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  • The year is 1894 and police in Chicago enter a building owned known as theMurder Castle.”

  • That day, cops find rooms with movable walls. They discover chutes in those rooms that lead

  • to a basement where vats of acid could turn a human body into mush. Around the entire

  • building are a labyrinth of corridors, some that lead nowhere. Some of the hallways contain

  • rooms that have vents built into them, where noxious gases can be released. Down in the

  • basement are the grizzliest discoveries: An operating table where bodies have been dissected,

  • and worse, a kind of stretching rack where one could perform the most diabolical experiments.

  • This shocking discovery would open the floodgates to the discovery of the atrocities committed

  • by Mr. Henry Howard Holmes, real-life Saw villain and one of America's most evil serial

  • killers. This is how it all unraveled.

  • He wasn't born Henry Howard Holmes. He made that name up later in an effort to distance

  • himself from his dastardly deeds. He was actually born with the name Herman Webster Mudgett.

  • On May 16, 1861, he became the third child of Levi Horton Mudgett and Theodate Page Price,

  • English immigrants living in New Hampshire. As a kid, he excelled in school, which landed

  • him a place at the respectable Phillips Exeter Academy. He graduated. He took work as a teacher.

  • He married young and had a child. This was a young man that seemed destined to live a

  • quiet life within the middle classes of the American public. Butsomething happened

  • and darkness encroached on the young man's life.

  • Age 18, now with wife and child, he enrolled at the University of Michigan's Department

  • of Medicine and Surgery. He graduated and was said to be a brilliant student, if not

  • a person with some strange inclinations. It was while studying in the anatomy department

  • at this university that he began his life of crime.

  • The crimes were simple, if not macabre. He worked in the anatomy department of the college,

  • a job that gave him access to bodies that were to be dissected. Some of those cadavers

  • he sneaked out of the department and bashed them around a bit, making it look like they

  • had died in an accident. Prior to doing this, the young student had taken out insurance

  • policies on those people. You'd think this would not be so easy to do, even back then,

  • but it's alleged he committed this scam on quite a few occasions.

  • He had cash in his pocket, a wife, and an infant child, but it seems he wasn't interested

  • in staying settled down for long. One day he just took off, leaving the two behind,

  • and they would not see him for a very long time. Just before he left them, he created

  • a highly fictitious story that he knew would get back to them. They heard from others how

  • he'd been in some kind of train accident and lost his memory. As outlandish as that

  • seems, it kind of worked, and such lies would work again for him in the future.

  • He ended up in New York state, and while there, was connected to the disappearance of a young

  • boy. Did he kill that boy? It's now thought he did, but no one can be sure. He also tried

  • to scam an insurance company out of $20,000 by using another cadaver he'd taken a policy

  • out on, but this time he was caught out. He was now getting quite the name for himself,

  • so naturally, he changed his name. Herman Webster Mudgett became H. H. Holmes.

  • It was at this point that he moved to Chicago, the place where his name would be cemented

  • in history. He married again, illegally of course since he hadn't yet divorced, and

  • he started to make plans for future scams. He'd made sure to marry into a wealthy family.

  • He was also obviously well-educated, well-spoken, and you could say he had a gift of the gab.

  • That's why he was always able to secure loans to buy properties. To pay those loans

  • back, he got loans on the properties he already had. He bit off more than he could chew, but

  • when creditors went after him, he always seemed to get himself out of the fix.

  • One of the ways he did this was to move around a bit. And so now, we come to one of the most

  • recognized addresses in crime history. That of 63rd and Wallace Streets. There he worked

  • as a clerk in a drugstore that was on the bottom floor. With some cunning he managed

  • to take it over and once that was done, he took over much of the building.

  • This was a massive place with rows of stores at the bottom and apartments on the third

  • floor. Then there was the second floor, where Holmes would create his house of horrors.

  • As you know, the basement is where the very ugly stuff went on.

