If you like watching thriller movies then you might have seen many horror flicks based on serial killers. If you know about the serial killer, the chances are high that you might know about H.H. Holmes too. We can say he is the inspiration for many thriller movies revolving around a serial killer. This man alone shook entire America with his death scaring way of committing murders. The man who is said to have killed over 200 people has a very interesting life story that includes his upsetting childhood, obsession based youth and highly controversial death. He was the creepiest serial killer of the world in the sense that even after putting his victim to death he would not let them have a peaceful afterlife. Find out what he used to do with his victims after their death. The revelation would shock and scare you at the same time.
American Horror Story: The Inspiration
Meet H.H. Holmes, who has committed about 200 murders without batting an eye. What is more blood curdling is his style of killing people! You can call this man the creepiest American serial killer of the nineteenth century. His life was nothing less than a crime horror film that is why a criminal show has been made on it. The show is called American Horror Story: Hotel. The legendary star Leonardo DiCaprio will be portraying him in the film The Devil in the White City. The controversial man has killed about nine people for sure. He himself admitted killing more than thirty people.
Had A Seemingly Normal Life
The full name of H.H. Holmes is Herman Webster Mudgett. He took admission in the University of Vermont but dropped out just after a year. Till then there was no trace of Holmes’ sinister future. In fact, Holmes was leading a very average life. His personal life was very normal too. He was only 17 years old when he tied the knot with Clara. Marrying at very young age was a common phenomenon in those days. Soon after his marriage, he became a father of a kid. Perhaps, his criminal instinct developed when he got himself enrolled in the University of Michigan at the school of medicine and surgery. He studied in New Hampshire under Dr. Nahum Wright who upheld human dissection. Holmes developed a very strange habit there…..
During Holmes tenure at the University of Michigan, a rumor did the rounds. The rumor was about the cadavers! Many people suspected that some of the cadavers were not fetched legally. However, this particular rumor was traveling from one generation to another since time immemorial, so it didn’t make much difference to the people. This urban legend was the part and parcel of every medical campus. The rumors reached Holmes also. But he knew something more about these rumors that the other students did.
Was Linked To A Missing Boy In New York
Holmes came out with a shocking revelation years after graduating the university. He confessed that he had committed many insurance frauds by using cadavers illegally. In order to get the insurance money, he used to mutilate the body completely, so that no one could recognize them. After having the bodies completely defaced he used to present them as the victim of an accident to the insurance provider. During those times, it was not a difficult thing to manipulate the officials due to the lack of optimum technologies. But this is also true, no one would have thought that a kid would go down to this level to get some money. Shockingly, no one could ever figure out about his frightening intentions.
No One Knew A Thing
His classmates had no idea about the horrible hobby of their class fellow. The only thing that they knew about his personal life was that he used to beat his wife Clara sometimes. Because of his constant violent behavior, his wife eventually left him and got recoiled to New Hampshire. It all happened a year before the completion of his graduation. After that, they never got even in talking terms. Holmes moved to New York after his graduation. With his entry in the city, the rumors of a budding serial killer also entered the town. While his stay in the New York he was seen a lot with a boy who disappeared later. Holmes claimed that the boy had gone back to his hometown Massachusetts and denied any involvement in the boy’s sudden disappearance. Though the case ensued no investigation, he preferred leaving the town and moved to Philadelphia. Well, it was just the beginning of a horrible slew of murders.
A Child’s Death And Holmes
The people were still unaware of Holmes’ cruel intentions. Shockingly, wherever he went the rumors of getting people’s murdered also followed. Strangely, He used to left the city every time the news of murders cropped up. Holmes began to work at Norristown State Hospital after arriving in New York. Just after few days in the hospital, he quit his profile. Holmes went on to take up a permanent position in a drugstore. There also a report of a boy getting killed because of consuming a medicine bought from that particular store emerged. Expectedly, Holmes once again washed his hands off the matter and left the town. What he was about to do next would make your blood crawl.
