OK, so this post is kind of cheating. I discovered it a while back on the internet, completely by accident. You see, when I was in college I had a writing assignment in which the theme was supposed to be involving crime, past or present. It could be anything from bank robberies, kidnappings, serial killers, etc … This may or may not explain a lot about me, but I’m sure you’ve already figured out which fucking category I wrote about. Hell, the title of this post more or less gives it away.
That’s not really the interesting part. As I mentioned, this paper was written when I was in college, circa 1999-2000 maybe. A while back I was watching a program about H. H. Holmes and I remembered my old research paper. Mind you, when I wrote the paper, there were no theories that I could find either on the Internet or at the library that even vaguely resembled what I was writing. Yes, we still used fucking libraries for research some of the time. Damn spoiled kids. I bet you don’t even know what the Dewey Decimal System is.
But I digress …
Moving on …
I wrote this paper based on something that I had read in a book about the history of crime in Chicago that, even when I read it, I didn’t believe was actually true. But it was interesting enough to look into. As such, I found that even without the, most likely fictional, partial confession at the gallows, there actually was a lot of evidence that I had a pretty good theory, after all. Again, I want to mention that I could not find a single article, paper, book, online blog, etc … that ever made mention of the theory that I wrote about in said paper.
While I was watching this program, which also did not mention the theory that I posed in my paper, I looked up my theory online. I was just interested whether anyone had come up with the same theories that I had when I was still a student all those years ago. I was surprised to see that there actually were several blogs, books, and articles written on the same theories. I was even further surprised to see that my paper was posted online, under the penname Anthony Devon—a name I use for various things I have written and few people knew about, especially back then. More surprisingly than that was the fact that there was a black and white photo of me accompanying the “article.”
So I did receive credit for writing the article, sort of. But it went online in 2009. Which begs the question, who the fuck put it up there, how did they know my penname, and how did they get their hands on that picture which was actually taken of me when I was still in college? Truthfully, it could have been so many people. Almost every one of my classmates asked for a copy of the paper and my own professor “commended me” for my interesting thoughts and insights. The penname … I’m not sure. Some of my classmates knew about it, I couldn’t tell you how many. Pretty sure that it that my professor did not know it though.
So maybe one of my classmates found it while they were going through their old junk, decided to post it online, and used my penname and picture just in case I found it. That way, I would know whomever it was, it was someone I knew well enough for them to have a pic of me and know my penname.
But it doesn’t stop there. As I said, when I wrote the paper, no one had written anything regarding this theory other than the, again more than likely fictitious, admission at the gallows. As I mentioned, I wrote the paper in 1999 or 2000, depending on what semester it was. Everything that I saw others had written about in their blogs, online articles, and even a few books, were all written after I wrote my article. People made money on a theory that I came up with. What kind of fucking bullshit is that? I looked up and read so much information about H. H. Holmes and Jack the Ripper, connecting the dots on my own. And nothing that was written was anything new or different from what I wrote. I must have seriously pissed off God at an early age. I mean, I know He’s pissed at me now, but back then too? Fuck.
Anyway, here is said article that I wrote. Judge for yourself. I find the evidence compelling, but I’m a bit biased. And again, ignore the confession at the gallows. I’m very doubtful it ever happened, especially since several other murderers during that period were reported to have saids the exact same phrase. But since it did start the process, I had to put it in the paper. And FYI, the references are posted as well, so you can look up the info yourself if you like.
And off we go …
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There are many theories surrounding Jack the Ripper. To this day, his identity eludes us. Perhaps the answer is closer than imaginable. There is a legend that as Dr. H. H. Holmes stood at the gallows, several spectators in the crowd heard him cry out “I am Jack the …” before the gallows silenced him forever. Although unable to finish his thought, Holmes’ statement leaves little to the imagination.
Due to the similarities in the nature of the crimes and background – both documented and theoretical – it is not hard to imagine that both world’s first serial killer and the Devil in the White City were, in fact, one in the same. After all, there is little doubt that Holmes was deranged enough to have slaughtered prostitutes as Saucy Jack.
