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Human remains found 13 July . Medical organs of chest and abdomen removed in one mass. Four large pieces of skin and muscle, one from lower abdomen with old operation scar 4 inches long - broader at lower end. Impossible to identify sex. Hyoscine found 2.7 grains. Hair in Hinde's curler - roots present. Hair 6 inches long. Man's pyjama jacket label reads Jones Bros., Holloway, and odd pair of pyjama trousers.
bones and limbs professionally removed and burned in the kitchen stove. Her organs were dissolved in acid in the bathtub, and her head was placed in a handbag and thrown overboard during a day trip to Dieppe, France.
According to John Trestrail, the toxicologist who led the new research, poisoners rarely inflict external damage on their victims. "It is so unusual that a poisoner would dismember the victim, because a poisoner attempts to get away with murder without leaving any trace. In my database of 1,100 poisoning cases, this is the only one which involves dismemberment," said Mr Trestrail, who heads the regional poison centre in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Crippen is innocent of the crime for which he was hanged. "Two weeks before he was hanged he wrote 'I am innocent and some day evidence will be found to prove it'. When I read that the hairs stood up on my arms. I think he was right."
Nearly a century later, an American research team has applied pioneering forensic analysis to those remains.
“We don’t know who that body was or how it got there, but it does not belong to Cora Crippen. We are certain of that,” says David Foran, director of the forensic laboratory at Michigan State University.
Dr Trestrail says: “I think he should be granted a pardon. There is also the matter of his waxwork image which should be removed from the Chamber of Horrors at Madame Tussauds.”
London Evening Standard
Mr Crippen, a former senior marketing executive from Dayton, Ohio, said: "He did not kill his wife, of that I am sure and the evidence is overwhelming that the body was male. It is a celebrated horror case but the prosecution was entirely wrong.
"There was so much furore around the case that Hawley was bound to be found guilty. The jury took just 27 minutes. The DNA evidence and a longer, more sober look at the facts reveals this is a gross miscarriage of justice."
Mr di Stefano is also enlisting the help of the American Ambassador to the UK as official protocol was broken because the Home Office failed to inform US authorities that they were executing an American citizen. Further letters have been sent to the governor of Pentonville prison demanding the return of Crippen's body from its prison grave.
We have been examining this case for over three years as we have always doubted the results of Dr. Spillsbury on a number of cases but were simply not able to substantiate scientifically and beyond reasonable doubt that his findings were wrong.
For this we are wholly indebted to the research by Michigan’s State University Dr. David Foran and John H. Trestrail III, RPh, FAACT, DABAT, Clinical & Forensic Toxicologist Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA and his team. They elected to do so because Dr. Crippen was in fact a citizen of the United States of America and thus in any view must hold a locus in the matter.
We cite from the submissions addressed to us on this matter from Dr. Trestrail III:
“The mtDNA evidence clearly indicates that the remains found under the home, and for which he was convicted and ultimately hanged, were NOT those of the missing Cora Crippen. For that reason I feel that he should receive a posthumous pardon. As to who’s remains they might have been – that is another trial in which one would have to prove motive, method, and opportunity. The science is sound, the genealogy is sound, and therefore the conclusion is sound. Crippen was wrongly executed for the murder of his wife, due to evidence which we now know is invalid.”
The findings of the above forensic scientists and results proved that mitochondrial DNA evidence conclusively showed that the body found beneath the cellar floor in Crippen's home was not actually Cora Crippen. The research were based on genealogical identification of three matrilineal relatives of Cora Crippen (grandnieces), whose mtDNA haplotype was compared with DNA extracted from a slide taken from the torso in Crippen's cellar. They did not match those taken from the body found in situ as per the indictment.
Secrets of the Dead
The media glare and close government scrutiny put Scotland Yard under intense pressure to catch Crippen and solve the crime. Even a young Winston Churchill, then Britain’s Home Secretary, was intimately tracking the investigation.
