Childhood • Born in Gilmanton, New Hampshire, under the name of Herman Webster Mudgett. • Father was an alcoholic, and his mother was a religious woman, who read him the Bible. • Bullies at school forced him to view and touch a skeleton, but he was fascinated with it, and became obsessed with death.
Adult Life • Married Clara Lovering in 1878, and had a child, Robert became an accountant and was the City Manager of Orlando, Florida. • Graduated from University of Michigan Medical School in 1884. While there, he stole bodies from the ward and collected their life insurance claims. • While still married to Clara, he married Myrta Belknap in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Their child, Lucy, became a schoolteacher. • Lived with Myrta until 1894, then married Georgiana Yoke, while still married to Clara and Myrta, when he moved to Denver, Colorado.
The Drugstore • Got a job at a drugstore when he was 24, owner was dying of cancer. • After the owner died, he bought the store from the widow, but was in debt. • After he didn’t pay his monthly mortgage, the wife sought legal action against him, but she “mysteriously disappeared”. • Holmes told people of concern that she had moved to California.
The Castle • After the drugstore and two of his marriages, he purchased a lot across from the drugstore. • He built his three story “Castle” for the 1893 World Fair in Chicago. • The first floor contained the drugstore and various shops people could visit, and the top two floors contained his personal office and maze of 100 windowless rooms, used for killings. • He exploited the criminal past of one employee, Benjamin Pitezel, and made him help with his murders. • The rooms had doors that led to brick walls, stairwells to nowhere, and odd angled hallways. • He changed builders multiple times to that he was the only one who knew the entire layout of the building.
Victims • There were no specific victims, only unnamed ones. • After the completion of the hotel, Holmes selected various female employees, who were required to take out life insurance because of their employment, and put them in the rooms upstairs. • He also took people he was in relationships with, as well as hotel guests, to the labyrinth upstairs.
Kills • Victims were taken up to the rooms, and usually killed within a day of being up there. • These soundproof rooms were fitted with gaslines so he could asphyxiate his victims whenever. • Others were locked in a soundproof bank vault, and left to die. • Holmes also had vats of acid and multiple poisons which he used to kill.
Motive • Holmes made the hotel for easy and efficient kills. • He collected life insurance policies on his employed victims. • He also dissected his victims, stripped them of flesh, and sold the body parts to medical schools. • Eventually skeletonized certain bodies and made them in the models for medical schools.
Life after the Castle • Holmes abandoned the Castle in Chicago, moved to Fort Worth, Texas, and planned to do the same thing. • However, Holmes found that the law enforcement in Texas was much more strict, so he left. • He traveled from town to town, in the US and Canada.
Life after the Castle • In July, 1894, Holmes was incarcerated for the first time, for horse swindling. He was bailed out quickly. • While in jail, he formed a plan with an inmate, Marion Hedgepath. • Plan included taking an insurance policy out on his life, and then faking his death, however, it failed when the insurance company refused to pay, due to suspicion.
Life after the Castle • Holmes made the same plan with his long time associate, Pitezel. • Instead of faking his death, he instead killed Pitezel and took the $10000 for himself. • He took custody of 3 of Pitezel’s children, and traveled around the Northern US. • He killed 2 of the children in Toronto, and the other in Indianapolis.
Capture and Arrest • A member of the Pinkerton Government Services, Detective Frank P. Geyer, was assigned to look for Holmes and the 3 children. • Geyer found the corpses of the 2 girls in Toronto, and the remains of the boy in Indianapolis, which essentially sealed Holmes’ fate. • Hedgepath, Holmes’ former inmate, gave the police information about him, and he was arrested in on November 17th, 1894.
Trial • Holmes was first tried for the murder of Benjamin Pitezel, to which he confessed. • Was then tried for 30 murders in Chicago, Indianapolis, and Toronto, found guilty. • Throughout the trial, he gave multiple accounts from his life. He first claimed innocence and said he was possessed by Satan, but was denied the plea for insanity.
Execution • H.H. Holmes was hanged at Moyamensing Prison, in Philadelphia, where he was kept prisoner. • While awaiting his execution, Holmes showed no sign of fear or anxiety, and was very calm. • His neck did not snap, but he instead was strangled over the course of 15 minutes. • Was pronounced dead on May 7th, 1896.
Final Results • Estimated 20-200 kills. • 9 were confirmed, but he confessed to 27. • Killed from 1888 to 1894 • Convicted of 4 counts of 1st degree murder, and 6 counts of attempted murder
Works Cited • Biography. A&E, Web. 4 Nov. 2013. <http://www.biography.com/people/hh-holmes-307622>. • Cliff Notes. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Web. 4 Nov. 2013. <http://www.cliffsnotes.com/literature/d/the-devil-in-the-white-city/book-summary>. • Fold3. Ancestry, Web. 4 Nov. 2013. <http://www.fold3.com/image/216160526/>. The Chicago Tribune from August 18th, 1895, about H.H. Holmes and his life. • TruTV. TEM, Web. 4 Nov. 2013. <http://www.trutv.com/library/crime/serial_killers/history/holmes/index_1.html>. • Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Web. 4 Nov. 2013. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H._H._Holmes>.