Does the name H.H. Holmes ring a bell? The man behind the name is considered “America’s first serial killer” and his reign of terror was centered in the heart of Chicago.
“Like the man-eating tigers of the tropical jungle, whose appetites for blood have once been aroused, I roamed about this world seeking whom I could destroy.” – H.H. Holmes.
*WARNING: Disturbing content below*
In the late 1880s and 1890s, H.H. Holmes successfully murdered and mutilated tens and possibly hundreds of people, as the actual count of dead is unclear.
After attending medical school, a man named Herman Webster Mudgett graduated and moved to Chicago. After coming into rough financial times, he began to form a series of cons to try and make ends meet. When his initial plan to fool insurance companies fell through (he planned to fake the deaths of entire families and present cadavers in their places), he got another idea.
He would fake his own death. But in this case, cadavers just wouldn’t do. So, he lured his best friend to a hotel and murdered him without regret.
After receiving his payout, Mudgett was reborn as H.H. Holmes, who would go on to terrorize countless people.
Mudget, now Holmes, continued to con people in a variety of ways, earning himself a hefty bank account. With the money, he purchased what he called his “castle,” a three story building on the South Side of Chicago.
Construction was long, and all workers were replaced weekly, and sometimes daily in an effort to both con them out of money and keep any one person from knowing the entire layout of his “castle.”
Posing as a legitimate hotel, Holmes would lure unsuspecting patrons (especially during the World’s Fair) into the castle and kill them in a variety of ways. He locked some people in rooms and filled them with toxic gas; closed several of his employees in a metal safe until they suffocated; burned many people alive in a faux “glass kiln” he had constructed and destroyed some bodies with lime and acid.
“I was born with the devil in me. I could not help the fact that I was a murderer, no more than a poet can help the inspiration to sing,” he once said about himself.
He also tortured and mutilated victims when they were of a
particular use to him. For example, wealthy bankers were coerced into signing over thousands of dollars and other valuables. Then they were killed.
Once deceased, he threw the bodies down a chute he had built into the castle and either sold total bodies for dissection or the assembled skeletons for dissection and instruction at local medical schools.
Unfortunately, that was just the beginning. Holmes’ depraved torture, murder and horrific acts went on for many years. Watch the entire documentary to get the rest of the gruesome details.