Notorious 1910 Murderer Was From Coldwater, Michigan
One of the early 20th Century's most infamous murderers came from Michigan.
Dr. Hawley Harvey Crippen, originally of Coldwater, Michigan, was hanged in London, England for the murder of his wife, Cora. He would also become known for being the first person to be arrested with the aid of wireless telegraphy.
When did this happen? In 1910.
Crippen was born in Coldwater on September 11, 1862. In 1884, he graduated from the Michigan School of Homeopathic Medicine and married his first wife, Charlotte, not long afterward. Charlotte died of a stroke in 1892. Two years later, Crippen married Cora Henrietta Turner, a wanna-be actress and performer, and they eventually moved to London, England. Cora was determined to be some kind of a star and became overbearing and disrespectful to her husband. She was believed to have a good handful of affairs with men in show biz in her quest for fame.
She had ceased sexual relations with her husband, causing him further embarrassment and frustration. In retaliation, he found himself a new lover, Ethel Le Neve, who worked for him as typist.
On the night of January 31, 1910 during a dinner party at the Crippen home, Cora berated Dr. Crippen in front of their guests. The doc had enough...that was the last time anyone saw Cora alive.
After awhile, Cora's absence was noticed and the doc was asked by friends where she was. He couldn't keep his excuses straight and came up with different scenarios: she took a ship back to America, she was sick, she died.....well, at least that last excuse was correct.
People got suspicious when Crippen's new girlfriend moved into Crippen's house and was seen wearing Cora's jewelry. In July 1910 the cops were called, they searched the house, and found nothing. Crippen also gave the police a different story, that Cora had left him for another man.
The next day, now worried he'd be discovered, Crippen shaved off his moustache and he and Ethel Le Neve hopped a ship to Brussels. To avoid recognition, Ethel dressed as a boy...but passengers began to notice the odd romantic behavior between this grown man and the “boy” he traveled with.
Meantime, the police went back to Crippen's house and did another search. This time they discovered parts of a body buried in the basement. No head, no bones, just pieces of flesh...but it was enough to determine they were female parts.
After sending a message to the ship's captain, authorities boarded the ship and arrested Crippen and Ethel.
During the trial, Crippen stated that the body in the basement must have been there before he moved in. Thanks to a scar on the dead skin, it was indeed proven to be the remains of his wife Cora. Cora had been poisoned and then cut into pieces by the doc.
Within a half hour, Crippen was found guilty. He was hanged on November 23, 1910 at the age of 48. At his request, he was buried with a picture of Ethel and some of her love letters. Ethel was free to go, eventually married, and passed away in 1967 at the age of 84.
Cora's head, skeleton, arms, and legs were never found.
The question remains well into the 2000s whether the doc was actually guilty. MSU researchers claim he was not, and say the basement body parts were NOT Cora's. The controversy continues...