Hawley Harvey Crippen Biography
Dr. Hawley Harvey Crippen was an American homeopath convicted of killing his wife and became the first criminal to be caught with the aid of wireless communication. He had decided early on in his life to become a doctor and worked hard to achieve his goal. But troubles in his personal life turned the respected professional into a nasty criminal who brutally murdered his wife. His wife had a string of affairs which led him to disappointment and eventually he fell for another woman, himself resorting to infidelity. This whole situation of betrayal made him believe that killing his wife was the only option to overcome this chaos and save his reputation in the society. After inhumanly murdering his wife, he also made up false stories to mislead the friends and the police in order to prove his innocence. But ultimately, he succumbed to the consequences of the dreadful act he committed and he was hanged for it. It was a complex case of unfaithfulness, disbelief, deception and disloyalty in a relationship which eventually ended with the tragic death of a human being reaffirming the ultimate truth that “Crime Never Pays”. This case is also considered important because of the fact that wireless technology played a key role in his capture.
- He was born on September 11, 1862 in Coldwater, Michigan, U.S. to Andresse Skinner Crippen and Myron Augustus Crippen, owners of a dry goods store.
- He had a keen interest in medicine and received his early education at Coldwater, Indiana, and California. Crippin graduated from Michigan School of Homeopathic Medicine in 1884.
- In 1892, he met Cora Turner, an aspiring actress and a would-be singer from Brooklyn, with the stage name of Belle Elmore. She was born to a German mother and a Polish-Russian father, her original name was Kunigunde Mackamotzki.
- She was a charming woman who used her sexuality to advance her career and achieve success. He was attracted towards her beauty and she was impressed by his medical title which resulted in their marriage in September 1892.
- In 1894, he took up a job as the consultant for Munyon’s Homeopathic Remedies in New York and impressed his employers through his skills. In 1895, he was transferred to the Philadelphia branch and after two years, to the London branch of the company. In the mean time, Cora remained in Philadelphia, pursued her acting classes and got involved in numerous affairs.
- After he settled in London, she also joined him with the ambitions of making a career. But her talent was little as compared to her dreams to become famous and her profession as a stage artist in London was patchy.
- In 1899, Crippin was accused of spending too much time administrating his wife’s stage career and was fired from the job.
- In the early 1900s, he was employed as the manager of ‘Drouet’s Institution for the Deaf’ where he met Ethel Le Neve, a receptionist in the firm. She was a conservative and intelligent woman, an exact opposite of Cora, and he became somewhat infatuated with her.
- Meanwhile, Crippen and Cora moved to a new place in London where Cora insisted on keeping lodgers in their house, as it would be an extra source of income. But, one day he returned home to find her in bed with one of the lodgers. He was disappointed with her infidelity and also started an affair with his receptionist after that incident. Their marriage fell apart with each passing day; they constantly argued blaming each other for the worsening situation of their marriage.
- By 1909, when his wife threatened to destroy his reputation in the society, he decided to end this web of infidelity once and for all by killing her. Initially, he told one of his friends, Dr. John Burroughs, that he had concerns about her health.
- In 1910, after a dinner with friends at his house, he tried to sedate her with a drug to end her life and later connect her death with the illness story he had told his friend. But instead of being sedated, she became agitated and started making loud noises causing him to shoot her with a revolver in order to kill her.
- He dissected her body parts and destroyed them with his knowledge of anatomy, burying the torso in his cellar. He told her friends that she has fled to America to attend a sick relative and later informed them of her untimely death due to illness and cremation in California. But the friends became suspicious about his behavior and informed the Scotland Yard ‘Officer Walter Dew’, about her sudden disappearance.
- The officer enquired about her to which he told him another fake story. He told the inspector that she ran away with one of her lovers to Chicago and also that he created this false account of her death in order to avoid all the embarrassment. He convinced the officer of his innocence but panicked with the involvement of police and decided to move to Canada.
- On hearing the news of his sudden disappearance, police became more suspicious of him and searched his house intricately to find a clue. They found Cora’s torso in the cellar and declared him a fugitive on the run. By that time, he had disguised himself and Ethel as Mr. Robinson and his son, respectively, and boarded a ship to Canada.
- But the captain of the ship, Mr. Kendall, identified the criminals from their pictures in the newspapers and informed the Scotland Yard through the wireless Marconi radio fitted in the liner. Officer Dew boarded another liner and reached just about in time to arrest the criminals on board. He became the first criminal to be caught with the aid of wireless communication.
- He was found guilty of deliberately murdering his wife with a pre-devised plan, destroying the evidence and misleading the police with false stories. He was hanged on November 23, 1910 in Pentonville Prison, London, for his heinous act.
- He married an Irish nurse, Charlotte Bell in 1887. They had a son, Harvey Otto, born in 1888. He left his son in the care of his parents after his wife’s death due to apoplexy in January 1892.
- In 1894, he married his second wife Cora Turner and murdered her due to her illicit relations with other men in 1910. He had an affair with Ethel Le Neve, a young typist he met at work.
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