A photo of H. H. Holmes

H. H. Holmes 1861 - 1896

H H Holmes was born on May 16, 1861 in Gilmanton, New Hampshire United States to Theodate Mudgett, and died at age 34 years old on May 7, 1896 in Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania.
H H Holmes
Herman Webster Mudgett, Henry Howard Holmes
May 16, 1861
Gilmanton, New Hampshire, United States
May 7, 1896
Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, United States
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H H Holmes' History: 1861 - 1896

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  • Introduction

    I cannot tell a lie? George Washington may have said that but it's certainly not something Herman Webster Mudgett, aka H H Holmes, would have said. He couldn't tell the truth! He was the 3rd born of Levi Horton Mudgett and Theodate Page Price, having an older brother and sister and a younger brother and sister. Mudgett graduated from medical school in 1886 and moved to Chicago to set up a pharmacy. But he didn't stop with the pharmacy, he also built a hotel across the street which later became known as the "Murder Castle". Why? Because during the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, he was thought to lure women to the hotel, make them get life insurance in order to work for him, and then kill them. No one caught on, the women simply disappeared. Several years later, however, a friend/accomplice in insurance fraud Ben Pritezel as well as his wife and 2 children were found murdered. Holmes was arrested in the murders. He was tried, found guilty, and hung in 1896. Per his request, his coffin was covered by concrete so no one could disturb his grave. (His request may have been influenced by the fact that when he was in medical school, he dug up graves and sold the cadavers to medical schools.) Mudgett/Holmes sold his story to Hearst Publications for approximately a quarter of a million dollars in today's money. In that story, he claimed to have killed 130 people. When he was arrested, he claimed to have killed 27. Holmes/Mudgett had married 3 times. He and his first wife had a son and he reportedly abused her. She left and never looked back. While still married to his first wife, he married his second wife, filing for divorce from his first wife a few weeks later (never finalized). He and his second wife had a daughter. Then while still married to his first and second wives, he married the third. Read his obituary H. H. Holmes: Obituary
  • 05/16


    May 16, 1861
    Gilmanton, New Hampshire United States
  • Ethnicity & Family History

  • Nationality & Locations

  • Early Life & Education

    Phillips Exeter Academy; University of Vermont (1879 - 80) and University of Michigan (1882 - 84)
  • Religious Beliefs

  • Military Service

    Not a veteran
  • Professional Career

    Teacher, Doctor
  • 05/7


    May 7, 1896
    Death date
    Cause of death
    Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania United States
    Death location
  • Obituary

    From Find A Grave: Serial Murderer. Born in Gilmantown, New Hampshire he studied medicine and worked as a druggist in Chicago. A good looking, natural born con man he had a special flair for attracting the ladies of that time. During the Chicago World Fair of 1893 he was the owner/proprietor of the infamous “Murder Castle”. It had hidden rooms, concealed stairways, trap doors, false walls, chutes, an elevator with no shaft and an elevator shaft with no elevator. He ran ads for a secretary in Chicago papers. Once employed he wooed them with promises of marriage. He convinced them to sign over their insurance and savings to him as a part of the “deal”. After spending the night in his bed, he chloroformed them as they slept, dragged them to the open elevator shaft and threw them in. Waiting for them to regain consciousness, he gassed them and watched them die. Afterwards he looped a rope around their neck, pulled them up the shaft, dumped their bodies down a chute leading to the basement and dismembered them. These were the “lucky” ones. Some were simply butchered alive and screaming inside his soundproofed rooms. The estimate is that over 200 women died there. Mudgett moved first to Texas and then to Philadelphia where he devised an insurance scam using a family named Pitezel as accomplices. He killed Mr. Pitezel with poison and he along with Mrs. Pitezel claimed the insurance monies. He killed the Pitezel children by gassing the two girls in a trunk and somehow killing the small boy whose skull was found in a stove. After getting a tip from a prison acquaintance of Mudgett advising them of the scam, the insurance company hired a Philadelphia “super detective”, Frank P. Geyer, to find him. Geyer tracked Mudgett down and brought him to trial for the murder of Mr. Pitezel. He was hanged on the Moyamensing Prison gallows May 7, 1896, the most prolific mass murderer in United States history. Bio by: Richard Blunk
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3 Memories, Stories & Photos about H

