“Yes, I was born with the devil in me,” wrote H. H. Holmes. “I could not help the fact I was a murderer any more than a poet can help the inspiration to song... I was born with the evil one standing as my sponsor...”
“I killed twenty-seven.” He would have murdered six more had circumstances, not intervened.
The murderer’s real name was Herman Webster Mudgett—a New Hampshire farm boy, and the son of devout Methodist parents. Mudgett worked on his parent’s farm at Gilmanton until he graduated from high school, then taught school. The next year he married Clara Lovering, his high school sweetheart.
Teaching was good, but medicine was Mudgett’s ruling passion. In 1879, he enrolled in the medical program at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. He studied anatomy under Professor Herdman, and dissection under the direction of Dr. Nahum Wight.
That led to digging up bodies at local cemeteries — some that he experimented on, and others that he sold to medical students for the cadaver lab. Soon, Mudgett moved on to bigger crimes.
He purchased a $15,000 insurance policy on his life, then passed a cadaver off as himself to collect on the policy. It was a deception he would repeatedly pull from then on.
Mudgett graduated from the Ann Arbor, medical school in 1884. He left his wife in 1887 and moved to Chicago where he became a clerk at a drugstore at No. 700 Sixty-third Street. Several months later, he owned the property and began construction on what would become known as his murder castle.
You know what they say? A new city, a new start.
Shortly after he moved to Chicago, Mudgett changed his name to H. H. Holmes.