HH Holmes and Jack the Ripper: The Chicago Evidence (with podcast)


Listen to the audio above; or check out the podcast on archive.org or iTunes!  Or check out the video version on youtube.

 My massive new book, HH HOLMES: THE TRUE HISTORY OF THE WHITE CITY DEVIL is out now from Skyhorse Publishing, on the heels of starred reviews in Booklist and Library Journal! 

In 1895, as the Chicago police dug through the building now known as the “Murder Castle of H.H. Holmes,” Inspector Fitzpatrick was asked about new rumors linking Holmes to the murder of Mrs. Kron, a Wilmette neighbor of Holmes who’d been brutally murdered a few years before. Fitzpatrick brushed it off. “That theory is ridiculous,” he said. “The murder of Mrs. Cron was done in too crude a manner for Holmes to have had anything to do with it. He was a scientific criminal and would never think of engaging in a burglary or shooting a person in cold blood. You might as well connect him with the Cronin murder as that of Mrs. Cron, or even with the ‘Jack the Ripper’ horrors in London, England.” (“Tell Tale Letter,” Chicago Evening Journal, July 27 1895)

Little could he have guessed that a century or so later, people would be being talking about Holmes as a ripper suspect! This was the main premise of The History Channel’s American Ripper, on which I appeared in several episodes and served as “consulting producer,” which basically means that I provided them with a lot of data. Some of it was used in the show, some of it wasn’t.

Quite a few people have emailed me asking about the parts of the book that place Holmes in the United States during the Ripper murders, and now that the show is ended, I think I can put this post up laying out what evidence I’m using.

A bit of background: In Autumn of 1888, a number of prostitutes were brutally hacked to bits in Whitechapel, a rough neighborhood in London. Though the killer was never identified, he went down in history under the name “Jack the Ripper,” based partly on a letter received by the police (which was likely written by a reporter, not the killer). There are dozens of theories as to who the killer was and what motivated him, and no one is totally sure how many murders could really be attributed to him. The five “canonical” victims, the ones that are generally agreed on, were Mary Ann Nichols (Aug 31, 1888), Annie Chapman (September 8), Elizabeth Stride (September 30), Catherine Eddows (September 30), and Mary Jane Kelly (November 8).

Other possible “Ripper” victims are spread between about February, 1888 and well into 1889 and beyond. But going just by the canonical five, the most important question is: can we tell where Holmes was between late August and early November, 1888?  You often hear that Holmes disappears from the record during this period, which was true if you only go by the data that shows up in a google search or a couple of 20th century Holmes books, none of which really talk about where he was in that period. But those books, and particularly the hundreds of blog posts summarizing his career, are based on incomplete data. During most of that period, he would have been working in the drug store of the “castle’ building (which was built earlier than most sources say, from Aug-Oct 1887), and dealing with lawsuits over its construction.

Though I’ve never found a true smoking gun like, say, a signed promissory note taken out at the Bank of Englewood during those dates, there is abundant documentary evidence that Holmes was in the United States during that whole period. Indeed, though there are lots of stories and rumors about him going to England or South America, there’s little or nothing on record to suggest that he really ever left North America in his life. The only real thing suggesting he did is a letter he wrote to District Attorney George Graham in May, 1895, mentioning that the New York Herald was hard to find in London as of a year before. And we know that Holmes could not have been in London in Spring/Summer 1894, when he was busy in Fort Worth, Denver and St. Louis, so he was either going on something he’d been told by someone else, or just making things up.

So, as to the evidence we do have about Holmes in Fall, 1888:

  • Holmes’ daughter, Lucy, was born July 4, 1889, in Englewood – likely in the Castle building. This isn’t exactly hard data for this sort of thing, but, well, we know ONE thing he was doing in Autumn of 1888.
  • Holmes registered to vote in Englewood on October 9, 1888, giving “701 Sixty-Third St” (the castle, in pre-1909 renumbering) as his address. The registry notes that he didn’t vote in the election, but he did register. This would be THE smoking gun if it was in his handwriting, not a clerk’s; as it is, though, it’s just a hard one to explain away, as a clerk wrote all of the names in the registry.

