The Hawley Harvey Crippen Murder Case Part 1

About the Hawley Harvey Crippen murder case, a husband accused of murdering his wife in English court.


The Murder: Cora Turner Crippen, born Kunigune Mackamotzi, stage name Belle Elmore, was a flamboyant, florid woman with dark eyes, who dressed like a peacock and bedecked herself with jewelry. The last time she was seen alive was the evening of January 31, 1910, when she and her husband, mildmannered Hawley Crippen, entertained friends, the Martinellis. The 4 of them played whist until 1:30 A.M. Mrs. Crippen stood at the top of the steps to see their guests off shortly after the end of the game.

"Don't come down, Belle," said Mrs. Martinelli. "You'll catch a cold." She caught more than a cold.

The next time any part of her was seen in public was when a piece of her stomach skin, bearing a long scar, was passed around on a soup plate at the murderer's trial at Old Bailey in London.

The Hunt: Mrs. Crippen, who fancied herself an entertainer, was not very talented, in spite of the fantastic wardrobe her husband had bought her. Nevertheless, she was active in the Music Hall Ladies' Guild, of which Mrs. Martinelli was also a member, and she had many friends. Those friends were somewhat surprised when Dr. Crippen told them, a week after the dinner party, that she had gone to California. It wasn't like her not to have talked about such a vacation. Belle was a talker.

Her friends were even more concerned when Dr. Crippen showed up only a few weeks later at a dinner dance given for the Music Hall Benevolent Fund with a female partner, a Miss Ethel Le Neve. He didn't seem the type to be fooling around while his wife was away on a vacation. Moreover, his companion was wearing a brooch which belonged to his wife.

On March 12, Miss Le Neve moved into the Crippen house. On March 24, Dr. Crippen sent Mrs. Martinelli a telegram saying that Belle had died in Los Angeles at 6 the night before. Belle's friends weren't willing to leave it at that. They wanted to know the details, where to send flowers. Crippen then said that Belle had been cremated, and her ashes were on their way to England.

At the end of June, one of Belle's friends, who had become more and more suspicious, went to Scotland Yard and started an inquiry. Chief Inspector Walter Dew and Sgt. Arthur Mitchell went to call on Dr. Crippen at his office on July 8. Crippen immediately said that his story was not true, that his wife had left him for "a man better able to support her," possibly a comedian named Bruce Miller. Crippen had been ashamed to admit it, he confessed. He willingly took the officers to his house and showed them around. They saw nothing to arouse their suspicions and went away.

It all might have ended there, if Crippen had not lost his nerve. The day after the officials came, he went to Rotterdam with Miss Le Neve, and from there to Antwerp, where he booked passage for Quebec on the S.S. Montrose.

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