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Electroconvulsive therapy, frontal lobe lobotomy, brain scrambling and the mysterious death of Carl Webb

.. and the possible reason for a small bandage found on the bridge of Webb's nose, left side.

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Disparities …

It’s all quite pedestrian ..

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Lawson sat in a darkened room creating the bust while his every move was being watched by a detective who was guarding the door.”

Life’s wild ride

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This post is all about Carl Webb’s brain.

How ice picks used in lobotomy surgery make a visit to the dentist an attractive proposition.

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Soapbox 2 “Paul Lawson told Clive Turner DS Leane knew the Somerton Man’s identity.” 

Soapbox series number 2

Clive Turner had some long conversations with Paul Lawson so you could say he knew him better than most folks who come by this way. During a chat with Clive on the 22nd of May 2020, Lawson said Detective Sergeant Leane had told him he knew The Somerton Man’s identity* How and when that happened is likely to have been in the days between June 2nd 1949 and June 15th when Lawson was in close contact with them in the mortuary.


When Lawson was given the job of producing a plaster-cast likeness of Carl Webb he may have expected to be able do the job in relative peace and quiet, particularly as the old Parkside Mortuary, now known as the Glenside Mortuary must have been a very unpleasant place to work, particularly with Webb’s corpse being six months old and despite it being embalmed, not to mention the odiferous nature of the other corpses in cold storage including that of Tibor Kaldor. Remembering too the number of times Webb’s corpse had to be slid out and examined by the dozens of hopefuls who thought they may have known him and the ghouls who were only curious.

The old Parkside Mortuary, also known as the “Dead House”

Yet despite what the place must have smelt like, the investigating police were looking over Lawson’s shoulder for almost the entire process.

The following information taken from GF’s The Unknown Man.

2nd June 49 – Lawson taken to morgue by Detectives to view the body.

7 June 49  – Lawson, with the assistance of several police and Detective Brown removes the body from cold store. At this stage the body was beginning to thaw and discharge liquids.

8 June 49 – Lawson works on bust as Detective Brown and ‘another‘ police officer discussed the case.

10 June 49 – Lawson removes remaining mould – Detective  Brown inspects and approves it as Lawson commenced to remove some of the stitches that had been placed in the head during the autopsy as Professor Cleland had asked him to remove part of Webb’s brain, but given the imminent funeral arrangements Lawson was advised to go no further and not to replace the stitches he had already removed. It should be noted that Dr. Dwyer did not remove Webbs brain during his autopsy though he may have examined it in situ, hence the stitches.

15 June 49 – Lawson completes mould for Detectives Brown, Noblet, Leane and Professor Cleland to inspect and approve, Cleland being ‘very displeased’ that his request for a sample had not been met.

17 June 1949
– The inquest commenced.

The investigating police already knew SM’s identity.

23 July 1949 – Chemist Freeman Freeman hands the coded Rubaiyat to Detective Sergeant Leane.

The investigating police already knew SM’s identity.

25 July 1949 (abt) – Detective Canney arrives at 90a Moseley Street and interviews Jessica Harkness.

The investigating police already knew SM’s identity.

26 July 1949 – Detective Sergeant Leane and other detectives accompany Harkness to the South Australian Museum where she is shown the bust, he reaction was described as being ‘completely taken aback.’ She did not identify the bust and only answered No to the questions asked of her by the detectives.

The investigating police already knew SM’s identity.

So did Jessica Harkness.

Her name was kept secret for sixty-four years until unearthed in about 2014, years after her death. Ditto with chemist Freeman.

And now we know why Prosper wasn’t interviewed.

And we know why the police stymied the investigation, as described in excruciating detail in the preceding post.


Run to 1:57 and watch as Lawson attempts to keep Littlemore at bay, realising he may have gone a little too far with his answers and as a result attempts to shut the interview down.

Littlemore asks, ‘did you get the feeling that any of them really did know him?’

Is he referring to Jessica Harkness, or DS Leane?

Thanks to Clive and Dude47  … much appreciated.

NEXT ….. Soapbox series number 3

We need to know why Cleland wanted to take some of Webb’s brain back to his laboratory.

There might be some participatory tension.

*Clive emailed me this information on October 19th 2022

Prosper McTaggart Thomson and his participation in WW2

His two years and nine months in uniform.

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The Somerton Body Case – where are we?

The only difference between what we’ve known for seventy-four years and what we know now is the Somerton Man was Carl Webb, a Victorian gentleman of suburban means who had a standard education, played football, liked a bet on the ponies and was one of a large family. He deserted his wife in 1947 – leaving her childless – and managed to avoid war service possibly due to owning an exemption by having a trade ticket as a electrical fitter / instrument maker.

Webb was found to be packing some of his nephew’s clothes and he unusually repaired his own with a heavy-duty wax thread. He wrote letters but if he ever received responses he didn’t keep them. It is said he enjoyed poetry, had a sullen disposition and would sulk even in his mature years. He dressed well for the times including a pullover despite the season, though Professor Derek Abbott insisted he wore a cardigan when found, an item of apparel he went on to say indicated Webb was of a better social class than most.  Webb kept his over-large un-calloused hands clean, fingernails free of dirt and shoes highly polished. His physique was described as remarkable, having broad shoulders, a deep chest and highly developed thigh and calf muscles. He was also missing eighteen teeth. An examination of his remaining ivory showed they had no signs of having had to support dentures. The diet he pursued to achieve such an impressive physique despite only having half the teeth he was born with has yet to be determined.

