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America's 1st Serial Killer

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Author Topic: America's 1st Serial Killer  (Read 80 times)
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« on: September 24, 2007, 02:31:29 am »

Following the World's Fair, and with creditors closing in, Holmes left Chicago and apparently murdered people as he traveled around the United States and Canada, though only the corpses of his close associate and three of children were ever located. He was arrested in 1895 when police discovered his life-insurance scam connection with this former business associate, Benjamin Pitezel. Pitezel had agreed to fake his death so that his wife would receive the $10,000 policy, which she was to split with Holmes and a shady attorney. Holmes then killed Pitezel and manipulated Pitezel's wife and children, splitting them up and keeping them traveling from city to city while using various aliases and lying about Pitezel's death. Three of the five Pitezel children were killed during this escapade.

After the custodian for the "Castle" informed police that he was never allowed to clean the upper floors, terror seized the local department. Police spent about a month inspecting the building and learning Holmes' efficient methods for committing the murders and disposing of corpses. A fire of mysterious origin consumed the building on August 19, 1895.

The number of his victims has typically been estimated between 20 to 100, and even as high as 230 by using missing persons records at that time; however, the only verified number is 27, although police had commented that some of the bodies in the basement were so badly dismembered and decomposed that it was difficult to tell how many bodies there actually were. Holmes' victims were primarily women, but included some men and children.

Holmes was put on trial for murder, and confessed to 27 murders (in Chicago, Indianapolis and Toronto) and six attempted murders. He wrote various contradictory accounts of his life, initially claiming innocence, and later that he was possessed by Satan. His talent for lying at will made it difficult for researchers to determine any truth in his writings.

On May 7, 1896, Holmes was hanged in Philadelphia. According to the The New York Times coverage of the execution, Holmes said to the executioner: "Take your time, old man." Holmes' neck did not snap immediately; he instead died slowly, infrequently twitching over ten minutes before being pronounced dead fifteen minutes after the trap was sprung.
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