This week in 1896

May 12th, 2013 by admin

“Gentlemen, I have very few words to say. In fact, I would make no remarks at this time except that by not speaking I would appear to acquiesce in my execution. I only wish to say that the extent of my wrong-doing in taking human life consisted in the death of two women, they having died at my hands as the result of criminal operations. I wish to also state here, so that there can be no chance of misunderstanding hereafter, that I am not guilty of taking the lives of any of the Pitezel family—the three children and Benjamin, the father—of whose death I was convicted, and for which I am today to be hanged. That is all I have to say.”

Herman Webster Mudgett, best known by his alias H. H. Holmes or Dr. Henry Howard Holmes, convicted of murder, hanging, Pennsylvania.
Executed May 7, 1896

Holmes killed more than twenty people in his hotel on Chicago’s South Side and sold some of their remains to medical schools, according authorities. Perhaps it’s understandable that Holmes instructed that his body be cemented into his coffin to fend off grave robbers after his execution. He had built his hotel to prepare for Chicago’s World Fair, the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, and many of his guests were his victims.

Holmes was the “devil” in Erik Larson’s book “The Devil in the White City.”

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