H.H. Holmes changed his name to Herman Webster Mudget in order to delink himself from the previous murders. The former con had finally turned into a murderer. After changing his name Holmes went to Chicago and took up the job of a pharmacist. While being a pharmacist, he was also looking after his own business, the construction of his queering and death scaring hotel. This hotel was the exact replica of hell. It was huge, spacious, gorgeous, expensive and horrible. Unlike other ordinary hotels, this mansion shared great similarity with the American Horror Story’s fifth season. The hotel is also known as the “Murder Castle” whose king was H.H.Holmes. The castle is the witness of many heart-wrenching cruelties done by this serial killer!
Changing The Workers
Holmes’ murder castle was known as World’s Fair Hotel back in 1893. Ostensibly, it was built to lodge for visitors who had come to attend the Chicago’s World’s Fair also called World’s Columbian Exposition. Holmes had already envisioned the design of his hotel cum murder castle and he did not want the difference of an inch. He kept on changing workers in short intervals during the construction of the building in the pretext of working not good enough. But in reality, he did not want anyone to get an idea of his devilish intentions. It was a three-storeyed, block longed building.
Expensive Way To Die
As expected World’s Fair Hotel never opened as an actual hotel. Surprisingly, no one could ever figure out the actual motive behind the building of the hotel. The hotel had every feature one requires killing someone brutally. You can call it the most murderous place in America. The hotels had stairs for no purpose and they led to nowhere. There were about 51 doorways that also led to brick walls. Just not that there were rooms that used to seal people inside those four walls. This was not all there were some special rooms that were the epitome of cruelty. Read about them in the next slides.
The Extra Creepy Rooms
Usually, hotel rooms are equipped with bathroom, a bed, and TV sets, but his hotel rooms had some more features added to them and those were not impressive. The bedrooms of this cursed hotel were soundproofed with a gas line that could be controlled from the flip side of a wall. Perhaps, these arrangements were made to murder people with carbon monoxide poisoning. That is not all, the doors of the hotel were laced with silent alarms that were used to track the movements of the guests. These alarms enabled Holmes to keep knowledge of his guest’s whereabouts.
The Fearsome Hotel
Now, lets head to the special rooms of Holmes’ hotel that were way more creepy. There was one room that was totally covered with bricks. The room had no doors, no windows but a small trap door. This room was opened by the trap door that was made in the ceiling. The room was built beneath the floor so whenever a guest would walk on the trap door, he was going to fall through that and die due to the suffocation. More than a hundred rooms were bereft of windows. But Holmes favorite was the second floor of the hotel. There he had built his “Secret Hanging Chamber.” As the name reveals the chamber was used for hanging the people. During those days the chamber would have been a hub of eerie cries with people being tied up and tortured first before getting killed or just simply hanged by the neck.
Types Of Killing
No doubt, Holmes is the creepiest serial killer. He loved to kill people and loved, even more, killing them in different ways. His hotel was an expensive and luxurious butchery. After having guests in his hotel, he would begin playing games with them. Sometimes, he would let his victims run for his life. The ignorant victims who did not know that the whole of the castle is a mansion of death would try to hide beneath the staircases or behind the doors. But their all efforts to save their life would go in vain. Their cry for mercy was shadowed by the vainglorious smile of the killer. Though sometimes Holmes would relent and give his victims an easier death. Those lucky people would die of asphyxiation or be hanged in hanging chamber. You can’t even imagine how lower has he gone to. He used to trap some of his guests in secret chambers without food and water, let alone sunshine. Those incarcerated would give up their life soon. Now, I’ll tell you what was the main purpose of all these ruthless murders.
What Did He do With The Body?
I am sure Holmes would have never believed in the “Rest In Peace” line. As he would not let his victims alone even after their death. In fact, he used to do something really unbelievable to his guests. After killing the victims he would take them to the basement. There were two ways to bring the cadaver to the underground room. Both of the ways were well planned and used according to his convenience. He would either stuff the body in a dummy elevator or get them down via a metal chute descending to the basement. Once having the corpses in the basement, Holmes would do something very frightening with them. What he did with his lifeless victims would surely make your hair stand on the end. Check that out on the next slide.
Holmes was the most brutal killer serial. After bringing the body of his victims down in his basement, he would lacerate them. He used those bodies to make money! In order to hoard more money, he would dissect the body and sell all of their organs and bones to the medical communities. He believed in using every iota of his victims. After extracting all the organs and bones of the victim he would skin them off and sell their skeleton to the medical colleges. It was a great source of money for Holmes other than his heavy hotel room rentals. This spooky practice of Holmes might have reminded you of his scams (insurance fraud) that he did while studying in medical college.