Detail of voter roll dated Oct 9, 1888. It's a clerk's handwriting, but that's definitely the same Holmes. It's the pre-1909 address of the castle.

Detail of voter roll dated Oct 9, 1888. It’s a clerk’s handwriting, but that’s definitely the same Holmes. It’s the pre-1909 address of the castle.

  • In November of 1894, when Holmes was first arrested as a swindler and became a media sensation, several Boston newspapers sent reporters to interview the Mudgetts, his family in New Hampshire. Holmes had just made a surprise visit there himself a couple of weeks before, so his long absence was fresh on their minds. Both Clara Mudgett, his first wife, and Levi Mudgett, his father, said that prior to his arrival there in early November, following a letter to his brother some weeks before,  he’d last visited them in October, 1888. The Boston Herald, speaking with Clara, said “In October, six years ago, he came to see her for the last time.” (Boston Globe Nov 21 1894). Days after he left in 1888, according to his father, he wrote his brother from a New York hotel. A New England trip in late October would explain why he didn’t end up voting in Chicago in November.
  • Holmes was dealing with at least three lawsuits in Chicago during the summer/fall of 1888; he was being sued by Simon Waixel (a drug store supplier), George Kimball (a glass dealer) and Aetna Iron and Steel, who had provided construction and materials for the “castle” the year before. And one meeting with his attorney clearly took place in late September or early October.

The Waixel and Kimball suits, looked at from a certain angle, could actually strengthen the idea that Holmes was in England from August to November. He was a no-show in court in late October when the Waixel case was called (after having shown up for it in late July), and the September paperwork in the Kimball suit saying no property could be found and Holmes hadn’t paid up as ordered may just mean that Holmes wasn’t around; there’s no mention of the deputy actually searching the place.

However, that could also back up the stories of him going to New Hampshire in late October, a timeline of the suit with Aetna Iron and Steel places Holmes far more clearly in Chicago right in the middle of the London murders.

The facts of the Aetna lawsuit are these: In Spring of 1887, Holmes entereded into contracts with Aetna Iron and Steel, as well as will Berger and Gallouner, architects, to design, supply materials, and build his new building at Sixty-Third and Wallace, the one we came to know as the castle. Construction began that August of 1887 – details of it are pretty well enumerated in the lawsuit that Aetna and the architects launched the next summer when they hadn’t been paid (many relevant portions of the suit are in the ebook companion to my Holmes book, Very Truly Yours HH Holmes, which includes over 100k words of letters, articles, depositions, etc by Holmes and his various associates, many of which have never been published).

It’s harder to place him in a courtroom during the first few months of the Aetna suit, but a few things in the pile of paperwork that survives make it seem clear that Holmes was around Chicago that Fall. On the surface, the most damning is this filing, stamped Sept 18, 1888, stating “Now comes Lucy T. Belknap, Harry H Holmes…” etc:


However, this piece alone isn’t quite the smoking gun it looks like – Holmes didn’t necessarily have to be present for his attorney to enter his appearance.

Far more damning, though, is the fact a few days later (probably Sept 24th), Aetna Iron and Steel put in a lengthy affadavit telling the story of their dealings with Holmes; so did Berger and Gallouner, who were made parties to the suit only on September 21. On September 26, 1888, Berger’s lawyer filed a notice to Maher that he’d obtained a ruling for Holmes to answer their charges within twenty days.

Wrapper from the lawsuit paperwork of the answer to a creditor's claims Holmes gave in late sept/early Oct, 1888.

Wrapper from the lawsuit paperwork of the answer to a creditor’s claims Holmes gave in late sept/early Oct, 1888.

Maher seems to have tried to get out of it; he answered with a demurrer (a legalistic way of saying “so what?”), but on October 3 the court denied the demurrer. Hence, in accordance with the ruling, Holmes’ answers were filed with the courts on October 12, 1888. From the detailed answers in the paperwork, it’s fairly clear that Maher met with Holmes to speak to him, and this meeting probably would have had to have happened between Oct 3 and Oct 12, and couldn’t have been before the late September date on the affidavit he was answering.

