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.