Carl Webb is suspected to have been the owner of the Freeman Rubaiyat as part of its back page was found rolled up and tucked away in his fob pocket. The code written on the back cover was at one time thought to be evidence of his involvement in espionage however the failure of a succession of experts to decipher said code has now convinced many that it is an acrostic of unknown origin. The years-long online insistence by Gordon Cramer that the code was an example of steganography, ie; hidden micro-writing within the code has been proved to be a theory born of a flight of his own paerodolic imagination and it is no longer taken seriously, though he perseveres with it. Cramer’s current position is that Webb could have been a spy schooled in steganographic techniques whilst working his trade in a protected and secret industry connected to weapons making.

When Pigs Fly

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

Latterly we have been led to believe the code is some kind of tipster sheet, though it would surprise many if the progenitor of this awkward proposition, Professor Derek Abbott, has ever wagered a dollar on a horse other than buying a sweep ticket in the race that stops the nation – The Melbourne Cup.

So, all up this Webb fellow looks pretty much run of the mill stuff as far as middle-aged Australians go in 1948, yet many have been convinced he had the literary sophistication to not only know what the Persian Tamam Shud meant, he also had the ability to carefully plan the circumstances of his own demise by disposing of the book it was torn from in a car which fortunately happened to be parked with its back window open near to where he was found dead and only hours after he enjoyed a relaxed supper wherein he apparently made short work of a vegetable pasty, and, encouragingly for the investigating police, the book had two telephone numbers written on the back according to detective Brown, one that partly furthered their investigations, the other they disregarded as not worth following up, this despite Professor Derek Abbott’s insistence that the second phone number was in fact a bank account number and is urging his followers to chase it down.

As an aside, this unsecured car scenario might test those theorists who believe Adelaide was a mecca for (car) thieves at the time, particularly as some believe Webb’s missing wallet and money were lifted from his corpse by an opportunist who happened to be passing by.

The witness who came forward in 1959 to say he saw a man carrying a man along the beach on the night before Webb’s body was discovered has been discounted by Professor Derek Abbott as fanciful, his opinion being that a man’s memory is too capricious to be taken as an accurate repository of past events. This statement is known to have irked ex-detective Gerry Feltus who found the witness ‘reliable.’

The fact that PC Moss is on record as saying it was not possible for Webb to light the half-smoked cigarette found wedged under his chin has also been discounted by Professor Derek Abbott, who thinks Moss missed finding a box of matches in his search of the body despite him finding the much smaller and flatter train and bus tickets in a trouser pocket.

Interest in the Somerton Body case has been kept alive for years courtesy of the original work undertaken by Professor Derek Abbott’s diligent UoA students and was enlivened in 2010 by his sudden proposal of marriage to a woman only one day after they met and who he believed at first glance to be Carl Webb’s granddaughter. This ancestral bonding theory is now considered moribund given the results of a recent DNA investigation and is a matter Professor Derek Abbott no longer wishes to either discuss or pursue.




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?


Did Prosper’s $50,000 play a part in Webb’s mysterious death?

We’ve been pushing the case for Jessica being guilty of using Alf Boxall as a red herring for years, hoping her contrived story of presenting him with a Rubaiyat years before would pass muster and absolve her of any connection with Webb’s predicament, like being mysteriously dead a stone’s throw away from her house. Trouble was though, at the time detective Canney visited she didn’t have a pic of Alf on her mantelpiece to settle his concerns so was obliged to trot off to the morgue with a carload of Adelaide’s finest the next day to see Webb’s dead likeness rendered in white plaster.

That shut her up as we all know. No more chat from young Jess.

She did the full Schultz.

The 'Schultz Principle': The greatest gift my parents ever gave me - Australian Traveller


And you had to give it to her, she was still Schultzing when Feltus put the arm on her for his book sixty plus years later. That alone made her a villain, a stone cold ice-lady, Kate Thomson’s dark-side mother, a woman of many secrets and possibly an accomplice to Webb’s murder. Cue dramatic music.

Trouble is Feltus never thought so, wishing her ‘Shalom’ in his book. And now I’m beginning to like him for that.

interesting sign what if quote 200298948003202 by @rubymist

Now here’s the thing: what if Jessica gave that highly detailed info about Boxall to Canney in all truthful innocence only to be told to shut it down (by PT?) when it became known she was going to be taken to see Webb’s bust by a car full of detectives the next day and be confronted with the truth and all its potential implications?

Implications being she knew Webb was in some sort of business relationship with Prosper Thomson and the merits of the business were being recorded on the shady side of the ledger which would be a potential complication in the way forward for the happy couple if the police were made aware of it. Like PT having over $50,000 in cash on his person only days before his alleged business partner was found dead in mysterious circumstances.

How’s that for complications?


Works for me.


A bloodhound’s trail, or follow the money.

You have to sniff around this mystery like a bloodhound, ready to give up a trail gone cold when a hotter one prevails, then you go off in a new direction, hoping it’s one that might provide some indication of the parts played by others involved and in the doing hoping for some answers to a few questions –  like how did Jessica know Webb? And if he died inside her house at 90a Moseley street – what was he doing there, having dinner?  Did Jessica serve up the pasty found in his stomach? Was that what poisoned him? What poison? Did Prosper still suffer from Haemoptysis? Did he use Digoxin or an early derivative as a medication?  Digoxin being in the cardiac glycoside class of drugs. Check link below. Was there a bottle or two in the medicine cabinet at 90a Moseley Street?

And who carried him to the beach only hours later and laid him out for others to find?

And did Prosper (George) Thomson know him? And if so in what context?

That should do for a start: now we can have another quiz at the classified ads placed by Prosper in order to improve his financial situation and see where they might lead us. Any mistakes are mine.


For instance …….

A typical dealer’s ad.

Feb 47 – Clinic Distrib. WANTED – Paying cash or exchange take over terms for Roadster.