So, to sum up, the data is pretty clear that Holmes was in Chicago, dealing with the lawsuit, in late September and Early October, 1888, which would make it impossible for him to have committed the Jack the Ripper murders.

But, again, these aren’t necessarily smoking guns if you’re really determined to believe Holmes was in London at the time. The October, 1888 date in the 1894 papers talking about his New Hampshire trip never comes from a direct quote, just a summary of what the relatives were saying. They could have been a bit off. And theoretically, Holmes could have sent a someone else to register him to vote, and brought Myrta with him to London (or some have suggested that perhaps he wasn’t really Lucy’s father). Maher could have written the answers all on his own (though how he knew the answers to some of what Aetna and the architects claimed is hard to explain). And if Holmes never spoke of the trip, well, one could say that a trip to kill prostitutes is the sort of thing you’d want to keep quiet about.

But these seem like stretches to me, to say the last. In particular, sending someone to register to vote for you would be a lot of effort, and a big risk – individual voter fraud has always been a high risk, low reward sort of swindle, which makes it a very rare crime.

And that’s just the documentary evidence placing Holmes in Chicago. Stronger still is the fact that Holmes doesn’t really make that good of a candidate for the Ripper to begin with, as he just wasn’t the sort of killer who went around hacking random prostitutes to bits. Though he is often portrayed that way these days, as a killer who used gas chambers, hanging, and stabbings stories of him being that sort of killer have more roots in tabloids and pulps than from more reliable sources. There are only a handful of known victims (plus some “maybes,” see my list), and none were random. None were stabbed to death – in all cases where there’s much to go on, he seems to have favored poison.

For a lot more on HH Holmes, of course, check out my book, HH Holmes: The True History of the White City Devil, the most comprehensive biography of the man yet, out now from Sky Horse, and the ebook companion collection of his writings, Very Truly Yours HH Holmes

Some previous Holmes posts on the blog that cover topics I discussed on the show:

HH Holmes and Chappel, the “Skeleton Articulator”

The Murder Castle Site

The Hanging and Burial of HH Holmes – in detail

Did HH Holmes Fake His Death?

HH Holmes: Master List of Known and Suspected Victims 

Holmes and Jack the Ripper: Chicago Evidence (Video on Youtube)

Now that the show has wrapped, I think i can discuss this all more freely; email press and media inquiries to  adam AT mysteriouschicago.com .

Podcast: Thomas Neill Cream – Antique Serial Killer

Listen in above or on iTunes or archive.org!

o-DR-THOMAS-CREAM-570A few months ago I had to take a quick trip to Madison, WI and made a side trip along the way to Garden Prairie, IL, searching for the grave of Daniel Stott, which lies in a quiet little graveyard surrounded by farmland. Most of the gravestones there are faded out and hard to read, but you can’t miss Stott’s, pictured above, which even gives his cause of death: “Poisoned by his wife and Dr. Cream.”

Dr. Thomas Neill Cream may qualify for the mantle of “Chicago’s first serial killer,” though it depends a lot on what you count as a serial killer (there’s a lot of debate here, but he qualifies for it at least as well as H.H. Holmes, who arrived in Chicago five years after Cream was imprisoned).  We discussed him here before with Did Thomas Neill Cream kill Alice Montgomery, a look a murder in his neighborhood that sounded a LOT like his handiwork. She died from strychnine-laced painkillers after an attempted abortion, which was his usual m.o. An Madison Street doctor by trade, he performed abortions on the side, and had a habit of tampering with medicines to add more strychnine, then trying to blackmail the pharmacist.

To get more on Dr. Cream, this podcast includes a skype chat with Amanda Griffiths-Jones, the first to examine Cream’s prison record from Joliet, which she used for a novel entitled Prisoner 4374, all about Cream’s career based on her unique findings. She was a pleasure to chat with! Check out her book for a lot more info on Cream and what sort of killer he was – including her theory on where the idea that he was Jack the Ripper came from.

