HHHolmes: Who really is “America’s First Serial Killer”?
Between myth and reality, this monster with a sadistic and sick mind was in fact the first true American serial killer. Portrait of the owner of the horror “Castle”: HHHolmes.
HHHolmes, real name Herman Webster Mudgett, was born in New Hampshire in 1860. He grew up in an unstable and very strict family climate. Between his alcoholic father and his mother, who was a fervent believer in the Catholic Church, he and his three brothers and sisters receive a religious upbringing of draconian authority.
Extremely fearful and shy diaper serial killer was harshly molested by his classmates. He had developed a deep fear of the medical profession and especially of his town’s general practitioner. Because of this, he was locked in the doctor’s office for hours by his molesters when he was just five years old. His phobia turned into a genuine fascination with the beauty of this lifeless skeleton.
The memory of that moment never left the little boy, who gradually began to take on a new, more devilish face and harbor an unhealthy obsession with death… In society, he appeared as the perfect child: wise, polite, full of charm and skillful in words. Away from the others, he began killing and torturing animals to satisfy his blood thirst and sick curiosity.
A polygamous and malicious crook
In parallel with his macabre activities, the young man grew up and got his diploma in pharmacy. His PhD is entirely fake, allowing him to orchestrate scams, each more sophisticated and cruel than the last. It was also around this time that he traded his real name for the nickname he is now infamous for: HHHolmes.
For example, with the help of an accomplice, he will take out life insurance on his behalf, then embellish a corpse he bought to make the police believe she died in an accident and touch the sum of the operation. Fraud they will repeat many times…
A skilled crook, he even manages to take the place of a pharmacist named Holton after the latter dies of cancer. He buys the shares of the deceased in monthly installments from his wife, who mysteriously disappears. Holmes was no longer paying his debts, so it was only natural that he got rid of poor Mrs Holton and told anyone who looked for her that she had gone on a journey without giving an address…
A handsome man with dazzling charm, Holmes continues to multiply his conquests even while married to his first wife, Clara A. Lowering, and the mother of his first child, Robert. Therefore he will also marry Myza Z. Belknap in 1887, with whom he will have his daughter Lucy. Over the course of his adventures, he connects marriages and lovers to end up meeting four official wives.
Among the serial killer’s 200 alleged victims, almost all women, are some of the monster’s many lovers.
The “castle” of horror
HHHolmes manages to buy the property across from his pharmacy, which has had his eye on for years. He will erect a building there with dirty features, which the townspeople will christen “Castle”.
This charming looking building hides serious construction secrets that will make even the most ardent horror story amateurs dizzy.
The hotel opened its doors for the first time on the occasion of the Universal Exhibition of 1893. It consists of three floors, each with 35 rooms, all equipped with the best technologies then available on the market. While this residence sells dreams on paper, the same cannot be said for the poor clients who have had the misfortune to stay there.
Holmes was the only one who had the plans of the hotel, which was a real maze and he was the only one who knew which rooms were hidden from the public. He hired many architects to construct the building, and every two weeks he fired those in charge of construction to avoid having to pay them and to cover his tracks. Thus, endless staircases or stairs connected to the walls, false windows, dead-end doors, one-way mirrors appeared in the building.
This “castle” allowed him to satisfy his most sadistic desires and he never lacked the means to develop ever more cruel and perverse plans. For example, he had a “killing machine” he created that allowed him to kill his victims from afar. But also acid trenches, fireproof rooms, two huge furnaces, various poisons of its composition, quarters furniture and an abortion room from which none of his clients survived …
Thanks to his knowledge and contacts in medicine, the serial killer even made money by reselling his victims’ dismembered and re-articulated corpses to universities, or won the life insurance policies he had forced them to sign in his name. Therefore, thanks to his crimes, he built a real business.
He was eventually arrested and confessed to 27 murders, when in fact he would have committed more than 200… Police had stated that the bodies found in the basement of the “Castle” were in such a state of decomposition and too severely dismembered to know the exact one Number…
He was eventually hanged in 1896, and his last statement to reporters at the time was, “I was born with the devil in me.” I cannot deny that I am an assassin, any more than the poet can deny the inspiration that inspired him to sing.”
Unfortunately, between reality and extrapolated myth, it is difficult to distinguish the true from the false… The journalists, for example, had paid Holmes a substantial sum at the time of the trial, and afterwards he is said to have confessed to the crime. He lost himself in the story of his murders, sometimes proclaiming his innocence, sometimes possessed by the devil himself. Therefore, it is difficult to know the truth about the exact number of victims left by Holmes, although we are sure that he was the first American serial killer… The legends attributed to him, such as the fact that that “he could be the real Jack.” the Ripper, covers the tracks and turns the investigators’ work into a true treasure hunt.
The killer had asked to be buried under two tons of concrete after his execution so his body could never be autopsied. But rumors, stretching back more than a hundred years, persisted that he was never actually buried and that it would not be his body in that Pennsylvania cemetery…
To silence them and prove that Holmes was two meters underground, the descendants of the famous killer wanted to exhume his body. A judge approved it in 2017 and so the remains of Holmes, perfectly preserved in the slab, were reborn. His clothing and legendary mustache were intact, making a most grisly sight.
Although the researchers couldn’t identify him from his DNA, they were able to identify him from his teeth. No offense to conspiratorial spirits, the only Holmes was actually dead on the day of his execution!