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Description

 

Hawley Harvey Crippen, alias Peter Crippen, alias Franckel

Age 50, height 5ft 3 or 4, complexion fresh, hair light brown, inclined sandy, scanty, bald on top, rather long scanty moustache, somewhat straggly, eyes grey, bridge of nose rather flat, false teeth, medium build, throws his feet outwards when walking. May be clean shaven or wearing a beard and gold rimmed spectacles, and may possibly assume a wig. Somewhat slovenly appearance, wears his hat rather at back of head. Very plausible and quiet spoken, remarkably cool and collected demeanour. Speaks French and probably German; carries firearms. An American citizen and by profession a doctor.

Police Poster: 'Wanted for Murder and Mutilation' July 1910

Profile

 

Hawley Harvey Crippen was born in Coldwater, Branch, Michigan, USA in 1862. His parents were Myron Augustus Crippen and Andressa Crippen, née Skinner. Both were around 26 when he arrived. The 1860 Census indicates that Crippen would have had an elder sister, Ella, who was then 3. Ella was not listed in the 1870 Census. Evidently, his parents were Methodists who had indulged Crippen - their only surviving child.

According to the 1860 Census, Myron was a farmer but in 1870 he was described as a 'Retired Merchant' with Real Estate valued at $5,000 and Personal Estate of $500. This was a small fortune in those days and his having taken early retirement suggests that he considered that there was no longer any need for him to work. However, when he died in 1910, he was reported to be 'friendless and penniless'.

According to Crippen's own testimony, he had been educated at first at Coldwater, Indiana and California; he had then attended the University of Michigan and he finished his education at the Hospital College at Cleveland, where he took the degree of M.B.

A typewritten copy of a sealed Certificate to this effect, dated 1884, was produced as an Exhibit at his Trial. There are endorsements on the reverse authorising him to practise in:

  1. Kings County, dated 8 July 1890. This specified 'physic and surgery' so, evidently, he was sufficiently experienced to dismember his wife's body when the occasion arose.
  2. New York, undated.
  3. Ohio, dated 3 December 1892.
  4. Philadelphia, dated 22 March 1893.

Crippen claimed to have visited England in 1883 'to attend various hospitals to see operations'; he then went to Detroit as a doctor's assistant for three or four months. After that, he went to New York in 1885 and took a degree in eye and ear work at the Opthalmic Hospital.

He then returned to New York before going to Detroit where, on 2nd November 1887, he married Charlotte Jane Bell, a student nurse, who had emigrated from Ireland. Charlotte had then accompanied him to San Diego, where their only child - Harvey Otto - was born on 19 August, 1888. Charlotte died the following year in Salt Lake City when she was about to give birth to their second child.

Harvey Jnr was sent to live with Crippen's parents in San Jose, California and they continued to bring him up, even after Crippen had married his second wife, whom he first knew as Cora Turner, on the 1st September, 1892. Crippen later claimed that she was 'only 17 and he was 30'. (Cora's younger sister - Theresa - had been born around 1876.)

Clearly, after leaving home, Crippen had led a nomadic existence without any lasting stability in his life - a pattern that was to continue after he had married Cora.

(Dates marked * are approximate)

1894*

Crippen becomes a Consulting Physician for 'Munyon Homeopathic Home Remedies' in New York, leading purveyors of quack medicines.

1895*

Crippen is transferred to Munyon's Philadelphia Branch and then to Munyon's Toronto Branch.

1896*

Crippen is transferred back to Munyon's Philadelphia Branch.

1897

Crippen arrives by himself in London from New York on 29 April for a brief visit to Munyon's London branch.

His return date is not known.

He again arrives by himself in London on 18 November to work in Munyon's London Branch.

1898

Crippen departs from Liverpool for New York on 29 October.

1899*

Cora goes to New York to further her ambition to become an opera singer. Crippen pays for her singing lessons.

1900

Crippen arrives by himself in Liverpool on 29 April on a vessel that started out from Valparaiso, Chile. He could have joined en route. He becomes Manager of Munyon's London Branch and lives at Queen's Road, St John's Wood.

In August, Cora joins Crippen in London. Their first apartment was in South Crescent.

Cora adopts Macka Motzki as her stage name and performs one sketch at the Old Marylebone Music Hall which was a failure.

Cora then becomes known as Belle Elmore and, in September, she undertakes a one week engagement at the Lyric Music Hall in Bath.

1901

Crippen and Corinne (sic) are listed in the England Census. She is shown as age 20 but enumerator errors are not uncommon.

1902

In January, Belle Elmore undertakes another one week engagement at the Lyric Music Hall in Bath.

Crippen returns to Philadelphia as Manager of the Munyon's Branch.

Cora stays in London. They had been living in Guildford Street, where Cora remains.

1903

Cora becomes friendly with Bruce Miller, a Music Hall artist living and working in London.

In June, Crippen leaves Munyon's, returns to London and became Manager of the 'Sovereign Remedy Co' of Newman Street.

Crippen and Cora move to Store Street, off Tottenham Court Road.

After the failure of the 'Sovereign Remedy Co', Crippen becomes physician to the 'Drouet Institute' of Regent's Park which later failed.

Although Crippen's association with Drouet's was short lived, it was fateful because he met Ethel Le Neve there.

1905*

Crippen then took a position with the 'Aural Clinic' of New Oxford Street until they also failed.

Crippen then went back to Munyon's at Oxford Circus as Manager and advertising Manager.

In September, Crippen and Cora become tenants of 39 Hilldrop Crescent but they stop sleeping together.

1907*

Crippen carries on 'an intrigue' with Ethel Le Neve.

1908

On 5 December, Crippen and Gilbert Rylance start up in business as 'The Yale Tooth Specialists' based in Albion House.

1909

Munyon's move to Albion House.

Under the name of Franckel, Crippen runs the 'Imperial Press Agency' which places advertisements on behalf of Munyon's.

On 14 August, Crippen buys Ethel Le Neve a diamond ring.

In September, Crippen becomes a 'paid servant' of the 'Aural Remedies Company', which sells 'ear cures'.

On 30 November, Crippen loses his position with Munyon's.

1910

In March or April, Crippen makes an agreement with Gilbert Rylance in which Crippen puts £200 into 'The Yale Tooth Specialists', whilst Rylance contributes his skill and expertise. They agree to share profits.

 

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