The story of one of America's first known serial killers will haunt your nightmares

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...

Docs Say Serial Killers Have Specific Genes

The "Beast of Chicago", H.H. Holmes, confessed to 28 murders -- but many experts suspect he may have had a hand in the gruesome deaths of as many as 200 people.

Herman Webster Mudgett was born on May 16, 1861, in New Hampshire to a prominent family. It's said that from a young age, skeletons and death fascinated him.

SEE ALSO: Colorado police use DNA to 'draw' killer in unsolved triple murder

He was a bright boy, and studied medicine at a small school in Vermont before getting accepted into the University of Michigan Medical School.

During his time at medical school, his truly wicked side began to emerge. He stole cadavers from the medical labs and crafted a sneaky scheme.

He would take out insurance policies on the deceased, and would then burn or disfigure their bodies. He would then take the remains and plant them to make it appear like an accidental death -- leaving him free to collect the money tied to the policy.

Learn more about this notorious killer:

5 PHOTOS
H.H. Holmes, one of America's first serial killers
See Gallery
H.H. Holmes, one of America's first serial killers
Two portraits (one a profile) of American pharmacist and convicted serial killer Herman Webster Mudgett (better known by his alias H.H. Holmes, 1861 - 1896), mid to late 1890s. Holmes built the World's Fair Hotel (labelled as 'Holmes' 'Castle',' but also known as the 'Murder Castle,' after it's actual purpose became known) (on W. 63rd Street) as a structure to lure his, mostly female, victims from the World's Columbian Exposition, then occuring in Chicago. The interior was a mazelike, with rooms for torturing his captive victims, as well as both a lime pit and furances in the basement, which were used to dispose of the bodies. Holmes was convicted of four murders, but he confessed to 27 and there was widespread, and credible, speculation that he could have been responsible for several hundred. The photo originally appeared in the book 'The Holmes-Pitezel Case, a History of the Greatest Crime of the Century' (by Frank P. Geyer). (Photo by Chicago History Museum/Getty Images)

Herman W. Mudgett, known as H.H. Holmes. He was a notorious insurance murderer. He killed 27 people, many fairgoers to the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893, and was tried in 1895.

(Photo credit: Getty)

View of the World's Fair Hotel (labelled as 'Holmes' 'Castle',' but also known as the 'Murder Castle,' after it's actual purpose became known) (on W. 63rd Street), Chicago, Illinois, mid 1890s. The structure was designed by serial murderer Herman Webster Mudgett (better known by his alias H.H. Holmes), a phramacist who built the structure to lure his, mostly female, victims from the World's Columbian Exposition, then occuring in Chicago. The interior was a mazelike, with rooms for torturing his captive victims, as well as both a lime pit and furances in the basement, which were used to dispose of the bodies. Holmes was convicted of four murders, but he confessed to 27 and there was widespread, and credible, speculation that he could have been responsible for several hundred. The building bured down in 1895. The photo originally appeared in the book 'The Holmes-Pitezel Case, a History of the Greatest Crime of the Century' (by Frank P. Geyer). (Photo by Chicago History Museum/Getty Images)

Marion Hedgspeth was outlaw and train robber, often known as the 'Handsome Bandit' or the 'Debonair Bandit'. He robbed for years before finally being caught by Pinkertons in San Francisco, California. He served 25 years in prison after his conviction, and was killed after his release when a Chicago policeman. A tip from Hedgspeth helped in the hunt for H.H. Holmes, who was believed to be the first American serial killer.

(Photo credit: Getty)

of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

After passing his medical exams, Mudgett moved to Chicago in 1885 and got a job working in a pharmacy under the name Dr. Henry H. Holmes. When the owner of the drugstore passed away, Holmes convinced the widow to let him buy it. The widow soon mysteriously vanished and was never seen again.

Shortly before the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago, Holmes raised enough money to begin building the World's Fair Hotel which was quickly dubbed "The Castle."

The 60-room hotel had many unusual and bizarre features. Inside the house were doors that led to nothing, rooms without windows, trapdoors, hidden passageways and rooms with gas jets so he could easily asphyxiate his unsuspecting victims.

During the 1893 Columbian Exposition, Holmes opened up the hotel for visitors to the fair. Many of the young women who entered the building never left.

In an incredible stroke of luck, Holmes was eventually arrested over an insurance fraud scheme. Police uncovered the murders as they conducted a search of his home.

He reportedly told police, "I was born with the devil in me. I could not help the fact that I was a murderer, no more than a poet can help the inspiration to sing."

Holmes was hanged on May 7, 1896, in Philadelphia. He asked to be buried 10 feet underground and wanted his coffin to be encased in concrete, because he feared grave robbers would try to steal his body.

Holmes' life has been the subject of several books, including "The Devil in the White City" by Eric Larson. Leonardo DiCaprio is set to play the infamous killer in the film adaptation.

Read Full Story

People are Reading