Dr. H.H. Holmes
From the Pad of Definitions
From 2.06 No Exit (episode).
Born as Herman Webster Mudgett, Dr. H.H. Holmes is often called America's first serial killer. The number of his victims has typically been estimated between 20 to 100, and even as high as 230, however, the only verified number is 27 (in Chicago, Indianapolis and Toronto). His early criminal career was based on fraud and forgery, including a cure for alcoholism, real estate scams, and a machine that made natural gas from water. In 1893 he opened his "murder castle" as a hotel for the Chicago World's Fair and used it to trap, torture and kill his victims. He was arrested in 1895 when police discovered his connection with the death of his former business associate, Benjamin Pitezel, and three of his children.
Holmes was put on trial for murder, and confessed to 27 murders and six attempted murders. Throughout his time in prison he wrote several contradictory accounts of his life, first claiming innocence then saying he was possessed by the devil. His talent for lying at will made it difficult for researchers to determine the truth in his writings. He was hung on may 7, 1886 in Philadephia.
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See also Holmes Murder Castle