A Predatory Mind

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Dr. HH Holmes DR. H.H. HOLMES

The Twenty Seven Murders of Henry H. Holmes

References, Notes and Citations

Notes on Sources.

Evaluating Holmes' tales of murders entails sorting truth from fantasy. Whenever possible, I tried to find contemporary newspaper sources to evaluate the alleged events, however, the news stories were often responsible for fictions of their own. Several non-fiction books have been written about him.
Schecter's "Depraved" (references 10, others) is a florid recreation of the story of Holmes, but does represent a good presentation of his legend. Larsen's "The Devil in the White City (references 12, others)" includes some of the necessary scholarly footnotes for sorting matters out. Adam Selzer has written a series of  treatises (reference 14, others) on matters relating to Holmes which cite and sometimes include the original sources. Ultimately, in his autobiography and confession, Holmes often has both the first word and often the last word regarding his crimes.

a. Holmes' Own Story in which the Alleged Multi Murderer and Arch Conspirator Tells of The Twenty-Two Tragic Deaths and Disappearances In which He is Said to be Implicated. Philadelphia. Burk & McFetridge Co. 1895.

b. Holmes Confesses 27 Murders. The Most Awful Story of Modern Times Told by the Fiend in Human Shape. The Philadelphia Inquirer, Sunday, April 12, 1896. Copyright 1896 by WR Hearst and James Elverson, Jr.

1. As to whether Holmes had three or four wives, his marriage to Minnie Williams is disputable inasmuch as it was never registered. At the time of Holmes arrest in November, 1894, Clara Mudgett was contacted by the press and added some details to their life together. She mentioned spending a year at Ann Arbor helping raise money for Holmes' tuition. She didn't see him again until just before his arrest.

2. More About Holmes. A Medical Student in Michigan. Evansville Courier, November 23, 1894.

3. While Holmes denied being involved in grave-robbing while at the University of Michigan, he may also have been the source of these rumors. When he described obtaining corpses for insurance swindles, a practice which he engaged in with a fellow medical student, in some reports, he said he undertook this scheme while still in medical school. e.g., Holmes's Crimes. Rockford, Illinois Daily Register Gazette, July 17, 1895.

4. Although Holmes is sometimes described as America's First Serial Killer, for one year beginning on December 30th, 1884, San Antonio, Texas was terrorized by "The Servant Girl Annihilator." Could he have been this killer? Holmes personality makes it facile to think so and one author claims Holmes was also Jack the Ripper. The time from his graduation in 1884 until mid-1886 while Holmes was in and out of Mooers, NY and traveling to a half-dozen cities is one of his least defined periods of his life. The July 31, 1895 NewYork Times article cited immediately below suggests he was finished with his school teaching in Mooers by the time of Blaine's defeat in the November 1884 elections.

5. A Boy Holmes's First Victim. He Was in the Swindler's Service in Clinton County, N.Y. New York Times, July 31, 1895.

6. Part of His Life. The Now Famous Mudgett Tells of His Crimes. Evansville Courier, November 21, 1894.

7. University Notes. Ann Arbor Courier, June 25, 1884.

8. Personals. Ann Arbor Courier, June 29, 1887.

9. University Palladium, Volume 25, 1883-1884, Ann Arbor, Michigan. In Holmes' Own Story, he mentions a lifelong friend from Canada he met while in medical school. "About this time I first became acquainted with a Canadian, a fellow student, and from then until the time of his death he was one of the very intimate friends I have ever allowed myself." According to the Palladium, Leacock is from Watford, Ontario. Other contemporary reports identify the medical student who collaborated with Holmes as "Cummings" (Crimes of Holmes Stand Without Parallel in History. Kalamazoo Gazette, December 7, 1894) and, currently living in New York City (Crime Is His Passion. New York Herald, November 25, 1894).

The General Catalogue Officers and Students 1837-1890 Ann Arbor, Mich. and its 1901 update presents the whereabouts or fates of alumni. Between these two references, all of the '84 medical school graduates are accounted for, with four dying before 1890. Although Canadians represented only five of the 1884 graduates, two died before 1890, Leacock and James Glidden Vining. Another Canadian medical student, George Stanley Gould, died within a week of graduating in 1883.

10. As recounted in Depraved: The Shocking True Story of America's First Serial Killer. Harold Schechter. Copyright 1994. New York: Pocket Books. Page 12.

11. Myrta Belknap remained loyal to her husband up to the time of execution, claiming she couldn't believe he committed the crimes. Interestingly, Holmes was born in Belknap County, New Hampshire.

12. The Devil in the White City. Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America. Erik Larson Copyright 2003. Vintage Books, Random House. Page 44.

13. The Doctor and the Detective: A Biography of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Martin Booth. copyright 1997, Thomas Dunne Books.

14. The Three Confessions of HH Holmes. Adam Selzer. September 2012.

15. The genealogy site Worldfamilies.net includes these bits of information:
Dr. Thomas Russell, b 25Feb1861 Alton, Peel Co ON, CA. d 15Oct1953 Grand Rapids, MN.

