Australia Australia - Tamam Shud Case - Male, Dec 1948

ntt1

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1948 Australia… 3 years post-WW2. No TV just radio and print newspapers. Adelaide back then was a LONG way from his family ties to Melbourne. My family lived near the Princes Highway that connects the two cities. Even in the 70s it was single paved lane in both directions, Not even a divided road. We are talking at least 2 LONG days to drive Mel-Adl, or for this man, a lengthy train ride. It was quite the effort for our guy to get there in the 40s.

My father was one of 10 kids. Not a close family and many didn’t keep in touch. I also don’t think we ever saw a newspaper in our house even in the 70s. News in the 40s was discussed - for example - in the parking lot after church or at the pub bar. Australian pubs usually had a family dining room attached and were kind of a bar/diner combined. With gossip but without visuals I think it would have been very possible for family to not know this was their sibling or friend.

I also bet it was the outlandish theories being gossiped about and reported on the radio - Is he American? A spy? What a mystery! Why would his siblings have ever thought this could be their everyday family member?
Exactly this. Losing touch was not uncommon at all in those times. Sometimes siblings just went their separate ways and not every family is/was close. There is so much that we don't (and possibly will never) know.
 

Hochman

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And after all the conspiracy theories he was just a normal everyday “bloke” in Aussie lingo (bloke = man). Congratulations @Identifinders for your work on this case.


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.

Fitzpatrick and Abbott say Robertson filed for divorce in Melbourne, but 1951 documents revealed she had moved to Bute, South Australia — 144 kilometres northeast of Adelaide — establishing a link to the neighbouring state, where the body was found.

"It's possible that he came to this state to try and find her," Abbott speculated.

"This is just us drawing the dots. We can't say for certain say that this is the reason he came, but it seems logical."

The information on public record about Webb sheds some light on the mysteries that have surrounded the case.

They reveal he liked betting on horses, which may explain the "code" found in the book, said Abbott, who had long speculated that the letters could correspond to horses' names.

And the "Tamam Shud" poem? Webb liked poetry and even wrote his own, Abbott said, based on his research.

"South Australia Police have not confirmed the discovery but say they will comment soon."

It's only a tentative ID right now.
 

Melt71

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Like so many people who jump onto conspiracy theory, why also are people here quick to jump to this "possible" outcome. How about we see what happens with further validity by authorities.

Correct and as I pointed out a day or two ago, this isn’t an ID that meets Australian legal requirements.

However we need to balance that against the probability of error. I doubt @Identifinders or any professional company, would have issued a press release if they weren’t confident of their own work. One error would destroy their credibility and consequently their entire business. Not to mention potentially throw hundreds of other IDs and criminal legal cases into doubt.
 

GatorFL

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Like so many people who jump onto conspiracy theory, why also are people here quick to jump to this "possible" outcome. How about we see what happens with further validity by authorities.
Dr Fitzpatrick literally invented forensic genealogy. She had 40 something hairs from the death mask to work with. Doubtful she'd stake her reputation on misidentifying such a high profile unknown. JMO
 

Sikkim

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So Webb had 6 siblngs, parents, grandparents, cousins, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, in-laws, workmates and schoolmates, friends and acquaintances, neighbours, knew bookmakers, publicans and his local shopkeepers, but none of them put their hand up if they saw his picture in the papers. Not even his wife. Why am I finding this all a little too convenient and dubious? Was Jessica involved in the disposal of his body, placing the TS slip in his pocket and dumping the Rubaiyat? Are the authorities going to sign off on this?
He had 5 siblings, one of whom was dead by the time he went missing (Roy Webb died in WW2). His parents were also dead by the time he went missing. There's no real evidence that he even knew Jessica.
 

Arboreal

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Nope, Robin and his daughter Rachel have no connection to Charles at all. The whole Jestyn story was a red herring, her denying to ever have seen him turned out to be the truth after all. She likely really didnt know him.
As for her phone in his notebook, well, she was a nurse, he may have gotten her contact from someone for whatever reason but never actually met her. I have plenty of phone number in my address book i never used.
Hi Susikatze
Has the lack of connection been confirmed between the person Professor Abbott had identified as the "Somerton Man", Mr Webb, and Jestyn (Jessica Ellen Thomson (nee. Harkness)) and her son Robin and his daughter?
I don't recall seeing that in any of the articles I read but I have not read all of them, I admit.
 

