This week I’m back into H.H. Holmes mode in preparation for a TV interview on the subject next week. In the process of reviewing old researching and doing a bit of new stuff, I came upon an interesting story:
In 1900, it was announced that police believed they had found the head of Anna Williams, Minnie’s sister, and one of Holmes’ supposed victims whose remains were never found. Holmes’ version of the story is that Minnie had brained her sister with a chair leg in a fit of rage, and that he’d helped her dump the body in Lake Michigan.
In October of 1900, a press release went around that a badly-decomposed head had washed ashore in Cedar Lake, near Hammond, Indiana. According to the press release, the head was said to be that of Anna Williams.
Papers even then regarded the story as far-fetched, and I find it downright laughable now. For one thing, it was the wrong lake. For another, the only evidence that Anna was ever dumped in a lake to start with was the word of Holmes himself, which is not remotely reliable. For another, how could a body be still be identifiable after six or seven years in a lake? It’s unlikely that any trace would have remained by then.
The story is sort of an object lesson – when you research Holmes, you come across some wild, wild stories that were briefly passed about as fact. Some of these are still a part of the “official” story of Holmes, even though they were discredited the same week that they broke.
Still, I can’t resist a story about a disembodied head.