July 15- 30, 1910: Murder-suspense stories don’t get much better
than that of Dr. Hawley H. Crippen, an American living in London
who ran off with his secretary after killing his wife and burying
her body in the cellar in a particularly gruesome fashion – original
newspaper accounts said that most of her bones were missing.
a thumbnail of the sensational case: Crippen, who lived with his
family in California as a young man, led a fairly nomadic life in
the medical profession, spending time in Los Angeles, San Diego,
Salt Lake City, Brooklyn, N.Y., Philadelphia and Toronto.
Somewhere in his wanderings, he met vaudeville actress Belle Elmore,
known “for her good looks and laughing disposition,” who was born
Kunigunde Makomarkski and used the names Cora and Corrine Turner,
according to Elmore’s sister.
Crippens went to England and since 1908 had lived at 39 Hilldrop
Crescent, North London. Dr. Crippen was involved in a rather
mysterious business that kept him away from home and he became
involved with his secretary, Ethel Clara Le Neve, whose name was
spelled many ways in the old newspapers.
April 1910, Dr. Crippen wrote to a letter to his in-laws, saying
that his wife had died in California during a sudden, unexpected
trip to arrange an inheritance of some property. Another of Dr.
Crippen’s letters, advising a theatrical guild of his wife’s death,
aroused suspicions because he misspelled her last name as Ellmore
instead of Elmore and guild officials contacted investigators.
Crippen disappeared after an initial police interview and
investigators thoroughly searched the house, discovering a mutilated
body covered with quicklime in the cellar. Police began hunting Dr.
Crippen and Le Neve, receiving many clues before determining that
they were on a ship headed for America.
Newspaper readers were tantalized by a race across the Atlantic
between the ship carrying the fugitive couple and Inspector Walter
Dew of Scotland Yard. On July 29, 1910, Dew arrived in Father Point,
Quebec, to intercept the ship carrying the fugitives.
Times published an interview with Crippen’s father, M.A. Crippen,
who was living at the Veranda Apartments, 3rd and Flower streets in
Los Angeles. The Times also tried to interview Crippen’s son Hawley,
who was staying with in-laws at 1612 Holmby Ave.
in front of the home and armed with a Winchester rifle, Hawley
Crippen’s father-in-law, J.C. Herwick, said: "No, sir, my son hain't
heerd a word about his pa, ner he ain't goin' to be pestered by no
reporters. I don't read the dirty sheets, ner he ain't goin' to talk
with any of ther dirty newsgetters, so you kin just dust yourself
right along or you'll get into trouble," according to The Times.