The horrors began in the early morning hours of August 31, 1888. The mad butcher of Whitechapel had claimed his first victim. The nightmare, however, had just begun. The murders that followed were described by many as being absolutely inhuman to the last degree. Each victim was more appallingly mutilated than the previous. The Victorians had never seen such atrocities. They could not comprehend such acts as these postmortem mutilations. Scotland Yard was dealing with a killer who was the incarnate of mindless brutality, of nameless, motiveless evil. There was no precedence for such acts, surely creating numerous obstacles for the London police to overcome in their pursuit to apprehend this abomination. Jack the Ripper had given birth to the previously unimaginable age of the serial sex-murder.
There were five murders attributed to Jack between September and November of 1888. Then, seemingly as quickly as they started, the Whitechapel horrors came to an end. The Ripper had vanished forever.
Coinciding with Whitechapel’s horrific offenses against humanity, Jack the Ripper had an American contemporary who went by the name Dr. Henry H. Holmes. Holmes has the macabre distinction of being the first identified serial killer in the United States. Described as being without peer as a bloodthirsty demon. Holmes was suspected of butchering an unimaginable number of victims, almost exclusively women, in his appropriately described Murder Castle.
In 1886, Dr. H. H. Holmes, properly known as Herman Webster Mudgett, stepped into the Englewood community. Much about is life and atrocities remain a mystery to this day. He graduated from the University of Michigan’s Medical School in 1884, after which, he made his way to Chicago to pursue a practice in pharmaceuticals.
In college, Holmes developed an insurance scheme by which he would steal cadavers from the school laboratory, disfigure them, and then plant them in places where it would look as if they were the victims of an accident. Prior to these actions, Holmes would insure the “family members,” allowing him to collect on the policies as soon as the body was discovered.
In 1886, Holmes began working for Mrs. Holden, whose husband, and rightful owner of a storefront drug store was ill. Not long after, Mr. Holden died. The unfortunate circumstances were exactly what Holmes was waiting for. He immediately set his sights on ownership of the store. A deal was consummated and the deed was signed. However, soon Mrs. Holden was taking legal action against Holmes for nonpayment. Shortly after she filed suit, Mrs. Holden mysteriously disappeared without word, leaving the store ownership exclusively to Holmes.
In the fall of 1888, construction began on Holmes’ castle on a vacant lot he had purchased across the street from the Holden’s drug store. Holmes acted as his own architect for his castle personally supervising various construction crews – each of which were quickly hired and fired. The building contained over 60 rooms and 51 doors that were oddly cut into various walls. The design contained concealed staircases, false walls and ceilings, as well as airtight and sound proof rooms. There were also chutes that were used as victim cargo routes to a vast basement that housed windowless torture rooms equipped with trays of surgical instruments. These are just the kind of toys that Jack would have loved to play with.
When the police finally entered the death house, they discovered, along with the aforementioned horrors, two sheet-iron tanks containing human bones aside a large furnace believed to be a crematory. It became apparent that many Holmes’ victims had been held captive within the house for many months before their deaths.
It was later discovered that Holmes would often lure women to his house of horrors by placing fake classified ads and/or ads for marriage. Shortly after the ads were answered, Holmes would sell an exceptionally high quality human skeleton to a local medical school in desperate need of an anatomical specimen.
Connecting Jack with Holmes seems like a daunting task. However there are several key clues that, when analyzed, appear quite interesting. For instance, the Whitechapel horrors began in the fall of 1888. At that same time, they were breaking ground on Holmes’ castle in Englewood. This was a period in time when Holmes had supposedly taken a vacation and was unaccounted for.
The most convincing way, perhaps, to approach this theory is to put it on a timeline. As stated previously, in the fall of 1888, Holmes was unaccounted for. On, August 31, 1888, the body of Mary Ann Nichols was found butchered on the streets of Whitechapel. Her body had been cut to pieces, with one gash reaching from the pelvis to the breastbone. Just over a week later, Annie Chapman became the second victim of Saucy Jack. Her head was almost completely severed, save the spine. Her body had been ripped apart, with her viscera being scattered about in gruesome display.
Three weeks later, Jack upped the ante by striking twice in the same evening. The first of the victims was Elizabeth Stride. Her murder was the least brutal, her throat merely slit before she was left to die. This, it has been theorized, was most likely because the killer was interrupted.
