Herman Webster Mudgett (May 16, 1861 – May 7, 1896), better known under the alias of Dr. Henry Howard Holmes was one of the first documented serial killers in the United States.
In Chicago at the time of the 1893 Holmes built a Hotel in Chicago that was built with one thing in mind and that was murder. He confessed to four of twenty seven murders that he was accursed of but he may have been guilty of killing 200 or more people.
He took those he killed from the 1893 Worlds Fair to his Worlds Fair Hotel where the people were killed.
Believe it or not but his hotel was a house of horrors in it's self. Rooms were set up so he could turn on gas and kill the person or persons in the room. He had a vault near his office where he would lock people in and they would suffocate to death.
He hired mostly female employees and he required them to take out life insurance policies and name him as the beneficiary. He then tortured and killed them. He had chutes built so bodies could be dropped into the basement, be boiled, stripped of flesh and then their skeletons were sold to medical schools.
And as hard as it may be to believe H.H. Holmes was a real live person and his hotel was real. Following the World's Fair with creditors closing in and the economy in a slump Holmes took off for Texas where he had inherited land.
He reappeared in Ft Worth Texas but he didn't stay around Texas to long. He didn't care for the nosy law enforcement in Texas. He continued to move around the United States until he was finally tracked to Boston from Philadelphia by Pinkerton Detectives. Holmes was returned to Philadelphia where he was thrown into jail and by now the police were investigating what Holmes had done in Chicago.
Holmes was convicted of multiple murders and on May 7th 1897 he was hanged at the Philadelphia County Prison. People who watched the execution said that Holmes didn't show any fear and was at times laughing with the people who were carrying out the execution. However when Holmes was hung he did not die at once as his neck did not snap at once and he was seen to twitch and shake for twenty minutes before he was pronounced dead.
A fire of mysterious circumstances burned down Holmes Chicago Hotel on August 19th , 1895. A U.S. Post Office is now on that location. Though only 27 bodies were found in the basement of the hotel police at the time said their was partial remains of many more people. It will never be known how many people H.H. Holmes killed but he is one of America's first documented serial killers.