Hawley Harvey Crippen, usually known as Dr. Crippen, was an American homeopath, ear and eye specialist and medicine dispenser. He was hanged in Pentonville Prison in London for the murder of his wife Cora Henrietta Crippen, and was the first suspect to be captured with the aid of wireless telegraphy. Take a look below for 28 more interesting and bizarre facts about Hawley Harvey Crippen.
1. In 2007, DNA evidence questioned the identification of the body found in Crippen’s cellar that was supposed to be Crippen’s wife.
2. This evidence suggested that the remains discovered in his cellar were, in fact, those of a male person. These conclusions are disputed.
3. Crippen was born in 1862, to Myron Augustus Crippen and Andresse Skinner Crippen, in the town of Coldwater in Michigan.
4. The family was prosperous, owning a dry goods store that enabled them to live a comfortable life, but Crippen was nevertheless raised with a strict Protestant work ethic.
5. Pursuing a childhood interest in medicine, Crippen graduated from the University of Michigan, before pursuing an M.D. degree at Cleveland’s Homeopathic Hospital.
6. On completing his studies, he moved to New York, where he met and wed an Irish nurse named Charlotte Bell. They had one son together, named Otto, but Charlotte died suddenly of apoplexy in January, 1892, leaving Crippen a widower, with a young child.
7. Unable to cope, he persuaded his parents, now living in California, to take care of Otto, and he remained working in New York, where he met Cora Turner, who become his second wife in September 1892.
8. Shortly after their wedding, America’s fascination with the fashionable practice of homeopathy waned considerably, and Belle found herself with a living standard below that which she had expected.
9. Most importantly, money for dramatic lessons dried up, and a nationwide economic depression closed many theater, taking Belle’s dreams of stardom with them.
10. Crippen was forced to take a job as a consultant for a homeopathic mail order business, Munyon’s Homeopathic Remedies, which proved a shrewd decision as mail order businesses were booming, and Crippen’s intelligence and work ethic impressed his employers.
11. By 1895, he was the Philadelphia area general manager for the company and, in 1897, he was charged with opening the company’s first overseas offices, in London.
12. In 1897, Crippen transferred to England with his wife, although his U.S. medical qualifications weren’t sufficient to allow him to practice as a doctor in the U.K.
13. As Crippen continued working as a distributor of patent medicines, Cora socialized with a number of variety players of the time, including Lil Hawthorne of The Hawthorne Sisters and Lil’s husband and manager John Nash.
14. Crippen was fired by Munyon’s in 1899 for spending too much time managing his wife’s stage career.
15. He became the manager of Drouet’s Institution for the Deaf, where he hired Ethel Le Neve, a young typist, in 1900, and they were having an affair by 1905.
16. After living at various addresses in London, the Crippens finally moved in 1905 to 39 Hilldrop Crescent, Camden Road, Holloway, London, where they took in lodgers to augment Crippen’s meager income.
17. Cora cuckolded Crippen with one of these lodgers, and in turn Crippen took Le Neve as his mistress in 1908.
18. After a party at their home on January 31, 1910, Cora disappeared.
19. Crippen claimed that she had returned to the United States and later added that she had died and had been cremated in California. Meanwhile, his lover, La Neve, moved into Hilldrop Crescent and began openly wearing Cora’s clothes and jewelry.
20. Police first heard of Cora’s disappearance from her friend, strongwoman Kate Williams, better known as Vulcana, but began to take the matter more seriously when asked to investigate by a personal friend of Scotland Yard Superintendent Frank Froest, John Nash and his entertainer wife.
21. Crippen admitted that he had fabricated the story about his wife having died and explained that he had made it up in order to avoid any personal embarrassment because she had in fact left him and fled to America with one of her lovers, a music hall actor named Bruce Miller.
22. The police was satisfied with Crippen’s story. However, Crippen and Le Neve didn’t know that and fled in panic to Brussels, where they spent the night at a hotel.
23. The following day, they went to Antwerp and boarded the Canadian Pacific liner SS Montrose for Canada.
24. Their disappearance led the police at Scotland Yard to perform another three searches of the house. During the fourth and final search, they found the torso of a human body buried under the brick floor of the basement.
25. Crippen and Le Neve were arrested on board the Montrose on July 31, 1910. Crippen was returned to England on board the SS Megantic.
26. A theory which was first proposed by Edward Marshall Hall was that Crippen was using hyoscine on his wife as a depressant or anaphrodisiac, but accidentally gave her an overdose and then panicked when she died.
27. In 1981, newspapers reported that Sir Hugh Rhys Rankin claimed to have met Ethel Le Neve in 1930 in Australia and that on that occasion, she told him that Crippen murdered his wife because she had syphilis.
28. The novelist Raymond Chandler commented that it seemed unbelievable that Crippen would successfully dispose of his wife’s limbs and head and then, rather stupidly, bury her torso under the cellar floor of his home.