After stripping the flesh off, drawing out all the organs and bones Holmes would dispose of the body in different ways. One included cremation! He used to burn the remnants with the help of big furnaces. The other perks of these furnaces were that no one could doubt the purpose of its installation as these were quite common those days. But to heat up the building to burn huge furnaces was not an easy thing in the cold winter of Chicago. In fact, it was more like chewing a bullet. That’s why he had one more way! Have you seen Breaking Bad? Holmes, just like the show Breaking Bad, used to perish the unsold parts of the body by acid. And he used lime to preserve the useful remains.
Finally, Came The Day
It is surprising that nobody, even the workers could get a clue of the purpose behind his murderous hotel. What was more surprising was the fact that even after the completion of the building, no one was able to realize that it was a bloodthirsty hotel. Not just that, he was not even suspected of the disappearance of many people at the time of World’s Fair, all because of its huge murder castle. You can fathom the perfection of the hotel by the fact that even the cops could not figure out that something is very amiss with the hotel. After taking many lives during the tenure of World Fair, Holmes moved to Boston when the fair ended. In Boston, he performed one more insurance scheme that was going to change his world.
The Life-changing Scheme
As we know excess of anything is dangerous to us! Holmes had a thing for insurance fraud. If you remember, it was insurance fraud only that got him into the world of crime. Once again, he returned to his old habit and planned another insurance fraud with his friend. He asked his friend Benjamin Pitezel to persuade his wife to claim his insurance policy by faking his own death. The amount of his life insurance policy was $10,000 ( roughly $200,000 now). According to their plan, after getting the payment they would split the amount into two. The only obstacle was to find out a body looking just like Pitezel, and Holmes came up with a very unexpected solution to that!
A Silly Mistake
In order to get a body like Pitezel, Holmes killed his friend as well. Though the murder brought him to an undesired end. This murder might too have gone unnoticed but thanks to his cellmate from his previous arrest for not paying for the scheme that the police got a tip-off of his sins. His former crime partner brought the police to his door. Holmes admitted about the insurance fraud but denied any involvement in the murder of his friend. Though he tried a lot to not to keep his crime a secret but his wishy-washy statements due to his lack of knowledge made the cops suspicious. Holmes said that a doctor in New York gave him the body of Pitezel. He went on to say that it was all because of his medical knowledge that he could stuff the body into the trunk. But this time the luck was not on his side, as the cop clearly remembered the full rigor mortis condition of the body at the time of its discovery. That clearly implied that the body was fresh. His lie made police more suspicious of him. Furthermore, the inspector asked him about the technique he used to get the body harden after the breakage of rigor mortis. Holmes could not reply! Instead of making efforts to find another body he killed his own friend Pitezel to claim his money. First, he got him unconscious with chloroform and then set him ablaze. He was arrested in 1874.
Reaching To The Murder Castle
The murder of his friend led the police to unravel many secrets of Holmes that included his murder castle too. After coming across the murder castle, the police found out about his brutal chambers, the dark chutes, cruel dead ends, and dummy elevators. And yeah, the basement morgue where he used to dissect his victims. It was because of Holmes exceptional skill of getting rid of bodies useful and spared parts that the police could not get remains of all the bodies. The pieces of evidence were limited that held him responsible for few murders only.
The Heart Shuddering Evidence
The police too were stunned at his cruelty. They went on to inspect the whole of the castle so that no corner get left untouched. In the castle, the police discovered a bunch of animal and human bones. On the further inspection, it came out that some of the bones were of a child that must have been something between six to eight years. The police got their hand on one more evidence when they came across women’s clothes with dried blood on it. These blood covered clothes were placed adjacent to the dissection table. They found another proof on the third floor that had a huge stove occupied with a gold chain and women’s shoe.All these shreds of evidence linked him to nine murders only. According to Holmes, he had murdered about thirty people. However, some of those he said he murdered were actually alive and kicking.