  • He was still scamming, of course, selling from his drugstore magical drinks that could

  • allegedly stop alcoholism in its tracks. He sold a Canadian man an invention for $2,000,

  • although the gas-making machine wasn't what it seemed. He also sold water that he said

  • was a cure for every ailment, which was water Holmes was stealing from the water mains.

  • Suffice to say, this man knew his way around industrial piping. This would help him later

  • when he gassed people to death. Holmes never stopped working on his building,

  • telling people that he was creating a hotel for the soon-to-arrive World's Fair. In

  • truth, he was creating a monster of a building that didn't make any sense. He'd hire

  • contractors and then fire them partway through the job. He was creating a house of many doors,

  • landings, rooms, that just didn't look like anything anyone had ever seen. You could walk

  • down one hallway and it would just end. Rooms had no doors. Others had trapdoors.

  • How did he get away with not paying all these people to build his horror castle? The answer

  • is he'd lie through his teeth, and when that didn't work, he changed the names on

  • the ownership documents. Fictitious people owned that building, as did a fictitious company

  • run by people that didn't exist. His mother-in-law even owned the place at one point.

  • It was at this point in time that Holmes began killing people in that building. There was

  • his assistant Julia, who was with child and husband when she started working in his drugstore.

  • She began an affair with Holmes, so her husband took off. She and her child one day went missing

  • and were never seen again. There were other women, who Holmes's wife

  • didn't know about since she didn't live at the castle with him. Holmes could meet

  • someone on the street, use his gift of speech to impress them, and within no time at all

  • they found themselves staying in a weird room on the second floor.

  • Holmes had learned a thing or two while building the monstrosity. He fitted alarms around the

  • building so when someone opened a door or stepped on a certain step, in his room he'd

  • hear a bell ring. He'd then know they were on the move.

  • Many rooms could be only locked from the outside, so when one of those rooms started to fill

  • with poisonous gas, the occupant would not be able to get out. It's also alleged that

  • one person was burned to death, in a room whose walls had been made from fire-proof

  • material. There were other rooms that once the door

  • had been closed they became almost airless, so within a matter of time, the victim would

  • be suffocated. After such an event took place, Holmes could easily get the body down to the

  • basement since the room had been fitted with a chute. Other rooms were connected to small

  • elevators. Sometimes he might have just locked a door and let a person die of dehydration.

  • Years later, he admitted he'd starved a woman in a room.

  • When the bodies hit the dissecting table, Holmes would go to work on them. Having worked

  • in the medical profession, he knew very well that organs and other body parts were expensive

  • and in high demand. He would take what he wanted from the bodies and throw the waste

  • into vats of lime or acid. He may have done something much worse, too.

  • Ok, so surely someone must have been on to him. This was a man with a lot of skeletons

  • in his closets, possibly literally as well as figuratively.

  • First, you need to know that during this time Holmes had met a man in Chicago named Benjamin

  • F. Pitzel. Pitzel was no stranger to crime himself, but the jury is still out whether

  • these two became partners in crime. Holmes then met and married a woman named

  • Minnie Williams. He was actually married to three women now, and there would also be a

  • fourth. After marrying Williams, he managed to get her to sign the deed to her property

  • to a man that was just another alias of Holmes. The deed would eventually be signed over to

  • another man, who was an alias of Pitzel. If all that looks suspicious, it was. Minnie's

  • sister, Annie, went to Chicago to meet her sister and her mysterious new husband, and

  • she, nor her sister, were ever seen again. They both likely became unwitting organ donors.

  • To cover his tracks, Holmes wrote a letter to the girls' aunt, signed by Annie, that

  • said things were going swimmingly and she and her sister were heading off to Europe.