Trestrail began to dig deeper into the police and court archives, slowly unraveling a series of suppressed documents. Among the noted evidence is a letter to Crippen from Cora, in which she claims she is living in America and has no plans to save him from execution. The letter was deemed a hoax by investigators, but was never even shown to Crippen or his lawyers. Could the police have tampered with the evidence used in trial?
Faced with pressure from a horrified public, the media and Winston Churchill, then home secretary, the police may have resorted to planting evidence and suppressing documents that could have helped to prove Crippen’s innocence at his trial.
Dr Andrew Rose, a defence barrister and author of a book about Spilsbury called Lethal Witness, has studied seven murder cases in which the pathologist’s evidence was key to the prosecution and which Rose now believes were miscarriages of justice.
“He’s got ‘form’ for responding to police pressure,” said Rose. “In this case he was under enormous pressure to deliver the goods – and he delivered them.”
The detective in charge of the case was Chief Inspector Walter Dew, an original member of the police squad tasked with capturing the Ripper, who murdered a string of prostitutes in 1888.
Trestrail and Rose believe that Dew was so determined not to let another killer get away that he may have planted Crippen’s pyjama top with the body parts in the coal cellar.
Other previously classified documents found in the National Archives – not made public at Crippen’s trial – indicate that two weeks before his wife disappeared, a woman matching her description was seen removing trunks from the couple’s home. Cora also tried to withdraw the couple’s life savings around the same time.
“The police in effect suppressed that evidence because it didn’t support their interpretation of facts,” said Rose.
experts believe he may have been framed by police anxious to secure a high-profile conviction after the embarrassment of their failure to find Jack the Ripper two decades earlier.
Researchers also found that police failed to show Crippen’s lawyers a letter purporting to have come from Cora, a failed actress and heavy drinker.
A century ago, the pathologist became the country's leading expert witness, dominating trials during the heyday of the Great English Murder, when lurid details of sensational court cases filled the newspapers. But Spilsbury - who committed suicide in 1947 after two of his sons died and his marriage collapsed - also courted controversy because of an unswerving conviction in the correctness of his opinions. Experts claimed recently that he contributed to several miscarriages of justice. His newly acquired records may shed fresh light on these cases.
So if the prospect of Crippen’s innocence intrigues, that unexplained body — that sudden flight for Canada — that (permanent) failure of Cora Crippen to resurface — nevertheless remain. They might lead us to question our implicit faith in the finality of DNA’s verdict on history rather than the other way around.
Are we certain that an unbroken line of blood relations really connects Cora Crippen to the modern DNA donors of her “family”?
Are we certain that a reliable chain of custody has preserved the original tissue samples unsullied across a century?
And if we are certain, what do we make of that body after all?
It is humans who must ultimately interpret and contextualize even the firmest forensic science. Whatever we might believe of Dr. Crippen we retain the burden of that belief, with all its intrinsic potential for grievous wrong.
The tales Hawley Crippen has yet to unfold from the grave might or might not shed still another different light on our understanding of what happened at 39 Hilldrop Crescent a century ago.
Chief Inspector Dew searched the house, and found that the bricks under the cellar were loose. When they were pried up, he found Cora Crippen's remains, wrapped in the shirt from a pair of pajamas. She had been buried in slaked lime, which had preserved her (rather than quicklime, which would have destroyed the body).
I received a letter from prisoner on the 5th on black-edged paper (Exhibit 31), stating "I have been nearly out of my mind with my poor Belle's death so far away from me. She was not with her sister, but out in California on business for me, and, quite like her disposition, kept up when she ought to have been in bed, the consequence being that pleuro-pneumonia set in and proved fatal. Almost to the last she refused to let me know that she was in danger, so that the cable came as an awful shock to me. I am afraid I have sadly neglected my friends. Pray forgive me. Even now I feel I am not fit to talk to my friends."
source as above.
