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DNA Proves Crippen Innocent

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  • DNA Proves Crippen Innocent

    I don't know if you folks in England are already aware of this, but the news just came out here: DNA testing in the U.S. has shown that Dr. Harley Crippen did not murder his wife - at least not by poisoning her and burying her dismembered body in his backyard. The body was the only evidence against Crippen, and it was identified as that of his wife, Cora Turner, mainly by a surgical scar on her abdomen. Tissue samples from the body's torso were taken at the time and have been stored at the Royal London Hospital Archives and Museum. Mitochondrial DNA found in the tissue was compared with that of three female ancestors of Turner's. The results: No match between Turner's living descendants and the century-old evidence. In other words, the body was not Crippen's wife. A second testing produced the same results, and additional analysis showed that the torso belonged to a male. The results were announced in 2007, but it wasn't until now that the science has been peer-reviewed and published.

    Dr. John Watson
    "We reach. We grasp. And what is left at the end? A shadow."
    Sherlock Holmes, The Retired Colourman

  • #2
    Originally posted by Dr. John Watson View Post
    I don't know if you folks in England are already aware of this, but the news just came out here: DNA testing in the U.S. has shown that Dr. Harley Crippen did not murder his wife - at least not by poisoning her and burying her dismembered body in his backyard. The body was the only evidence against Crippen, and it was identified as that of his wife, Cora Turner, mainly by a surgical scar on her abdomen. Tissue samples from the body's torso were taken at the time and have been stored at the Royal London Hospital Archives and Museum. Mitochondrial DNA found in the tissue was compared with that of three female ancestors of Turner's. The results: No match between Turner's living descendants and the century-old evidence. In other words, the body was not Crippen's wife. A second testing produced the same results, and additional analysis showed that the torso belonged to a male. The results were announced in 2007, but it wasn't until now that the science has been peer-reviewed and published.
    There has been a lot of discussion of this both here and on jtrforums.com.

    Genealogical work by Debra Arif has cast severe doubt on whether these descendants would be expected to have mitochondrial DNA matching that of Cora. In fact - though I haven't followed her recent work on this closely - judging by a post I saw a few days ago it seems that she has probably proved that their maternal ancestry is different from Cora's.

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    • #3
      Thanks, Chris.

      I think I would prefer to say that I, with the help of Nina Brown and birth entries discovered by her, have discovered a discrepancy that casts a serious doubt on whether Cora and the DNA participants were maternally related, a discrepancy not adressed in the peer-reviewed, published paper, that needs some explanation.

      I have been in touch with Dr. Foran to ask if any of the genealogical sources since discovered were used by the team genealogist, Beth Wills, as no specific birth, marriage and death certificates are given in the reference list in the published paper, just a generalisation along the lines of 'marriage records for Cora's siblings.'
      ,¸¸,ø¤º°`°º¤ø,¸¸, Debs ,¸¸,ø¤º°`°º¤ø,¸¸,

      I am not DJA. He's called Dave.

      Comment


      • #4
        http://www.detnews.com/article/20110...us-murder-case
        Cheers,
        cappuccina

        "Don't make me get my flying monkeys!"

        Comment


        • #5
          well mitochondrial dna, maternal relation, etc. aside if the torso is a man's torso doesn't that alone exclude it from belonging to crippen's wife? I know little to nothing on mitochondrial dna except in its use to identify bodies that to a certain extent are already known, so are there sex markers somewhere in the mdna sequence?
          The early bird might get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Errata View Post
            well mitochondrial dna, maternal relation, etc. aside if the torso is a man's torso doesn't that alone exclude it from belonging to crippen's wife? I know little to nothing on mitochondrial dna except in its use to identify bodies that to a certain extent are already known, so are there sex markers somewhere in the mdna sequence?
            It's more a question of mitochondrial DNA being passed on almost unchanged from the mother to the children, so that a direct comparison is possible with samples from living people who share the same maternal line of descent. The problem here is that it's not clear that the living relations do have the same maternal line of descent as Cora.

            Obviously if the reported finding is correct that the remains were a man's, the question about mitochondrial DNA would be academic. That's why I find it so puzzling that the mitochondrial DNA findings are being given so much prominence in these news reports, and the finding about gender virtually none (a mere half a sentence in the report that cappuccina posted a link to above).

            Comment


            • #7
              Here's another Feb. 2011 article

              http://www.statenews.com/index.php/a...ase.p1a.021111

              “We compared the grandniece’s DNA to the DNA of the scar — or the DNA on the slide — and they were completely different,” Foran said. “That tells us that tissue was not Cora Crippen’s, which is kind of a big deal because that’s what the conviction was based on.”

