Monday, 22 October 2007

Was Crippen Innocent?

The Crippen case has fascinated me for a long time. Nic Gabriel, the hero of my novel of psychological suspense, Take My Breath Away, wrote a best-selling book about the case. When I created Nic, I researched Crippen’s life and it fired my enthusiasm, prompting me to work on a story told from his perspective. Not that I’m alone among crime writers in having been intrigued – Agatha Christie and Raymond Chandler were equally interested in the mystery of 39 Hilldrop Crescent, while among the many novels influenced by the case, probably the best is Peter Lovesey’s The False Inspector Dew.

Now there are claims that Crippen was innocent because the DNA of the human remains found buried in the cellar of his home does not match that of descendants of his wife Cora (aka music hall artiste Belle Elmore.) So to whom did the remains belong? A victim of a botched abortion carried out by Crippen, say some.

The background is explained here

The new theory has plenty of appeal, and the people who have carried out such extensive detective work deserve congratulations on their diligence. However, although I can believe that Crippen carried out abortions, there seems to be no firm evidence to support this aspect of the theory. Can it really be that Cora Crippen ran off, as Crippen claimed, disappearing so effectively as never to be heard of again? She was such an extrovert that it seems wholly out of character. Why did she leave immediately after a night entertaining friends, and why did she not take her money and belongings? Why was no trace of her ever found, despite an international search? It isn’t easy to credit that she allowed her husband to be executed without stepping forward to exonerate him. Even if she did, how was it that she cut herself off from all her family and connections – not least the friends who did so much to persuade Scotland Yard to investigate her disappearance, because they regarded it as incredible?

So I’m yet to be convinced. Are we placing too much faith on DNA techonology here?

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