The two letters just read are not in the least like Mrs. Crippen's handwriting.
source as above
Some time after this he ceased to cohabit with her, but never interfered with her movements. They were of no interest to him. On January 31, the day before he wrote the letter resigning her position from the Guild, Mr. and Mrs. Martinetti came to their place to dinner, and after they had left his wife abused him and said she would not stand it any longer; she would leave him next day and he would not hear of her again, and he might cover up the scandal with their mutual friends and the Guild the best way he could. On returning home from business on the evening of February 1 he found she was gone.
source as above
On searching the house itself I found a quantity of woman's clothes and jewellery. In a bedroom I found a box containing two suits of pyjamas (Exhibit 76), and one odd pair of pyjama trousers (Exhibit 48).
I said to him, "You will be arrested for the murder and mutilation of your wife in London about February 2." Chief Inspector McCarthy, of the Canadian Provincial Police, cautioned him, and he made no reply.
on the 13th I determined to closely examine the cellar. It had a brick floor: I probed about with a poker; at one place I found that the poker went rather easily in between the crevices, and I got a few bricks up. I then got a spade and dug the clay immediately beneath the bricks. After digging about four spadesfull down, that is, about nine inches below, I came across what appeared to be human remains.
The remains were close packed, with clay above them; but the clay was looser there than what was found in other parts of the cellar, where there were no remains. It was a heavy soil. The remains were found over an area about 4 ft. 1 in. in length and 20 in. wide. It was pretty regular. The remains were all mixed up in a mass with lime. The lime was all round the remains, over them, under them, and at the sides, but not placed between the pieces in the sense of layers. The bits of skin and so forth were all jumbled up together. I could not make a sufficiently close examination to say whether some portions of the skin was folded over others.
source as above.
I found that the poker went rather easily in between the crevices, and I got a few bricks up..... On the occasion of my finding the remains, the bricks were held together very firmly by the clay; I do not think mortar had been used.
In the hole where the remains lay the earth was very firm, as if it had never been disturbed. It was only at this one place that I found the bricks had been loosened. I had previously tested round the sides of the cellar and at each end, and it was when I came to this spot that I found the bricks loose; the othere were quite firm. In my judgment, the area of loose bricks almost corresponded with the hole.
Source as above.
AUGUSTUS JOSEPH PEPPER . I am a Master in Surgery, London University, F.R.C.P., consulting surgeon to St. Mary's Hospital, in a hole in the ground I saw what appeared to be animal remains. They included, besides some tufts of hair, a large piece of flesh composed of skin, fat, and muscle from the thigh and lower part of the buttock of a human being, and another small piece. The head was missing, and there was no bone or part of a bone, but, except the organs of generation, all the internal organs were found. a piece of skin with some fat attached to it measuring 11 in. by 9 in. that came from the upper part of the abdomen and lower part of the chest. I found another piece of skin 7 in. by 6 in. There were also found with the remains fragments of a woman's cotton combinations and a portion from the neck part of a pyjama jacket; the latter bore the maker's label, "Shirt makers, Jones Brothers (Holloway), Limited, Holloway, N."
All the organs were connected together; the diaphragm or the septum between the chest and the abdomen had, of course, been cut round; such an operation would certainly require skill. I found the stomach and the kidneys and the heart and the liver and the pancreas. The spleen was very soft, as one would expect from decomposition. The intestines were healthy. The lungs were more advanced in decomposition than the other organs.
The most common operation in which the middle line between the navel and the pubes is the seat of the scar is operation for removal of the ovaries or uterus, or, in the male, removal of stones from the bladder. It is frequently performed there on male subjects. The scar there would be of the same appearance;
BERNARD EDWARD SPILSBURY; I believe I had already heard, when I first saw the skin, that Mrs. Crippen had had an operation. It was more difficult to tell if the scar was a scar when I saw it than it would have been had it been fresh.
Re-examined. I was only associated with Mr. Pepper by attending his lectures and acting as a surgical dresser; that fact had absolutely no influence on my opinion; nor did hearing of an operation having been performed on Mrs. Crippen. It is beyond doubt that this is a scar.