  • An actual real letter was written much earlier from Minnie to Annie. In that missive, Minnie

  • wrote that she'd met a man named Harry Gordan whom she described ashandsome, wealthy,

  • and highly intelligent.” Holmes would later tell the cops that Minnie

  • had killed Annie after the two of them had vied for his attention, but it's unlikely

  • this was the case. What we know for sure is that Holmes had many relationships, some with

  • the 150 young women who worked for him during those years. It's also true that when the

  • World Fair came to Chicago there were a lot of missing person cases.

  • In 1893 things started to come undone for Holmes. He'd ripped off too many creditors

  • and some of them were after him. For that reason, he tried to claim on insurance for

  • a fire at the building which he'd actually started himself. The police now knew this

  • guy had a bad reputation and one investigator named F. G. Cowie looked into Holmes's past.

  • Something seemed awfully wrong with this educated fella, was the conclusion of the cop.

  • In 1894, Holmes had already fled Chicago to go and live in the house he'd scammed out

  • of the Williams' sisters. While there he was jailed for trying to commit another scam.

  • While in that jail he told a man about a plan he had to take out a life insurance policy

  • on himself and then fake his own death. He needed the guy's help, and if that was forthcoming,

  • he'd cut the guy in on the scam. In the end, faking his own death didn't work and

  • the other criminal didn't receive any money. It was then that Holmes turned to Pitzel again

  • for help. He told him that he should fake his death. The plan was for Holmes to create

  • an inventor named B. F. Perry who was actually Pitzel. This guy would die in a lab experiment

  • gone wrong but the body that police would find would be a cadaver that Holmes had acquired.

  • After that, Holmes and Pitzel would collect on the life insurance policy.

  • Except Holmes being Holmes didn't want to share the loot, so one day he turned up at

  • Pitzel's house, knocked him out with chloroform, and burned his body, making it look like an

  • explosion had happened in the lab. Holmes was then in the money because he'd actually

  • taken a life insurance policy out on the real Pitzel.

  • Holmes went to Mrs. Pitzel's house and told her that her husband was doing some business

  • in London, England. He told her that he could help her take care of her five kids, of which

  • three left that day with Holmes. The kids were never seen alive again. Holmes later

  • said he forced two of them to get inside a large trunk. Once they were in, he made a

  • hole and pumped gas in there through a hose. Not long after, an investigator was on the

  • lookout for Holmes and the three missing kids. The cops discovered remains of the girls at

  • the house where Holmes was staying and they found the teeth and some chopped-up bits of

  • the boy in the chimney. The game was almost up.

  • Investigators now started to put this man's life under a microscope. It didn't take

  • long to understand that many people had gone missing who'd been unfortunate enough to

  • cross his path. It's then they went to the Castle and made those grizzly discoveries.

  • What's worse, they found what looked like a rack. It was assumed by some that Holmes

  • had used it to torture people into telling him what he wanted to know. It was also understood

  • that for a while Holmes had been working on a theory. He believed that if you slowly stretched

  • a body it would become taller over time. He wrote that by doing this humans could create

  • a race of giants. It will never be known if he actually stretched some of his victims

  • in an attempt to see if he was right. On October 28, 1895, Holmes represented himself

  • for the first day of his trial. It was said that he showed a “remarkable familiarity

  • with the law.” Still today, a lot is uncertain about his

  • crimes and his motives. The biggest number put forward is that he killed 200 people,

  • although it is certain that he killed nine. He confessed to 27 murders, but then again,

  • he told a lot of lies. May 7, 1896, the day of his execution by hanging,

  • Holmes was said to have looked very calm. His neck didn't break immediately, so his

  • body twitched for a good 15 minutes. After 20 minutes, he was pronounced dead.

  • As for his final words, not long before he departed this world he had asked if he could

  • be buried deep under concrete. He was worried someone might steal his body and sell his

  • organs. Now you need to watch, “How Charles Manson

  • Came to Lead One of the World's Most Dangerous Cults.” Or, have a look at...

The year is 1894 and police in Chicago enter a building owned known as theMurder Castle.”

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How They Caught Serial Killer H. H. Holmes

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    Summer posted on 2021/05/17
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