WARNING! the following may be
too intense for some readers. Caution is advised ...
MURDER YOUR DARLINGS
Come in and have a seat in that chair. Yes - that’s the one. Make yourself comfortable, please.
I know you by your reputation as an honest reporter. It is because of the honesty I chose you. I’ll give you my story. No fee is demanded.
The danger posed by certain macabre criminals is not well known.
This may be the 1890s, but modern telegraph and newspapers do a poor job of sounding an alarm throughout these United States, small towns, and backwater villages.
It has fallen upon me to sound that alarm.
All I ask is two things.
First, please excuse my appearance. My dark glasses hide my bruises.
Second, quote me exactly--no insinuating tone. Agreed?
Now, to begin…
For all the women murdered by my husband, I am the one he saved for last.
Saving the best for last is quite rational you’ll agree?
It bespeaks the obvious: I, Georgiana, am the best of all the victims.
Do you find that amusing? Well, I don’t.
I’m a very practical person--but I have my pride.
If you knew Henry as a cold-blooded monster who held women in no particular esteem whatsoever--you’d discover my point of pride on this.
I would have been murdered except...
I turned Henry in.
He’s been arrested and held for murder. Did I say “murder”?
So many...I can't imagine just how many!
I finally agreed to sit down with one journalist. One only.
You are that man. I wanted the very best...understand? Of course, you do.
I’ve excluded sensation seekers, liars, and especially exaggerators.
I’d prefer you say something like this in your interview copy:
“Georgiana’s current reputation...is merely a result of the work of small minds and large imaginations.”
Low-minded reporters--present company excepted--have treated me as H. H. Holmes’ accomplice.
All those dead partners, murdered wives...the swindles and embezzlements…
His success is large because news travels slowly and no photos of Henry have been published.
So many phony names, alibis, and quick-witted stories praising--his hideous genius.
My sin and culpability? I’m guilty of naivete. Of trust. That’s all.
My appraisal of him as a man?
He was shy, courteous, and charming, but he found me fascinating.
This is blindness wrought by my ego. To this, I plead ‘guilty’. But ONLY to that.
There are no heads up for rich widows who are lonely and susceptible to a fast-talking son-of-a-bitch who finds them fascinating. Oh - I made you blush. How charming.
I convinced myself we’d somehow bonded. Imagine that! Henry and I bonded. It creeps me out to think back on my blind stupidity!
He appealed to some protective, empathic disposition within me--can you imagine?
I’d guess you’re thinking what a fool she is! I’m right. I know I am.
Certain reporters--not like yourself, have written, “Georgiana’s tendencies are ...adventurous…” which, these days, implies a woman of loose morals.
My judgment is loose on its hinges, I’ll grant you.
My morals are intact!
Look how many hapless men Henry gulled and murdered--not all simpering lady folk– they were mature, sober, intelligent men!
He is a monster both tricky and undetectable! You write quickly, I like that!
You can quote me on this:
I acted immediately to secure an escape from his plans for my destruction.
That is, once I began to suspect he was an abnormally prodigious liar.
Something interfered with my natural survival instinct.
Are you curious what that ‘something’ was? I certainly am.
An intelligent, well-educated person--a journalist such as yourself has probably never experienced or even come close to experiencing the sensation of having been completely fooled by a charismatic criminal.
I see the smile.
You think you’re older, wiser, and superior to Georgiana--the little fool.
I laugh at you, then.
That’s the sort of confidence all victims possess.
Allow me to explain the process if you will allow me…
Predators toy with their intended victims. The smarter the prey– the better the game.
He delights in personal danger--it turns up his flame of inspiration.
If he set his cap for you--it is only a matter of time. Or to be precise - it was.
Henry took you in and distracted you before you knew what hit you.
Worse still--what about intuition?
The tickle on the back of your neck screams a silent warning no one can hear.
What would you do?
One moment you trust the person in the room with you--and straightaway comes that tiny but very cold tingle--but it’s too late!
While you are pondering...I’ll say one more thing.
If you found yourself alone in a room with Henry and he suspected you of suspecting him-- you’d never leave that room alone and alive.
So, Fear? Um hmm.
Henry -- he devoured your fear for his breakfast.
Once it settles in - you can’t help it - the dawning awareness of...
Sick, twisted admiration--I’ll concede.
What did I admire? Easy question to answer.
His scathingly brilliant mind! A criminal mastermind!
Don’t just sit there listening, Sir!
You’ll want to write this down. Go ahead...it must all be printed exactly as I say it.
Take note of the following:
He tried to convince me to dress up in clothes like his; Derby, moustache, becoming an imposter to divert the police while he made good his escape!
What sort of woman would do that for a serial murderer IF SHE KNEW?
I can see you’re baffled.
You’ve stopped writing down what I’m saying!
You’re thinking, Georgiana is talking out of both sides of her mouth.
Georgiana claims to not be an accomplice and yet she admired the monster who’d planned to kill her.
Your face is very pale, Sir.
I once read about a writer’s club called The Inklings.
Do you belong?
Forgive my asking - my little joke - but...
Do you have inklings?
I apologize for my dark glasses.
There is an abnormal largeness about my eyes. It’s off-putting, as they say…
More than one physician has said it may well be a tumor behind them which has the effect of disconcerting people on the first encounter.
I wanted to curry favor with you, not put you off. So that is why I’m wearing them.
Henry, by contrast, has weird and unsettling eyes which never gazed directly at you.
You’d catch him out of the corner of your eye staring like some hideous and hungry demon.
I am Georgiana who speaks wide-eyed and innocently.
