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Notorious Dr Crippen wrongly hanged, scientists say

Old 10-16-07, 02:42 PM
  #1  
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Notorious Dr Crippen wrongly hanged, scientists say

Oh my. This is very serious.

I've always been against the death penalty, and this doesn't make me change my mind.


http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20071016/...nce_crippen_dc

Notorious Dr Crippen wrongly hanged, scientists say

By Michael Kahn October 16, 2007

LONDON (Reuters) - It was sensational stuff that riveted a nation: A mild-mannered American doctor poisons then dismembers his unfaithful wife, flees England in disguise with his mistress -- and is caught, tried and hanged.

The problem is that the poisoned corpse that sent Dr Hawley Crippen to the gallows in London in 1910 was not that of his wife, according to new evidence found by U.S. researchers.

A team led by John Trestrail, head of the regional poison centre in Grand Rapids, Michigan, took mitochondrial DNA -- genetic material passed on through the mother -- from a tissue sample from the corpse kept in a London museum.

They then compared it with samples from three of Cora Crippen's female descendants, found after a 7-year search.

"That body was not Cora Crippen's," said David Foran, a forensic biologist at Michigan State University. "We don't know who that body was or how it got there."

Crippen, a struggling doctor who moved to England with his showgirl wife, was convicted of poisoning her with an obscure toxin and then burying her dismembered body under their North London home.

Police nabbed Crippen and his mistress on a transatlantic ship as it entered Canadian waters. The captain had recognized the doctor from newspapers and become suspicious of his companion, disguised as a man, and famously used the newly invented wireless telegraph to alert the British police.

"POISONERS DON'T MUTILATE"

"The thing about the Crippen case is the mutilation, which is contradictory to what poisoners do," said Trestrail, whose books on poisons are used by detectives across the world. "They want a 'natural death' certificate, and to walk away."

Police found the remains with no head, no bones and no genitals. The grisly revelation shocked the public, spurring newspapers to describe Crippen as "one of the most dangerous and remarkable men who have lived this century."

Throughout the trial and all the way to the gallows, he insisted that he was innocent and the body not that of his wife.

But his flight, and the contradictory accounts he gave of his wife's disappearance, did him no favors.

The final nail in his coffin was evidence of a scar on the body, which convinced the jury that it was Cora's, an inference that the researchers now say was almost certainly wrong.

But they concede that other evidence clearly shows that the body could only have made its way to Crippen's house when he and his wife were living there.

Trestrail speculates that Crippen might have been performing illegal abortions and that the body could have resulted from a procedure that went horribly wrong.

There are also clues suggesting that Cora Crippen slipped out of England with a new man and settled in the United States.

"The two questions are 'Where did she go?' and 'Whose remains are they?'," Trestrail said. "But that is another investigation and trial."
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Old 10-16-07, 02:47 PM
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Perhaps classicman2 can shed some light about this case and the public sentiment at the time.
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Old 10-16-07, 02:48 PM
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I voted for slip knot, becuase I used to make those when I was a kid.
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Old 10-16-07, 03:02 PM
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Here we go, bring up Crippen again. You seem to forget the Crippens enjoyed many happy years of marriage before he murdered her.
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Old 10-16-07, 03:05 PM
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Nothing like a case from 1910 about an adulterer to turn the tables on the capital punishment debate.
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Old 10-16-07, 03:09 PM
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Well, rule #1 is "only hang the guilty." That is actually more important than which knot.

So now the question is whether Crippen is innocent, or murdered someone who is unidentified.
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Old 10-16-07, 03:18 PM
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Originally Posted by DVD Josh
Nothing like a case from 1910 about an adulterer to turn the tables on the capital punishment debate.
No kidding. The CSIs back then had to enhance their lithographs by hand. There was bound to be a mistake.
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Old 10-16-07, 03:20 PM
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Luckily the article title used "hanged" instead of "hung", that would have created a whole different kind of discussion...
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Old 10-16-07, 03:25 PM
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No head, no bones and no genitalia? That must have been a seriously botched abortion.

