H. H. Holmes — the real-life serial killer who Leonardo DiCaprio will play in The Devil in the White City — is going to be exhumed after his family won a court case to disinter his remains in an attempt to quell rumors that he evaded execution and conned his way out of prison.
Often referred to as America's first serial killer, the wealthy and well-educated Holmes is rumored to have killed over 200 people in his self-styled "murder hotel." He personally only confessed to killing 27.
Holmes's infamous boarding house contained around 100 soundproof, windowless rooms to ensure that nobody could hear his victims scream. There were also gaslines threaded throughout the property so guests could be suffocated at the flick of a switch and body chutes to transport the corpses of his victims to the basement laboratory.
The subterranean murderous scientist's lair contained a dissecting table, a stretching rack and an industrial oven. Here, Holmes would dissect his victims and deflesh the bodies in order to sell the bones to medical schools for a profit.
H. H. Holmes was eventually caught when he murdered Benjamin Pitezel — a former business partner who helped him carry out insurance scams after his murder spree.
The "Murder Castle" was eventually discovered while the police were investigating Holmes. Investigators found it hard to put a number on the amount of victims due to the abundance of decomposing and dismembered human remains scattered around the property.
According to centuries-old gossip, Dr. Herman Webster Mudgett (H. H. Holmes's real name) managed to escape before he was executed for his crimes and that another convict was hanged in his place during a public execution in 1896.
Perhaps the suspicion surrounding Holmes's death was stoked by his unusual burial requests that could suggest he really didn't want people looking too closely at his "body." Specific instructions for burial stated that Holmes was to be laid in a pine box that was to be filled with cement, buried 10 feet in the ground and then doused with yet more cement.
The exhumation will be performed by the University of Pennsylvania and the great-great-grandchildren of Holmes have provided DNA samples to help identify the body.
Do you think the rumors that H. H. Holmes escaped could hold some truth?
(Source: NBC Philadelphia)