‘American Ripper’ Recap
You’ve heard the name Jack The Ripper before but not everyone knows about H.H. Holmes. Herman Webster Mudgett who later went by many aliases like H. H. Holmes, was the first American serial killer who built a hotel in a Chicago in the 1880’s that was used as a death castle where he lured many people to their deaths. The hotel had many hidden rooms where Holmes killed guests by locking them up to starve to death, putting them into empty rooms with a gas line to poison them, and many other gruesome ways, and then would dispose of the bodies by throwing them down a chute that went to the basement where he would skin some of them and even chop them up and then would later burn them to hide the evidence.
Jeff Mudgett is the great-great grandson of H.H. Holmes and refers to himself as a “descendant of the devil” and is trying to prove his theory that his great-great grandfather and Jack The Ripper were the same person. He believes that around the same time Holmes was committing his crimes in Chicago, he was also going to London and commuting murders as Jack The Ripper. He also is the author of a memoir titled, “Bloodstains” where he writes about his theory.
In the first episode, Jeff enlists the help of CIA operative Amaryllis Fox to help him, and together they travel to Chicago and research Holmes and even go to his childhood home in New Hampshire where they see where he grew up and went to school and even discover that Holmes’ own cousins died mysteriously when they were children. Could they have been his first victims? While living in New Hampshire, Holmes even worked alongside the local doctor and worked face to face with corpses which could’ve sparked his interest in killing.
While in Chicago, the two discover the old blueprints showing that the location of the death castle is now a post office and part of the property is just grass and trees and they are attempting to get permission to dig on the land to see if they can find any clues. In the 1800’s after Holmes was in prison, an investigation was done but not much was known about DNA and fingerprints at the time. Plus, contractors, not police, were doing the digging on the land so investigating was not done well. There could be all kinds of clues buried on the land.
We also discover that not only was Holmes married to his wife Clara, but he also married two other women and had many mistresses. There were reports from one of Holmes’ college classmates that he witnessed Clara with a black eye. This leads Fox to think this may serve as a connection to London and the Jack The Ripper killings. The big difference is that in Chicago, Holmes was careful and precise and covered his tracks where Jack The Ripper was ruthless and left the bodies in the open streets for anyone to find. Fox believes this could be due to Holmes evolving in his killings. As he took on many different identities, this could have been one of them.
We end the episode with Mudgett and Fox going over a timeline of Holmes’ whereabouts in Chicago and they discover a gap in time where there are no documentation of him, which Mudgett believes is when he could’ve been in London committing murders as Jack The Ripper.
Holmes only admitted to 27 murders but it is believed that there were close to 200. In 1896 Holmes was found guilty of killing a man who he was in prison with, and was sentenced to death where he was hanged.
The series is very interesting and is off to a great start. Do you believe Mudgett’s theory? If true, they would be solving a 130 year mystery and Holmes would’ve pulled one of the greatest cons ever known. Time will tell…
Watch American Ripper Tuesday nights at 10pm on History Channel.
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