Depraved: The Definitive True Story of H.H. Holmes, Whose Grotesque Crimes Shattered Turn-of-the-Century Chicago

Depraved: The Definitive True Story of H.H. Holmes, Whose Grotesque Crimes Shattered Turn-of-the-Century Chicago

Harold Schechter

Language: English

Pages: 432

ISBN: 1439124051

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


The heinous bloodlust of Dr. H.H. Holmes is notorious -- but only Harold Schechter's Depraved tells the complete story of the killer whose evil acts of torture and murder flourished within miles of the Chicago World's Fair. "Destined to be a true crime classic" (Flint Journal, MI), this authoritative account chronicles the methods and madness of a monster who slipped easily into a bright, affluent Midwestern suburb, where no one suspected the dapper, charming Holmes -- who alternately posed as doctor, druggist, and inventor to snare his prey -- was the architect of a labyrinthine "Castle of Horrors." Holmes admitted to twenty-seven murders by the time his madhouse of trapdoors, asphyxiation devices, body chutes, and acid vats was exposed. The seminal profile of a homegrown madman in the era of Jack the Ripper, Depraved is also a mesmerizing tale of true detection long before the age of technological wizardry.

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not think I have to ask you to disbelieve the murder charges…. I expect a two years’ sentence, but if I were free to-day I should never live again as in the past, either with you or anyone else, as I will never run the chances of degrading any woman further…. In a little time I will write you about the property; only one-half page letters are allowed. Direct care of the superintendent if you wish to write. H. Graham then proceeded to read two more letters—the ones Holmes had written in

would bring it to ten or twenty minutes of eleven. Is it likely that the man would have been asleep at that time? Is there anything to show that he was lying in bed? He was lying on the floor. Would a man naturally lie on the floor to go to sleep? It is not natural to infer that when a man goes to a room he lies down on the floor, and you find him there asleep at half-past ten or twenty minutes of eleven on Sunday morning.” Rotan acknowledged that Holmes had manipulated Carrie Pitezel by

robbery. Law enforcement officials hastened out to the shed, where they immediately uncovered a supply of shells and several more empty express company envelopes. Before long, they had ascertained that the house to which the shed belonged had been rented to a man calling himself H. B. Swenson, who had abruptly departed for San Francisco a few days after the Glendale robbery. On February 10, 1892, “Swenson”—one of Hedgepeth’s several aliases—was surrounded at the general post office in San

since Pitezel did, in fact, possess some knowledge of the business. Several years earlier, he had tinkered together a cleverly constructed coal bin, designed to keep the lumps from being stolen and the dust from polluting the air. With Holmes’s assistance, he had taken out a patent on his invention in 1891 and attempted to market it in Chicago. Nothing had come of the venture, but Pitezel had acquired enough firsthand experience to pass himself off convincingly as a patent broker. Several

considering how—or perhaps whether—to respond. Finally, he replied that Mr. Pitezel had been a business acquaintance of his in Chicago. Having been contacted by the insurance company, he had offered to come to Philadelphia to render whatever assistance he could. “What line of business do you follow?” Smith asked. “Patent agent,” Holmes answered in a tone meant to discourage further inquiry. Smith, however, was undeterred. “That is interesting,” he mused. “Mr. Perry was attempting to dispose

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