H. H. Holmes

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H. H. Holmes
Holmes 1895 "mugshot"
Herman Webster Mudgett

(1861-05-16)May 16, 1861
DiedMay 7, 1896(1896-05-07) (aged 34)
Other names
See aliases
  • Henry Howard Holmes
  • Henry M. Howard
  • Henry Gordon
  • Horace Williams
  • Alexander Bond
  • O. C. Pratt
  • D. T. Pratt
  • A. E. Cook
  • G. Howell
Alma materUniversity of Michigan, Department of Medicine and Surgery
Clara Lovering (m. 1878)

Myrta Belknap (m. 1886)

Minnie Williams (m. 1893)

Georgiana Yoke (m. 1894)
Conviction(s)First-degree murder
Criminal penaltyDeath by hanging
Victims4 confirmed+ 14 suspected; 27 confessed
Span of crimes
Date apprehended
November 17, 1894
August 11, 1895 Joseph Pulitzer's "The World" showing floor plan of Holmes "Murder Castle" and left to right top to bottom scenes found inside it-including a vault, a crematoriam, trapdoor in floor and a quicklime grave with bones
April 12, 1896 William Randolph Hearst's "The Journal" with Holmes Confession
April 12, 1896 William Randolph Hearst's "The Journal" showing at top scenes of Holmes "Murder Castle" and at bottom the trunk Holmes used to kill the Petzel sisters
April 12, 1896 "The Journal" showing pictures of ten of Holmes victiums.
H. H. Holmes' "Castle"
The Englewood post office at 63rd and Wallace Streets; Holmes' "Castle" site was just at the far left adjoining the post office building

Dr. Herman Webster Mudgett (May 16, 1861 – May 7, 1896), better known under the name of Dr. Henry Howard Holmes, was one of the first documented serial killers in the modern sense of the term.[1][2] He was born in Gilmanton, New Hampshire. A graduate of the University of Michigan medical School Class of 1884; until his .execution in 1896 he would choose a career of crime including Insurance fraud, swindling; check forging; 3 to 4 bigamous illegal marriages; murder and horse theft.

Murders[change | change source]

In Chicago at the time of the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition, Holmes opened a hotel which he had designed and built for himself specifically with murder in mind, and which was the location of many of his murders. While he confessed to 27 murders,[3] of which nine were confirmed, his actual body count could be as high as from 133[4] to perhaps 200. It will not be known how many murders Holmes committed as he did not always tell the entire truth of his crimes- for example: he claimed one of his first murder victims was a medical school classmate Dr Robert Leacock in 1886 for insurance money;[5] in fact Dr Leacock died in Watford, Ontario Canada October 5, 1889.[6] Contrary to several accounts Holmes did not kill Dr. E. S. Holton.[7] Likewise Holmes did not kill an alleged "Castle" victim Miss Kate Durkee-who turned out to be very much alive.[8] Ironically one historian noted that one of Holmes creditor's named John DeBrueil died of apoplexy on April 17, 1891, in Holmes "Castle" drugstore-it is unknown if Holmes was involved with his demise.[9] Holmes also had a one-story factory which he claimed was to be used for glass bending. It is unknown if the factory furnace was ever actually used for glass bending-or to cremate incriminating evidence of Holmes crimes.[10] Holmes usual murder method was by suffocation of his victims including: an overdose of chloroform; overexposure to lighting gas fumes; trapped in an airless vault to give some examples. Holmes also claimed to have used starvation and burning victiums alive in his "castle"[11]

Contemporary newspaper accounts reported several known or suspected victims of Holmes:

  • His mistress Mrs. Julia {Smyth} Conner and daughter Pearl Conner [Christmas 1891];[12]
  • an alleged unborn child of Julia Conner during an "criminal operation"[13]{abortion}[Christmas 1891];
  • a Dr. Russler who had an office in the "Castle" [missing 1892];[14]
  • Miss Kitty Kelly a stenographer for Holmes [missing 1892];[15]
  • Emily Van Tassel [missing 1892];[16]
  • Emily Cigrand [missing December 1892];[16][17]
  • allegedly during the 1893 Chicago World's Fair an unknown man and an unknown boy were killed in Holmes "hotel";[18]
  • Minnie Williams & her sister Nannie Williams;[16][19][20] Missing June 1893.
  • John G. Davis of Greenville Pa; went to visit the 1893 "World's Fair" and "vanished". In 1920 his daughter asked that he be declared "Legally Dead" after 27 Years.[21]
  • Henry Walker of Greensburg, Indiana. Alleged to have insured his life to Holmes for $20,000. Wrote to friends that he was working for Holmes in Chicago [missing in November 1893];[22]
  • Milford Cole of Baltimore Maryland-alleged to have "disappeared" after receiving a telegram from Holmes to come to Chicago [July 1894].[16]
  • An otherwise unknown victim was a Lucy Burbank-her bankbook was found in Holmes "castle" in 1895 [missing/killed unknown date].[23]
  • Allegedly in his confession Holmes claimed to have killed two persons in Lake County, Illinois [1890s]-which was confirmed years later when the remains of an unknown man and an unknown woman were found on a farm in 1919-twenty-three years after his execution.[24]

