Weenie in the White City

Holmes during his trial

Ray Johnson just hipped me to a very interesting article from the summer, 1896 edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association. In it, Dr. Eugene S. Talbot talks gives the results of a very thorough medical examination he conducted of serial killer H.H. Holmes in January, 1896, a few months before his execution in May of that same year. He goes into great detail about all the bumps and ridges of Holmes skull, and states that he doesn’t believe Holmes to have been insane, and that murder was just incidental to his careers in swindling and womanizing. I’m often of this opinion myself – Holmes himself claimed that he killed because of an inner drive to do so, but most of his murders seem to have had a motive beyond pleasure.

Conspiracy theorists will surely like to hear that the doctor said that Holmes didn’t look anything like he did in his pictures, but the most striking thing in the study, to modern eyes, are two particular sentences (emphasis mine): “Depression on left side of skull at bregma, said to be due to fall of brick at age of 30. Sexual organs unusually small.”

It’s likely that he took this brick to the head during construction of the castle, if it happened at all.

As for the second sentence…. well, I was a bit relieved to find that Dr. Eugene Talbot died of natural causes in 1924. I was afraid it would turn out that he’d died in a freak accident shortly after the article was published, and I’d have to go back and change up the book about the Holmes Curse!

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