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H.H Holmes Body Exhumed

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H.H. Holmes is believed to be the world’s first serial killer. He has been the inspiration for many of characters in both TV and film. Most recently Mr. James March on American Horror Story:Hotel. He was also a con artist and is believed to have killed a large number of people during Chicago’s 1893 World’s Fair. He did this with the help of the hotel he managed in an Englewood neighborhood, at  63rd and Wallace. This was most commonly known as his “murder castle”. It was said to contain trap doors, secret stairways, and even a crematory. An interesting documentary about this is on Netflix called H.H. Holmes: America’s First Serial Killer.

After Holmes was eventually caught and arrested in Philadelphia, some believed he pulled of the ultimate heist and had someone else hanged and buried in his place. That’s why this past spring members of his family, along with the History Channel, and scientists at the University of Pennsylvania dug up the grave of H.H. Holmes. Just outside of Philadelphia, at the Holy Cross Cemetery was the location of his final resting place.

Holmes had pretty specific burial instructions, which included to be laid in a pine box filled with concrete; buried 10 feet in the ground; the coffin covered again in cement. So to say it made the exhumation difficult who be a bit of a stretch. They first found what was to be a decoy grave. One scientist said, they knew they were in the right spot because of all the concrete, but there was no body. After digging even further they were able to locate the sarcophagus.

There, they found a waistcoat, bowler hat, leather boots, even the remains of a mustache. All of which were to be believed to belong to H.H. Holmes. Holmes’ great-great grandson, Jeff Mudgett, even picked up the skull remains and looked straight in to the sockets, creepy!! So were these the remains of Chicago’s “Devil” or someone else? That was the question UPenn’s Dr. Samantha Cox and her team were hoping to answer.

DNA that was extracted from the inner ear of the skeleton was tested against Mudgett’s at King’s College in London. “Basically the best result that they could give us is that the skeleton is a relation of the Mudgett family,” Cox said. Since that wasn’t the cut and dry answer they were looking for, another test was done. This time they used Holmes’ dental records, which were published in a journal at the American Medical Association. These were compared with that of the skeleton found. “From a scientific standpoint to us, there’s no doubt (this is H.H. Holmes),” said Cox.

Mudgett has his doubts though. He wants a second lab to reexamine the evidence. Mudgett’s reason for a this is to help the families of his ancestors victims. For Mudgett, this also means exhuming the site of Holmes’ “Murder Castle” in Englewood.  That spot today is adjacent to the post office. For this Mudgett plans to petition the government in Chicago. Who knows what they may find there. From the documentary I watched on Holmes’, this guy was pretty brutal!!! I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on this story. I really like stories about serial killers, probably more than I should. Or even admit.

To see the exhumation of H.H. Holmes, “The Devil in the White City”, it was chronicled for the History Channel’s American Ripper series. Which also tested Mudgett’s theory that Holmes was in fact another notorious killer Jack the Ripper.

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