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Life After Trial The Crippen Murder and Ethel Le Neve Part 2

About Ethel Le Neve mistress to Mr. Crippen and possible accomplice to murder, history of her life after the trial.

ETHEL LE NEVE (1883-1967)

And After: In the years following the trial, LeNeve's whereabouts became a hotly debated topic. She was alternately reported, according to Tom Cullen in The Mild Murderer (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1977), "to have opened a hat shop in Eastbourne; to be living quietly 'some-where in Kent'"; and to be scrimping along in poverty under an alias in Perth, Western Australia.

What actually transpired, according to Cullen, is that after landing in New York at the end of November, 1910, LeNeve proceeded to Toronto, where she took a job as a typist. Although she was lonely and ever fearful that her true identity would be discovered, she remained in Toronto until 1916, when she returned to England to care for her dying sister. Under the name Ethel Nelson, she obtained work at Hampton's furniture store in Trafalgar Square. There she met and married Stanley Smith, an accountant who bore a remarkable resemblance to Peter Crippen. The Smiths settled in East Croydon, an outer borough of London, where they raised their two children. After her husband died, Ethel continued to live in Croydon in anonymity until her secret finally was revealed to novelist Ursula Bloom in 1954.

Miss Bloom had written The Girl Who Loved Crippen, an imaginary account of the Crippen case which appeared in the Sunday Dispatch. After its publication, Ethel's brother, Sidney, got in touch with Ursula Bloom and complained that her portrayal of his sister was inaccurate. In exchange for pound30, Sidney agreed to transmit letters between Bloom and LeNeve. The correspondence culminated in a meeting between the two women in June, 1954.

According to Bloom, Ethel at 71 was petite and "still pretty, with grey hair gathered in a knot, and intelligent grey eyes." Although Ethel refused to say more than a few words about her past, Bloom became convinced of her continuing love for Crippen. When Bloom asked her if she would marry Crippen if he were miraculously to reappear, Ethel replied without hesitation, "Yes, I would."

Ursula Bloom and Ethel LeNeve were to remain friends until Ethel's death in 1967 at age 84, but Ethel never discussed any details of the scandalous murder case. In Crippen's last letter, written four days before his execution, he had described himself and Ethel as "two children in the great unkind world, who clung to one another and gave each other courage. . . ." Ethel maintained that courage throughout her life and never betrayed his trust.

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