In recent posts I have discussed how I am one of a few people who believe that America’s first serial killer H H Holmes and Jack the Ripper were one and the same.
H H Holmes intrigues me as much as Jack the Ripper, if not more. Some would say, when I talk about him that I admire him. This isn’t completely true. Without a doubt I do not condone any of his nefarious and evil deeds, however it takes a certain type of intellect to get away with and carry out the acts he did.
There’s no mistaking that he was a genius. Completely and utterly. He was well ahead of his time and played the system better than the fraudster scumbags on TV show ‘Benefit Street’. He conned thousands out of unwitting victims, making money out of the living as well as the dead (he would take out life insurances on an individual then murder them and claim the money or use an already dead body and burn it beyond recognition and claim it was the same person. He also sold bodies/skeletons to universities for a hefty sum).
Whilst in Moyamensing Prison he wrote memoirs of his life which he then sold to the press for around $7,000 (a whopping $250,000 in modern day money). Is it so absurd then to assume that he was so casual and laid back in prison and walking to his execution because he knew he was not going to be executed?
A conspiracy has surface concerning the “H H Holmes Curse”. Numerous individuals involved with the arrest and imprisonment of Holmes have died, some under suspicious circumstances, leaving some people to question if Holmes escaped his execution, faked his own death and then went on to kill those involved in the court case thereafter. This theory arises from facts below:
- Holmes bought two grave plots in the cemetery, was buried in an unmarked grave, ten feet below ground (differing from the usual eight feet of the time) and encased in cement. It is possible that he did this to avoid his grave and/or body being desecrated. It’s also possible he had something to hide.
- It was a request of his own that Holmes’ not be subject to an autopsy. Again, he possibly requested this because he did not want any chance of his body being desecrated or humiliated, however it also could be because he knew he couldn’t provide a body as proof for the autopsy because he wasn’t actually dead.
- The money he made from his memoirs vanished. It was never discovered what happened to the money he made from the press and some say it was used as bribes to help him escape prison and his execution.
- The prisoner brought to the hangman’s gallows was wearing a hood. It could have been anyone. It also could have been Holmes himself, who was then dropped safely to below the gallows, where he was untied, released and a replacement corpse quickly placed back in the noose, hood concealing the identity and winched back up for the surround crowd to cheer to. Holmes may then have been surreptitiously helped to escape the prison, no one any the wiser.
- Several murders occurred in the years after which were labelled killings by a “Second Jack the Ripper“ – although press state that it was believed the killer was a local builder named Joseph Roberts. Whilst some believe that this may have been Holmes following his escape from prison, I personally feel that there are far too many discrepancies between both Holmes’ and Jack the Ripper’s killing styles that do not match the murders of the little girls who were killed, so I do not believe that these murders were either of those men.
Many of the above could be purely circumstantial, with Holmes being paranoid that his body or grave would be desecrated following his burial and took extra precaution.
One does wonder however, that with all the scams he successfully carried out during his prime, it would be most fitting for his biggest scam of all to be the faking of his own death.
The History Channel are current airing an eight-part documentary about Holmes, resulting in the exhumation of his grave, as permitted by the state to his living descendant, Jeff Mudgett.
In one more week we will discover if Holmes really was the greatest conman of all time and got away with it all in the end by eluding his own death.