|Photo by Karen Valentine|
At Holy Cross Cemetery in Pennsylvania, one can find an unmarked grave. This is not because the purported body inside the coffin encased by cement belonged to someone of little means who could afford no marker, but because there is a need to protect this final resting place. If indeed there is rest for this person.
This unmarked grave is where they buried the most prolific serial killer in America and possibly in all of
It was confirmed that Holmes killed nine people, but he wrote a confessional in which he admitted to 27 murders. Holmes' great great grandson, Jeff Mudgett, has written the book Blood Stains detailing the life of H. H. Holmes and he claims that the number of murders could be upwards of a thousand. Considering the proximity to the World's Fair and the secrets of the Murder Castle, I could believe that number. Jeff Mudgett also hypothesizes that his infamous grandfather committed the murders attributed to Jack the Ripper. Holmes was in London at the same time as the murders and as a doctor had the skills needed for the delicate organ removals the Ripper is credited with. His return to America would explain why the evil deeds of Jack the Ripper came to such an abrupt end.
H. H. Holmes was eventually arrested, convicted and sentenced to death. He was hung in 1896 at the age of 34. As one can see, his grave needed to be concealed and protected by concrete to evade grave robbers and others with macabre plans. And really, who would pay for a marker for one so evil? The sad epilogue to this narrative are those left without graves and without peace: Holmes' victims. Many were placed in pits of lime, while others were dissected down to skeletons and sold off so they were never identified or buried. He cremated other victims as well. Cremation was facilitated via a glass factory he had near the Murder Castle. No glass was ever sold by the factory, but the fires burned hot enough to eliminate all human traces. So sometimes, where the history of the dead lies, is unknown. But that history is no less significant. To that end, Jeff Mudgett has hopes for placing a memorial plaque near the site of the Murder Castle, the location of a post office today, to memorialize the victims.