Yes, Cream is sometimes said to be a Jack the Ripper suspect – legend has it that on the scaffold, when he was eventually hanged in London, his last words were “I was Jack The…”  It’s generally not taken seriously, since Cream was in prison in Joliet while Jack the Ripper was active in London. Some research into the story told me that the story came from an article published in a number of newspapers after the hangman, Jack Billington died – apparently a UK paper had a huge article of the hangman’s stories, retold by one of his friends, and the friend said that Billington always believed that Cream was the ripper.  A number of 1902 papers worldwide carried the bit about Billington  being the Ripper, and one book later included an excerpt of another story (I tell it in the podcast), showing that it’s part of a larger article. But no accessible paper that I can find (so far) included the whole article, and the Bolton, England paper in which the article originated is only on microfilm – possibly only in Bolton! I’m not going that far for an article.

Listen in above or on iTunes or archive.org!

Did Dr. Thomas Neill Cream Kill Alice Montgomery?

Could a Chicago mystery from 1881 have been the work of one of our early serial killers?
(See an update from 2017 at the bottom of the post!) 
Dr. Thomas Neill Cream.

On April 9, 1881, 22 year old Alice Montgomery checked into a room at the Sheldon House, a west loop-area hotel on West Madison near Racine. After dinner, she casually asked for a glass of water and a teaspoon, then for directions to the ladies’ private closet. Some time later, another roomer saw her emerge from the private closet writing in agony. Soon, she was on the floor, screaming in pain and convulsing. Doctor Seymour Knox was summoned and gave her ether, but after rallying for a moment she died. The doctor believed it was strychnine poisoning. Another doctor, one Byron Griffin, was soon found who told investigators that Alice had recently come to him saying she was in a “delicate condition” and asking for drugs to induce an abortion. He’d refused – it was illegal at the time, after all.  But a superficial examination of the body confirmed that an abortion had been attempted. She found some doctor who would help her. But someone had apparently tampered with the medicine.

The medicine she had taken was traced to a drug store further west on Madison, and was filled from a prescription from Dr. Fraser. Fraser was located and promptly said the drugs she’d been given were probably used to induce an abortion, but that he knew nothing of the prescription. It wasn’t in his handwriting, and contained some obvious misspellings.
An 1881 notice in the Tribune, after Cream was
acquitted of a similar case due to lack of evidence.
The address here was barely half a block from
the site of Alice’s death, which was at 503-505 Madison
in pre-1909 numbers. 434 is 1255 West on the
modern grids; a vacant lot marks the site of
Cream’s old rooms today.

The next day, Dr. Frazer assisted on the most-mortem at an undertaking parlor further west on Madison. It was found that Alice had been pregnant, and traces of strychnine were found (to prove it was strychnine, they fed the traces to a cat, who quickly died). The clerk at the drugstore said he had no idea how strychnine could have gotten into her medicine; it was sealed in a bottle with a skull and crossbones. A coroner’s jury eventually concluded that the strychnine had been added to the medicine later, under circumstances unknown

At the inquest, a letter written by Alice was produced, indicating that she’d paid Doctor Fraser $75 for an operation, and needed another $25 for another, after which she would “be all right.”
It had been sent in the coroner by someone who claimed to know Alice, but how that person came into possession of it was sort of a mystery, as was an accompanying letter saying that it was being sent to clear up the troubles for “Van Minchen,” a name no one had connected tot he case The identity of the person who’d found and submitted the letter was never found.
Dr. Fraser vehemently denied that he’d performed the abortion. The prescription was clearly not his own work, and “anyway, if I desired to produce an abortion, I had the necessary drugs at my own office, and need not have sent a patient to the drug store.”
The coroner’s jury established that Alice had died of accidental use of strychnine, but  exonerated both Fraser and the druggist. How the strychnine had gotten there, and who had done the operation, remained a mystery.

