Connections between HH Holmes and the Victorian Era:

  • The World’s Fair was a presentation of the most up and coming innovations of the time.
  • The fair occurred every few years in various locations around the world. At the Chicago fair of 1893 forty-six nations were in attendance. It was held in Chicago to commemorate the four hundredth year anniversary of Columbus.
  • It was held right around the corner from Holmes’ castle of torture.  Holmes would often lure attendees of the fair to stay in his hotel and eventually reach their demise.
  • He took advantage of people because of their curiosity by seeming highly informed and intelligent of the next up and coming invention, he had a charm that drew people in. Once he had them in his clutches, however, his methods of torture and murder were rather mid evil.
  • At one point in his life, H.H. Holmes was married to three women at one time. He even killed one of his unlucky brides. His actions show his feeling on women and their interchangeability.
  • H.H. Holmes faked his death to scheme insurance companies while Sherlock Holmes faked his death in “The Final Problem” to evade Moriarty’s men.
  • The story “The Final Solution” was written in 1893 which coincidentally was the year H.H. Holmes attempted his plot.


Dr. Holmes

Holmes’ reign of slaughter continued until 1894.  After the World’s Fair had ended, Holmes left Chicago and headed south to Fort Worth, Texas. Holmes found Texas to be much stricter and so Holmes began to live a nomadic lifestyle.  In St. Louis he was caught up in a horse swindle and was jailed.

While in jail Holmes concocted a plan with a fellow inmate named Marion Hedgepeth.  His plan consisted of taking out a ten thousand dollar loan from the bank and then faking his death so as to not have to pay back the load. Marion though the plan was genius, and agreed to help Holmes for a small cut of the money. Hedgepeth gave Holmes the name of a trustworthy lawyer who would be able to assist Holmes in the insurance company swindle.  Unfortunately for Holmes, the plan quickly fell through when the insurance company became very suspicious of his story. This, however, did not slow Homes down much. He looked to his long time associate, Benjamin Pitezel to assist in a more successful con.  In this plan Pitezel was to fake his own death and have his wife collect the ten thousand dollar policy. This money was supposed to be split between the Pitezel family, Holmes, and the lawyer. Pitezel was supposed to fake his death by pretending to be blown up in a lab explosion and then he was instructed to go into hiding. Instead, Holmes actually killed Pitezel.  Holmes made the death look like a suicide (Mrs. Pitezel was kept in the dark about the drastic change in the plans) and was therefore able to collect the money. He then used his charm and charisma to persuade Pitezel’s wife to allow three of her children into his custody while telling her that her husband was in hiding in South America.  Holmes killed the children.

The Chicago police, who had been suspicious of Holmes since he resided in the city, finally found what they had been looking for when the custodian of the castle confessed that he was never allowed up on the higher floors. The authorities used this as probable cause to begin inspecting the castle. Over the next month they were able to piece together Holmes’ killing techniques and strategies. On August 19, 1895 a mysterious fire burnt the entire building to the ground.  As the Chicago police were unraveling the events in their city, Geyer was busy piecing together the parts of the Pitezel situation.

Holmes was put on trial for the murder of the Pitezel family and convicted. After a hefty bribe was offered by the Hearst Newspaper he also confessed to thirty murders in Chicago, Indianapolis, and Toronto. The confession was very questionable, however as six of the victims he claimed to have murdered were still living.  Anything he said was to be taken with a grain of salt as he sometimes stated that he was innocent, while other times he claimed to be possessed by Satan. Regardless of his contradictory statements, Holmes was hung on May 7, 1896 at the Philadelphia County Prison.

Deirdre, Donahue. “Devil gets his due in Larson’s ‘White City’.” USA Today n.d.: Academic Search Premier. Newsprint. 21 Nov. 2011.

This article found in Academic Search Premier analyzed the book written on Holmes, “the Devil in the White City.” This was helpful because I gave a look into how the author went about researching and analyzing the data and records presented.


Goldman, David. “Castle Of Horror: The Gruesome Story Of H.H. Holmes.” Biography 7.5 (2003): 28. Academic Search Premier. Web. 21 Nov. 2011.


This Website took a look at some of the gruesome and macabre crimes in the Holmes mansion, and displayed the torture techniques.


H.H. Holmes: America’s First Serial Killer. Web. 21 Nov. 2011. <>.


This  took a long and tedious look at the history of Holmes, but mainly spent time talking about his childhood and the situation growing up.


“H. H. Holmes.” Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 21 Nov. 2011. <>.


This was the Wikipedia article on H.H. Holmes. It summarized  and looked intently at each aspect of his storyline, and looked over it.





“HOLMES COOL TO THE END – Under the Noose He Says He Only Killed Two Women. HE DENIES THE MURDER OF PIETZEL. Slept Soundly Through His Last Night on Earth and Was Calm on the Scaffold. PRIESTS WITH HIM ON THE GALLOWS. Prayed with Him Before the Trap Was Sprung — Dead in Fifteen Min- Utes, but Neck Was Not Broken. – Front Page –” The New York Times – Breaking News, World News & Multimedia. 08 May 1896. Web. 21 Nov. 2011. <>.


This is the newspaper clipping after Holmes was executed. It is directly from the NY Times.


