Few people today will have heard of Dew of the Yard, who arrested the notorious Dr Crippen and lived out his days in Worthing.

But in his heyday the London policeman, who learnt his trade hunting for Jack the Ripper, was a household name.

Jack the Ripper is arguably the most chilling killer in British criminal history.

He prowled the dank, cobbled backstreets of Victorian London picking up prostitutes and butchering them in a savage frenzy.

The serial murderer was blamed for five deaths in the East End slums of Whitechapel and Spitalfields between August and November 1888.

Jack the Ripper was never caught and to this day investigators are still trying to put a name to the brutal knifeman.

Walter Dew, who joined the Metropolitan police in 1882 at the age of 19, was among dozens of detectives assigned to the case.

He saw one of the Ripper's victims, Mary Kelly, and later described it as "the most gruesome memory of the whole of my police career".

To his dying day he believed that someone, somewhere, shared the murderer's guilty secret.

But Dew really made his name investigating the disappearance of Cora Crippen, a frustrated actress who was married to a dental surgeon's mild-mannered medical advisor by the name of Dr Hawley Harvey Crippen.

He was a chief inspector when Mrs Crippen, who was also known by her stage name, Belle Elmore, went missing from her three-bedroom semi in Camden Town, London, on January 31, 1910.

Dr Crippen, a bespectacled man with a moustache, initially insisted he had no idea what had happened to his wife.

But eyebrows were raised when a young typist, Miss Ethel Le Neve, moved in with him several months later.

By June, Scotland Yard detectives led by Dew were starting to take a keen interest in Cora's disappearance, which prompted Dr Crippen to claim that his wife had run off with a former lover to America.

He said he had kept it quiet to avoid embarrassment but the following day when Dew called at the house Dr Crippen and Miss Le Neve had gone.

Police discovered Cora's headless, filleted remains buried under the coal cellar floor of the house, sparking a massive manhunt.

An autopsy on her decayed remains revealed she had probably been poisoned.

The breakthrough came when the captain of the Canada-bound SS Montrose saw a newspaper report about the fugitives and became suspicious of two passengers, supposedly father and son, who had boarded at Antwerp.

He sent a message via the Marconi telegraph which read: "Have strong suspicion that Crippen London Cellar murderer and accomplice are amongst passengers. Moustache shaved off, growing a beard. Accomplice dressed as a boy, voice manner and build undoubtedly a girl."

This historic broadcast marked the first time that wireless telegraphy had been used to catch a criminal.

Dew boarded a faster vessel, the mail steamer Laurentic, at Liverpool, and overtook the Montrose in mid-Atlantic.

After docking at Quebec on a sweltering summer's day, he waited for Dr Crippen and his lover to arrive.

On Sunday, July 31, Dew, disguised as a pilot officer, went on board the Montrose from a pilot vessel and, immediately recognising the murderer, made his arrest.

He then had to wait for three weeks while extradition paperwork was completed, regularly visiting the couple in jail.

Twenty-eight years later, in 1938, Dew recalled: "I had landed on July 29 by the liner Laurentic, arriving two days before the Montrose, which was already well out in the Atlantic when we first suspected that Crippen was aboard, but which was a much slower vessel than the mail steamer Laurentic.

"Old Crippen took it quite well. He always was a bit of a philosopher, though he could not have helped being astounded to see me on board the boat. He was quite a likeable chap in his way.

"Much of my time in Canada was spent evading reporters and cameramen, who knew all about my arrival in spite of our efforts to keep it secret, and who frequently became personal when I did not give them a statement.

"As it happened, Crippen and his companion, Miss Ethel Le Neve, showed no desire to postpone our departure and waived their extradition rights, which enabled us to make the return journey after being only three weeks in Canada."

Dew returned to England with his quarry aboard the Megantic, paving the way for a sensational trial at the Old Bailey.

Newspapers said he had "effected the most sensational criminal capture of the century".

Dr Crippen denied murder but claimed at the trial that his wife was irritable and impossible to live with.

After a five-day trial which captivated the world, he was found guilty and hanged at Pentonville Prison at 8am on Wednesday, November 28, 1910. Le Neve was acquitted.

Cora's head and skeleton were never found but the rest of her remains were laid to rest in St Pancras Cemetery, London.

The Greek marble headstone was fashioned by Councillor Francis Tate at the monumental mason's workshops in North Street, Worthing.

The inscription simply read: "In Memoriam, Cora Crippen (Belle Elmore), who passed away 1st Feb 1910. Rest in Peace."

Dew retired from active duty three weeks before Crippen was executed and later wrote a best-selling book called I Caught Crippen.

Many believe he built up a friendly rapport with Dr Crippen and quit out of sympathy to the prisoner, swearing again he never wanted to play a role in such a human tragedy.

Dew retired to Worthing, living at the Wee Hoose, 10 Beaumont Road, until his death in 1947.

He was buried at Durrington Cemetery but today his headstone has either weathered so much it is unreadable or has been removed.