Another typical dealer’s ad.

Mar 47 – Clinic Distrib. FOR SALE – Morris 10 hp series 1940 for Dodge or similar. Genuine NSPR. 


This ad may have been placed prior to Jessica’s arrival in Adelaide.

Mar 47 – Box 1009j. WANTED – House or flat. Thomson.


A typical dealer’s ad. 

Mar 47 – FOR SALE – Dodge 1923 single seater NSPR £110


Then these … both in the same month Prosper was looking for a house or flat and the month before Carl Webb dropped off the map.

Sold Price: Stevens Model 66C Bolt Action .22 Rifle - Invalid date EST

Mar 47 – Wanted .22 rifle (This ad place three times this month). Hindley St.

Sold Price: Stevens Model 66C Bolt Action .22 Rifle - Invalid date EST

Mar 47 – WANTED .22 auto or repeater -cash or exchange Healing Cycle. Thomson


An unusual ad for an experienced motor dealer when specifics are almost always required by the customer.

Mar 47 – WANTED. Car, any make, any model, buckboard will do. Thomson Box 1009j.


We assume that the money mentioned in the following ad was the buy-in cost for the prospective partner. In today’s terms the £500 is equivalent to $16,745* making the £1,000 worth $33,490.

Mar 47 – WANTED. Partner for used car business – £500 to £1000. City premises. Box 1009j £500 to £1,000

$100 note should be dumped to starve black economy, economist and Labor suggest - ABC News


One month later …



Another unusual ad for an experienced motor dealer when specifics are almost always required by the customer.

Apr 47 – Wanted. Car or buckboard, any make. McTaggart (ad placed twice more this month). Box 953H


The following ad indicates that someone may be in some financial trouble.

May 47 – WANTED. Employment of any kind. Good refs Thomson. Box 953H


… and that someone may not have been Prosper as he appears to be cashed up according to these three ads placed in the same month. What is unusual is that no make of car is mentioned in the following ads and a suspicious fellow might think that these vehicles may have been used as fleas, especially given the last ad placed in the month.**

May 47 – WANTED. URGENTLY. Car any type, spot cash. Thomson. Box 953H

May 47 – WANTED DESPERATELY. Car, any type, pay cash. Box 953H. £75 to £200.

May 47 – WANTED. Any make car, cash or takeover terms. Thomson. £150. Box 953H


Webb was an electrical fitter / instrument maker by trade: this ad was typical of one for a tradesman’s workshop.

** May 47 – WANTED. Building suit workshop – pay ingoing or buy plant. URGENT. Thomson. Box 953H.


June / July 1947 – Jessica Harkness gives birth to son Robin.


A typical dealer’s ad and the first to mention the need for a taxi.

July 47 – WANTED. 1946 / 47 sedan for taxi. URGENT. Thomson, X3239. Moseley Street.


And again.

Oct 47 – EXCHANGE. Ford 10hp 1937 good as new for car suitable as taxi. Diff in cash. NSPR


This ad was run seven times to end of March and was the first to mention a hire car. In addition, it was only in May 47 Thomson was looking for ‘Employment of any kind.’ Now he has his hands on a NEW black sedan hire car.

Feb 48 – NEW black sedan hire care available for weddings, county trips & c., current rates Phone Thomson X3239


The next notable ad was in June 48 and according to both Clive and Dude47 the cost of a typical dwelling in Adelaide abut that time was about £1,250, today’s equivalent is $41,862.

June 48 – WANTED. BUY HOUSE SUIT SMALL FAMILY. Can exch maisonette. Thomson


The following ads were from 29 Jul to 29 Nov. 1948

SALE. 35mm Argus F4 lens Leica type Best offer. Thomson (plus one more this month)
NEW gas sedan taxi, radio equipped, available weddings, ex Aif driver etc Phone X3239
ad run
NEW Olds, sedan taxi, radio equipped .. etc PHONE X3239
NEW sedan leaving for Broken Hill. 3 seats, n/c (no charge?) Phone X3239
Vauxhall 12 hp sedan, new, 1948 model equipped radio and seat covers, exch for a sedan suitable for taxi, 1940 or later, GM or Chrysler product preferred, this is a genuine deal, based on new price both ways. No dealers, all genuine replies considered. Wrire, call or phone Thomson. (90a Moseley Street., Glenelg. Phone X3239
COURT APPEARANCE. Carrying passengers without a licence
Hire car available for country trips, day tours, weddings. &c. Go any where, moderate charges. Careful ex-A.I.F. driver. Phone Thomson Thomson X3239
Hire car available for country trips, day tours, weddings. &c. Go any where, moderate charges. Careful ex-A.I.F. driver. Phone Thomson Thomson X3239
Hire car available for country trips, day tours, weddings. &c. Go any where, moderate charges. Careful ex-A.I.F. driver. Phone Thomson Thomson X3239
13 Nov – Wanted house, any district, suit couple, pay cash, can give maison-ette with mod. Cons. Glenelg. Very low rental. Phone Thomson X3239
…. then this

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

According to the above ad, on the 27th of November 1948 Prosper George Thomson had the equivalent of $50,235 IN CASH  … No wonder he needed a gun.


Mrs Jessica Thomson at a local car rally … possibly leaning up against one of her husband’s better vehicles. The handbag and shades are no supermarket specials either.

As an aside ….

No reason has been offered as to why Prosper re-located from Melbourne to Adelaide, giving up what may have been a lucrative motor business in Mentone and starting again from scratch,

… and

the other thing we do know that he had in common with Webb was that they both both deserted their wives, childless.

“She had a dark side, a very strong dark side,” daughter Kate Thomson told 60 Minutes.


