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H. H. Holmes
Transcript of H. H. Holmes
H. H. Holmes
Khalil Dicks, DeShaan Howell
Americas first serial killer
This is H.H. Holmes: Dr. Henry Howard Holmes was born Herman Webster Mudgett on May 16, 1861 in Galmanton, New Hampshire. He graduated from the University of Michigan Medical school in 1884. While as student there he began to practice his true calling, con artist, stealing cadavers from the university and using the bodies to collect on fraudulent insurance policies. Following graduation he took the name H. H. Holmes and moved to Chicago, ostensibly to practice pharmacy, but continuing a lucrative career in fraud.
Birth of Murder castle
Holmes took a job at the drugstore of Dr. E. S. Holton on the corner of Wallace and 63rd Street in Englewood, IL, south of Chicago. Holton was dying of cancer and Holmes convinced Holton's wife to sell him the store, assuring her she could continue living upstairs after the doctor died. After Dr. Holton died Holmes murdered Mrs. Holton, disposed of her body, and told her friends and relative she had moved to California.
In the lot across from the drugstore, Holmes designed and supervised construction of an enormous three story building known locally as the "Castle". He made sure that none of the workers stayed on the job long enough to know the full layout of the building which was a maze of over 100 rooms including trapdoors, sliding walls, false floors, airtight doors, stairways to nowhere.
Murder Castle World's Fair
When a building gets nicknamed the Murder Castle, you know the story behind it is going to be bad. In 1886, H.H. Holmes, a pharmacist who would later be called the first U.S. serial killer, bought a Chicago drugstore that was owned by a cancer-stricken man named E.S. Holton. When Holton died, Holmes bought up surrounding property until he'd acquired an entire city block. He renovated the buildings and turned them into a hotel just in time for the 1893 World's Fair. But this was no ordinary hotel:
Associated with Holmes, Pitezel agreed to fake his death for the insurance. Holmes was to procure a charred corpse and claim it was Pitezel, burned in a laboratory explosion. Instead of following their plan, he got Pitezel drunk then set him on fire after he passed out.
Though Holmes collected the insurance money, police had been alerted to the plot and Philadelphia detective Frank Geyer began following his trail. Geyer arrested Holmes in Boston on November 17, 1894 and took him back to the Philadelphia to stand trial. In the course of his investigation, Geyer had uncovered the remains of three of Pitezel's children.
Trail and hearing
Philadelphia, October 28, 1895:
Holmes chose to handle his own defense at the trial and The Philadelphia Inquirer described his performance as "vigorous and remarkable." But he had failed to establish his case and by the end of the first day he brought his two attorneys back into the case. The prosecution's presentation was thorough and methodical and in the end they prevailed.
Holmes was found guilty of first degree murder and sentenced to death by hanging.
He admitted to killing 27 people, although authorities still wonder if the body count might be dozens more. Strangely, the first floor of the Murder Castle remained a proper drugstore. Every day, customers purchased tonics and medicine, unaware of the horrors taking place directly above them.
In a series of articles he confessed to killing 27 people in Chicago. Chicago police investigated the Castle and using missing person lists and testimony of neighbors placed the estimated body count as high as 230.
On May 7, 1896 Holmes was hanged at Moyamensing Prison in Philadelphia. In accordance with his last wishes, Holmes's coffin was filled with cement before being nailed shut and buried in a grave ten feet deep with two feet of sand and concrete poured in before it was covered with dirt. He wanted to guarantee that no one would dissect his corpse as he had done to so many others.