Criminal logo

He created a Hotel To Murder People, Check-In to Death

Inside the Chamber of Terror in Chicago's Murder Castle

By KamyaPublished 4 months ago 5 min read
By Unknown author - [1]/alt source: in Geyer, Frank P. The Holmes-Pitezel Case: A History of the Greatest Crime of the Century and of the Search for the Missing Pitezel Children. Philadelphia, 1896., Public Domain,

In the year 1894, the city of Chicago trembled as the doors of a sinister building known as the "Murder Castle" were finally pried open by the police. Within its darkened halls, a macabre labyrinth of death and terror awaited discovery. Rooms with movable walls, chutes leading to vats of acid, and hidden corridors filled with lethal contraptions painted a chilling picture of the deeds committed by one man—Henry Howard Holmes, a real-life embodiment of evil.

By Unknown author -,psychopatyczni-mordercy-ktorzy-mieli-leczyc.html, Public Domain, (Herman Webster Mudgett / )

Born Herman Webster Mudgett on May 16, 1861, in New Hampshire to English immigrants, Holmes initially appeared destined for an ordinary life. Excelling in school and graduating from the esteemed Phillips Exeter Academy, he married and had children. However, beneath the facade of normalcy, a darker side began to emerge.

At the age of 18, Holmes enrolled in the University of Michigan's Department of Medicine and Surgery. While working in the anatomy department, he developed a taste for crime. Using his position, he pilfered cadavers, staging their deaths as accidents and collecting insurance payouts. It was a morbid prelude to the horrors that awaited.

Holmes abruptly vanished from the lives of his wife and children, leaving behind a fabricated tale of a train accident-induced memory loss. He resurfaced in New York, where suspicions arose regarding the disappearance of a young boy. Simultaneously, he attempted an insurance scam using a cadaver, but his scheme unraveled, leaving him with an increasingly notorious reputation. Seeking to distance himself, he assumed the name, H. H. Holmes.

Holmes then arrived in Chicago, the city that would become his den of darkness. Marrying again, he manipulated his way into a wealthy family, leveraging his charm and intelligence to secure loans and purchase properties. One such property, located at 63rd and Wallace Streets, would become the infamous Murder Castle.

Within this monstrous structure, Holmes lured unsuspecting victims, predominantly women, with promises of luxurious accommodations. The castle's design baffled contractors, as rooms led to nowhere, hallways ended abruptly, and doors concealed hidden horrors. Holmes mastered the art of deceit, evading payment by changing ownership names and weaving a web of fictitious identities.

Behind the facade of a hotel for the upcoming World's Fair, Holmes concealed his sadistic desires. He employed intricate alarm systems to monitor movements and rigged rooms with lethal traps—poisonous gases, fireproof chambers, suffocating chambers, and more. Victims trapped within the castle would meet their gruesome demise, their bodies descending through chutes to the basement, where Holmes performed unspeakable acts.

As the death toll rose, suspicions began to mount. Holmes crossed paths with Benjamin Pitezel, a fellow criminal, and potentially a partner in crime. Holmes also married Minnie Williams, coercing her to sign away her property and involving her sister Annie, both of whom would vanish without a trace, likely becoming unwilling organ donors.

In 1893, Holmes' web of deceit started to unravel. Attempting insurance fraud by starting a fire, he drew the attention of the police. Investigator F. G. Cowie delved into Holmes' sordid past, recognizing a dark and twisted individual. Holmes fled to a house obtained through scams, but his plans to fake his own death crumbled.

Turning to Pitezel once more, Holmes orchestrated a diabolical scheme.

By Unknown author -, Public Domain, (Benjamin Pitezel)

Faking Pitezel's death and collecting on the life insurance policy, Holmes left Pitezel's wife and children behind, traveling across the country with his new accomplice, Marion Hedgepeth. The duo embarked on a crime spree, defrauding unsuspecting victims along the way.

However, Holmes's insatiable appetite for murder could not be contained. He continued to leave a trail of death in his wake, targeting vulnerable women and young children. The authorities, now fully aware of Holmes's malevolence, intensified their pursuit.

In 1894, Holmes was finally apprehended in Boston, ending his reign of terror. The police, with the help of the Pinkerton Detective Agency, began to unravel the horrors concealed within the Murder Castle. As investigators combed through its nightmarish chambers, they discovered evidence of torture, dismemberment, and grisly experiments.

Holmes's trial became a media spectacle, captivating the nation with the chilling details of his crimes. Survivors and witnesses testified against him, recounting their narrow escapes from the clutches of the murderous doctor. The extent of his atrocities shocked the public, as they learned of his sadistic pleasure in inflicting pain and his complete lack of remorse.

Ultimately, Holmes was found guilty of multiple murders and sentenced to death by hanging. On May 7, 1896, he faced his final moments on the gallows, his twisted journey through darkness coming to a definitive end. H. H. Holmes, the man who had once walked among them, was no more.

By Herman W. Mudgett - Holmes' Own Story (1895), Public Domain, before execution)

The legacy of H. H. Holmes endures as one of America's most notorious serial killers. His chilling story continues to fascinate and horrify, reminding us of the depths of human depravity. The Murder Castle, with its hidden chambers and deadly traps, stands as a haunting symbol of the evil that lurks within seemingly ordinary facades.

Though time may pass and the Murder Castle has long since been demolished, the tale of H. H. Holmes serves as a chilling reminder that evil can exist in the most unexpected places. The horrors he unleashed upon Chicago during the World's Fair will forever be etched in the annals of true crime, a dark chapter in history that continues to captivate the imaginations of those who dare to delve into its twisted depths.

And so, the story of H. H. Holmes—a man of intellect, charm, and unspeakable darkness—serves as a grim reminder that evil can wear a captivating mask, hiding its true nature until it's too late to escape its clutches.


racial profilingmafiajuryinvestigationinterviewinnocenceincarcerationguiltycelebritiescartelcapital punishment

About the Creator


We should enjoy every moment fully, fall in love, make the most of our time, and live without regret. We should cherish the fact that there are still many moments in life that we have yet to experience for the last time.

Reader insights

Be the first to share your insights about this piece.

How does it work?

Add your insights


There are no comments for this story

Be the first to respond and start the conversation.

Sign in to comment

    Find us on social media

    Miscellaneous links

    • Explore
    • Contact
    • Privacy Policy
    • Terms of Use
    • Support

    © 2023 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.