*$100 in 1948 is equivalent in purchasing power to about $3,348.65 today, an increase of $3,248.65 over 74 years. The dollar had an average inflation rate of 4.86% per year between 1948 and today, producing a cumulative price increase of 3,248.65%.

This means that today’s prices are 33.49 times higher than average prices since 1948, according to the Bureau of Statistics consumer price index. A dollar today only buys 2.986% of what it could buy back then. In other words £1,500 X 33.49 = $50,235.

Flea drivers and nitpickers.

I’ve succumbed to immense peer pressure and decided further idiosyncratic contributions to the Somerton Man Mystery are in order, besides, what do we have other than Chuck Webb’s name to write on his body’s toe tag, or toe bone tag, that old casket must have been mighty dusty.

Reading Dome’s site is a bit of an ordeal lately with all the earnest family gatherers competing for a headline and Cramer definitely needs a serious head-check, losing the six-foot two inch saddle-nosed fully toothed Fedosimov (pic) as a likely suspect must have hurt his prodigious ego immeasurably.

and whatever you do, never mention tiny writing ever again.

Chuck, the mystery body. Fit as a ripe orange but no war service, wearing his dead brother-in-law’s singlet and tie and here he is showing up in Adelaide where he frightens the bejasus out of an innocent young mum who has shacked up with a known villain with deep and everlasting connections in the second-hand motor industry in at least three states – Victoria, West Aussie and South Australia – a very busy post-war industry known for its addiction to fast and tax-free money. And not just hot cars. Taxis played their part in this game as well. Cocaine no stranger in town either and add to that SP betting, fixed horse-races, sly grog shops illegal betting parlours and busy brothels. All of this under the very noses of honest coppers all too busy directing traffic and helping little old ladies cross busy roads.

Prosper did well, buying and selling cars, renting limos, looking for factory space, swapping houses. He fit into Adelaide like he was born there and if anyone seriously thinks a new bloke in town can survive in a business like that without paying what the yanks call a little vig* into the right hands then you haven’t been reading the right literature.


You’ve gone ahead and read it, right? And even though it’s a 1955 article maybe you’re linking the tools found in Chuck’s suitcase with the manufacture of phoney taxi plates and dodgy compliance stickers and wondering if our man’s relationship with young Jessica began in Melbourne when she was out and about with Prosper, aka George, fully pregnant with a little tacker whose DNA hasn’t yet been fully determined. And maybe you are wondering if these circumstances had anything to do with Chuck deserting his wife in ’47, the same year Jessica slipped out of Melbourne for Adelaide’s bright lights.

Chuck’s wife didn’t take the separation too well we read, clearing out of cosmopolitan Melbourne and opting for Bute, a sun-baked little town situated way beyond the black stump where it is yet to be established if she had any relatives living there.

Ironic isn’t it, how Dome once proposed that Webb may have been a nitpicker when in reality he could have been a flea driver.

*Vigorish or Vig: a charge taken (as by a bookie or a gambling house) on bets.


I kind of wish it was over but, unfortunately, it’s not.

It’s the same kind of thing with everything somehow leading to nothing.

There are some twists and turns. (Yes. There are.)

You have been there all the way through. Don’t give up now.

Maybe you need some roses?


One Red Rose Photograph by Svetlana Sewell | Pixels

…. and it’s over

I don’t want to be part of the search for another image of Carl Webb …

and couldn’t much care about his family or background.

I’m out.

I don’t want to read about Gordon Cramer’s doomed attempts to justify his claims of micro-writing and bragging about his visitor numbers.

I’m out.

I don’t want to fight against the ever decreasing numbers who come by here.

I’m out.

Though what’s left in the accumulated posts might be helpful to those who remain inquisitive, and all the best to them.

And for those who have contributed, Clive, Dude and Byron in particular, even you Sanders you incorrigible old bastard, thanks.

I’m out.

For now.

It ain’t over until it’s over.

Put that saying down to Yogi Berra, yank baseball player, the same bloke who was responsible for “It’s like deja-vu all over again”

Well, the Carl Webb Mystery is far from over, never mind what people are saying, we still don’t know all the whys and wherefores. All we know is who he was. The whys are still orphans.

For instance – Jessica Harkness – she knew enough about Alf Boxall to suggest she’d done a fair bit of homework on him by the time Detective Canney rolled up to her front door to ask why her phone number was connected to Carl Webb whose body was found just a couple of hundred yards away from her home six months previously. Carried there in fact. Laid out. Stripped of ID. Not a penny in his pocket. A secret message hidden in a secret pocket. Sounds like something out of a Hollywood post-war thriller.

Then, in the company of three detectives and Paul Lawson she all but lost it when viewing his bust, but not too much as she gave the same one word answer to all their questions.

No. No. NO.

This lady had a secret buried so deep a roomful of experienced detectives couldn’t shake it out of her.

Same with Gerry Feltus when he interviewed her years later, same silence. The lady was stone. And for what? An out of work instrument maker over from Melbourne who repaired his clothing with industrial strength thread and carried a collection of paraphenalia that could open locked doors and start cars?

Then, getting back to Boxall, how come Jessica was able to give the police the whole boxful on him, as in where he worked, drank and lived when he told his interviewer (Littlemore) he never even knew what her last name was? And after looking at the video of that interview a hundred times the more I’m convinced Boxall didn’t even remember meeting her in the first place.

You want more?

Stuart Littlemore, Charles Wooley and Gerry Feltus all had the opportunity to ask if Jessica Harkness was also know as Jestyn. Wooley interviewed her daughter, Kate, Littlemore interviewed Boxall and Feltus spent an hour with the lady herself  .. and none of them asked the question. Now you’ve got everybody from Derek Abbott to Gordon Cramer referring to her as such. Jestyn this and Jestyn that like they have some inside information we don’t.

