Who was HH Holmes?

WORDS fail to describe HH Holmes – the man once dubbed America’s first serial killer.

Charming, manipulative and a “complete psychopath”, Author Erik Larson told The Sun he would “kill you as you buy a drink”. We give you more details…

Getty – Contributor

Two portraits of convicted serial killer HH Holmes[/caption]

Who was HH Holmes?

H.H. Holmes born Hermen Webster Mudgett, was a pharmacist and convicted serial killer.

Born on May 16 1861 into an affluent family, Holmes is said to have slaughtered as many as 200 people.

But he has been directly linked to nine murders, including those which took place in 1888 London.

Growing up in Gilmanton, New Hampshire, Holmes enjoyed a privileged childhood and was said to be very intelligent.

Holmes was dubbed the Beast of Chicago
Holmes was dubbed the Beast of Chicago
Hulton Archive – Getty

After he went to the University of Michigan to study medicine, he moved to Illinois, Chicago in 1885.

It was there that he changed his name to Henry Howard Holmes, to hide from the scams he had committed.

In 1889 he built the World’s Fair Hotel in Chicago, which had as many as 100 rooms.

But it later became the ‘Murder Castle’, as locals became aware it featured a labyrinth of corridors, trapdoors and horrors.

Holmes is said to have seduced women into listing him on their life insurance, before he murdered them.

Meeting his later friend Benjamin Pitezel, the pair planned to fake Benjamin’s death in order to get around £7400 ($10,000) from a life insurance company.

Holmes eventually killed Pitezel and told his widow her husband was still alive and in hiding.

He eventually convinced her to let him travel with three of Pitezel’s children, who all became his victims.

He died on May 7 1896 when hanged for the murder of Pitezel.

Could HH Holmes be the real Jack the Ripper?

HH Holmes was a con artist and businessman.

Looking at the murders he was directly linked to, Holmes killed people to collect life insurance and to cover his tracts.

Holmes targeted his victims in a specialist Factory of Death hotel, and was executed in 1896 – with some theories suggesting he had travelled to the UK to unleash the horrific killings in London’s East End to become Jack the Ripper.

Jack the Ripper was a Victorian serial killer who butchered at least five women in a terrifying four months spree during 1888 in Whitechapel, London.

US records show there was a gap in records of Holmes’ movements from mid 1888 to early 1889 – the exact time of Ripper murders.


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