THE MURDER CASTLE: HOW H.H. HOLMES BUILT AN ELABORATE HOTEL FOR MURDER
February 17, 2021
I was born with the devil in me. I could not help the fact that I was a murderer, no more than the poet can help the inspiration to sing..I was born with the evil one standing as my sponsor beside the bed where I was ushered into the world, and he has been with me since.”
— H. H. Holmes
Herman Webster Mudgett, AKA H.H. Holmes, is one of the best known serial killers from the 19th century. Unlike most killers, Holmes devised an intricate system to kill that is sure to disturb you the next time you stay in a hotel.
Unlike most during the serial killer era (late 1960’s to early 1980’s), Holmes had a seemingly normal childhood filled with opportunity and wealth. While it’s common for children to play vet with their pets, Holmes’ interest in medicine compelled him to operate on animals.
Holmes was a bright man and was accepted to study medicine at the University of Michigan. His interest in operating and experimenting on animals moved onto corpses he’d steal from the school. He’d also use them for insurance claims and other frauds.
Already having been suspected for killing a childhood friend and the owner of a pharmacy he worked for in Chicago, Holmes began constructing the Murder Castle. Often hiring architects and firing them after maybe a week’s worth of work, Holmes was able to hide what his intent was for the hotel. Hotel rooms had trap doors and hidden chutes for Holmes to sneak in to kill or kidnap unsuspecting victims, even adding a torture chamber for more kicks. Most of these victims were women, falling head over heels with Holmes’ charm and often getting engaged to him before suddenly disappearing with no explanation.
Starting in 1893 and ending later in the year, Holmes left the hotel and Chicago completely to continue his life of crime with fraud. He composed a plan with Benjamin Pitezel, though Holmes later killed him and the rest of his family. A year later, Holmes was finally caught by police where he admitted to his scams and 27 murders.
Due to his ability to clean up a crime scene and the Murder Castle burning down, experts have estimated Holmes has killed at least 20 people and at most 200. Because of this, he was only tried and found guilty for Benjamin Pitezel’s. He was hanged May 7, 1896.