Episode 124: H.H. Holmes: Beast of Chicago

This episode is brought to you by El Yucateco

This episode of the Sofa King Podcast examines the horrible history of H.H. Holmes, the Beast of Chicago. This man is considered the first true serial killer in American history, killing people all over the country in the late 1800’s (estimates are as high as 200 victims). Born Herman Webster Mudgett, Holmes was a smart child who had a penchant for operating on animals and had a bad run in with a human skeleton and a group of bullies. He graduated high school at 16 years of age and went to University of Michigan Medical School where he earned his medical doctorate.

Oh, and while he was at U of M, he also figured out a way to claim life insurance policies on the school’s cadavers and disfigure and operate on them in secret. Holmes was a conman who made the equivalent of hundreds of thousands of dollars on insurance schemes, often getting money paid out for his own murder victims.

What makes Holmes truly unique, however, is his Murder Castle. After buying a pharmacy in Chicago (after presumably killing off the previous owners who go mysteriously “missing”), he build a massive three story hotel in Chicago in time for the World’s Fair. It is such a big building that locals called it “The Castle.” While he ran his pharmacy from the ground floor and let guests stay on the second, the third story and the basement were where he was allowed to kill in horrible ways. The Castle was infamous for doors that led to nowhere, dead end stair cases, soundproof rooms, chutes to deposit bodies into the basement, ether pumped through gas pipes to various rooms, an acid pit and several kilns to dispose of bodies in the basement, and even a bank vault he would use to slowly kill people through asphyxiation.

Though he preferred blond women and children, Holmes killed them all, often selling their skeletons and organs to medical schools! How did he get brought down by a horse? Who was Benjamin Pietzel, and why did Holmes have to kill three of his children? Why was he buried ten feet deep and encased in concrete after he was hanged for his crimes? Listen, laugh, learn.

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