I can see by your face you caught my obvious joke.
You aren’t laughing.
Oh, dear …
Whom do you think is telling this story?
I’m such a spoilsport.
Let me remove my glasses for you. Ah AHH - you twigged!
To the Public:
HE was the best writer among all reporters I could find.
I’m completing his little essay out of respect for that talent. Talent, yes; Intuition, no!
The expression of surprise on his face was delightful!
My own eyes witnessed his terror. Delicious moment!
Georgiana will have been hanged by now--in my clothes.
She DID volunteer--to honor my genius in her devotion to me.
In her memory, I inscribe these solemn words:
Georgiana, my darling, wherever your soul may be--this sacrifice I offer in your name--my one and only love.
I fancy myself an effective writer with a word of advice to other writers.
Have you heard this advice before?
“Murder your darlings.”
I speak from experience.
The True Case of one H. H. Holmes (serial murderer)
Henry was a medical student with a wild imagination. There were all these dead bodies lying about and nobody to exploit them for profit. If only somebody could concoct a scam and collect money from insurance companies using those corpses...hmmm?
Henry to the rescue!
Step 1. Steal a cadaver (Check!)
Step 2. Steal the identity of the deceased. (Check!)
Step 3. Take out a life insurance policy. (Check!)
Step 4. Name yourself beneficiary in case of death. (Check!)
Let’s cut to the chase...you’re getting ahead of the story. Obviously, Henry was able to collect plenty of money. After all, he could provide proof of death, right?
The fun part was setting up an accident and positioning the body. Sound like fun?
Well, for a future serial killer it sure would be!
This sort of fraud was more exciting than some of Henry’s earlier schemes, profitable as they were, such as Mail Order cures for alcoholism. (Synopsis: Stop Drinking!)
Then there was the wonderful contraption Henry invented which extracted “illuminating gas” from water. (Do I have to tell you our boy piped in natural gas from the city pipes?)
The prospective investors were impressed.
The money rolled in. Henry rolled out. What an entrepreneur!
As Henry grew more sophisticated in his thinking, he decided to marry rich widows!
These women’s assets found their way into our ‘hero’s’ bank account shortly before the honeymooners went off on a trip around the world.
Henry always came back.
The spouse never did turn up! Divorce was unnecessary!
30 years passed from the corpse theft days. All sorts of criminality are accreted in Henry H. Holmes’ biography. Cattle theft was the least exciting, while hotel building proved to be one of the grandest and most grisly schemes this man’s twisted mind schemed toward murderous purposes.
I live in Fort Worth. For a time, so did serial murderer H.H. Holmes.
In fact, Henry built a fabulous hotel in my fair city. Let’s visit, okay?
The year is 1885 and the location is at the corner of Commerce St. and 2nd St.
H.H.Holmes married a railroad heiress in Cowtown and took possession and control of his wife and sister’s inheritance, their property, (before he murdered them).
You can read the story here on the front page of the Fort Worth Gazette.
Upon prime downtown real estate Henry constructed a hotel that would house his own version of a chamber of horrors.
Let’s call this building what newspapers later called it, TEXAS MURDER CASTLE.
Another newspaper called it THE RUSK STREET FIRETRAP. Even that long ago, the media couldn’t get its stories straight.
(Commerce St. was the wrong street name, Rusk was the right name.)
We can gather facts about his macabre building by comparing it with a later hotel he also constructed during the World’s Fair in Chicago in 1893.
“The street-level floor was for shops and his pharmacy, while the upper two stories were hotel rooms (or boarding house rooms) and his office. However, the upper two stories were laid out like a maze, with doors that opened into walls, stairways that went nowhere, and gas pipes that he apparently controlled to suffocate people. There were also chutes and a dumbwaiter, purportedly intended to deliver the bodies of his victims to the basement where he might bury them, burn them in his own crematory ovens, or dissect and render them (in acid) in order to convert them to skeletons to sell to medical schools. He apparently lured quite a number of women into these torture chambers / charnel house, as well as a few men, before he was eventually found out.”
The problem with being a serial killer, fraudster, thief, and Con man is having way too many loose ends to tie up before somebody gets wise and comes after you.
H.H.Holmes was going by the name of O.C. Pratt in Fort Worth and one of his illicit enterprises involved a far more serious crime than serial murder: Horse thievery!
It would not be an exaggeration to say, it was the horror at his making off with a railroad car filled with fine horses which got him run out of Fort Worth and eventually arrested in Chicago. There his serial killing via Hotel Horror brought him into the cross-hairs of police.
His life’s work of death was thus interrupted before he could chalk up new outlines on the floors of his Ft. Worth Hotel.
Now, this is the story as it is commonly told locally. It isn’t quite correct.
According to historian and author Adam Selzer:
Throughout winter and spring, of 1894, Holmes supervised the construction of the new building in Fort Worth, which was, in fact, actually completed, though never occupied or used. Though about twice the square footage, being on a wider lot, it was almost exactly the same design as the Chicago castle on the outside.
Galveston Daily News reported “The grim, half-completed building nearby, (and) the dark alley give the place an uninviting appearance. The weeds grow above the spot and the smell of the surroundings is suggestive enough.”
The same article further noted that in the middle ages, the place would have been called “The Castle of Many Doors.” Rumors suggested there was a chute leading right to a sewer, which would have been a great way to dispose of a body.
67 people who checked into the Chicago Hotel during the Word’s Fair never checked out or were seen or heard from again.
For greater details about H.H.Holmes try this new book:
H. H. Holmes The True History of the White City Devil by Adam Selzer