The Devil in the White City

H.H. Holmes, born Herman Webster Mudgett (May 16, 1861 May 7, 1896) and also known as better known under the name of Dr. Henry Howard Holmes, was one of the first documented serial killers in the modern sense of the term.. During the 1893 Columbian Exposition, he lured victims into his elaborate "murder castle."

 While he confessed to 27 murders, only nine could be plausibly confirmed; several of the murders he confessed to were people who were still alive. He is commonly said to have killed as many as 200, though this figure is traceable only to 1940s pulp magazines. Many victims were said to have been killed in what became known as his Murder Castle, a mixed-use building he owned, located about 3 miles west of the 1893 Chicago Columbian Exposition (which in modern times would be referred to as a World's Fair). Besides being a serial killer, Holmes was also a successful con artist and a bigamist, the subject of more than 50 lawsuits in Chicago alone. Many now-common stories of his crimes sprang from fictional accounts that later authors took for fact; however, in a 2017 biography, Adam Selzer wrote that Holmes' story is "effectively a new American tall tale - and, like all the best tall tales, it sprang from a kernel of truth".

Born in Gilmanton, New Hampshire, Holmes took over a Chicago pharmacy, and built his "Murder Castle", an elaborate maze of death traps to which he lured numerous victims during the 1893 Columbian Exposition. He was eventually captured and hanged in 1896. Erik Larson wrote about Holmes in the book The Devil in the White City, published in 2003, and a movie based on Holmes' deeds is scheduled for release in 2019.

I was asked about Holmes' a few weeks ago, and in answering a question or two I found more than a few newspaper articles. The following include the confession he made in April of 1896, which was published in the Philadelphia Inquirer on April 12 of that year, and an article written by Philadelphia Detective Frank Geyer, who broke the case, published on the same date.

More will be added as I process them.

Phil Cohen
May 16, 2017

Philadelphia Inquirer - April 12, 1896

Philadelphia Inquirer
April 12, 1896




Philadelphia Inquirer
April 12, 1896