“The Devil In Me”-The True Story of H. H. Holmes, “America’s First Serial Killer”


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Supermassive Games is a video game company widely known for its series “The Dark Pictures Anthology. Each game tells a different story, and allows players to make decisions that influence their experience. Their latest installment, “The Devil In Me,” follows a film crew creating a documentary about the crimes of serial killer H.H. Holmes.

Supermassive Games is a video game company most widely known for their series of horror games, “The Dark Pictures Anthology.” Each game tells a different story, and allows players to make choices that influence each individual’s experience. The latest installment, “The Devil In Me,” follows a group of filmmakers creating a documentary about the life and crimes of infamous serial killer H.H. Holmes. After being lured to a mysterious replica of the killer’s, “Murder Castle,” they soon realize there’s much more at stake than just the show’s ratings. Players are forced to make choices throughout their gameplay that influence whether or not the crew lives to film another day.

Though H.H. Holmes inspired the fictional events that take place in-game, his character is based on the real life serial killer of the same name, Dr. Henry Howard Holmes, who is often regarded as America’s first serial killer.

Born May 16th, 1861 to a wealthy family, Herman Mudgett showed signs of extremely high intelligence from an early age. A piqued interest in medicine, he often would trap animals and perform surgery on them, a common antic of serial killers in their youth. After graduating medical school at the University of Michigan, Mudgett moved to Chicago in 1886 and became a pharmacist under the alias, “Dr. H.H. Holmes.”

When the owner of the drugstore Holmes worked at passed away, he convinced the man’s wife to let him buy the store. It is reported that shortly after this purchase, the widow went missing, and was never seen again. After becoming owner of the drugstore, Holmes purchased the empty lot across the street. It was there Holmes would construct his infamous “Murder Castle,” equipped with secret passages, gas chambers, trapdoors, soundproof rooms, and a large kiln to incinerate victim’s bodies.

After construction was completed in 1891, Holmes began placing ads in local newspapers advertising the “Castle” as a hotel. Additionally, Holmes listed himself as an advertisement, a wealthy, working man in search of a wife. Each employee, hotel guest, fiancé, and wife Holmes entrapped would be required to have a life insurance policy. Holmes promised to pay any outstanding fees for these policies as long as he would be listed as the beneficiary. Conveniently, anyone who did such would go missing shortly thereafter. Many neighbors of the Castle would report they often saw guests enter, but would never see them exit.

In 1893, Chicago hosted the World’s Fair, an attraction that spanned from May to October, and attracted millions of tourists from all over the world. Holmes knew that these visitors would need a place to stay, and seized the opportunity. Many of the guests that checked in to his hotel never checked out. The hotel contained 100s of rooms, many of which were soundproof and contained gas lines for asphyxiating guests. There were hallways of winding mazes, stairways that lead nowhere, and steep chutes that went directly into the basement.

The basement of Holmes’ murder castle acted as his lab, complete with a dissecting table, stretching rack, and a large kiln for cremation of his victim’s bodies. For some victims, Holmes would clean the bones of flesh and sell the skeletons to medical schools. Others he would cremate, or disintegrate in vats of acid.

Holmes would never be arrested for a murder. In fact, he was arrested for attempting to defraud Fidelity Mutual Insurance. It was during the investigation of Holmes’ hotel when authorities discovered his torture chambers, as well as severely disfigured bodies, mutilated beyond recognition. While in jail, Holmes was convicted for the murder of Benjamin F. Pretzel, and it was during his trial Holmes confessed to 27 additional murders, though research andn investigation suggests that the number of victims may have exceeded 200.

During the trial, Holmes stated, “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…I was born with the evil one standing as my sponsor beside the bed where I was ushered into the world, and he has been with me since.”

On May 7th, 1896, Holmes was hanged in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for his crimes. His castle was remodeled and opened as an attraction to the public, dubbed, “Holmes Horror Castle,” however, it burned to the ground shortly before opening. The cause of the fire is still unknown.