Rummaging through old family documents in my Bournemouth, Dorset home today I’ve just learned that my grandfather helped infamous murderer Dr Crippen dispose of his wife’s body!

Although grandad played a part in the heinous crime – he was perfectly innocent.
Writings from my late mother Ethel reveal that it was her father Henry Albert Jago who sold Hawley Harvey Crippen the lime the killer used to dissolve the torso of his wife Cora which police found under his cellar floor.
Mum’s writings reveal that grandad was a foreman at a builder’s merchants on a London wharf when Crippen came along to buy lime.

When asked why he wanted so much, homeopath Crippen, said he wanted it to bury some chickens.
It wasn’t until the huge publicity and court case about the murder that grandad saw Crippen’s photo and realised he’d been an unwitting accessory to the crime.

Crippen (48) was subsequently put on trial and found guilty of murder and was hanged in Pentonville Prison in November 1910.
The case made headlines all over the world because it was the first time wireless telegraphy from a ship was used in a murder case because Crippen had fled to Canada in July 1910 on the SS Montrose with his accomplice and mistress Ethel Le Neve disguised as a boy.

The ship’s captain recognised the fugitives just before steaming beyond the range of his ship-board transmitter. A wireless telegram was sent to the British authorities: “Have strong suspicions that Crippen London cellar murderer and accomplice are among saloon passengers. Moustache taken off, growing beard. Accomplice dressed as boy. Manner and build undoubtedly a girl.”

A Chief Inspector Walter Dew took a faster ship to Canada and came aboard Crippen’s vessel disguised as a pilot.

According to Wikipedia, Dew removed his pilot’s cap and said, “Good morning, Dr. Crippen. Do you know me? I’m Chief Inspector Dew from Scotland Yard.”

After a pause, Crippen replied, “Thank God it’s over. The suspense has been too great. I couldn’t stand it any longer.”
Crippen and Le Neve were arrested. In the subsequent trial Le Neve was aquitted.

Full details of the case here:

In her writings my mother recalls that every day she used to go to the London wharf to take her father some tea and used to watch him mix the lime and cement.

The murder case made headlines more recently in 2007 when a forensic scientist claimed that DNA evidence showed the remains found beneath Crippen’s cellar floor were not those of his wife Cora…but a male!

But it seems a story that Crippen’s lover Ethel Le Neve came to Christchurch to run the now demolished Crooked Beam Restaurant was probably just an urban legend……

David Haith


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