              Foran, however, did not conduct all the research by himself. Much of the work that contributed to this discovery was done by his students at the time, such as Brianne Kiley.

              Kiley assisted Foran in the reinvestigation by applying her research topic to the case — testing for gender on highly degraded remains.

              Kiley’s tests proved the DNA in the scar on the slide that was supposed to have come from Cora Crippen was in fact from a male, something she thought was shocking.

              “Determining that the scar was not from a female but from a male was big, eye opening really,” she said. “(But) the lineage of the DNA, that to me was more outstanding.



              This seems an odd statement to me, why would the lineage of the DNA be more oustanding than discovering that the remains were male and making the mtDNA results irrelevant?
              Hmmm...
              ,¸¸,ø¤º°`°º¤ø,¸¸, Debs ,¸¸,ø¤º°`°º¤ø,¸¸,

              I am not DJA. He's called Dave.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Debra A View Post
                “Determining that the scar was not from a female but from a male was big, eye opening really,” she said. “(But) the lineage of the DNA, that to me was more outstanding.”[/I]


                This seems an odd statement to me, why would the lineage of the DNA be more oustanding than discovering that the remains were male and making the mtDNA results irrelevant?
                Hmmm...
                Never try to guess what a biochemist finds important. Maybe she had no interest in solving the mystery, and quite a bit of interest in mitochondrial dna being used as a reliable identification tool.

                Or maybe the dna sequence spelled out a Rolling Stones song. THAT would be outstanding.
                The early bird might get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Sounds like they were working from contaminated DNA.

                  Yours truly,

                  Tom Wescott

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Debs is kinda motherly...does that make her mitochondrial DJA?

                    Yours truly,

                    Tom Wescott

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Debra A View Post
                      “Determining that the scar was not from a female but from a male was big, eye opening really,” she said. “(But) the lineage of the DNA, that to me was more outstanding.

                      This seems an odd statement to me, why would the lineage of the DNA be more oustanding than discovering that the remains were male and making the mtDNA results irrelevant?
                      Funnily enough I did a Google search earlier and saw the same statement quoted, and was equally struck by its oddness.

                      The only explanation I could think of was along the lines of Errata's suggestion - that the comparison of the mtDNA was considered more scientifically interesting than the mere determination of gender. But the problem with that is that these days the comparison of mtDNA must itself be routine. I believe it's offered as a standard commercial service to genealogists. In fact I saw another article in which Foran repines that "what we did is not rocket science."

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Chris View Post
                        Funnily enough I did a Google search earlier and saw the same statement quoted, and was equally struck by its oddness.

                        The only explanation I could think of was along the lines of Errata's suggestion - that the comparison of the mtDNA was considered more scientifically interesting than the mere determination of gender. But the problem with that is that these days the comparison of mtDNA must itself be routine. I believe it's offered as a standard commercial service to genealogists. In fact I saw another article in which Foran repines that "what we did is not rocket science."

                        Yes, I suppose that is one explanation. Although testing for gender on highly degraded remains was Kiley's personal research topic.
                        mtDNA testing is bog standard in genealogy now, as is surname linked y chromosome DNA testing.
                        ,¸¸,ø¤º°`°º¤ø,¸¸, Debs ,¸¸,ø¤º°`°º¤ø,¸¸,

                        I am not DJA. He's called Dave.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          There seems to be a wave of Spilsbury revisionism at the moment - wonder if the case of Norman Thorne will be next ? - many people thought it was a case of suicide and not murder.

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                          • #14
                            Hello. I'm new to these boards but this is another case that fascinates me.

                            How can Crippen possibly be innocent?

                            I am highly suspicious of these DNA results. DNA profiling wasn't heard of back in the day when Crippen murdered his wife. Any exhibits would not have been handled appropriately in those days and contamination would have taken place.

                            The pyjama top that was found on the body of Cora had only been sold by Jones the drapers since AFTER the Crippens had moved into the house. So the body had to have been put there during the Crippen's time of residence.
                            This is simply my opinion

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              While I too am not 100% convinced of DNA, especially considering the time since 1910, the more recent tests carried out in the US pointed to the conclusion that the remains found at 39 Hilldrop Crescent were those of a male...Just what can be made of this is difficult.
                              Why would Crippen dispose of most of Cora's remains but bury some of them? It makes no sense...I would have thought he would have disposed of ALL of them and away from the property.
                              There is also the fact that many believed Spilsbury's evidence and findings were irrefutable and not open to question. A dangerous thing indeed.
                              "It is Accomplished"

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