The tone of local newspaper articles from the case – particularly those of the Chicago Daily Inter-Ocean – make it seem quite clear that they assumed Dr. Fraser was at fault. It DOES sort of seem like damning evidence against him.  But Fraser was exonerated, and, since the case was officially still a mystery, it’s fairly remarkable that no one ever noted that one a known serial killer – one whose crimes frequently combined strychnine and abortion – had an office within a stone’s throw of the Sheldon House.

Dr. Thomas Neil Cream is probably a better candidate for the title of “America’s First Serial Killer” than H.H. Holmes, who is usually advertised as such.  Strychnine poisonings, abortions, and blackmailing doctors were his stock in trade. Giving both the operation and the poison to Alice, as well as perhaps trying to frame Dr. Fraser, seem like just the sort of thing he would have done. And Dr. Cream was operating from an office on Madison at the time of Alice’s death, right near the Sheldon House.
A letter in Dr. Cream’s handwriting published
in the Harmsworth Pictorial Magazine in

Only months before the Montgomery case, in fact, Dr. Cream had been arrested, and eventually released due to lack of evidence, when a woman named Mary Faulkner died after an abortion. Both Dr. Knox and Dr. Fraser were involved in cases with Cream in 1880-81.

I almost feel as though I must be missing something here. Given the publicity of the case connecting Dr. Cream to the abortion/death of Mary Faulkner in 1880, and his proximity to the scene of the action, it seems as though someone would have mentioned him during the Alice Montgomery affair, though neither the Tribune or Inter-Ocean ever mentioned him in connection with (all above info on her is from their April, 1881 accounts)

And given how much publicity Crem got a few months later when he was arrested for the poisoning of Daniel Stott, why did no one think they’d found a logical suspect for Alice’s murder?  Later accounts of Cream, including a full-length book about him from 1995, make no mention of the fact that there’d been a high-profile mysterious abortion/strychnine-related death in his neighborhood only months before his arrest. Indeed, I don’t think anyone ever mentioned Alice in print again after the April, 1881 inquest.

After his November, 1881 conviction for the murder of Daneil Stott (whose wife had obtained poisons to use on him from Dr. Cream’s office), Cream went on to spend several years in prison Joliet before being released and going to London, where he resumed his career of poisoning, blackmail, abortion and murder. He was eventually convicted of killing a woman with strychnine there and hanged; an apocryphal story states that he admitted to being Jack the Ripper before he was hanged, and I’ve long suspected that a 2008 podcast in which a former parter of mine mistakenly attributed that story to H.H. Holmes was the beginning of the current vogue to connect Holmes to the Ripper murders.

I sent an early version of this article to Amanda Griffiths-Jones, who recently wrote a novel, Prisoner 4374, about Cream. After consulting his large prison file, she confirmed that Cream was in town and receiving patients on April 9, 1881, but couldn’t find a definitive link that proved he killed Alice. The drug store Alice was sent to would not have been the one to which Cream usually sent patients, which was on South Clark.

“However,” she noted, “the crime and subsequent letter to the coroner certainly have the traits of his preferred ‘modus operandi.'” She also notes that April 9 was a Saturday, and it’s probably notable that Cream was known to take patients on Saturdays.

So there may not be a smoking gun – there rarely is in case this old, really – but the pieces certainly seem to fit. Either Dr. Cream gave her strychnine or there was some other strychnine-happy abortionist operating in Cream’s same neighborhood. The Sheldon Hotel would have sat on Madison right near Loomis; Cream’s place was across the road and only about a block east; you certainly could have seen it out a second floor window. The drug store Alice called on was a block from the hotel in the other direction. Though it’s not a store Cream is known to have recommended to patients, it’s not hard to imagine scenarios under which Alice would have gone there. If she was in pain or in a hurry, Kraft’s store was much closer than the one Cream normally used, which was in the loop, a little over a mile away.

This is probably a case that can never go beyond circumstantial evidence, since it’s likely that none of the original evidence is still extant, but it’s more compelling to me than just about anything on the list of H.H. Holmes’s possible victims.  The fact that no one seems to have thought to connect Cream to Montgomery before remains the biggest mystery to me here.

