Born on May 16, 1861, H. H. Holmes built a grand hotel, often referred to as “The Murder Castle”, which operated during the World’s Fair. The hotel was built and designed with murder in mind. The hotel had hidden body shoots, and rooms that appeared normal, but were actually gas chambers. There was even a crematorium built into the basement so that he could dispose of bodies and evidence. Holmes would kill guests, clean and bleach their bones, then sell their skeletons to medical schools and doctors.
When police began to investigate the missing people, last seen checking into the hotel, Holmes fled. The hotel was then burned to the ground thanks to an unknown arsonist. Holmes was captured in 1895 and soon confessed to killing nine. However, officials believed that the real body count was actually over 200, including past wives and stepchildren. Holmes was executed on May 7, 1896 in Philadelphia.
Holmes was such a brilliant con artist that it was rumored that he conned his way out of his death sentence and fled to South America. Now, as the anniversary of his death approaches, officials in Philadelphia and his own great-grandchildren, John and Richard Mudgett, are hoping to kill the legend by digging up Holmes’ grave.
Last week the proceedings began to exhume the serial killer from the plot where he was buried in 1896, with hopes that DNA tests will confirm the identity of the corpse once and for all. NBC reports that the DNA testing will be handled by the Anthropology Depart at the University of Pennsylvania.
I imagine that the outcome of the tests will not only be important to Holmes’ descendants and to the state, but will also be of interest to Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio who are working on a big-screen adaption of the H. H. Holmes story told through the book The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson, which inspired the screenplay written by Billy Ray (The Hunger Games).
We will update you when all the test results are in and the mystery that surrounds the serial killer’s death is settle once and for all.