Reading up on all the evidence in this case I'm inclined to doubt these new findings.
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Old 10-16-07, 04:43 PM
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Interesting article - I just read a book about the man -Thunderstruck by Erik Larson. It's a pretty good read.
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Old 10-16-07, 04:52 PM
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I can't be bothered to read the whole book, so I'll just listen to the AC/DC song.
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Old 10-16-07, 05:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Groucho
I can't be bothered to read the whole book, so I'll just listen to the AC/DC song.
Sound out the drums
Beatin' in my heart
The thundering guns!
Tore me apart
You've been - hung without proper evidence and procedure in 1910!
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Old 10-16-07, 09:02 PM
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Originally Posted by JasonF
Here we go, bring up Crippen again. You seem to forget the Crippens enjoyed many happy years of marriage before he murdered her.
I don't remember ever having heard of this case before today.
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Old 10-16-07, 09:04 PM
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Originally Posted by OldDude
Well, rule #1 is "only hang the guilty." That is actually more important than which knot.

So now the question is whether Crippen is innocent, or murdered someone who is unidentified.
The title of the article suggests that they used the wrong knot.
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Old 10-16-07, 09:09 PM
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Originally Posted by grundle
I don't remember ever having heard of this case before today.
It's very infamous in England. It's the sort of reference most people there would get. The post you were responding to, for example, is a quote from "Coupling," and there's a reference to Crippen in an episode of Monty Python.

Plus, there's that Erik Larson book Birrman mentioned (Larson also wrote "Devil in the White City" about the murders committed by H.H. Holmes during the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago).
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Old 10-16-07, 09:50 PM
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Blackadder also references it -- something about being an easy case to prosecute -- or a very difficult one to win.
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Old 10-16-07, 09:59 PM
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What the hell does this have to do with the death penalty. Seriously. Suppose he was given LIFE IN PRISON.

You'd think he'd still be alive? Really? Do tell, my young chap.
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Old 10-16-07, 10:25 PM
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Is this a death penalty thread or a rope thread?
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Old 10-17-07, 12:28 AM
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Originally Posted by VinVega
Is this a death penalty thread or a rope thread?
Apparently now it's a "socialized medicine in England sucks" thread:

Originally Posted by DVD Polizei
What the hell does this have to do with the death penalty. Seriously. Suppose he was given LIFE IN PRISON.

You'd think he'd still be alive? Really? Do tell, my young chap.
More seriously, while this new evidence comes too late to matter to Crippen, it is a reminder that the justice system is not infallible.
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Old 10-17-07, 05:46 AM
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Wow, someone was unjustly hanged in the 1920s in the US? Next thing you know you'll be telling me lynch mobs were running around hanging innocent black teenagers on unfounded accusations.
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Old 10-17-07, 06:34 AM
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Originally Posted by Superboy
Wow, someone was unjustly hanged in the 1920s in the US? Next thing you know you'll be telling me lynch mobs were running around hanging innocent black teenagers on unfounded accusations.
It's a little different when the state does it under the guise of due process.
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Old 10-17-07, 06:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Superboy
Wow, someone was unjustly hanged in the 1920s in the US? Next thing you know you'll be telling me lynch mobs were running around hanging innocent black teenagers on unfounded accusations.
You may or may not believe this, but there were lynch mobs runing around hanging innocent black teenagers on unfounded accusations.
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Old 10-17-07, 01:45 PM
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Next thing you know, the womenfolk are gonna want the right to vote...
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Old 10-17-07, 03:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Superboy
Wow, someone was unjustly hanged in the 1920s in the US?
Probably, but not this guy. Unjustly or not it was 1910 and in the UK.
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Old 10-17-07, 03:23 PM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by DVD Polizei
What the hell does this have to do with the death penalty. Seriously. Suppose he was given LIFE IN PRISON.

You'd think he'd still be alive? Really? Do tell, my young chap.

It shows that an innocent man may have been executed.

No, I don't think he'd still be alive today if he had gotten life in prison.
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