One descendant of H.H. Holmes, the notorious Chicago man known as America’s first serial killer, now suggests his ancestor could actually have also been the London serial killer Jack the Ripper.
Jeff Mudgett, the great-great-great-grandson of the killer, has submitted handwriting samples from both Holmes and Jack the Ripper for review and handwriting experts have confirmed the likelihood they could stem from the same hand.
Now Mudgett is on a quest to see if the American, believed to have killed 200 victims before he was caught in 1894, had made any documented visits to London around the same time with the killing wave swept through London.
Serial killer: H.H. Holmes confessed to killing 27 people before he was caught in 1894, but many believe he was responsible for the deaths of 200
Scene of crime: The Murder Castle, circa 1893, was designed by Holmes to have secret passage ways and body chutes to transport bodies
Herman Webster Mudgett, known as H.H. Holmes, was a wealthy and well-educated doctor in Chicago, where he moved in 1884 from his native New Hampshire.
He eventually became owner of a drugstore and opened a hotel in Englewood, a suburb of the Windy City.
But the 60-room boarding house was a murder trap – having been constructed to allow the proprietor easy access to his victims.
Dubbed ‘the murder castle’ he designed the structure with windowless rooms equipped with gas lines
and body chutes so he could transport his sedated or already dead victims to the basement of the hotel.
Hidden: A diagram that appeared in the Chicago Tribune showed the secret passage ways inside of the ‘Murder Castle’ where Holmes could easily move his victims to the basement
Striking: Jeff Mudgett enlisted handwriting experts to compare the handwriting of H.H. Holmes and Jack the Ripper. The experts say they likely came from the same hand
Some victims were locked in their bedrooms, that were soundproof and fixed with gas lines, so they would be asphyxiated.
Others were kept in a soundproof bank vault, where they would be kept and ultimately would suffocate.
Once the victims died, hidden body chutes would allow Holmes to drop their sedated or dead bodies to the basement of the hotel, where he would dissect the corpses – selling the skeletons to medical schools.
Deadly: Jack the Ripper (portrayed in the 2001 film From Hell) is believed to have killed five prostitutes in London in 1888
Holmes was finally caught and admitted to killing 27 people, though some suspect he was to blame for 200 deaths.
He was hanged in May 1896.
He had been married to three different women and had an unknown number of children.
Jeff Mudgett learned of his terrifying heritage when his grandmother decided to investigate their lineage as part of a growing tend among families wishing to find out more about their family tree.
‘It left him questioning everything he thought he knew about himself and his family. The new information forever changed him, propelling him down a new path in search of the truth,’ according to an interview he gave to Ancestry.com.
He began looking into the heinous crimes of his ancestor and the inquiry took a turn, when he began to notice similarities in Mudgett’s modus operandi and that of Jack the Ripper.
Jeff Mudgett learned of his family history at the age of 40
‘Jeff had H.H. Holmes’ handwriting compared to the infamous Jack the Ripper letter. One expert, recommended by the British Library, concluded both were written by the “same hand,” while a computer program used by the Postal Service and Department of Justice stated it was a 97.95 per cent match.’
Jack the Ripper was the title given to the unidentified killer who preyed upon the poor and immigrant communities of London in 1888, killing five.
It’s believed that this killer targeted female prostitutes, whose throats were slashed before the perpetrator mutilated their internal organs.
The abdominal mutilation caused many to believe the killer was surgically trained.
The identity of the murderer has remained unknown but he has arguably become the world’s most famous killers, even a century after his deadly spree.