H.H. Holmes was the first American serial killer. He is an example of one of those well-educated, very likable, and completely insane sociopaths that have walked among us throughout history. He went to the University of Michigan where he was a medical student. He then moved to Chicago where he became a pharmacist and made a large amount of money doing so. He claimed to have killed as many as 27 people but only nine were confirmed and the newspapers at the time were saying that he could have killed as much as 200.
I’ve seen many references on TV and in movies to this guy and watched a few documentaries on H.H. Holmes that portray him as a cunning, if not opportunistic, killer who planned his murders meticulously and even had an entire building laid out to conduct his killings. This guy was one of a kind, and hopefully, we never see his type again. Below is a short biography on H.H. Holmes that is an eye-opening expose on this the first American serial killer.
Born: Thu May 16, 1861
Born in: Gilmanton, New Hampshire, United States
Country: United States, Canada
Alias: Herman Webster Mudgett, Dr. Henry Howard Holmes, Dr. Henry Howard Holmes
Birth Name: Herman Webster Mudgett
Born Herman Webster Mudgett, Dr. H. H. Holmes/Dr. Henry Howard Holmes started his criminal career as a medical student by stealing corpses from the University of Michigan. Dr. Holmes used these corpses to collect insurance money from policies taken out under fake names.
Holmes Hotel / Murder Castle
After moving to Chicago, Holmes started a drugstore empire from which he made a fortune. He built a hundred-room mansion on an entire city block complete with gas chambers, trap doors, acid vats, lime pits, fake walls and secret entrances. During the World”s Fair in 1893, he rented rooms to visitors, mostly young women with intentions of murder. He then killed most of his lodgers and continued his life insurance fraud scheme. Holmes would entice wealthy women to his “torture castle” aka “murder castle” with the promise of marriage. Instead, he would force them to sign over their money and property, then throw them down an elevator shaft and gas them to death in cold murder. In the basement of the murder castle, he dismembered/skinned his victims and experimented with their corpses.
First American Serial Killer
Authorities grew suspicious about Dr. H.H. Holmes”s activities, and when he heard of this, Holmes torched the “torture castle” and fled. In the building remains, authorities found the remains of over two hundred people. Dr. Henry Howard Holmes was caught when one of his insurance schemes was unraveled by Pinkerton detectives. Holmes was hanged on May 7, 1896, after one of the first riveting crime trials in America. Not only was Herman the first American serial killer but according to author Scheckter, the first “celebrity psycho.” Although Dr. Henry Howard Holmes never had the historical presence of Jack the Ripper, he did leave behind a bloody trail of mayhem unequaled for almost eighty years, The Devil in the White City.