Holmes "hotel" was partially burned by fire in August 1895; it was later used for storage until it was torn down in 1938. The site of the "hotel" is adjoining the Englewood Post Office building at 63rd and Wallace Streets, Chicago, Illinois.

Execution[change | change source]

On May 7, 1896, Holmes was hanged at Moyamensing Prison, also known as the Philadelphia County Prison, for four murders and six attempted murders.[25] The murder for which Holmes would be executed for was that of his accomplice Benjamin Petzel in Philadelphia Pennsylvania [Sep 20, 1894];[26] evidence was also uncovered in the search for Holmes of his involvement in the subsequent murders of three of Petzel's children: Howard Petzel in Irvington, Indiana [October 10, 1894] and Alice and Nellie Petzel in Toronto, Canada [October 25, 1894] .[27][28] Ironically although Holmes "Murder Castle" was undoubtedly the scene of many of his murders, it was the murder of Petzel in Philadelphia which had the clearest case for murder[29]-as there was only very circumstansial physical evidence of the "Castle" victiums- a piece of human bone possibly from Julia Conner; remains of a child-possibly Pearl Conner; a burned gold watch chain and burned dress buttons-apparently belonging to Minnie Williams; a tuft of human female hair found in a chimney flue.[30][31][32][33][34]

Patrick Quinlan who admitted as a workman to building fireproof rooms, trapdoors and walls in Holmes "castle" and who was also the building janitor and caretaker, died March 4, 1914[35] in Portland Michigan - an apparent suicide. A note left behind said simply "I could not sleep".[36]

Theories[change | change source]

Jack the Ripper[change | change source]

Some theorize that Jack the Ripper and H.H. Holmes are the same person, Except the facts that both of the motives were different, While Jack the Ripper typically went after poor women who were sex workers, H.H. Holmes was typically after money. A lot of experts deny that both of the men were the same person

References[change | change source]

