Herman Webster Mudgett, aka Henry Howard Holmes lived a relatively normal childhood. One notable thing about his younger days was his fear of skeletons, which was forcibly cured when some other children locked him in a closet with a skeleton. It was replaced, however, with a morbid fascination with death. As he grew older he began to study at the University of Michigan, where he worked with cadavers and learned how to preform surgery. He eventually began stealing the cadavers and mutilating them, then planting them to look like they had been involved in accidents. before planting them he would take out life insurance for the person, using their ‘death’ to get money. It started out with planting bodies but only escalated from there.

After graduating, he got a job at a drug store. The owner of this store had passed away leaving it to his wife, whom Holmes convinced to sell him the drug store. Now rich and bringing in money, he bought an empty lot across the street and began building.

What he built seemed innocent enough from the outside, but it came to be known as the infamous Murder Castle. It was filled with winding hallways leading to nowhere, rooms surrounded by air pockets so no one could hear the screaming of trapped guests, gas chambers, secret passages, and chutes leading to the basement. Holmes switched through architects over and over throughout the making of the Castle, making sure no one could figure out what he was doing as the hotel was made.

Now that he had the castle, he put ads in the paper looking for female staff and declaring himself a rich man looking for a wife. People responded quickly and the hotel was ready to be used. He required everyone who came to work there, as well as his wives and fiances, to get life insurance. Nearly everyone who entered the castle never left it, and Holmes was bringing in money now more than ever.

While the hotel was running, he traveled across the U.S. committing more frauds. One of these was stealing horses and shipping them away for money, which he got caught doing. He was sent to jail, while there he came up with a new scam. This scam involved his cellmate faking his death, it was carried out as soon as Holmes got out of jail. The insurance company that was supposed to pay for this was not convinced, so Holmes and his cellmate went to Philadelphia and tried again, this time Holmes actually killed the man and took all the money for himself.

Holmes’ cellmate had called the police however, after not getting money in the original scam. Holmes was quickly found and arrested again, still on the charge of horse theft. The police became suspicious, when they discovered Holmes had been preparing to flee the country and investigated the Murder Castle. Therein they found human remains, gas chambers and many other incriminating pieces of evidence. Holmes was executed oh May 7, 1896.

In all Holmes was a brilliant man who used his knowledge in unfortunate ways. Having spent time researching this all, it makes one wonder; if Holmes had never been locked in that closet with the skeleton, would any of this have ever happened?

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