Meet the researcher who believes he's solved the 70-year-old mystery of 'Somerton Man' | The Independent

You’re nowhere near the end of it Professor.

Come to think of it, when the NSW police first rousted Boxall and he showed them the Jestyn Rubaiyat do you think they might have asked him the Jestyn question, or at least passed the information onto SAPOL so they could ‘continue with their local enquiries.’


Never happened.

Where did he die? How did he die? Who was with him when he died? Who carried him from where he died to where he was found? Whose Rubaiyat was found in Freeman’s car? Who knew what Tamam Shud meant and why did they hide the slip of paper it was written on in his fob pocket? And finally, what influenced Jessica to keep silent all the way to her grave.

An out of work instrument maker over from Melbourne who repaired his clothing with industrial strength thread and carried a collection of paraphenalia that could open locked doors and start cars?


Yogi Berra was on the money.

Yogi Berra, Dead at 90: Remembering the Yankees Hero, Icon, and Wordsm | Vanity Fair

It ain’t over until its over.




What might Jessica, Alf and Estyn have in common?

RMMV Stirling Castle

MV Stirling Castle

Ask yourself .. If you were being sent back to Australia from the UK to face a court martial would it be on the same boat you came over on, the MV Stirling Castle? Bars, babes and deck quoits? Dinner at the Captain’s table, live music in the lounge, deckchairs poolside?

Estyn D. Jones may have.

Estyn? That’s a tough name to grow up with in this country. Who wants to be called that in a classroom of thirty young boofheads, it sounds like a girl’s name, Esther,  and Dick. Another invitation to ridicule is to be called Dick so all a fellow can do to get out of the predicament his parents have placed him in is drop the Dick, grab the J from Jones and stick it in front of the Estyn. Then HEY PRESTO, now we have a young dude nicknamed Jestyn.



Corporal ESTYN Jones posed as a Warrant Officer on MV Stirling Castle on a voyage from Australia to England in March 1946 arriving in the UK in April. This impersonation was deemed an offence and Jones was committed to a Court Martial and sent back to be tried in Keswick South Australia for this and other alleged offences.

Then …. in October of the same year.

Jessica Harkness became pregnant (give or take a week or two)

Alf Boxall arrived home on leave.

and ….

Estyn Jones’ Court Martial commenced in KESWICK SA. re alleged offences committed on MV Stirling Castle, amongst others, all of which were dismissed.

We know he was back at Hampstead, Adelaide by 19 Aug 1946, the court martial papers seem to suggest that he had arrived back in Adelaide only a few days previously. The Stirling Castle had docked in Sydney from 20 Jun to 29 Jun and from 2 Oct to 9 Oct in 1946.

All of this probably doesn’t amount to much other than a chain of coincidences, but I like it, a lot.

And I like even better the way Jones signed off his E for Estyn. The J in Jones looks likely as well but I’m no expert.

Now he’s buried in the same cemetery as Jessica. Not to mention he lived in Henley Beach and that’s where Webb was headed.

Thanks Clive ..

Evidence shows Jessica Harkness wasn’t too bothered ….

“The Advertiser” 11 Dec 1948 Page 16: For sale: ‘Oak table with 4 chairs and Child’s playground”. Mrs Thomson, 90a Moseley St, Glenelg. (No contact number given.)

There are still plenty of people out there who believe Jessica Harkness and Prosper Thomson were somehow involved in the death of Carl Webb despite there being no evidence. It’s a road well-travelled. Been down there plenty of times meself.

The small coastal township of Glenelg would have been a HOTBED of gossip and intrigue in the days after Webb’s body was found lying beside the steps leading to the beach, looking like he’d just fallen asleep. A good-looking clean shaven man, well dressed, unmarked.

Stone. Cold. Dead.

Imagine. The local hotels, bakery, green grocer, bars, paper shop, pharmacies, cafes, restaurants, The regulars who used the same steps to reach the beach every day. Their theories, their questions. All of them asking .. who is he?

Webb’s body stored in the Adelaide morgue and subject to an unending stream of visitors who thought they knew him or were just curious, no doubt some Glenelg residents amongst them. All of them asking …. who is he?

And there’s Jessica, serene, high above the crisis, flogging off unwanted items in the classifieds ten days after the body was found.

Knowing who he was.

Then, three weeks later she was looking to pay cash for a bungalow and rent out Moseley St. (Advertiser 1 Jan, 1949 page 9)

thanks Clive for the heads up


John Russell Keane

Chapter by chapter the Somerton Man mystery closes its pages. We have Carl Charles Webb and now John Russell Keane, leaving the relationship Jessica Harkness shared with Webb and the circumstances surrounding his death unaccounted for.

The incomplete chapters.


Flying Officer John Russell Keane (409839), the son of Freda Grace Webb and Thomas G Keane, served in the Royal Australian Air Force during World War Two. He was attached to RAF No. 5 Operational Training Unit at the time of his death in November 1943. John was the son of Gerald Thomas Keane and Freda Grace Keane of East Brunswick, Victoria, Australia. He died on 29th November 1943 aged 26 years old.

Keane was the pilot on board Lockheed Hudson AM694. The crew took off from RAF Long Kesh, near Lisburn, Co. Down at 1520hrs on 29th November 1943. The non-operational flight was a bombing exercise over Lough Neagh. At 1609hrs, the Australian crew completed their task but proceded towards Templepatrick, carrying out a series of steep turns over Loughermore Estate near Dunadry, Co. Antrim. They were due to return to base and this section of the flight was unauthorised.