Surely, Jack was not satisfied by this unfortunate turn of events. Within three hours, Catherine Eddows had fallen, giving birth to the now infamous Double Event. Her body had been disemboweled, her throat cut, and her nose completely severed. Furthermore, her heart and lungs were thrown aside, with her entrails twisted into the gaping wound around the neck.
Jack’s final victim was Mary Jane Kelly on November 9, 1888. Her body was found in the confines of her own bedroom. The New York Times described the scene as: “The most terrible wholesale mutilation it is possible to imagine. Her head was severed and placed between one of her arms. Her ears and nose had been cut off. The body had been disemboweled and the flesh was torn from the thighs. Several organs were missing. The skin had been torn off of the forehead and cheeks. The victim’s breast and viscera were removed and lying on a table. One of the victim’s hands had been pushed into the stomach.”
It appeared that Jack had realized the benefits of time and security when the crime takes place indoors. This would be key as Holmes’ Castle was currently under construction and being stockpiled with devices with which he could indulge his ghoulish desires for hours on end within the privacy of his own home.
It is believed that Holmes’ first official victim was Mrs. Holden, who disappeared after filing charges against Holmes in 1889. Shortly after in 1890, Holmes began regularly supplying local medical schools with fresh cadavers for the price of twenty-five to fifty dollars each. In 1891, Holmes murdered his lover, Julia Conner, and her daughter after he realized that Julia had become pregnant with his child. He subsequently stripped Julia’s body of all flesh and sold the skeleton to a local medical school. Then, in 1893, the World’s Fair came to Chicago, bringing with hundreds of tourists that would rent rooms from Holmes, never again see the light of day.
In 1894, Holmes took out a ten thousand dollar life insurance policy on his business partner, Benjamin Pitezel. As would be expected, Mr. Pitezel disappeared shortly after. When Mrs. Pitezel inquired about her husband’s whereabouts, she and her children became Holmes’ next victims.
Shortly after, Holmes was on the run, wanted for insurance fraud. He essentially vanished until his eventual capture by the authorities in the port city of Philadelphia. On October 25, 1895 Holmes plead not guilty before a jury of his peers. The jury, however, did not find Holmes convincing and on November 4, 1895 he was found guilty of the murder of Benjamin Pitezel and sentenced to death. The violent rampage of Herman Webster Mudgett had come to an end.
Former FBI profiler and best-selling author, John Douglas, described Jack the Ripper as “someone who both hates woman and has some bizarre and perverse curiosity about the human body that I can only describe as demented.” Holmes has been described a prolific and depraved killer who was curious about the amount of punishment the human body could withstand.
Dr. George Baxter Phillips, who oversaw parts of the investigation, observed the wounds on Annie Chapman’s body to be “made by a sharp knife with a narrow blade and that the evisceration indicated some medical knowledge.” This fact that only someone familiar to the post-mortem room could have accomplished these rudimentary dissections has been reiterated many times since. As already stated earlier, Holmes graduated from The University of Michigan’s Medical School. Another interesting note is that due to the wounds on the bodies, it has been theorized that Jack the Ripper may have been left-handed. Holmes also possessed this biological anomaly.
Dr. Bond, who conducted the Post Mortem on Mary Kelly, did a profile while Jack the Ripper was still on the prowl. He described Jack as being an inoffensive man, middle-aged, neat and respectfully dressed. Holmes was often described as a handsome man and a favorite with the ladies. This is probably why the victims felt so comfortable being alone with their killer(s).
Also of note are what have come to be known as the Ripper Letters. Jack sent his first letter on September 25, 1888. The letter began with “Dear Boss” and ended with “Yours Truly …” Both phrases were Americanisms and not commonly used in Europe. While some have claimed that the letters were not, in fact, sent by the real killer, the second letter received by the police, ironically, seemed to prove that this first missive was legitimate. The writing of these two letters matched exactly and the second predicted the double murder that took place on September 30, 1888.
A letter sent to George Lusk, the head of the Whitechapel Committee, could also be viewed as a possible connection to Holmes. Not because of the content of the letter – it bragged about the killing of Catherine Eddows – but rather because of the heading. Across the top, it read: “From Hell.” Holmes also seemed to have a certain bond with Hell and its residents. Holmes states in his own confession, “I was born with the Devil in me. I could not help the fact that I was a murderer, no more than the 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 this world, and he has been with me since.”