Unfortunately, having committed so many murders in the hotel, Holmes was tried for the murder of Pitezel only. After a trial, it was in 1895, that was Holmes was convicted of killing Pitezel. For committing such a cold-blooded murder he was penalized with the death sentence. Holmes confessed murdering 27 people in Chicago, Toronto, and Indianapolis and six attempting murders. Holmes had an insatiable greed for money that stuck with him even during his last days. He made a deal with the Hearst newspaper according to that the newspaper would pay him $7,500 in exchange for his confessions made only to the newspaper. Striking a deal with a con man is never a good idea. Hearst newspaper had done nothing but put all his money in the vain as most of the confessions made by Holmes were big lies. The man who killed many people callously had one odd request to make before embracing the death.
Acceptance Of An Unacceptable Request
Holmes knew that now nothing can save him. So, before getting hanged he asked for something very strange from the police officer. Ironically, the man who had dissected numbers of bodies got scared even by the thought of his body undergoing any kind of dissection after his death. So, he asked his body to be buried about 10 feet under the ground and solidify his resting place with a thick layer of concrete. Though he deserved the same treatment of brutal dissection that he used to practice with his victims, his request was accepted. What do you think, should his request be granted?
Exhuming His Grave
The weird request by Holmes fanned many rumors after his death. It was said that the serial killer had faked his own death. According to author Adam Selzer in his book H.H. Holmes: The True History of the White City Devil speaks about the alleged plan made by Holmes. He with one of his friend arranged for a corpse looking like him and coaxed a prison guard to let him switch the body with himself. The rumors kept on flying high from there on. It was in 2017, the descendants of serial killer requested for the exhuming of his grave in order to find out the truth. The request makers include his great-grandchildren Richard and John Mudgett and Cynthia Mudgett Soriano. They submitted their DNA to the University of Pennsylvania. Till now, the family has kept mum about the result.
Disclosure By Janitor
The rumor of Holmes faking his death bred many other rumors. The one was linked with his castle’s former janitor. Robert Latimore the janitor of castle asserted that there were some letters substantiating the fact that Holmes actually had deceived priest, jail officials and his lawyer by swapping his body with some another corpse. Robert continued to claim that after getting out of the jail he went to New York and then traveled to San Paramaribo, Paraguay putting up on a coffee farm. Though these claims were falsified as there is no city called San Paramaribo in entire South America, let alone Paraguay.
Rumors Getting Them Talk
Interestingly, Lattimer was also on his list of people that he claimed to have murdered but were actually alive. Just like his claims the assertion of Lattimer was also a lie. Matt Lake, the expert on Holmes pointed out to the NBC Chicago that the rumor of Holmes escaping jail and heading to New York was “quite a popular story at the time. A cynical person might say this was just designed to sell more newspapers, and it did sell newspapers!” According to him the reason behind springing up of so many false theories was the arising era of Yellow Journalism. In order to get more readers the newspapers had begun to sensationalize his stories.
Did He Really Get Executed?
There are many theories that just not claim the swapping of bodies but also states as to how that swapping would have taken place. The writer of H.H. Holmes: The True History of the White City Devil, Adam Selzer wrote “They’d brought in a fake body and hidden it behind a partition below the scaffold. When Holmes was brought out to be hanged, the guards had formed a semicircle around him, momentarily blocking the view… while [the executioner] pretended to bind his arms and put the hood over his head. In those few crucial seconds, the hooded substitute body was raised behind the semicircle, and Holms himself slipped away to be smuggled out in a casket.”
The Era Of Sensationalisation
Along with Hearst newspaper, there were many other newspapers who wanted to document Holmes confession. But it was Hearst the took the lead among them. Holmes traded his confession with the newspaper for $7,500 that today accounts for $215,000. Being a con man Holmes provided lots of contradicting accounts. Though he made lots of wrong confessions, there was one line that he said to many newspapers that were absolutely right. A line was published by Philidelphia North American in 1896 that read “I was born with the devil in me.”This infamous line became an inspiration for book and film The Devil in the White City.