  1. New Hampshire. Registrar of Vital Statistics. "Index to births, early to 1900", Registrar of Vital Statistics, Concord, New Hampshire. FHL Microfilms: film number 1001018
  2. Philadelphia (Pennsylvania). Board of Health. "Death registers, 1860–1903". Salt Lake City: Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1962.
  3. Martin Hill Ortiz. "The Twenty Seven Murders of Henry H. Holmes". www.apredatorymind.com. Archived from the original on July 24, 2017. Retrieved July 27, 2017.[Copyrighted-reference only]
  4. "The untold truth of America's first serial killer". Grunge.com. Archived from the original on September 29, 2017. Retrieved September 15, 2017.
  5. Kerns, Rebecca; Lewis, Tiffany; McClure, Caitlin (2012). "Herman Webster Mudgett: 'Dr. H.H Holmes or Beast of Chicago'" (PDF) (PDF). Department of Psychology, Radford University. Retrieved May 22, 2015.
  6. Michigan, University of (1902). General Catalogue of Officers and Students and Supplements Containing Death Notices. The University.
  7. "H.H. Holmes: The Truth About Dr. Holton – Mysterious Chicago Tours". mysteriouschicago.com. Retrieved July 27, 2017.
  8. "The morning call. (San Francisco [Calif.]) 1878-1895, November 23, 1894, Image 1". The Morning Call. November 23, 1894. ISSN 1946-6145. Retrieved July 28, 2017.
  9. "The Man Who Died in the Holmes Murder Castle: John DuBrueil, 1823-1891". Adam Selzer Mysterious Chicago Tours.
  10. "Excavating the H.H. Holmes "Body Dump" Site – Mysterious Chicago Tours". mysteriouschicago.com. Retrieved July 21, 2017.
  11. "Image 2 of the journal (New York [N.Y.]), April 12, 1896". The Journal. William Randolph Hearst. April 12, 1896.
  12. "The Indianapolis journal., July 29, 1895, Image 1 {Library of Congress}". July 29, 1895.
  13. congress, library of. "Image 2 of The journal, April 12, 1896". The Library of Congress. Retrieved August 5, 2017.
  14. "Evening star. (Washington, D.C.) 1854-1972, July 29, 1895, Image 2". Evening Star. July 29, 1895. p. 2. ISSN 2331-9968. Retrieved July 22, 2017.
  15. "The San Francisco call., July 25, 1895, Image 1 [Library of Congress]". July 25, 1895.
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 16.3 "The Indianapolis journal., July 29, 1895, Image 1 [Library of Congress]". July 29, 1895.
  17. ^ Note a Robert E. Phelps {Chicago} - reportedly engaged to Emily Cigrand is alleged to have been a victium of Holmes. See The Indianapolis journal., July 29, 1895, Image 1 However Phelps was actually an alias used by Benjamin Pietzel. See The Indianapolis journal., August 06, 1895, Image 1.
  18. "The evening times., August 29, 1895, Image 1 [Library of Congress]". August 29, 1895.
  19. "HH Holmes' OTHER Murder Castle in Fort Worth: Diagrams and More – Mysterious Chicago Tours". mysteriouschicago.com. Retrieved July 26, 2017.
  20. Note a Horance Williams, of Denver Colorado; brother to the Williams sisters-reported to have had his life insured for $2,500 in favor of Minnie Williams [missing May/June 1893] is alleged to have been a victium of Holmes- see http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn90059522/1895-07-28/ed-1/seq-1/ St. Paul daily globe., July 28, 1895, Image 1 .- however this was apparently an alias used by Holmes; see http://mysteriouschicago.com/new-master-list-of-hh-holmes-victims/
  21. The Pittsburgh Press July 12,1920 .p.16 accessed November 15,2018
  22. "The Indianapolis journal., August 01, 1895, Image 1 [Library of Congress]". August 1895.
  23. "The San Francisco call., July 22, 1895, Page 2, Image 2 [Library of Congress]". July 22, 1895. p. 2.
  24. "Hoosier State Chronicles". October 22, 1919.
  25. Ramsland. "H. H. Holmes: Master of Illusion". Crime Library. Retrieved February 23, 2013. On May 7, 1896, H. H. Holmes went to the hangman's noose. His last meal was boiled eggs, dry toast, and coffee. Even at the noose, he changed his story. He claimed to have killed only two people and tried to say more but at 10:13 the trapdoor opened and he was hanged. Blundell says that it took him 15 minutes to strangle to death on the gallows.
  26. "The San Francisco call. (San Francisco [Calif.]) 1895-1913, May 08, 1896, Image 1". The San Francisco Call. May 8, 1896. ISSN 1941-0719. Retrieved July 18, 2017.
  27. Geyer, F. P. The Holmes-Pitezel case. Рипол Классик. ISBN 9785871539224.
  28. "Bellows Falls times. (Bellows Falls, Vt.) 1856-1965, May 09, 1896, Image 3". May 9, 1896. Retrieved July 29, 2017.
  29. Pennsylvania Supreme Court (1896). Pennsylvania State Reports. West Publishing Company.
  30. "Courier Democrat. (Langdon, N.D.) 1891-1920, July 25, 1895, Image 2". July 25, 1895. Retrieved July 26, 2017.
  31. "The Silver blade. (Rathdrum, Idaho) 1895-1903, July 27, 1895, Image 2". July 27, 1895. Retrieved July 26, 2017.
  32. "The Black Hills union. (Rapid City, Pennington County, Dakota [S.D.]) 1889-1904, August 02, 1895, Image 1". August 2, 1895. Retrieved July 26, 2017.
  33. "The Bottineau courant. (Bottineau, Bottineau County, N.D.) 1895-1929, August 03, 1895, Image 1". August 3, 1895. Retrieved July 26, 2017.
  34. "Evening star. (Washington, D.C.) 1854-1972, August 06, 1895, Image 3". Evening Star. August 6, 1895. p. 3. ISSN 2331-9968. Retrieved July 26, 2017.
  35. "1914 death record {Michigan}". familysearch.org. Retrieved July 25, 2017.
  36. "The Ogden standard. (Ogden City, Utah) 1913-1920, July 04, 1914, Holiday Edition, MAGAZINE SECTION, Image 19". The Ogden Standard. July 4, 1914. ISSN 2163-4793. Retrieved July 25, 2017.

H.H. Holmes Murder mode In Fiction[change | change source]

  • The Adventure of the Retired Colourman from the 1927 "The Case Book of Sherlock Holmes" by Sir Arthur Conon Doyle; Holmes solves the mystery of a missing woman who was gassed in a vault by her husband.