As Holmes sat in prison waiting for his end he became more and more convinced with his connection to the underworld. In one of his many prison writings, Holmes claims that “before my death I have commenced to assume the form of the evil one himself … my features are assuming a pronounced Satanical cast … I believe that I am growing to resemble the Devil – that the simulate is almost complete.”
When looking at Jack and Holmes, one would be prone to beg the question of why. Why women? Why such passion? Jack seemed drawn to women, street-walkers specifically. While not seeming to corner himself within a specific class or lifestyle, Holmes also seemed to find victims in the fairer sex.
From early childhood, Holmes was brutally abused by his father who was described as being a fierce disciplinarian who wielded a rod with an unsparing hand. Holmes mother was a pious, submissive woman, incapable of shielding him from his father’s cruelties. Perhaps these factors led towards Holmes’ animosities toward women. Perhaps his mother’s lack of maternal instinct was what raised the devil in Holmes. Furthermore, when Jack was butchering his victims and cutting out their uteruses, perhaps he was not making a statement against women. Perhaps this was a statement against mothers. Was Jack stripping his victims of their motherhood?
In the case of Holmes, some might believe that the motive was strictly for financial gain. After all, his first recorded crimes did involve insurance fraud when he was in college. Surely, he made financial gains from the many “guests” of the Murder Castle who never were heard from again after having met Holmes. However, many experts believe that serial killers murder for psychological reasons, not material gain. Their victims have a symbolic value to them, the method of killing often revealing the meaning behind it.
To understand the motives behind Dr. H. H. Holmes and Jack the Ripper, one must look beyond the superficial observation. Serial killing has been described as a disease. This disease consists of seven phases: the Aura Phase, Trolling Phase, Wooing Phase, Capture Phase, Murder Phase, Totem Phase, and finally, the Depression Phase. The Depression Phase is the most important phase to explore in the case of Holmes and Jack. The Depression Phase takes place after the crime, when the killer has come down his emotional/sexual high. There is a feeling of hopelessness and lack of fulfillment, thus causing a succession of increasingly violent acts as the cycle of phases repeats itself.
It has been documented that each victim of Jack the Ripper was butchered worse than the previous leading up to the almost complete dissection of Mary Jane Kelly within the confines of her lodgings. Is it merely coincidence then, that just after Jack vanishes from the streets of London, Dr. Holmes begins dissecting his victims is his personally designed Murder Castle? According to the Depression Phase theory, Holmes’ first victims would be the natural step up from Jack’s last.
What creates these creatures? There is, as of yet, no officially documented explanation. Some psychologists believe that early childhood trauma (i.e. sexual or physical abuse, abandonment) can build up inside an individual and cause later deviant behavior. In some cases, the mental anguish of this severity can manifest itself into the textbook serial killer. There are other theories that suggest that a severe head injury or a biological/chemical abnormality could be to blame.
One thing that almost all experts agree on is that a serial killer will continue through his cycle of destruction until one of the two possible situations occur – imprisonment or death. Many times the killings will stop suddenly, only to start up again just as suddenly, maybe years later. In such cases, the killer has been incarcerated for an unrelated offense, thus taking him off the streets and forcing the cycle to end. The only other reason that a serial killer would break the hellish cycle would be because the individual died. It is common knowledge that Jack was never apprehended, yet his crimes came to a sudden halt. Was he imprisoned or killed in an unrelated event, or had he simply picked up where he left off in the Chicago suburb of Englewood? Holmes met his fate at the gallows in May of 1896, after which neither he nor Jack was ever heard from again.
Holmes may have continued his joyride of human mutilation had he not reverted back to his old college scam. Holmes’ downfall began in August of 1894, when he and his partner, Benjamin Pitezel, conjured up one final insurance scheme. It was Holmes’ familiar scam of stealing a corpse, disfiguring it, and passing it off as the insured individual. This time, however, the policy would be taken out on Benjamin Pitezel. Pitezel was to take out a ten thousand dollar life insurance policy and disappear to Philadelphia, while Holmes acquired a cadaver. Holmes would then have one of Pitezel’s children identify the body and collect the ten thousand dollar insurance claim.
