On this day: On the 23rd November 1910, Dr Hawley Crippen was hanged at Pentonville Prison after being convicted a month earlier of the murder of his wife Cora.
(map shown: Ordnance Survey – 1873)
The couple had moved to the UK from New York in 1897 and eventually settled in London at 39, Hilldrop Crescent, Holloway in 1905.Dr Crippen’s US medical qualification did not allow him to practice as a doctor in the UK, he therefore found other work as the manger of Drouet’s Institute for the Deaf where he met his mistress, Ethel le Neve. Meanwhile, his wife Cora continued her affair with a lodger they had taken in to supplement their income.
On January 31st 1910, Cora disappeared. Crippen claimed she’d returned to the US and later claimed she had died there. The police became suspicious and searched No 39 Hilldrop Crescent but found nothing. Crippen and le Neve fled in panic and in doing so made the police more suspicious. The house was searched a further 3 times, the final search revealed the remains of a body, buried beneath the basement brick floor.
Crippen was eventually captured on the ocean liner SS Montrose whilst fleeing to Canada and was returned to London for trial. His arrest came after a message was sent from Scotland Yard to the Montrose. It was the first time that the invention of radio had been used in the hunt for a killer.
No 39 Hilldrop Crescent was destroyed by a German bomb during a raid in 1942. A block of flats now stands in its place.