H.H. Holmes: The Master Of Murder

By | February 22, 2019

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Two portraits (one a profile) of American pharmacist and convicted serial killer Herman Webster Mudgett (better known by his alias H.H. Holmes, 1861 - 1896), mid to late 1890s. Source: (gettyimages.com)

Who Was He?

H.H. Holmes was born in 1861 with the name of Herman Webster Mudgett. He was from New Hampshire. Even as a child he had a fascination with death. He was always interested in skeletons and animals that had died. He also got into a fair amount of trouble, which caused his father a headache, as he was well known as the town postmaster. Holmes was very smart and did well in school. He graduated when he was sixteen and at this point changed his name to Henry Howard Holmes. He studied medicine at a smaller institution in Vermont before being accepted into the University of Michigan Medical School. Holmes was a scammer. While in medical school, he stole cadavers and burned them. He would place the bodies in places so it would look as though they had been killed. The scam came in because he would take out life insurance policies on these people then collect once the bodies were discovered.

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The ‘Castle’, the hotel Holmes built. Source: (pinterest.com)


Holmes bought the empty lot across the street from the pharmacy. He designed a three-story hotel, called the ‘Castle’. While it was being built, he fired several construction crews so no one would know that he was really building a murder castle. Construction was completed in 1891. He put want ads in the newspapers looking to ‘hire’ young women to work in the hotel. He also advertised the hotel as open for lodging. He even placed personal ads saying he was a rich man looking for a wife. He required all of his employees to have life insurance but he did not stop there. He also required hotel guests, his many fiancés, and wives to have policies as well. Holmes would pay the premiums as long as he was listed as the beneficiary. Most of these people would suddenly disappear. Neighbors started to report that they saw many women enter the hotel but never see them leave. In 1893, Chicago hosted the World’s Fair, which Holmes saw as a great opportunity. He lured many women to his hotel, none would ever be seen again.