  AJ Griffith-Jones’ book is written as a faux autobiography. From prison records, she can firmly establish the truth about rumors that Cream escaped prison and became Jack the Ripper.
The Chicago Daily News wanted to make sure
readers knew that Alice read the Daily News.

Digging through the defunct Chicago newspapers in the microfilm room gives some clue: the most likely time for someone to have made a connection between Cream and Montgomery would have been in late July, 1881, when Cream was first made a suspect in the murder of Daniel Stott, or in September of that year when he went to trial. In July, any mention of Cream at all was buried among the coverage of President Garfield having been shot. In September, Cream’s trial coverage was overshadowed by Garfield’s funeral (he lingered on his deathbed for several weeks after being shot). According to Amanda Griffiths-Jones, there’s even a note in Cream’s prison records saying that authorities were distracted by Garfield news and not taking much note of Cream’s actions at the time of the Stott murder. So it may simply be that the obvious solution to Alice Montgomery’s murder slipped through the cracks.

And, since we can never resist an H.H. Holmes connection: according to an 1895 issue of the Chicago Daily News, when H.H. Holmes was en route to Toronto with the Pitezel girls, he stayed a night in room 18 and 19 of the West End Hotel, which had the same address, and was likely the same building, as the Sheldon Hotel, where Alice died! According to the CDN, he registered as “A. Armstrong.” Other papers were not convinced that this part of the story was true, though, and at this point whether “A. Armstrong” was truly Holmes is probably anyone’s guess.

UPDATE, 2017:
As more newspapers get digitized, more sources come to light! I knew I couldn’t have been the first to connect Alice to Dr. Cream, and it turns out the sheriff in charge of the jail where he stayed before his 1881 trial blamed him for the murder. Here’s The Belvidere Standard, a paper from near Grand Prairie, quoting the Rockford Register on Sept 13, 1881:

Chicago Serial Killers: Dr. Thomas Neil Cream

The most common
photo of Dr. Cream.

H.H. Holmes is often advertised as “America’s First Serial Killer.” Really, though, he wasn’t even the first one in Chicago – or the only Chicagoan whose name has been floated as a suspect for the true identity of London’s “Jack the Ripper.”

Long before anyone seriously* thought to connect Holmes with the crime, one name tossed about now and then was Dr. Thomas Neil Cream, who is reputed to have said “I am Jack the…” on the gallows, with the trap springing before he could finish the sentence. A known serial killer, Cream had operated for a time in Chicago a few years before HH Holmes came to town.

Born in Scotland in 1850, Cream studied medicine in London and Edinburgh before moving to Canada and then Chicago, where he opened a clinic on Madison Street, near Throop (the sight of a parking lot now). This was a terrible red light district at the time, and it’s generally believed that Cream’s stock in trade was providing illegal abortions to prostitutes.  He had been caught trying to perform an abortion on a girlfriend back in the UK, and was quite literally forced to the church at gunpoint (though his wife died, allegedly of tuberculosis, shortly thereafter).

In Chicago, a witness who ran a boarding house at 1056 Madison (about Madison and Western today) said that Cream claimed in 1880 to have treated about 500 girls in Canada, and at least 15 in Chicago. When one of the patients, Mary Anne Faulkner, died in the boarding house in 1880, apparently of poisoning, he was brought to trial, where he insisted that it was all the nurse’s fault (the nurse, Hattie Mack, ran the boarding house). Mrs. Mack testified that Cream had offered her $30 to let him pour tar over the body and burn the house down, but she refused.  He was eventually let go for lack of evidence.

 sample of Dr. Cream’s

The next year, an elderly man named Daniel Stott who suffered epilepsy and had just married a much younger woman. She came to Chicago from their home in Garden Prairie, and met with Dr. Cream about getting treatment for his epilepsy.  Cream gave him such treatment, but, upon finding out that Stott’s wife stood to get a lot of inheritance and insurance when the old man died, he apparently began an affair with her (or made plans to, at least), then arranged for her to give the man medicine that included a small amount of strychnine (to which he then apparently added much more strychnine). It was a perfect crime – if an autopsy found strychnine, he could show the drug store records saying there was some of it in the medicine, though not enough to kill a person, and the case would be closed (or at least blamed on the pharmacist, not him). The widow would cash in, and he’d swoop in and sweep her off her feet. They could even make more money by suing the pharmacy.

