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Hawley Crippen became the first criminal to be caught with the aid of wireless communication when police arrested him in 1910 for murdering his wife.
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Crippen made an effort to take an interest in Belle's career, but this resulted in his being fired from his Munyon's job in 1899. His employers felt that his concern with his wife's career had jeopardized his interest in their business.
Always industrious, Crippen tried a number of other mail-order and homeopathic ventures, but the failure of a succession of these forced the couple to cut their living costs, moving from fashionable Piccadilly to down-market Bloomsbury,
causing even further tension, as Belle could no longer support her 'stage star' lifestyle.
In 1901, Crippen met the 18-year old Ethel Le Neve, who was employed as a secretary at the same homeopathic clinic where Crippen was then employed. She was the antithesis of the brash Cora: a demure, intelligent English rose. Crippen was smitten. She, in turn, was taken with his mild, industrious manner and, by early 1903, they had become inseparable, although Crippen's Protestant convictions prevented him from progressing the relationship to physical intimacy.
While this romance was blossoming, Crippen's more regular income enabled the Crippens to move again in 1905, this time to 39 Hilldrop Crescent, in Holloway, where Belle felt better able to conduct her entertaining. Belle became involved with the Music Hall Ladies' Guild, who were taken in by her American ways and outrageous affairs, and her forthright manner made her an excellent fundraiser for the Guild. By now both Crippen and Belle lived almost entirely separate lives: Crippen consumed with his unrequited passion for Ethel, and Belle with her lovers and theater friends.
Belle insisted that they take in lodgers at Hilldrop Crescent, to provide her with additional income to fund her lifestyle. Crippen was not aware that she had an ulterior motive until December 1906, when he came home early one evening to find Belle in bed with one of the student lodgers.
Although aware of Belle's philandering, Crippen had never been subjected to it directly. Rushing off to seek solace from Ethel, they finally consummated their affair when she offered to console him. The break in Crippen's marriage was now complete, although he and Belle continued to live under the same roof. Crippen and Ethel continued their passionate affair, practically under Belle's nose. She remained unsure of the identity of her husband's lover, until he left the homeopathic business to pursue a career in dentistry, taking his secretary Ethel with him. Belle's cronies at the Ladies' Guild took pleasure in informing Belle that Crippen and Ethel had been seen out, dining intimately together.
Now aware of Ethel's existence, Belle received a shock when she found out, via her friends, that Ethel was pregnant. Crippen was delighted, but before he could broach the subject of divorce with Belle, Ethel had a miscarriage. Belle recognized that her days as a married woman were numbered and, despite her own numerous affairs, decided to play the role of the virtuous wife, cruelly deceived, most probably to try to save face in front of her Ladies' Guild friends.
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