo put together for the greater Adelaide metro area, captured by the RAAF in late January 1949 that is available for purchase under a restricted licence (sorry, I can’t share mine). Small samples available from this link:
    Imagery has what looks like beach huts for a few block south of Bickford Tce (are these the often mentioned Bunkers??) as well as providing a snap shot of all the locations we know associated with this case only 2 months after SM was found dead.

    April 13, 2023
  5. Sly Dog, you old sly dog .. check the update

    April 13, 2023

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