Holmes: Not the Detective

America’s First Serial Killer


Alysson Pahl, Staff Writer

H. H. Holmes, master swindler, conman, and… murderer! According to Bio Graphics, Holmes was originally known as Herman Webster Mudgett, H. H. Holmes was born in New Hampshire in 1861. He married 3 times, first to Clara Lovering in 1878, who gave birth to his first child, Robert Lovering Mudgett, second to Myrta Z. Belknap in 1887, who gave birth to his second child, Lucy Theodate Holmes, and third to Georgiana Yoke in 1894. There was never a divorce between these wives, though he had filed for a divorce to Clara, believedly at the wishes of Myrta.

He abandoned Clara and Robert in 1885 to move to Illinois, where he changed his name to H. H. Holmes, his new name believed to have been based of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s character, Sherlock Holmes. After arriving around Chicago, he began working in a pharmacy near Jackson Park, where eight years later, the 1893 World’s Fair, called the Columbian Exposition, was held. This would be the main timing of his serial spree.

With the World’s Fair attracting more than 27 million visitors, he conned many people, many being young women who had came looking for jobs at the fairgrounds. Of course, he is most famously known for his creation, most commonly called the ‘Murder Castle.’ This astounding feat of archetecture contained soundproof rooms, secret passageways, and a labrynth of hallways that disoriented whoever would try to navigate them. The rooms themselves held trapdoors that led to a basement that held vats of acid, pits of quicklime, and a crematorium that was used to finish off his unsuspecting victims. He lured victims in by offering cheap lodging during the exposition. Over this time, he has confessed to 27 murders, yet only nine can be proven and a few of the people he named were still alive. His total amount of kills is believed to be anywhere between 20 and 200. He was sentanced to be hung in Moyamensing Prison, 9 days before his 35 birthday (History.com).

Some people believe that he bribed off the police and that someone else was hung in his place under his name. Nobody knows for sure.