Moving Back To Past
As they say in order to understand the present one needs to look into the past. H.H. Holmes did not have a blissful past, especially childhood. If we go by the reports then this would-be-serial killer was the victim of constant bully by his class fellow. Moreover, he was scared of doctors just like many other normal children. Only to tease Herman Webster Mudgett, other kids used to make him stand before human skeleton dangling in doctor’s office. It is possible that these constant confrontations with skeletons and his fear might have flamed the desire for making people scared of him. Holmes stated to Mental Floss “the experiences exorcised him of his fears about death, and may have lead to his fascination with it,”
An Obsession With Death
Holmes had an obsession with death. His traumatic confrontation with the skeleton had left a deep impact on him. Post the experience, he used to do surgery on innocent animals. Surprisingly, he was only eleven years old when he got on such queering hobbies. He was brutal since his childhood as he used to torture the animals with a knife and pointy object till they are about to die and then would do their surgery. He also was an apprentice to a local doctor who taught him about the before and after death condition of the human body when he was quite young. The same doctor he was working under recommended him to a medical school.
Personal Life Equally Controversial
Not only his professional life but Holmes personal life too was a big web of lie and betrayal. As many times he used to move places to places in order to not get caught by the police, he used to marry that times also. Resultantly, he stayed as the husband of three women at the same time. As mentioned earlier, his first wife Clara had abandoned him before the completion of his graduation and severed all kind of contacts with each other. However, they never got divorced. In 1887, without getting the divorce from Clara, Holmes got married second time with Myrta Belknap. Just after seven years, he exchanged vows with Georgiana Yoke when he recoiled to Denver. Until his last days, the divorce between Clara and Holmes was not finalized. As far as the other two are concerned then the high chances are that they did not know about the existence of each other in their husband’s life. Even when Holmes was hanged till death, he was married to these three women.
She Found Something Interesting
Recently in 2017, Daily Mail published about a note that Claire Fanelle, of New Jersey, had discovered. The note was kept in a bible. Notably, the note had a date of May 7, 1896, that read “Dear Father Dailey, I must write and make you know the kind feelings I have for you… I need your prayers after my death. With all of my heart.” Surprisingly, the person who had signed the text was none other than “H.H. Holmes.” Though it was difficult for Fanelle and her family to make out of the whole of the letter they could successfully decode his belief in god.
Claire Fanelle got a hand on the note when she was cleaning her house. The Bible in question was given to Claire by her mother. Fanelle also mentioned the numbers of newspaper clippings placed in the holy book. It was Fanelle’s son who discovered the note. Fanelle also spoke about her and her son’s astonished expressions. She exclaimed “the two of us look at each other like, ‘This is weird,’” Father Patrick J. Dailey happened to be the first cousin of his great-grandfather. Father Dailey’s church was located nearby the spot where Holmes was hanged. According to Fanelle “When he came to walk him to the gallows he probably handed him the Bible back with that inscription in it.”
The Dual Faced Holmes!
There is one more interesting theory that popped up after the death of H.H. Holmes. This theory links Holmes with another anonymous dangerous serial killer of his time called Jack The Ripper. The great-grandson of Holmes Jeff Mudget firmly upholds this theory. He maintains that he has received two diaries from his grandfather that has documented the controversial life of H.H. Holmes. In order to clarify his doubts, he even went to a handwriting expert to examine the scribbles. The expert too said that the writing is of Holmes. It is said that the diary has the description of some of the murders Holmes committed and also how he escaped prison and faked his own death.
Remember Jack The Ripper?
As said earlier Jack the Ripper was another notorious serial killer of the 19th century. This murderer’s crimes were concentrated in Whitechapel district of London. Unfortunately, the killer could never get identified and due to the lack of any pieces of evidence of his identification the murderer was named “Jack the Ripper.”There is a reason behind giving this name to the anonymous killer. During the time Ripper rose to prominence, a fake letter came out bearing the name of him. Through the letter, the killer explained that he knows he is about to be get nabbed but would continue to commit murder and he also delineates his plans in the letter. Another remarkable fact was that the mostly the victims of Jack the Ripper were prostitutes. He was known to cut the throat of his victims and then would disfigure their abdominal and eventually, would rip all their organs out.