THOMAS MARSHALL , M.B., Divisional Surgeon, Kentish Town District. Before I examined the skin and flesh I had heard that there had been an operation. It was on August 8 that I noted the scar;
Re-examined. The fact that I had heard that Mrs. Crippen had had an operation had no effect upon my forming the opinion that this was a scar.
source as above
REGINALD CECIL GLYNE WALL . I am an M.A., M.D. of Oxford, F.R.C.P. Lond., and M.R.C.S. I obtained the Andrew Clark prize in medicine and pathology at the London Hospital. As the result of my examination I concluded there was no scar. I could not see on inspection by the naked eye or with the hand lens such an appearance as I should have expected to find if there had been a scar in that situation. I found appearances which I could explain much more easily on the supposition that the skin had been folded in that region. Secondly, after the incision which had been made by Mr. Pepper, I did not on examining the cut surfaces of the edges of the skin find such an alteration in structure as I should have expected had there been originally a scar, and on comparing the cut surface at the site where the scar was alleged to be I did not find that the appearance of the cut surface differed from the appearance of the cut surface of the other part of the flesh, where it is admitted there is no scar.
Symptoms of overdose of Hyoscine may include: irregular heartbeat, reddened skin
He began to make some terrible mistakes. He sent more than one innocent to the gallows. His theories increasingly took precedence over facts. Most notorious was the 1923 case of Norman Thorne, sentenced to death for killing his girlfriend. She had almost certainly committed suicide, and the evidence was thin, but Spilsbury’s testimony was unwavering. Modern science has even questioned his conclusions in the Crippen case.
judges began to express concern about his invincibility in court and recent researches have indicated that his inflexible dogmatism led to miscarriages of justice
Critics of Spilsbury cast doubt over his ability, particularly given his lack of academic attainment. He has been accused of being behind several miscarriages of justice.
(17 April 1863 – 16 December 1947) was a Metropolitan Police officer who was involved in the hunt for both Jack the Ripper and Dr Crippen. In his memoirs, published fifty years later in 1938, Dew made a number of claims about being personally involved in the Ripper investigation. None of these claims have been confirmed by surviving police records, and some of them contradict known evidence in the case.
In 1911 he brought libel actions against nine newspapers for comments they had printed about him during the Crippen case. Most settled out of court, and Dew won his case against those who did not, resulting in his being awarded substantial sums as damages.
the quartermaster suggested that I should leave something to show that I was going to jump overboard; it was his suggestion, but it was my idea to put it as I did on this card; the language was entirely my own. I wrote the card on the day before Dew arrived. The first communication from the quartermaster came without any invitation from me. About noon on July 30 he told me he had a letter to give me at three o'clock. At that hour I went to the wheelhouse and he handed me a letter which stated that the captain knew who I was, and that the police were coming to arrest me at Quebec; then he said that if I liked he would stow me away and smuggle me ashore at Montreal. The letter was not signed, and I returned it to the quartermaster; he seemed afraid to trust me with it.
The Criminal Cases Review Commission refused to send the case back to the Court of Appeal, saying the applicant was not a "properly interested person".
James Crippen has been fighting for years for an appeal, a royal pardon and the release of his relative's remains, which are buried in the grounds of Pentonville Prison, London.
Mr Crippen, who lives in Dayton, told the BBC News website: "It's an embarrassment to the British courts to have to admit, after 100 years, that the gentleman was innocent.
"They didn't want to review the case - it's so old they felt they shouldn't change it. They just leave our name in disrespect."
The commission said in cases where the person whose conviction is to be appealed against was dead, the request must come from someone "approved" by the Court of Appeal.
That person should be the widow or widower, "personal representative", or a relative who has a "substantial financial or other interest" in the appeal.
James Patrick Crippen of Ohio, second cousin three times removed of Dr Hawley Crippen, hopes to officially exonerate the black sheep of the family and bring his remains to the family plot in Michigan for a decent burial.
"The evidence says the man should be pardoned," he says. "But everyone thinks of him as a murderer. Every time I have come through customs to England, someone has made a comment on my name, linking me to a murderer."