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Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Science Casts Doubt on Famous British Murder Case

From physorg.com: Dr. Hawley Crippen was hanged for murdering and dismembering his showgirl wife, then fleeing with his mistress across the high seas with the police in hot pursuit. Loaded with enough sordid details and twists to eventually fuel more than 40 books and several movies, this London case is second only to Jack the Ripper in its sensational notoriety.

Back in 1910, it was forensic evidence that brought Crippen down. Now, David Foran, a forensic biologist and director of MSU’s forensic science program, partnering with clinical and forensic toxicologist John Harris Trestrail III, managing director of the regional poison center in Grand Rapids, is combining state-of-the-art DNA analysis with solid sleuthing to show the remains buried in Crippen’s basement couldn’t have been his wife.

“This can’t be Cora Crippen,” Foran said. “We’re certain of that.”

For nearly a century, Crippen, a homeopathic physician, was thought to have poisoned his flamboyant and domineering wife with an obscure toxin, dismembered her body and buried little more than tissue in his London cellar. Crippen was labeled “one of the most dangerous and remarkable men who have lived in this century.”

Trestrail has been engrossed by the case for 40 years. One of the nation’s leading experts in poisoning, he knew dismemberment and poisoning don’t go together.

“There were no identifying parts of the remains found, no head, no bones, no organs of gender. I’ve always wondered who is that under the steps?” Trestrail said. “Was he telling the truth? Now we have the possibility to bring the science of DNA up against actual specimens from the trial to answer the question: ‘Was that her under the steps or wasn’t it?’” Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

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