This man, or as some refer to him as the devil, terrorized every village, city, and country he visited leaving a trail of dead bodies. He killed men, women, and children of all ages in the United States and Canada. His real name was Herman Webster Mudget, born May 16, 1861, in New Hampshire. Raised by a violent alcoholic father and bullied relentlessly by his classmates did nothing to detract from his future endeavors of death.
He became obsessed with skeletons and dissecting animals at an early age further feeding his desire to become a doctor. Dr Mudget graduated from the University of Michigan’s Department of Medicine and Surgery in 1884. After being accused of stealing cadavers and then placing life insurance on those bodies to collect the payouts he fled to New York. In those days death certificates were not filed as they are today so that allowed the doctor to file the claims on the dead and collect the money.
While in upstate New York he may have killed his first victim, a young boy. The boy hung out with the doctor a few times and then disappeared without a trace. Dr Mudget left New York quickly after the boy’s disappearance to make certain no investigation followed him. The next logical move was to Philadelphia since it was fairly close to New York in distance. The second victim died there and he too was a young boy. The doctor gave the child a poisonous medical cocktail deliberately. There were other deaths as well. This time he began the life insurance scam using living people instead of cadavers. He would kill them and collect the money since he was the beneficiary. When an investigation was opened for the murders and insurance scams he denied any involvement and fled to another city.
The city, Chicago, was much further west and almost guaranteed no further pursuit by authorities. While in Chicago he changed his name to Dr Henry Howard Holmes, known today as HH Holmes. Chicago is where Dr Holmes thrived. A more populous city allowed the doctor to use more people for his insurance murder scams. He began to make so much money that he built the three story Murder Castle located in the 600 block of West 63rd Street where the Englewood Post Office is located today.
The Murder Castle consisted of death chambers and vaults where people were brought and then tortured and killed slowly. Some death chambers were filled with natural gas to suffocate people. Other chambers were sealed for natural suffocation and starvation. Once the bodies were removed by Dr Holmes he would strip their flesh and remove all their organs. The organs and bones were then sold to science offices and medical schools.
In 1894 the law finally caught up to Dr Holmes and he was arrested and eventually executed. The investigators found bones, hair, dried blood, jewelry, shoes, a dissection table, and human scratch marks on the insides of the chambers. Dr Holmes admitted to killing 27 people and was suspected to have killed as many as 200.
Do not fear. He may have been the first documented serial killer and certainly will not be the last. We see massacres and murders daily on the news. Just remember it is nothing new and it will never change. Hopefully the DiCaprio/Scorsese film will come out soon and shed more light on the infamous HH Holmes.