During one of these turns, the pilot throttled back both engines and the plane lost height rapidly. The engines stalled and the port wing struck the ground. The Hudson burst into flames and all those on board died in the impact.

Back Row: 1. Flight Sergeant Sydney Ross Hore, 2. Michael Lancelot Huppatz, 3. Leading Aircraftman Donald Edward Hefford, 4. Flight Lieutenant James Hodges, 5. Warrant Officer Clifford Anthony Ingham, 6. Flying Officer Ross Walter Geue, 7. Pilot Officer Stanley Ernest James, 8. Warrant Officer John Morton Kemp, 9. Flight Sergeant Wilfred Harper, 10. Pilot Officer Arthur Leonard Gibbons. Middle Row: 1. Pilot Officer Leslie Ronald Giles, 2. Flying Officer John Russell Keane, 3. Flying Officer Leslie Clive Greaves, 4. Flying Officer Mervyn Charles Heal, 5. Flight Lieutenant Roy Campbell Kennedy, 6. Flight Lieutenant Peter Bowen Jackson, 7. Flight Lieutenant Kevin Elliott Harrison, 8. Flight Lieutenant Peter James Harnetty, 9. Flying Officer Harry Girven, 10. Warrant Officer Frank Henry James Grey, 11. Flying Officer Robert Mackay Hilliard. Front Row: 1. Leading Aircraftman Ian Eric Johnston, 2. Flying Officer Eric Hurrell, 3. Flying Officer Reginald Douglas Green, 4. Flight Lieutenant Ross Vigors Hanns, 5. Corporal Walter Richard John Rice, 6. Warrant Officer John Kendrick Jones, 7. Warrant Officer Keith Leonard James Killen, 8. Flight Lieutenant Eric Anthony Gogler, 9. Flying Officer Frank Knowles Harker.

All information lifted from the following site.

John Russell Keane

Derek Abbott revealed that Mr Webb’s oldest sister, Freda Grace Webb, was married to Thomas Gerald Keane, who went by Gerald.

The couple’s son, John Keane, died in the World War II in 1943, which was the same year Mr Webb’s brother Roy died in battle.

John Keane’s possessions included items such as a map of Chicago and some American coins, which implies he resided in the US at some point.

‘Therefore, the hand-me-downs that (Carl) Charles Webb received from his brother-in-law might likely have included clothing of his nephew, explaining why a number of items in the Somerton Man’s possessions appeared to be of US origin,’ Professor Webb added.

It also gave a further clue as to why Mr Webb had the word ‘Keane’ labelled on his tie when his body was found.


Some of these items if not all might also have belonged to Keane.

‘He was sullen, rude, wrote his own poetry and may have had mental issues.’

The Suicide by Elihu Vedder.

The Keane Connection.

John Keane, died in the World War II in 1943, which was the same year Mr Carl Webb’s brother Roy died in battle.

John Keane’s possessions included items such as a map of Chicago and some American coins, which implies he resided in the US at some point.

‘Therefore, the hand-me-downs that (Carl) Charles Webb received from his brother-in-law might likely have included clothing of his nephew, explaining why a number of items in the Somerton Man’s possessions appeared to be of US origin,’ Professor Abbott added.

It also gave a further clue as to why Mr Webb had the word ‘Keane’ labelled on his tie when his body was found.

The Sister

Mr Webb had five siblings including two brothers and three sisters (pictured, older sister Doris Maud Webb)

Mr Webb had five siblings including two brothers and three sisters (pictured, older sister Doris Maud Webb)

A Tragic Chain of Events.

Documents revealed Webb suffered unspeakable tragedy in the years leading up to his death in 1948, with four of his close relatives dying in a seven-year stretch.

His father Richard died in 1939, his brother Roy and brother-in-law John Keane died in the war in 1943 and his mother died in 1946.

There was also the breakdown of his marriage to Dorothy Jean, which led to the couple’s split in April, 1947.

He Would Be Sullen and Rude.

‘If he (Carl) lost he would be sullen and rude to me, or anyone else, if he lost at cards, he would become unpleasant to everyone,’ Mrs Webb said in documents.

She described him as living a quiet life and being in bed by 7pm each night and that he sometimes ‘refused’ to speak to her.

Dr Colleen Fitzpatrick suspected Mr Webb had mental health issues and would ‘spiral down’.



Speaking to the Guardian Abbot said: “The most important thing is that the DNA taken from the hair caught in the plaster cast of Somerton man matches with distant cousins of Carl “Charles” Webb on both maternal and paternal sides of the family.”

His Poetry

Details about Webb were provided when the couple filed for divorce. “One of the interesting details is that [Webb] was into writing his own poetry,” Abbott says, which connects to the evidence of the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám.


Now we have Carl Webb, we have to start all over again.

“I suspected right from the beginning of this case – because a lot of the spy theories came around in the ’40s. I thought, ‘That’s all very well, but it’s more likely to be something banal, really.’ And that’s what it turned out to be, all quite pedestrian,”

Derek Abbott

Banal: so lacking in originality as to be obvious and boring.

Oh, really?


Carl Webb, electrical fitter / instrument maker, checked his suitcase into Adelaide Station’s luggage office on the 30th of November 1948, paying for a 24 hour lodgement. Then he bought two tickets to two beaches. The following morning he was found dead on one of them.

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.”


Perhaps Webb was in Adelaide to see Prosper Thomson knowing he had a connection to Clinic Distributors and was using their Hindley Street address for his classifieds. That may have accounted for his purchase of the Henley Beach ticket.

He may have made a call from the station to determine if Prosper was there after finding the Clinic Distributors number in the phonebook. Or perhaps he was told the number by someone before arriving in Adelaide.