A far different, and much less common,
shot of Cream. It doesn’t seem to appear anywhere
elseon the web or in any other article
I can find on Cream, but turned up in
an 1899 magazine article.

But no one thought there was anything suspicious in the death at all, so there was no talk of suing the pharmacy and no reason to blackmail them. Cream sent a telegram to the coroner stating that he didn’t believe the cause of death was truly natural, and when that telegram was ignored, he sent so many more messages and letters demanding an autopsy, then finally went to the police. After running some tests on the medicine, they exhumed the body and found enough strychnine to kill six men, and 30x more than the prescription had called for. This was no pharmacists error – obviously, there was foul play involved. Cream had as good as turned himself in. Police (and Mrs. Stott) quickly deduced what had happened.

Mrs. Stott was arrested as well, and Dr. Cream fled. He was arrested in Canada, brought back to stand trial, and wound up spending nine years in prison from 1883-1891 (which, incidentally, pretty well clears him of suspicion of murdering anyone in London in 1888). Upon his release, he returned to London, where he seems to have embarked on a regular spree of giving poison drinks to prostitutes; he was eventually arrested for one of the murders and hanged in 1892. During his trial, he swore he was “Thomas Neil,” not the “Thomas Neil Cream” who had been convicted of poisoning before, which Ripper conspiracy theorists often site.

Just how many people he killed, and why, will never really be known; the above accounts were pieced together from contemporary Tribune articles, but I’m note sure anyone’s ever done a REALLY in-depth investigation on the guy; most books on him come from a handful of bad sources, and, like most serial killers, tabloid and pulp versions have strongly influenced what we THINK we know.  His claim of being Jack the Ripper on the scaffold is generally ignored (contemporary witnesses didn’t mention it), but I did run across a news item published during his trial saying that it had been firmly established that Cream and the Ripper were one and the same. Some theories go about that Dr. Cream and Dr. Neil really weren’t the same person, just as was claimed on the stand. The photograph of Dr. Neill above DOES look markedly different from the more common photo. I feel like there’s a lot more to find out about this guy; most books and articles have the same bad info, the same wild guesswork, and the same one photo of him in a top hat.

Mrs. Stott, for her part, was probably not complicit in the murder, but always blamed for it. Just look at the photo of Mr. Stott’s grave, out in Garden Prairie, in the land beyond O’Hare, which states that he was “poisoned by his wife and Dr. Cream.”

Uploaded anonymously to findagrave

* – the connection between Holmes and Jack the Ripper was at least mentioned by Chicago police as early as 1895, though in a joking way. When Holmes was suggested as the killer in an unsolved murder from the suburbs, the chief laughed and said “you might as well connect him with the Jack the Ripper horrors.” See our murder castle ebook (expanded edition) for more. 

Murder Castle of HH Holmes Ebook EXPANDED!

Our first ebook, THE MURDER CASTLE OF HH HOLMES, has now been expanded to a FULL LENGTH book. Re-organized with tons of new info, new diagrams, and more to tell a more complete picture of the famous “castle” through eyewitness accounts from people lived and worked in the building. Now over 55,000 words to tell you everything down to the combination to the soundproof vault!

