Dr._Henry_Howard_Holmes_(Herman_Webster_Mudgett)On this date in 1861 Herman Webster Mudgett was born. Mudgett is better known by his alias Dr. H. H. Holmes, one of America’s first modern serial killers. At the time of the 1893 World Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Holmes opened a hotel in the Hyde Park neighborhood and rented rooms to single women attending the fair. Just like a roach motel, people checked in but they never checked out. He had constructed the hotel with many special features such as sound proof torture rooms, secret passages and a crematorium in the basement. To keep the secrets of the hotel he would hire construction crews to build part of the building then fire them and bring in a different crew for the next phase. Women would check into the hotel, which was built like a maze, and be led to their room. Once there they would discover they could not open the door to get out. Some rooms were built as gas chambers where the women would be killed using natural gas. Others would be tortured to death. Holmes was convicted of only four murders for which he was hung in 1896. He confessed to 30 after his conviction and it is estimated he may have killed as many as 200. His story is featured in Erik Larson’s The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America.

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