Perhaps he wrote it down before setting out.


Littlemore: “Chief Inspector, you said there were two ‘phone numbers in – in the book.”

Brown: “Yes.”

Littlemore: “What about the other one.”

Brown: “The other one – er was of er – business premises and we were not able to trace or find any person that had -er spoken to the deceased person. Um – we were satisfied that er- this was just probably noted down in a – in a general way that any -er ordinary person would note the ‘phone number down.”

Littlemore: ” But not necessarily so satisfied about the first one.”

Brown: “No.”


Perhaps Webb was in Adelaide to see Prosper Thomson knowing he had a connection to the Moseley Street address and was using the it for his classifieds. That may have accounted for his purchase of a Glenelg ticket.

Perhaps he was told the number by someone before arriving in Adelaide as finding a telephone number in a phonebook is almost impossible without knowing the name of the subscriber. Perhaps that’s when he wrote it down.

He may have made a call from the station to determine if Prosper was there.

And it’s beginning to look like he was.


Were all the Webbs as camera shy as Carl?

Nobody’s having much luck in finding any more images of Carl Webb and as a result they are beginning to concoct a whole new series of reasons of why not, one being he was gay and given the times wasn’t too willing to advertise it, another that he had a nervous breakdown after his brother died, all meaning ……….

Here we go again.

The committee though has come up with something a little revolutionary, asking if all the Webbs were equally discretionary when it came to having their photos taken and if so then that’s the mystery solved. The whole thing turns into a case of join the club.

We would ask any willing burrower to consider having a dig. Any successful efforts will gain substantial exposure, worldwide.

The Webb Mob

Russel R Webb 1893-1949

Freda Grace Webb 1896-1964

Gladys May Webb 1897-1955


Doris Maud Webb 1901-1956

Mr Webb had five siblings including two brothers and three sisters (pictured, older sister Doris Maud Webb)


Roy Webb 1904-1943


Carl Charles Webb 1905-1948

We need the full collection, and who knows, young Carl might show up at a wedding or birthday party.

New Mission: Carl Charles Webb.

There’s a scene in Sicario: Day of The Solodado where Josh Brolin realises a young girl he’s transporting has gone missing and he calls out his team of mercenaries to say that they have a new mission.

Same here with Carl Charles Webb, once known as The Somerton Man.


Webb was thought to have arrived in Adelaide in November 1948 carrying various tools in his suitcase that were perfectly suited for gaining entry to motor vehicles and starting them without using a key (see previous post).

He was later found to have had two tickets in his pocket that indicated that he had two destinations in mind after arriving, settling for Glenelg rather than Henley Beach.

At the time Prosper Thomson was using a Moseley Street Glenelg phone number in his business of buying and selling used cars and his girlfriend Jessica Harkness was living there with her young son, Robin, his father unknown. She had arrived in Adelaide from Melbourne pregnant the year Webb deserted his wife. They had also lived in Melbourne.

Webb deserted his wife Dorothy Jean (nee Robertson) in 1947 after a childless marriage lasting almost six years.  She then moved to Bute in South Australia, a town 144 kilometres distant from Adelaide.


It is not known if Webb visited Bute before lodging his one suitcase at Adelaide Station on November 30th and buying the tickets to Henley Beach and Glenelg as no train tickets were found on his body, similarly, no lodging stub for his suitcase was found either.

Webb was found dead on Somerton Beach a short distance from the Moseley Street address the following morning and the only signs of violence found on the body was an abrasion between the knuckles of his right hand. Any identification he might have carried was removed.

Three medical witnesses called to the inquest were of the opinion that his death was not natural. The coroner could not say where he died. The two Persian words printed on a slip of paper found in his pocket took six months for the police to translate. The book it was torn from was handed in after the inquest was adjourned and it was found to have Prosper Thomson’s Moseley Street phone number written on the back cover together with series of lines of capital letters which have yet to be deciphered.

The labels on some of his clothes were noted by the coroner as being ‘carefully removed’, which may indicate they were bought second-hand from a clothes dealer who removed them prior to sale.

In the month before Webb deserted his wife, Prosper Thomson was advertising for a partner for an Adelaide used car business as well as placing several wanted ads for weapons (rifles).

In the month after Webb deserted his wife Thomson was advertising for a building suitable as a workshop.

The police were of the strong opinion that Webb was known to Prosper’s girlfriend, Jessica Harkness. Prosper Thomson was never interviewed by the police and as a result it is not known if he too knew Carl Webb.

As of yet no photographs of Carl Charles Webb have been unearthed other than the one taken of his body and none of his sizeable family is on record as having recognised him from his image reproduced in the many newspaper reports printed over the past seventy years.

Newspapers published in every city and major town in the country.

It is also noted that despite Webb being of a suitable age and having a very strong physique, there is no record of him as having any war service, unlike his brother Roy who died in a POW camp in ‘43.

Roy Webb, born 1904.

Roy Webb’s Will was witnessed by his sister Freda KEANE and her husband Gerald Keane of East Brunswick, Victoria.

1947 – Prosper Thomson’s want ads and the possible uses of Carl Webb’s tools.

Updated … *

Screwdriver and Bobby Pin


The Six Pencils.

*‘Graphite powder is the preferred lock lubricant for professional locksmiths, so you know it’s good for lockpicking, All you need is a lead pencil.’  Robin Mansur.


Cut down knife and screwdriver.

*‘Johns & McHale specialised in odometer manufacture and ex-employees talk of how they learned how to disconnect them in rental cars to reduce their costs. There’s also a nice video on youtube showing how you clock a vintage mechanical odometer. All you need is a small screwdriver and a strong, thin, flat edge to prise apart the numbers on the barrel if you want to move them individually.’ Lifted from CipherMysteries, comment by Jamie.