Just 3.99 on Kindle!
Don’t have a kindle? No problem! Get aFREE Kindle App for Your Smartphone, Tablet, or PC!
It includes:
More than three dozen diagrams, drawings and pictures, many seen here for the first time since the 1890s
– A lengthy long-lost interview with Holmes conducted in his jail cell about the castle, his life, and his personal beliefs. Would Holmes prefer hanging or execution? Did he believe in ghosts and the supernatural? Find out here (assuming he was telling the truth!)
– Copies of legal records relating to the “castle.” 
– Dozens of first-hand accounts about life in and around the castle, both during Holmes’ time there and during the 1895 investigation. 
– Detailed information about seldom-heard stories about Holmes, including his near-gunfight with a neighbor, the man who died in the castle drugstore, and many more. 
– In-depth background info, contextual information and analysis about each source, as well as info on the relatives merits of the many Chicago newspapers of the 1890s. 
– Adam’s report on the basement of the post office that stands on a portion of the grounds where the castle once stood.

So, wanna know what’s in the book? Take a look at the table of contents. Each chapter comes with background information and contextual data.

 INTRODUCTION: The Holmes Case
Photo: THE CASTLE, 1895
Drawing:: THE CASTLE, 1895.
Drawing: The Castle in The CHICAGO MAIL
Drawing: Front View from CHICAGO MAIL
Drawing: Castle Image from CHICAGO INTER OCEAN
Drawing: Castle Side view from the CHICAGO TIMES HERALD
Diagram: Second Floor in NY World Diagram:
Second Floors from the TIMES HERALD
Diagram: Second Floor from Chicago Record
Diagram: Second Floor from a 1905 tabloid
Diagram: Third Floor from the TIMES HERALD
Diagram: First Floor
Diagram: Basement from The Inter Ocean
Diagram: Basement from the Times Herald
Diagram: Sectional View of Castle, Times Herald
Basement Excavations Map
Eyewitness Account: E.F. Laughlin
Court Summons
Promissory Note for Castle Startup Funds
Eyewitness Account: Fitzallen Woodbury and Benjamin Nixon on a known Death in the Castle Eyewitness: EC Davis
Eyewitness: Thomas Levy Tuck
Eyewitness: Mrs. John C
Eyewitness: Ned Conner
Eyewitness: Mrs. Sylvester
Eyewitness: Mrs. Loomis
Eyewitness: Mrs. Beardsley
Eyewitness: George Bowman
1893: The Castle Discovered
Eyewitness: Joe Owens on the 1893 Fire
Holmes and Revolver
The Castle After the Fire
Eyewitness: Mrs Ladd
The Deadly Stove: The Investigation Begins.
Drawing: The Stove
Searching the Basement
The Bloody Rope
The Bloody Garment in the Ground
Eyewitness: Detective Fitzpatrick
Eyewitness: Albert Phillips
Bloody Wrapper in a Barrell
Human Bones in the Basement
Eyewitness Account: Unnamed Furnace Maker (july 23) 1895
Description 2: Designed For Dark Work
Eyewitness: Ned Conner on the Secret Chamber
 Eyewitness: Joe Owens
Eyewitness: Dr. and Mrs. MB Lawrence
Eyewitness: BJ Cigrand
Chief Ross’s Theory on Emeline
Drawing: The False Vault
Jonathan Belknap
Eyewitness: Inspector Fitzpatrick
Eyewitness: Daily News reporter
No Proof of Murder
Jeweler Davis and the Novelist
Jeweler Davis and the Trunk
Eyewitness: Henry Darrow
HH Holmes’ Kite
The Quinlans Confess – Maybe
Facsimile of The Signatures
Overalls and Blood
The Deadly Gas Debunked?
The Chicago Mail Gives Up
Eyewitness: Cora Quinlan
1895 Description: Castle of a Modern Bluebeard
Was the Castle About to be a Museum?
The Castle Burns (Again) 1895:
The Glass Bending Factory
1896: The Castle Torn Down
Holmes Castle Ad
Eyewitness Account: HH Holmes
Attorney Duncombe on Holmes
1896: The Castle on the Day Holmes Was Hanged
1902: Tge Murder Castle is Haunted Castle
Photo: 1902 (with tower)
1903: Another Fire
1937: The Murder Castle Today
Castle Photo: 1937
1938: Castle Will be Razed
Castle Site Today
Full List of Evidence Found

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