Arboreal

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Correct and as I pointed out a day or two ago, this isn’t an ID that meets Australian legal requirements.

However we need to balance that against the probability of error. I doubt @Identifinders or any professional company, would have issued a press release if they weren’t confident of their own work. One error would destroy their credibility and consequently their entire business. Not to mention potentially throw hundreds of other IDs and criminal legal cases into doubt.
I suspect that more certainty will emerge in the coming weeks, because the police have genetic material from the exhumed remains can be compared with that from the relations of Charles Webb, now all children of his siblings.
 

Susikatze

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Hi Susikatze
Has the lack of connection been confirmed between the person Professor Abbott had identified as the "Somerton Man", Mr Webb, and Jestyn (Jessica Ellen Thomson (nee. Harkness)) and her son Robin and his daughter?
I don't recall seeing that in any of the articles I read but I have not read all of them, I admit.
Yes it is written in the articles.
 

kadman

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I'm all for mysteries being solved. I just play devil's advocate at times. There have been many strange mystifying cases in history that resolved with an exclamation of "Oh, so that's what it was all about in the end" or similar. :)
 

Susikatze

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I beg to differ... i think most "mysteries" do turn out to be quite "ordinary".
For example the Sumter Does. They were believed to be Canadian, a wayward doctors son looking for freedom or a dissident couple fleeing the Argentinian junta. Turned out it was an Army veteran and recently divorced car dealer from Pennsylvania and a former beauty queen and country band singer from Colorado who were likely hitchhiking together. Just your regular people looking for a bit of sun and fun in the "summer of love". They may not even known each other but rqndomly ended up in the same place.
 

TootsieFootsie

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New details emerge on why the Somerton Man’s wife requested a divorce​


Desertion. Up to 3 years "after he died", she was still trying to track him down.

Moody, called her insulting names, would go for hours without speaking to her.
Aggressive when he lost on the horses or cards.
 
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Arboreal

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Yes it is written in the articles.
Thanks for your reply, Susikatze. I found a reference: "Fitzpatrick said the DNA evidence disproves any genetic relationship with Robin Thomson". The Guardian.
This may well be further confirmed if, as one would think, the DNA recovered from the remains is compared to that of Rachel Egan, Robin Thomson's daughter.
I must confess that I am still puzzled by the accounts of people who saw Jessica Thomson's (nee. Harkness)) reaction to viewing the plaster cast of the torso at the mortuary. They claim she reacted as if she knew the man and later investigators and Jessica Thomson's family also thought she knew the identity.
I am also puzzled by the piece of paper discovered in the dead man's trouser fob pocket, with the words, tamám shud printed on it, and which provided the link to the Rubaiyat and to Jessica Thomson, via her telephone number being written in it. The book often shown, with the mysterious letter sequence has the words ripped out, but it seems to me - and I may be wrong - that the shape of piece of paper discovered in the fob pocket does not match the hole in the book so often depicted. See: The six clues that have failed to solve the Somerton Man mystery. However, the South Australia State Records, state that the paper found in the fob pocket did come from the copy of the Rubaiyat handed to police some months later: "The Rubaiyat from which the ‘Taman Shud’ paper had been torn".
Some dispute that the photograph of the torn page is from the actual copy handed in. See: The only items not photographed were the most important
 

DRT

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Latest article. A few pictures of Rachel Egan and Professor Abbott who is amazingly linked to the Somerton Man by occupation. (That is stretching coincidences a bit)

There are a couple of photos of wedding divorce records of Carl Webb and Dorothy Jean Robertson.
 