Particle Brush containing an unidentified black powder.

Could be used to apply pencil graphite to the inside of car lock to assist the lockpicker. The black powder shaken from the brush was not successfully analysed by James Cowan as he only tested it for common poisons.



Could be used to strip ignition wires. An electrician/electrical engineer would have no trouble hot wiring any car in the 1940s.



*The Rubaiyat associated with Carl Webb had the Moseley Street phone number Prosper Thomson used for his classifieds (from July 1947) written on the back cover.  Number X3239.

Prosper Thomson’s girlfriend Jessica Harkness, who lived at Moseley Street at the time, almost fainted when she was shown Webb’s bust. When questioned by the police she divulged nothing. Prosper Thomson was not interviewed.

Carl Webb’s body was found on the morning of December 1, 1948 only two hundred yards away from Jessica’s home in Moseley Street.

The coroner ruled that Webb did not die where he was found, citing the body’s conflicting lividity.

The cold case investigator – ex-detective Gerry Feltus – interviewed a man who had formally reported to the police in 1959 that he and three others had seen a man carrying another man along Somerton beach on the night of November 30, 1948, the night before the body was found.  Feltus, a seasoned detective, found the man reliable.

Some conclusions  may be drawn.


Some of the classifieds Prosper Thomson placed in 1947 together with other relevant information.

1947 – Jessica Harkness arrives in Adelaide from Melbourne.

Feb 47 – Clinic Distrib. WANTED – Paying cash or exchange take over terms for Roadster.

Mar 47 – Clinic Distrib. FOR SALE – Morris 10 hp series 1940 for Dodge or similar. Genuine NSPR.

Mar 47 – Box 1009j. WANTED – House or flat. Thomson

Mar 47 – FOR SALE – Dodge 1923 single seater NSPR £110

Mar 47 – Wanted .22 rifle (Three times this month). Hindley St.

Mar 47 – WANTED .22 auto or repeater -cash or exchange Healing Cycle. Thomson

Mar 47 – WANTED. Car, any make, any model, buckboard will do. Thomson Box 1009j.

Mar 47 – WANTED. Partner for used car business – £500 to £1000. City premises. Box 1009j £500 to £1,000


Apr 47 – Wanted. Car or buckboard, any make. McTaggart (twice more this month). Box 953H

May 47 – WANTED. Employment of any kind. Good refs Thomson. Box 953H

May 47 – WANTED. URGENTLY. Car any type, spot cash. Thomson. Box 953H

May 47 – WANTED DESPERATELY. Car, any type, pay cash. Box 953H. £75 to £200

May 47 – WANTED. Any make car, cash or takeover terms. Thomson. £150. Box 953H

May 47 – WANTED. Building suit workshop – pay ingoing or buy plant. URGENT. Thomson. Box 953H.

June / July 1947 – Jessica Harkness gives birth to son Robin.

July 47 – WANTED. 1946 / 47 sedan for taxi. URGENT. Thomson, X3239. Moseley Street.*


And a big thank you to Dude47, who’s been been plugging Webb as a shifty sort of character from day 1.

The Somerton Man’s Ship Has Sailed

The end of a long voyage

Read more

CARL ’CHARLES’ WEBB and His Family Tree.

See end of post for family tree.


The Somerton Man is said to be Carl ‘Charles’ Webb.

Born 1905 Footscray, Melbourne.

He had six siblings.

He disappeared in ‘April 47, the same year Robin was born and Jessica moved to Adelaide from Melbourne.

Deserting his wife, Dorothy “Doff” Webb. Maiden name Dorothy Jean Robertson.

They had no children.

She divorced him in absentia in 1951 and by that time was living in Bute, South Australia, 90 miles from Adelaide.

Electrical Engineer – Instrument Maker.


DNA match made. First cousin three times removed on his mother’s side.

No photo of him found.

No official record of him found other than his record of birth.

No death record.

None of his family on record as having identified him as the Somerton Man from newspaper photos

Derek Abbott claims success. Colleen Fitzpatrick claims success.

SA police have no comment to make, neither verifying or confirming this claim.

Abbott has found Webb had a brother-in-law named Thomas Keane who lived in Brunswick, and believes the sharp objects were likely used in his work as instrument maker.

Abbott found family records showing he wrote poetry and liked a punt on the racehorses.

The following lifted from CNN, article written by Hilary Whiteman.

Who was Carl ‘Charles’ Webb?

According to Abbott, Webb was born on November 16, 1905 in Footscray, a suburb of Victoria’s state capital Melbourne. He was the youngest of six siblings.

Little is known about his early life, Abbott says, but he later married Dorothy Robertson — known as Doff Webb.

When Webb emerged as the prime person of interest on the family tree, Abbott and Fitzpatrick set to work, scouring public records for information about him. They checked electoral rolls, police files and legal documents. Unfortunately, there were no photos of him to make a visual match.

“The last known record we have of him is in April 1947 when he left Dorothy,” said Fitzpatrick, founder of Identifinders International, a genealogical research agency involved in some of America’s most high-profile cold cases.

“He disappeared and she appeared in court, saying that he had disappeared and she wanted to divorce,” Fitzpatrick said. They had no known children.


Courtesy of Byron Deveson.



‘You know how I answer the question, ”Was he a spy?” I get a coin, and I flip it up in the air.’ Feltus.

The Somerton Man is in the news again.

Read more

The Somerton Man’s DNA – What They Said

'I essentially think about him every day and I wonder every day, literally, about the truth and where I fit into all this and where he fits into all of this and how we fit into all of this as a family.' (Rachel Egan)

Read more

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