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Dr Crippen

Hawley Harvey Crippen was an American, born in Michigan in 1862, who qualified as a doctor in 1885 and worked for a patent medicine company. He had come to England in 1900 and lived at 39 Hilldrop Crescent, Holloway with his second wife Cora Turner, who was better known by her stage name of Belle Elmore.

Cora CrippenEarly in 1910 Belle disappeared and Crippen moved his mistress Ethel le Neve into the house, and she began to wear his wife's clothing and jewellery. Belle Elmore's friends reported their suspicions to the police. Crippen had been telling people that she had moved back to the USA to see a sick relative.

Detective Chief Inspector Walter Dew visited Crippen, and left the premises after Crippen had claimed that his wife had eloped with a lover, and a search had not revealed anything of a suspicious nature.

Crippen and Ethel le Neve left the country for Antwerp, and then took a cabin on ss Montrose bound for Canada. The house at Hilldrop Crescent was searched again, however, and remains of a female body were found buried beneath the cellar. Dr Bernard Spilsbury, the famous pathologist, identified the body as that of Mrs Crippen from a piece of abdominal scar tissue, and found that there were traces of a poison hyoscene in the body.

The search for Crippen was assisted by the master of the ss Montrose who suspected that the "boy" accompanying one of his passengers, Mr Robinson, was Ethel le Neve in disguise. He entered history by the first use of the telegraph to relay his conclusions to the ship's owners and the police. Walter Dew took a faster ship the ss Laurentic and arrested Crippen before he could land in Canada.

Crippen was convicted at the Old Bailey and executed. Ethel le Neve was acquitted.

Digging up the garden of 39 Hilldrop Crescent.   Walter Dew is on the extreme right. The cellar where Cora Crippen's remains were found.