Arboreal

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A couple of observations - 1 of 2
1. Prof. Abbott took hairs from the plaster cast of the corpse of the "Somerton man". These hairs analysed to identify a Carl (Charles) Webb, born in 1905. At present the identification is based on those hairs recovered from the plaster cast made of the body. Whether these are were from the Somerton Man (as seems likely) or someone else has not been confirmed. Presumably the DNA recovered from the grave of the Somerton man will be identical and the police/coroner/pathologists, by familial matching, will be able to confirm the results obtained from the hairs recovered from cast.
2. Given the intense amount of publicity this case generate, from the moment the body was discovered and through the 1950s, including publishing photos of the body, and the presence of Mr Webb's wife in South Australia, at that time, it is bewildering that someone did not make the link. This is all the more so, given that Mr Webb came from a large family (at least by today's standards) - he had five siblings - and the case was well publicised outside of South Australia.
3. Mr Webb was an electrical engineer and instrument maker. In 1940 he was 35. From about 1941, Australia was fully mobilising all citizens for the war effort. Mr Webb would have been taken into the armed forces or given an exemption from service as such skilled occupations were reserved. I searched the National Archives of Australia and also the Australian War Memorial and it appears that Mr Webb did not serve. I am no expert on those search engines, however and may not have been using the correct search terms. However, there might be records of what Mr Webb was doing during the war years. And where he worked and presumably trained. To be an electrical engineer one had to do an apprenticeship.
 

Arboreal

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A couple more observations - 2 of 2
4. Carolyn Bilsborow was reported in the Guardian as saying: “My feeling has always been that it’s been suicide, that Rubaiyat was known as a kind of suicide handbook”. I had seen this claim before about the Rubaiyat but having read it many times, I see no basis for the claim. The Rubaiyat, as translated by Fitzgerald, went through in five editions, with substantial revisions between each. There is absolutely no advocacy for suicide nor any instruction on how to go about it. The various editions are poetry, being reflections on life and its impermanence and living well before you pop your clogs but not being too worried about it all. However, and this is where it gets interesting, I recall seeing sometime ago the assertion that the Rubaiyat was found with the bodies of other people who had taken their own lives. A bit of digging and in 1945, a certain Samuel Saul Marshall killed himself by drinking a concoction containing barbiturates. See "Perth Poet - Chose Omar Suicide Verse As His Epitaph".
Mr Marshall chose as the location of his suicide Ashton Park, which was next to the Clifton Gardens Hotel. This appears to be a popular place as, according to multiple bloggers it was the scene of Jessica Thomson (nee Harkness) giving Alf Boxall a copy of the Rubaiyat. This was in August 1945.
A key witness into Mr Marshall's suicide was a Gweneth Dorothy Graham, a 25 year old hairdresser. Miss Graham told the inquest that she had first met Mr Marshall four years previously, but had lost contact with him until early in May, when he had called her up "out of the blue". Over the next few weeks they met for dinner five times, but had quarrelled frequently. After their last meeting he had sent her a cheque for £200 (approximately eight months of the average male wage) to set up her own hairdressing salon. A few weeks later Miss Graham took her own life. She slashed her wrists while in a warm bath, according to press reports of evidence given at her inquest.
5.Although it is tempting to see links here, we must be cautious and remember that the Rubaiyat was extremely popular from about the 1870s and was published in many editions. It was particularly popular in times of great stress, when people were daily facing peril and in need solace to make sense of their lives and indeed, just cope with what they were experiencing. The fatalistic verses of Fitzgerald's Rubaiyat do just that. Many people had copies and it was not at all out of the ordinary to give it.
6. Following publicity, a man named Keith Waldemar Mangnoson identified the Somerton Man, as Carl Thompsen. He is reported to have received death threats to silence him. Mr Mangnoson claimed he had worked with Carl Thompsen in 1939. What is intriguing here is that the man Mr Mangnoson identified as the Somerton body, has the same forename as the man identified by Professor Abbott and the same name, phonetically, as Jessica Harkness used when with Prosper Thomson. However, Mr Mangnoson suffered from mental health issues and this identification may be a result of that and the names a coincidence.
7. According to Rowan Holmes Jessica Harkness worked at the Home for Crippled Children in front of which the Somerton man's body had been found.
8. Others fascinated with this mystery - and there is so much more yet to come out - discovered that a "C Webb" was, during the war years, dealing in motor vehicles from a residential address in South Yarra. This activity seems to have continued at this address, even after "C Webb" is thought to have decamped to Adelaide and then been found dead on Somerton Beach. The writer, Nick Pelling, then asks, "Might there be some kind of car dealer connection? Or is all that just a normal Somerton Man coincidence?". Indeed. Prosper Thompson placed many advertisements connected with motor car dealing.
The Somerton Beach case is full of so many coincidences. But coincidences do happen, often because people meet and associate with the same type of people through their lives and often circulate in the similar social milieus even when they change cities.
 

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