“oldelephantstew” Published on Feb 15, 2014
What made the Crippen case so remarkable was the chase across the Atlantic Ocean with the “SS Montrose” of the Canadian Pacific Line being overtaken by the faster “SS Laurentic” of the White Star Line enabling the detective Walter Dew to arrive ahead of Crippen and Le Neve at Rimouski (Father Point) and go aboard “SS Montrose” with the pilot to make the arrest. Captain Henry Kendall used his ship’s radio to relay his suspicions about the wanted passengers on his ship and emerged as the hero of the story. The same Captain Kendall was commanding the Canadian Pacific Liner “Empress of Ireland” three and a half years later, in May 1914, near that same location, Father Point, Rimouski, when his ship sank in the St Lawrence River in only 14 minutes after a collision with the loss of over 1000 lives.
Was Crippen guilty?
Mr Foran followed two lines of research and considers the results conclusive. First he isolated mitochondrial DNA, which remains unchanged throughout the generations down the female line. A genealogist found grandnieces of Cora Crippen who would have the same mitochondrial DNA as her, and repeated tests found they were not related to the body in the basement.
Then Mr Foran’s team used new techniques to examine the nuclear DNA, and discovered a Y chromosome. Not only was the body not from Cora Crippen’s family, it wasn’t even a woman.
Not everyone is convinced, however. John Boyne, whose book Crippen: A Novel of Murder, is to be reissued next year, says: “I think Crippen probably did kill his wife. His actions suggest guilt – his decision to flee the country and to dress Ethel LeNeve as his son rather than allow her to reveal her true identity on the ship as his lover. Cora made his life so miserable that I think he finally cracked.”
Jonathan Menges, a writer and genealogist from San Diego, has written disputing Mr Foran’s findings. Mr Menges claims the genealogy linking the living relatives to Cora Crippen is flawed – no birth certificate for her exists, for example, as they were rare in the US at the time – making the mitochondrial DNA tests irrelevant.
He criticises the proceedings for having too much of an eye for showbiz – the nuclear DNA findings were first revealed on a TV documentary – and points out that they have not yet been published or peer-reviewed. He says that Crippen’s behaviour demonstrates his guilt, and that a group in Salt Lake City is investigating the mysterious disappearance there of Crippen’s first wife. “There is no doubt that Crippen is guilty,” he says. BBC News 2010