Dr Hawley Harvey Crippen was born in America in 1862, gaining a medical degree and moving to London in 1900 with his wife, Cora.
Crippen was a quiet little man, while Cora was extravert and wanted to be a great opera singer, even calling herself Belle Elmore. In 1905 they moved to 39 Hilltop Crescent, North London.
Crippen could not afford this so they took in lodgers. Badly treated by his wife, he fell for his secretary, Ethel le Neve. Finally having enough, in January 1910 Crippen poisoned his wife with hyoscine and buried her under the cellar in quicklime.
Telling friends she had gone to America, and later that she had died there, in June 1910 friends went to the police, suspecting foul play. Chief Inspector Walter Dew interviewed Crippen who panicked and fled on a ship to America with Ethel dressed as a boy.
Soon Dew returned to the house and found the body. Mid-Atlantic, the ship's skipper was suspicious of a boy travelling with John Philo Robinson and radioed the police. As Crippen was about to enter America, Dew arrested him. He was hanged in November 1910.
(c) Anthony North, Feb 2007