Dr. Henry Howard Holmes Mugshot
Dr. Henry Howard Holmes Mugshot
The mugshot of Herman Webster Mudgett aka Dr. Henry Howard Holmes or H. H. Holmes after being arrested in 1895.
Date & Place: in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois United States
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H. H. Holmes - The  Murder Castle
H. H. Holmes - The Murder Castle
This three story 'castle' as it was termed was a crazy custom built torture chamber by Dr. H. H. Holmes disguised as a hotel.

There were soundproofed rooms and mazes of hallways which seemingly went to no where. Similar to the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, CA. A number of rooms were outfitted with chutes that would drop straight down to the basement where Holmes had acid vats, quicklime and a crematorium to dispose of his victims' bodies.

The hotel had three stories and a basement. The first floor was the storefront. The second story consisted of elaborate torture rooms, which contained a chute that led to the basement, and the third floor held more apartment rooms.

There were rooms with hinged walls and false partitions, rooms linked with secret passageways, and even airtight rooms that were connected to pipelines filled with gas which Holmes used as gas chambers. He would then use chutes to deliver the bodies to the basement and once there, he made use of surgical tables and an array of medical tools to dissect them before selling their organs and bones on the black market and to medical institutions

The hotel was gutted by a fire started by an unknown arsonist shortly after Holmes was arrested, but was largely rebuilt and used as a post office until 1938.
Date & Place: at Englewood in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois United States
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Thought to be America's first serial killer, H. H. Holmes (1861 - 1896) - real name Herman Mudgett - is said to have carried out several murders at the "Murder Castle" during Chicago's World's Fair. Perhaps you've seen the Hulu documentary H.H. Holmes: Original Evil?

The "Castle" was 3 stories high and had chutes straight down to the basement, which was outfitted with acid vats, quicklime, and a crematorium. The second floor consisted of "elaborate torture rooms". Why all of the evil? Herman and partner Ben Pritezel wanted their victims' insurance.

According to one article, H.H. Holmes claimed to have killed 130 people. When arrested, he said he had killed "merely" 27.

For more details about Henry Howard Holmes and his sordid life, see his biography
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Disgusting vermin he was.
Dr. H. H. Holmes
Dr. H. H. Holmes
A photo of Herman Webster Mudgett, better known as H. H. Holmes, who was the first known serial killer in the US. He confessed to 27 murders but only 9 could be confirmed. He was also a con man and a bigamist.

His crime spree went on for years even though he died at just age 34 - killings, arson, insurance fraud, bigamy - until the Pinkerton Agency tracked him down in Boston on November 17, 1894. He was held on a horse theft charge from Texas. In October of 1895, Holmes was convicted of the murder of one man and sentenced to death. It was after the trial that he confessed to 27 murders - he was paid $7,500 (worth $216,000 today) by the Hearst newspapers in exchange for his confession so, of course, the confession was suspect.

On May 7, 1896, he was hung in Philadelphia - twitching for over 15 minutes before being pronounced dead 20 minutes after the trap had been sprung. Movies, books, and tv shows about Holmes continue to be made - all of them speculative because of Holmes' lack of ability to tell the truth.
Date & Place: Not specified or unknown.
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November 17 1894 headlines may have read "The Pinkertons got him!". H H Holmes (real name Herman Webster Mudgett) was the first known serial killer in the US and some have suspected that he was also Jack the RIpper when he was visiting in the UK. Can you imagine how scared people were before he was caught?
He is the subject of a current History Channel mini-series, called, "American Ripper". moment please loading spinner
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H Holmes' Family Tree & Friends

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