It Seems Infamous Serial Killer Couldn't Cheat Death After All

Body buried in Philadelphia confirmed to be that of Dr. HH Holmes
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 2, 2017 10:46 AM CDT
We Finally Know If Buried Body Is That of Infamous Serial Killer
The body of Dr. HH Holmes was exhumed recently to make sure it was indeed that of the infamous serial killer.   (Wikimedia Commons)

Dr. HH Holmes—known as "America's first serial killer"—murdered an unknown number of people at his "hotel of horrors" during the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, the AP reports. Holmes' hotel "featured a bizarre labyrinth of windowless rooms, secret passageways, false floors, trapdoors," and gas vents controlled from his bedroom. But when it was Holmes' turn to be killed—by the state for the murder of his business partner—some remained convinced the good doctor had tricked his way out of hanging and headed for South America. One of those people was Holmes' great-great-grandson Jeff Mudgett, who co-hosted American Ripper on the History Channel to find out if the body buried in Holmes' grave was actually that of the infamous serial killer, NBC Philadelphia reports.

A court approved the exhumation of Holmes' grave in March, and the body was dug up for testing in April, Rolling Stone reports. And with American Ripper wrapping up its eight-episode run on Tuesday, we finally have an answer: The body did belong to Holmes. Scientists used dental records to confirm the identity since there was no DNA left to test, at least partly due to Holmes' bizarre burial request. He had asked for his coffin to be filled with concrete, buried 10 feet down, then covered with more concrete. This resulted in, among other things, his skull still sporting a perfectly preserved mustache. "It stank," says one University of Pennsylvania anthropologist. Holmes' body was reburied, but Mudgett remains skeptical: "This doesn't deter me from my investigation." (More serial killers stories.)

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