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NIV Psalm 10 – Murder
1 Why, Lord, do you stand far off?
Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?
2 In his arrogance the wicked man hunts down the weak,
who are caught in the schemes he devises.
3 He boasts about the cravings of his heart;
he blesses the greedy and reviles the Lord.
4 In his pride the wicked man does not seek him;
in all his thoughts there is no room for God.
5 His ways are always prosperous;
your laws are rejected by him;
he sneers at all his enemies.
6 He says to himself, ‘Nothing will ever shake me.’
He swears, ‘No one will ever do me harm.’
7 His mouth is full of lies and threats;
trouble and evil are under his tongue.
8 He lies in wait near the villages;
from ambush he murders the innocent.
His eyes watch in secret for his victims;
9 like a lion in cover he lies in wait.
He lies in wait to catch the helpless;
he catches the helpless and drags them off in his net.
10 His victims are crushed, they collapse;
they fall under his strength.
11 He says to himself, ‘God will never notice;
he covers his face and never sees.’
12 Arise, Lord! Lift up your hand, O God.
Do not forget the helpless.
13 Why does the wicked man revile God?
Why does he say to himself,
‘He won’t call me to account’?
14 But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted;
you consider their grief and take it in hand.
The victims commit themselves to you;
you are the helper of the fatherless.
15 Break the arm of the wicked man;
call the evildoer to account for his wickedness
that would not otherwise be found out.
16 The Lord is King for ever and ever;
the nations will perish from his land.
17 You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted;
you encourage them, and you listen to their cry,
18 defending the fatherless and the oppressed,
so that mere earthly mortals
will never again strike terror.
Historical Parallel - January 31, 1910
Psalm 10 is the account of a murder. International news followed and reported the details of an investigation and subsequent trial that captured the world’s attention in 1910. This was the year in which Hawley Harvey Crippen was convicted and then executed for a horrific murder of his wife, Cora Henrietta Turner (born Kunigunde Mackamotski, who frequently used her stage name of Belle Elmore). Cora was of Polish, German and Jewish descent. Hawley’s second wife, Cora was also interestingly his second wife who had died suddenly. His first wife’s death was ruled natural at the time (a stroke), and no questions were asked regarding the circumstances of her death, but subsequent events later put his first wife’s death under suspicion as well. [i]
Both Crippen and Cora were not faithful to each other. While Cora entertained a number of lovers including Bruce Miller, her husband was having a secret love affair of his own with Ethel Le Neve. When Cora found out about Crippen’s affair, she threatened to leave her husband. Crippen would have been fine with it, except that she intended to take their combined savings with her.
On January 31, 1910, the Crippens invited Cora’s theatrical friends, Mr. and Mrs. Martinetti, to their home at Hilldrop Crescent in England for dinner. After eating together, the four then played cards until 1:30 in the morning. No one saw Cora after that evening again. Cora Crippen is presumed to have been killed that night by her husband, by the nerve sedative hyoscine hydrobromide, which was a medicine used to treat motion sickness and its main side effect is sleepiness. Hawley had a medical diploma from the Homeopathic Hospital in Cleveland, which allowed him to practice medicine in the U.S. He purchased a large amount of this drug from a local chemist a few days before the presumed murder.
Crippen began a web of lies at this point and told Cora’s friends that she went to America to be at the bedside of a sick relative. However, within a very short timeframe, his mistress, Ethel Le Neve, moved into Crippen’s residence, and started wearing Cora’s clothes. After a few months, Crippen then continued the narrative of his false story and told acquaintances that Cora was ill and in serious condition, in Los Angeles. WordPress records that on March 24, 1910, Crippen then sent a telegram to Mrs. Martinetti stating ‘Belle died yesterday at 6 o’clock.’ He sent the telegram from Victoria Railway station as he was leaving for a week’s holiday with Ethel Le Neve. For some reason, the circles of people that he associated with did not raise questions to his behavior, even with the untimely vacation in light of the telegram news.
No one would have been the wiser, but it happened that a friend of Cora’s, Josh Nash, inquired after her upon a trip to the US, and discovered that no one had seen her. Nash took his suspicions to Scotland Yard, and they agreed to look into the matter. Detective Chief Inspector Dew of Scotland Yard spoke to Crippen a few days later. Immediately Crippen admitted to the Detective that he had made up the entire story to save from being embarrassed in front of his friends. His new story was that his wife had left him to go live in Chicago with one of her lovers. After a cursory inspection of the house, the Detective decided there was no evidence of foul-play. Two days later, the Detective went to Crippen’s house again, with the intent of validating a date for his final report, after which he planned to close the case. Crippen and Ethel Le Neve had disappeared. If they had simply stayed put, chances are high that he would have gotten away with the crime.
After their disappearance, Detective Dew authorized a thorough search of Crippen’s house and the authorities found human remains that had been cut into pieces under the basement floor. The details are quite grisly and are not necessary to record for purposes of drawing the parallels between Psalm 10 and the historical account. Of interest is that the remains were not definitively identified as Cora’s and could have also belonged to someone else.
Psalm 10 speaks of “victims” plural, as if there were more than one. This suggests there may realistically have been other murders committed by Hawley before Cora.
The couple was eventually spotted aboard the S.S. Montrose, a ship headed to Canada. The captain of the Montrose, Captain Kendall, used a wireless radio to alert Scotland Yard of their whereabouts, which led to their capture and extradition back to England to stand trial for murder. Crippen was found guilty and sentenced to death. Ethel Le Neve stood trial only as an accessory after the fact, but was acquitted. Crippen was executed after a failed suicide attempt on November 23, 1910. [ii]
[i] Meecham, Jan. “Murder, with malice aforethought – Doctor Crippen,” WordPress, last modified September 16, 2017, https://janmeecham.wordpress.com/2017/09/16/murder-with-malice-aforethought-doctor-crippen/
[ii] “Hawley Harvey Crippen,” Wikipedia, last modified November 1, 2021, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hawley_Harvey_Crippen