Known as one of America’s first serial killers, H.H. Holmes was a murderer active in around the 1880’s to the 1890’s. He is estimated to have killed up to 200 people during his lifetime. Holmes was born in 1861 in New Hampshire to a wealthy family and seemed to have a privileged childhood, despite the fact he was severely bullied when he was younger. He also appeared to be extremely intelligent at an early age, and sometimes practiced surgery on animals due to his interest in medicine. Once he was old enough, he studied medicine at the University of Michigan and reportedly stole corpses and disfigured them.
H.H. Holmes moved to Chicago, Illinois in 1886, where he started his life as a killer. He constructed a three story building, now known as the ‘Murder Castle’ and opened it up as a hotel for visitors during the Chicago World Fair. The building contained 60 soundproof rooms and 51 doors in odd places over ceilings and floors. He personally supervised it to avoid suspicion. Holmes had secretly installed his hotel with torture chambers and rooms where he could kill his victims; some rooms would asphyxiate the guests, starve them, or even burn them to death. One room had been plated with iron and then heated up slowly so the person inside would suffer a gruesome death. There were also chutes in the building so he could move the corpses to the basement where he disposed of them by either dissolving them in acid or cremating them. Holmes also sold the skeletons of his victims to medical schools in order to make money. It was pretty much impossible to escape Holmes’ hotel due to the deadly designs of the rooms.
Holmes had not only murdered people in his castle, but had also killed his business partner, Benjamin Pitezel. Pitezel was meant to fake his own death in order to collect $10,000 from a life insurance company. Instead of faking it, Holmes actually murdered him and convinced Pitezel’s wife he was alive. Holmes had finally been caught once Chicago police inspected his Murder Castle and were finally able to figure out his killing strategies. But, the castle was mysteriously burned down in 1895. Holmes was put on trial for insurance fraud and the murder of Pitezel, and he confessed not only to that, but admitted to killing 27 people in Chicago, Indianapolis and Toronto (some of them were still alive). Holmes lost his case and was hanged in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1896. Even today, Holmes is still known as one of the most ruthless serial killers of America.
By Shahd El Naggar