Serial Killers are nothing new to today’s society. Jeffrey Dahmer, John Wayne Gacy and Ted Bundy shocked our nation with their violent, brutal, and at times unbelievable crimes, although none of them were as notorious as Herman Webster Mudgett better known as Dr. H.H. Holmes. A man that carried himself as a smart, intellectual member of society, but in reality he was a smooth talking conman and very disturbed individual. A man who designed and built a building with torture rooms that would serve as his play house. Being born and raised in Chicago, I enjoy learning about its rich history. I had heard about this serial killer before, but I was not aware of his complete story. I am taking this opportunity to not only learn more about Chicago’s history, but to learn more about this man who has been documented as the first serial killer in the United States at the turn of the century.
H.H. Holmes was born on May 16th 1861 to parents who descended from the first white settlers in the new township Gilmanton, New Hampshire. He grew up in a house with an abusive, alcoholic father and a strict religious mother. I believe this could have led to H.H. Holmes’ dark side to emerge. At a young age he was bullied by local boys who forced him to view and touch a skeleton when it was found out that he was afraid of the town doctor. Rumor has it though; that this encounter which was supposed to be so terrifying instead intrigued him and led to, I believe, his fascination with death and was a driving force for him becoming a doctor. Serial killers do not wake up one day and decide to kill, there has to be a certain trigger that sets them off, in this case, it was viewing the remains of a human life.
In September of 1882 H.H. Holmes enrolled into the University of Michigan Medical School. It is there that he learned what would be his deadly craft, excelling in areas such as chemistry and anatomy. While studying and practicing, H.H. Holmes would