The Hawley Harvey Crippen Murder Case Part 2

About the Hawley Harvey Crippen murder case, a husband accused of murdering his wife the trial and verdict.


On July 11, Dew found that Crippen was missing. Suspicious, he searched the house again and found nothing. The following day, he went back once more. Again, nothing. However, on the 3rd day, Dew noticed that the bricks on the floor of the coal cellar were loose. and he began to dig in the clay under them. A few inches down, he found what later turned out to be a human body with no head, limbs, bones, or sexual features. (It was said later that Crippen threw the missing pieces overboard on the boat to Dieppe.) Shortly after, a warrant was issued for the arrest of Crippen and Miss Le Neve.

Meanwhile, aboard the S.S. Montrose, Le Neve had disguised herself as a boy, but not too well. The captain thought there was something strange about Mr. Robinson and his "son." They were far too affectionate with each other, and the "son's" pants seemed to be held up with safety pins. The captain sent a message to London (the 1st time wireless telegraphy was used to prevent the escape of a criminal). Dew sailed in a faster ship to Quebec, and, disguised as a pilot, boarded the S.S. Montrose, where he arrested Crippen for the murder of his wife.

The Accused: Crippen, an eye and ear specialist, was born in Michigan. He had bulging eyes, a straggling moustache, and thick, goldrimmed glasses. Always, he seemed the pillar of respectability. Somewhat timid, he was dominated by his wife (who was his 2nd). She made him do domestic work, which in those days was humiliating for men. Moreover, she was unfaithful to him. Before she disappeared, she threatened to leave him and take their joint savings of pound 600 with her. (She did, in fact, notify the bank in December, 1909, that she was planning to do so.)

It was no wonder that Crippen had a mistress, Miss Le Neve, who worked in his office. Le Neve was the opposite of his wife--mouselike, neat, reserved, ladylike.

On January 17, 1910, Dr. Crippen ordered 5 grains of hyoscine from Messrs. Lewis and Burrows and signed for it with his own name. It was in keeping with his gentle character that he chose to use that particular drug to kill his wife. Hyoscine was used to treat meningitis and delirium tremens; as a poison, it induced a tranquilized sleep, which ended in death.

It was about 2 weeks later that Crippen did the deed.

The Trial: The trial opened at Old Bailey before Chief Justice Lord Alverstone on October 18, 1910. The prosecutor, Richard Muir, asked very damaging questions. Three days later the trial ended in a verdict of guilty. Lord Alverstone begged Crippen to "make his peace with Almighty God." Replied Crippen, "I still protest my innocence."

He remained faithful to Le Neve, and wrote a letter defending her: "In this farewell letter to the world, written as I face eternity, I say that Ethel Le Neve has loved me as few women love men, and that her innocence of any crime, save that of yielding to the dictates of her heart, is absolute. My last prayer will be that God will protect her and keep her safe from harm and allow her to join me in eternity."

Ethel stood trial; she was found innocent.

The End: Crippen died by the hangman's noose in 1910.

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