Herman Webster Mudgett

Herman Webster Mudgett

Herman Webster Medget Trust Past

  • "H. H. Holmes" was born in New Hampshire in 1861. He abandoned his young wife and their child in 1885 to move to Illinois. Once there, he changed his name to Holmes in honour of the fictional English detective Sherlock Holmes, in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's literary work.

  • Shortly after arriving in Chicago, worked at a pharmacy near Jackson Park, and eight years later, Jackson Park became the site of the 1893 World's Exhibition.

  • The Colombian exhibition, as it was then called, was designed by some of America's most important architects, including Frederick Law Olmsted, and featured exhibitions from more than 40 countries.
  • The event attracted more than 27 million visitors to Chicago, a staggering number given the limited transportation at the time. Holmes benefited from many visitors to the city, including young women who came to Chicago to work on the fair.

Castle of Murder

Castle of Murder Trust Past

  • Historians believe that Holmes, a witty and charismatic con artist, seized money from his pharmacy employers, then bought an empty piece of land in Chicago's Engel Wood neighborhood, and built a maze-like building on it, with shops on the first floor and small apartments on the floor above.

  • This building became Holmes' own booby-trapped killing castle. The venue featured soundproof rooms and secret corridors, as well as a confusing maze of corridors and stairs. The rooms are equipped with secret doors underneath pitfalls, which throw Holmes' unsuspecting victims into the basement of the building.

  • The cellar was a horrific place with acid ponds and limestone pits, usually used to melt dead bodies, and a crematorium used by the killer to finish off his victims.

Holmes victims

Holmes victims Trust Past

  • Holmes lured a number of visitors to the Colombian Fair to his villainous hideout by promising to stay in his castle for cheap prices, and the exact number of his victims is still debated by historians.
  • Holmes was arrested shortly after fleeing Chicago in October 1893, following the conclusion of the World's Fair, where he was arrested in Boston for the murder of his assistant Benjamin Bitzel and two of Bitzel's children.

  • After his arrest, Holmes claimed to have killed more than 200 people in the murder castle, but eventually confessed to 27 murders, including Betzel and two of his daughters.

  • Holmes was executed in Philadelphia in 1896 for his crimes, after being briefly incarcerated, and his body was buried at Holly Cross Cemetery outside Pennsylvania City.

The fate of the killing castle

Herman Webster Medget arrested Trust Past

  • Although Holmes was arrested and executed, rumors persisted for more than a century that the serial killer had bribed authorities to avoid punishment. Theories suggest that Holmes allowed him to escape and that officials hanged another man in his place.
  • In response to these rumors, in March 2017, the Holmes breed, who lives in Delaware, petitioned to exhume his body so that it could undergo a DNA test, and the results concluded that the body belonged to Holmes.

  • At the same time, the fate of the castle that Holmes used to carry out his crimes was shrouded in mystery, and when Holmes was in custody in 1895, his castle was engulfed in flames, after eyewitnesses reported seeing two men enter the building one late night.
  • The building remained standing until it was demolished in 1938. The site is now occupied by the Inglewood branch of the U.S. Post Office.

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