Ramsland, Katherine. “HH Holmes, One of America’s Worst Serial Killers — His End — Crime Library on” Not Reality. Actuality. Web. 21 Nov. 2011. <>.
This article takes a look at the end of Holmes’ life. This is mainly his capture, Jailing, Sentencing, and execution. It goes into great detail and will be helpful when explaining his resolution.

Schneider, Martin, and Jeff Zaleski. “Murder At The World’s Fair.” Publishers Weekly 249.50 (2002): 56. Records. 21 Nov. 2011.

This takes a look at the beginning of the murders, revolving the world’s fair and drawing the fair’s inhabitants back to his hotel.

Spikol, Liz. “Holmes Sweet Holmes | Cover Story | News and Opinion | Philadelphia Weekly.” Philadelphia Weekly | Local News, Reviews, Multimedia, Music, Real Estate and More. 08 May 1896. Web. 21 Nov. 2011. <>.

This is a comical look at the world of Holmes. It was written after the book involving Holmes was released and also after the movie was announced.

“The Devil In The White City by Erik Larson.” Random House – Bringing You the Best in Fiction, Nonfiction, and Children’s Books. Web. 21 Nov. 2011. <>.

This takes a look at Erik’s book about Holmes. It is a review and summary of the book.

“The Straight Dope: Did Dr. Henry Holmes Kill 200 People at a Bizarre “castle” in 1890s Chicago?” The Straight Dope – Fighting Ignorance Since 1973. Web. 21 Nov. 2011. <>.

This takes a questionable look into the life of Holmes, and his murders. It uses a research based look at the murders and looks for proof that Holmes’ committed them.


Before the “Murder Castle”:

  • While enrolled at the University of Michigan Medical School in 1884, Holmes has access to the morgue, and stole many bodies. Over his period at school, he disfigured and examined the bodies, and defiled them. Afterwards, he claimed that the people were killed accidentally in order to collect insurance money from policies he took out on each deceased person.

During the “Murder Castle”:

  • Insurance Scams- Holmes and partner Benjamin Pitezel collected up to $10,000 during the time Holmes owned the Murder Castle in insurance fraud.
  • Murder Castle Murders- After being caught and accused of the crimes committed in the murder castle, he committed to killing 27 people.
  • Murder Castle Murders- After being caught and accused of the crimes committed in the murder castle, he committed to killing 27 people. Other Estimates range from 20-100 victims.

The “murder castle” was a three story building with a basement.

There were over 60 rooms in the house and 51 doors that were oddly places in walls, ceilings, and floors.

Holmes acted as his own designer and architect for the castle and he personally supervised the construction. To avoid suspicion about the odd building style, all of the construction crews were quickly hired and fired, without pay.

In addition to the odd design, the house was also made with with trap doors, hidden staircases, secret passages, rooms without windows, chutes that led into the basement and a staircase that opened out over a steep drop to the alley behind the house.

The first floor of the building housed rented stores and shops, giving the building a normal exterior look. The upper floors were converted into a hotel with spacious living quarters. Holmes had an office on the second floor, but most of the rooms were to be used for “guests.”

When the hotel was examined, they found that many rooms featured different torture techniques like:

  • Asphyxiation chambers- where his victims were suffocated with gas.
  • Iron plates- prevented the guests from being able to demolish their way out from the rooms of the hotel and kept noise at a minimum.
  • Blowtorch- Gas driven fire blowtorches were fixed into the walls in order to burn and torture the victim to death.
  • Dissecting table- Used to slowly remove body parts while the victim was still alive or dead.
  • Crematory- Used to burn and char bodies while alive or dead.
  • Acid vats and quicklime pits- Bodies could be conveniently disposed of by dissolving the flesh into acid.
  • Alarms- The rooms all had alarms that buzzed in Holmes’ office if a victim attempted to escape.

  • Herman Webster Mudgett, or H.H. Holmes was born in 1961 in Gilmanton, New Hampshire, located in Belknap county.

    Holmes's Mug Shot

  • Holmes was born into an affluent family, but unfortunately had a troubled childhood.
  • Holmes’s father was an alcoholic, and his mother was a devout Methodist who preached bible scripture to him.
  • Holmes was bullied as a child; having run in’s with bullies who forced him to face death by making him touch a skeleton.
  • Holmes appeared to very intelligent at an early age.
  • Young Holmes expressed a very strong interest in pharmaceuticals and medicine, sometimes dissecting and surgery on both live and dead animals.
  • Rumor has it Holmes was involved in the death of one of his closest friends.
  • Holmes married Clara Lovering in 1978.
  • They had one son, Robert Mudgett, in 1880.
  • Holmes attended and graduated from the University of Michigan Medical School in 1884.
  • Holmes was entangled in scandal at the university. He was accused of stealing bodies, maiming them, and collected the deceased insurance policies.
  • After graduation, Holmes moved to Chicago to work in the field of pharmaceuticals. He also perused real estate and promotional deals under an alias, H. H. Holmes.
  • Holmes married Myrta Belknap in 1887 while still married to Clara Lovering.. Holmes and Myrta then had a daughter, Lucy, in 1889.
  • Holmes then lived with Myrta and Lucy in Illinois, and spent most of his time in Chicago.
  • Holmes then married Georgiana Yoke, his third wife, in 1984.
  • Holmes also had a relationship with Julia Smythe, one of his former employees. On a side note, Smythe was one of Holmes’s future victims.