In a personal communication, Dr. Russell's grandson, also a doctor, said his grandfather "did live in Chicago before going to Minnesota. He said Chicago was to [sic] rough."

16. Depraved: The Shocking True Story of America's First Serial Killer. Harold Schechter. Copyright 1994. New York: Pocket Books. pp. 41-46.

17. The Three Confessions of HH Holmes. Adam Selzer. September 2012.

18. Cole's Disappearance. A Lumberman Who Was Summoned to Chicago by Holmes. Los Angeles Herald, July 29, 1895. I believe Milford Cole existed. John C. Allen gave many specific details about him while seeking a pardon in exchange for testimony: a poor strategy if such a person could easily be proven to not exist. Of course, Cole may have still been alive, Allen did not claim to witness his death in person.

19. Pat Quinlan Sues for Damage. Daily Illinois State Journal. September 17, 1895.

20. Mrs. Quinlan Loses the Suit. Chicago Daily Inter Ocean, April 21, 1897.

21. Daily Illinois State Journal, Springfield, Illinois. July 28, 1895.

22. Five Victims Alive. Confession is Alleged to Be Untrue. Rockford Republic, April 13, 1896.

23. Soup Bones Dug Up, Daily Illinois State Journal, Springfield, Illinois July 28, 1895.

24. As quoted in: Depraved: The Shocking True Story of America's First Serial Killer. Harold Schechter. Copyright 1994. New York: Pocket Books. Page 54. Although it is keeping in character with Holmes to invent names for an upcoming marriage, another version of the story is that Holmes killed both Cigrand and her fiance.

25. Holmes List of Victims. Rock Island Argus, April 14, 1896.

26. Among Illinois papers, the Chicago Daily Inter Ocean printed the confession. While rival newspapers assailed the credibility of the confession, the Daily Inter Ocean defended it. The April 15, 1896 headline read: Envious Rivals Attack Holmes Confession. [We] Cannot Find a Flaw.

27. Miss Gertie Conner's Death. Neuralgia of the Heart Was the Cause of Her Demise. Chicago Daily Inter Ocean, July 22, 1895.

28. Alive and Kicking. Miss Kate Durkee Nails One of Holmes' Lies. The Wichita Daily Eagle, April 15, 1896, Page 2. Originally alleged to be a victim, by the time of Holmes confession, Kate Durkee's murder had long since been refuted. The Chicago Daily Inter Ocean would have been aware of this and in this section, they ran Holmes' confession naming only Kate --- of Omaha. The next day, their paper defended the confession saying it never claimed Kate Durkee was dead.

29. The Devil in the White City. Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America. Erik Larson. Copyright 2003. Vintage Books, Random House. Page 205.

30. Administrator's Notices. Leadville Daily and Evening Chronicle. February 6, 1893, Page 4.

31. Holmes married Georgiana Yoke using the name Henry Mansfield Howard. Using a variety of names was one means Holmes employed to keep his wives from learning about one another. From Depraved: The Shocking True Story of America's First Serial Killer. Schechter, H. Copyright 1994. New York: Pocket Books. Page 77.

32. Letter, Alice Pitezel, dated September 20, 1894
as presented in The Holmes-Pitezel Case. A History of the Greatest Crime of the Century and of the Search for the Missing Pitezel Children by Detective Frank P. Geyer of the Bureau of Police, Department of Public Safety, of the City of Philadelphia. A True Detective Story. Publishers' Union copyright 1896, p. 353.

33. Letter, Alice Pitezel, dated October 14, 1894, ibid, pages 264-5.

34. Ibid.

35. Part of His Life. The Now Famous Mudgett Tells of His Crimes. Evansville Courier, November 21, 1894.

36. Mudgett's Early Life. Wilkes-Barre Times, November 21, 1894.

37. With his murderous bent, an abundance of opportunity and his complete unreliability in recounting his story the question of the true number of Holmes' victims remains open. Holmes combined a variety of methods popular among serial killers: he was a "Bluebeard," a poisoner, and killed for profit. The newspaper accounts named many more missing who were not mentioned in Holmes' confession.

38. Holmes Cool to the End. Under the Noose He Says He Only Killed Two Women. New York Times, May 8, 1896.

Additional files.

Graduating class of 1884, University of Michigan
1884 Graduating class of University of Michigan
Medical School. Along with Mudgett and Leacock,
there was someone named George S. Hatch. He went
on to be arrested for counterfeiting in Boston in 1904.

Carrie Pitezel on the witness stand
Having survived the murder of her husband and three
of her children, along with the attempted murder of
herself and two more of her children, Carrie Pitezel
gave emotionally charged testimony.

Another image of Holmes and his victims
Holmes and six of his eight last claimed victims.

Baldwin Williams notice.

More to the story

The Twenty Seven Murders of H.H. Holmes, Part One
The Twenty Seven Murders of H.H. Holmes, Part Two

The Twenty Seven Murders of H.H. Holmes, Part Three
The Twenty Seven Murders of H.H. Holmes, Part Four
Holmes and The Resurrectionists

A Predatory Mind, buy the novel

copyright 2013, Martin Hill Ortiz