The London Connection
Yeah, you are right. Jack the Ripper was a serial killer hailing from London whereas H.H. Holmes belonged to America. It is impossible to have one person in two places. But if you read this theory then you might have your mind changed. The theory states that Holmes had befriended Edmund Buckley while graduating from the University of Michigan. The two became very close friends and finally took their friendship to another level by becoming partners in crime. The two began practicing insurance fraud schemes together and Edmund also lent his hand in selling the organs of the dead victims to the hospitals. You might have comprehended by now what I am trying to say. The friendship between the two was so deep that it is possible that Holmes might have asked Buckley to go on to commit Jack the Ripper murders in London.
Buckley Or Holmes?
The above theory might make you believe that it was Buckley who spread terror in the form of Jack the Ripper. But there are also some other shreds of evidence that indicate to other possibilities. There are high chances that Holmes had lied on census reports. There are some records that contradict the earlier theory, it says Holmes had his own residence in Whitechapel. One more important fact is that the serial murders reported in Whitechapel took place when Holmes was in the town selling a corpse illegally. A complaint regarding the same was filed against him during the time of murders in Whitechapel. The style of the killing of Jack The Ripper it was clear that the murderer was well versed in medical knowledge just like Holmes! Not convinced? Check another slide that will wipe all your doubts away.
How Is It Possible?
If the previous facts have not convinced you then this would surely do. There are many doubts about the Holmes and his London connection. Some say that it would not have been possible for the Holmes to commit murders in London as he was busy constructing his murder castle in Chicago. This assumption gets hit by another assumption made by another set of people. According to them though Holmes was looking after his building, he also had some time to visit London. The Jack the Ripper had killed five women known as “Canonical Five.” Those bunch of women was murdered between late August and early November of the year 1888. The construction of Holmes’ building did not begin before 1889. The records suggest that Holmes was not around Chicago during the strange killing in London. It could be that Holmes was in London!
Mystery Of Handwriting
The picture depicts the “Dear Boss” letter which stirred the pot in no time. The controversial letter was received by Central News Agency Of London. On September 29, 1888, it was passed on to the Scotland Yard. The letter delineated on the killing method and plans of the murderer. In the very letter, he had stated that he was going to cut his victim’s ear off. Surprisingly, the next day a woman’s body was discovered who had her earlobes cut off. The letter was more important as it helped to clarify another confusion too.
It’s A Match
Moreover, Jeff Mudgett submitted samples of Holmes handwriting in order to find out if the writing from Holmes’ diary matches with the handwriting of “Dear Boss” letter. The result was equally astonishing, as there was 98% similarity between the writing of both the documents.
Holmes And That Anonymous Killer
Though it is still unclear as to how exactly Jack the Ripper looked like. But there had been some attempts made to make a sketch of his face. After a century, Scotland Yard and BBC came up with a sketch of the anonymous writer taking a clue from the eyewitness accounts from 1888. You can easily perceive in the picture that the photo of Jack the Ripper had a striking similarity with photos of H.H. Holmes. Both of them had a long mustache. Though this is true that having facial hair was very much in trend those days, you can’t deny that both the criminals had similar side look.
Who Was Actually Behind It?
Jeff Mudget says that Holmes was not Jack the Ripper. It was his assistant perhaps Buckley who went London and committed murder as Jack the Ripper.
It is hard to believe that one would take the effort of traveling to another country only to commit murders. But there is one more argument that advocates that Holmes was Jack the Ripper. It is believed that Holmes killed people in London to divert people attention from murders in America. There was one more argument that was the most astonishing of all.
Jeff Mudget the great-grandson of Holmes thinks that there was another hidden motive behind him killing the people. According to him, Mudget used to murder rich women in order to have their reproductive organs.With their reproductive organs, he used to manufacture a youth serum. If we go by Mudget’s claims then that serum would enable Holmes to live an extraordinarily long life.
The family of Holmes is divided into two groups. The first group wants their forefathers grave to be exhumed in order to make it clear that their great-grandfather had not faked his death. Whereas Jack the Ripper continued to assert that Jack the Ripper was none other than his great-grandfather.
Mudget is professionally a lawyer and former Commander in the U.S. Naval Reserve. All his life he has been trying to prove his theory connecting Jack the Ripper with Holmes. Mudgett has also authored books called Bloodstains that documents the transcripts of the diaries of Holmes. Though Mudget has provided the transcription of diary in his book he failed to put actual photocopies to the public domain.