Friday, February 1, 2008

Serial Killer Bedtime Stories: H. H. Holmes

Here's our latest bedtime story. Once upon a time, there was a serial killer named H.H. Holmes . . .

Born Herman Webster Mudgett, Dr. Holmes started his criminal career as a medical student by stealing corpses from the University of Michigan. He used the corpses to collect insurance money from policies taken out under fictitious names.

When he moved to Chicago he started a drugstore empire from which he made a fortune. He built a hundred-room mansion complete with gas chambers, trap doors, acid vats, lime pits, fake walls and secret entrances. During the 1893 World's Fair he rented rooms to visitors. He then killed most of his lodgers and continued his insurance fraud scheme. He also lured women to his "torture castle" with the promise of marriage. Instead, he would force them to sign over their savings, then throw them down an elevator shaft and gas them to death. In the basement of the castle he dismembered and skinned his prey and experimented with their corpses.

When police grew suspicious about H.H's activities, he torched the castle and fled. In the burnt hulk of the building, authorities found the remains of over two hundred people. H.H. was caught when one of his insurance schemes was unravelled by Pinkerton detectives. He was hanged on May 7, 1896, after one the first sensational crime trial in America. Not only was Herman the first American serial killer he was also, according to author Scheckter, the first "celebrity psycho." Although he never had the historical presence of his contemporary Jack the Ripper, he did leave behind an impressive trail of blood unequaled for almost eighty years.

Sweet dreams, and forever remain Crazy 4 Crazies.

No comments:

Post a Comment