Recently I was talking to @Octavius about H. H. Holmes. Because who doesn't have conversations about serial killers? I watched a documentary and did a ton of research on this guy but I still feel like I know basically nothing about him. I don't think we will ever fully know about the horrific things he did. His real name was Herman Webster Mudgett. H. H. Holmes was the first serial killer in the United States. Before people knew that he was a serial killer, women often talked about him and they raved about his intelligence and his blue eyes. His first known victim was a frail old lady who could not take of her pharmacy. She made Holmes her assistant which proved to be a deadly mistake. He took over her pharmacy in Chicago in the late 1800's by making her "disappear."
Soon after her death, he bought the pharmacy and he hired contractors who were completely oblivious to his plan to turn it into a Murder Castle. The bottom floor had shops and his new drugstore. The top two floors were a labyrinth of trap doors, chutes, air ducts, gas chambers, windowless rooms, torture chambers, and a kiln. During the Worlds Fair in Chicago, he turned his "castle" into a hotel. Holmes hired different contractors throughout the building process of his "murder hotel" He didn't want people to know much about what he was building. He knew that if they knew what they were building, they would call the police, so he randomly fired his contractors.
Many of his victims were young, pretty blondes who had been seduced, swindled, and then killed. Some women he didn't seduce but he lured them with the promise of employment. Many of his victims he would take out an insurance policy on his victims prior to their deaths. He would then make them "disappear" and then collect the insurance claim. After that, he made even more money by selling their bodies to medical schools.
America was very innocent during this time. Psychologists were just discovering that some humans have evil subconscious feelings that demon possession could not explain. The term, "serial killer" wasn't a phrase, people simply called Holmes a "mass murderer"
This was all leading up to what he planned to do during the Worlds Fair in Chicago. The Worlds Fair in 1893 was the highlight of architecture and the arts in America. It also showed the world how far we came in technology and production. Nikola Tesla showed the world the technological advance of electricity by lighting up the Worlds Fair.
Thousands of carefree people who enjoyed the fair went missing. He got tons of tons of money from his victims. He got from them checking into his hotel, he got money from their insurance claims, and when he sold the bodies to medical schools.
Holmes would've gotten away with the horrible things he did if it wasn't for his own greed. Following the Worlds Fair, he met two con artists, Benjamin Pitezel and Marion Hedgepeth. He told them about his plan to take an insurance claim on Pitezel, fake Pitezels death, and then Pitezels wife will collect the $10,000 insurance claim and split it with all of them.
Instead, Holmes killed Pitezel and collected the $10,000. He then manipulated Pitezels wife into giving her and Benjamins children into his possession. He eventually killed the children I have no idea why. Police were tipped off by Hedgepeth because he never got his share of the $10,000.
He confessed to hundreds of murders. Nine of which were confirmed. Multiple times he would contradict himself. Sometimes he said he murdered hundreds. At one point, he said he only murdered two people. This famous quote he said when he was arrested for the murder of Benjamin Pitezel. However, at this point people knew he killed a lot more.
"I was born with the devil in me. I could not help the fact that I was a murderer, no more than the poet can help the inspiration to sing — I was born with the 'Evil One' standing as my sponsor beside the bed where I was ushered into the world, and he has been with me since."
– H. H. Holmes
Two people attempted to burn down the Murder Castle when Holmes was arrested but it survived the fire. It was torn down in 1938. The site is currently occupied by the United States Postal Service. However the Murder Castle is forever burned into pop culture. Erik Larson wrote a book about H. H. Holmes and how he used the Worlds Fair to do the terrible things that he did. The Book is called Devil in the White City and I highly recommend it.
There is also a movie coming out of Devil in the White City starring Leonardo DiCaprio. Holmes inspired an episode on Supernatural and inspired a serial killer from American Horror Story played by Evan Peters. He even has an entire opera about him, it's called Murdercastle. He had over 200 victims and I think it's sad that people never remember the victims so here are their names. If it's any reconciliation, Holmes had a slow death. He was sentenced to death by hanging but his neck didn't instantly snap. Instead he hung there, twitching for fifteen minutes. It took twenty minutes until he was pronounced dead. Of course, I wish he died an even slower death.
I'm sure he had much more victims but we will never know because so many bodies were badly disfigured or he got rid of the evidence but authorities are extremely confident he murdered all of these people.