The police began to look into Holmes’, suspecting fraud. Holmes fled with the Pitezel children. He murdered Benjamin’s son, Howard, in a secluded farmhouse in Indiana. After crossing the Canadian border, Holmes murdered the Pitezel girls by running a gas pipe into a large trunk he had locked them in under the pretense of playing hide and seek. Shortly after, Holmes was apprehended in Philadelphia and sent back to Chicago to answer to the original charge of insurance fraud that was later amended to murder.
After his trial, while awaiting execution, Holmes spent a great deal of time writing. He wrote his prison diary, his life story, and his personal confession. Originally Holmes denied any involvement in the murder of Benjamin Pitezel or his family members. After a short period, however, Holmes admitted, in writing, to the murder of no less than twenty-seven individuals. Although the excavation of Holmes dungeon led investigators to believe the number of Holmes’ victims to be far greater, the number twenty-seven could be extremely significant in connecting Holmes with Jack. In a letter that Jack had allegedly written to the London police, he bragged that he would “kill twenty.”
At the time the letter was received, the press had accredited seven murders to Saucy Jack. If the phrase “kill twenty” is interpreted to indicate that he would kill twenty more, than Holmes’ seemingly random confession of twenty-seven murders could be perceived as a mere preview to his admission at the gallows.
There have been many myths, legends, and theories put forth over the last century about the identity of the world’s most notorious serial killer. Dozens of suspects have been brought forth, each with their own story. H. H. Holmes was an individual who fit the profile. Holmes disappeared just when Jack was getting started and reappeared as Jack vanished from streets of London, entering into the realm of myth and legend. More importantly, Holmes had the means and the opportunity to commit these atrocities in sequence. The similarities of their crimes are haunting. Their profiles mirror each other. The connections surrounding these two pioneers in the history of the serial killer are too coincidental to be dismissed.
One last bit of evidence to close off this argument is a letter that was sent to the London police seven years after the Ripper killings ceased. In July of 1895, a new letter from Jack arrived. He claimed that he would “go on again when he got the chance.” In the same letter, Jack cryptically answers the self-posed question “Where have I been Dear Boss? … Abroad if you would like to know.” This haunting proclamation arrived just a few months before Holmes was apprehended. It was during a period of time when Holmes was on the run and, coincidentally, unaccounted for. Not surprisingly, Jack never did start up again.
An interesting sidenote, on August 19th of 1895, the macabre Murder Castle mysteriously burned to the ground. Was it an angry civilian? Perhaps an, as of yet, unknown partner covering his tracks? No one had been able to explain who started the fire, only that there were gas cans found at the site. Just another mystery to add to the quagmire.
In the end, the world may never know with certainty the identity of history’s most notorious serial killer. All we are left with is the archives of written reports and witness accounts from individuals who have long since passed from this world. Amongst these aging bits of information, people will continue to form new and revolutionary theories. From these theories, perhaps we may unknowingly stumble across the truth. For now, we are merely left with suspects, inconclusive facts, and coincidences. Some coincidences, however, can be difficult to simply dismiss away.
“American Connections to Jack the Ripper” by Dave Yost and Chris George
“Depraved” by Harold Schechter
“Haunted” by Troy Taylor
“Mr. Herman Mudget, aka H.H. Holmes” by Cara J. Spindler
“Serial Killers” by Joel Norris
“Step-By-Step Pattern of a Serial Killer” by Leanne Perry
“The A-Z Encyclopedia of Serial Killers” by David Everitt and Harold Schechter
“The Cases that Haunt Us” by John Douglas
“The Complete History of Jack the Ripper” by Philip Sudgen
“The Torture Doctor” by David Franke
“The Ultimate Jack the Ripper Companion” by Stewart P. Evans
various period articles from the New York Post, Chicago Tribune, and London Times
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So there you have it. Were Saucy Jack and the Devil in the White City actually the same individual? Partners? None of the above? Who the fuck knows? It all happened so long ago, I doubt anyone will ever be able to conclusively answer that question. Still, it quite a riveting theory.
Until next time … fuck off
*Fuck this World! and other such thoughts by Mickey Brennan – Volume I available here