Herman Mudgett Criminal Profile Sociology – Pd. 3
Background Born in Gilmanton, New Hampshire in 1861 His father, Levi Horton Mudgett, was a serious alcoholic His mother, Theodate Page Price, was a devote Methodist who constantly read the bible to her son Early Life Schooling Was bullied in school Classmates forced him to touch human skeletons of learning he was afraid of the local doctor Was fascinated with death ever since Career Earned a doctors degree from the University of Michigan
Early Criminal Career Fraud and forgery Said that he found a cure for alcoholism Real estate scams A machine that made natural gas from water Theft Stole cadavers from his school’s laboratories Disfigured the bodies Claimed the people died in accidents so that he could collect the insurance money on them
Crimes Convicted of killing 27 people in his “Murder Castle” over a three year period Sentenced to death Hanged at Moyamensing Prison on May 7, 1896 Is thought to have possibly murdered up to 200 people, but confessed to 27 He often took out insurance policies on many of his victims before he killed them Built the 60-room large block building that was opened as a hotel Used several contractors in its construction so that no one knew the exact layout Rooms were designed to confuse people and specifically for murder
Most Recent Crime His last crimes committed before he was convicted was the murder of four members of the Pitezel family Benjamin Pitezel was a business associate who helped Mudgett build the hotel/Murder Castle He then killed three of the five Pitzel children, sparing the oldest and the youngest He was taking care of the three children for a short period of time
Evidence Police began to get suspicious of Mudgett’s fraudulent activity An investigation led to the discovery of the decomposed bodies of the Pitezel girls in a Toronto cellar The teeth and several bone fragments of the murder Pitzel boy were discovered in the chimney of a home in Indianapolis An investigation of Mudgett’s hotel/castle followed soon after Police discovered his various ways of murder Sealed off rooms with gas lines Human sized chuted to the cellar Trap door Lime and acid pits Torture devices
Quotes “It was a wicked and dangerous thing to do to a child of tender years and health, but it proved an heroic method of treatment, destined ultimately of curing me of my fears, and to inculcate in me, first, a strong feeling of curiosity, and, later a desire to learn, which resulted years afterwards in my adopting medicine as a profession.” – Mudgett on being bullied as a child “As God is my witness, I was responsible for the deaths of only two women!” – Mudgett before he was executed “All right. The dead man was Pitezel, just as you suspected, but his death was his own doing, a result of his own stupidity! He was supposed to steal a cadaver, lost his nerve and got despondent. He drank chloroform. When I discovered his body, I decided to make it look like an accident so his poor widow could collect the insurance.” – Mudgett on the death of Benjamin Pitezel
Alias Dr. Henry Howard Holmes – alias Was born under the Herman Webster Mudgett Started going by Dr. H. H. Holmes after graduating medical school and moving to Chicago Believed that it sounded more sophisticated and studious
Sociological Theory of Deviance Anomie Theory Herman Webster Mudgett, better known as H. H. Holmes, is known as America’s first, and possibly even its most prolific, serial killer of all time. The reasoning behind his murders is twisted and is very hard to place under just one deviance theory. Mudgett was an intelligent man. He graduated from medical school, was sociable, and was considered to be an attractive man. He opened his hotel, which became the location of many of his murders. As a child, Mudgett was extremely afraid of the doctor’s office. When his classmates learned about this, they dragged him into the office and forced him to touch a display skeleton. Instead of being afraid, this sparked an interest in the human body for Mudgett. He worked successfully as a pharmacist before opening his hotel. When he murdered his victims, he often “wooed” them first, convincing them to let him take out insurance policies on them first. He then would collect the insurance money on them after their deaths. Sometimes, he would assemble their bones into skeleton forms and sell them to medical schools. To others, Mudgett seemed like a normal, successful man. He had multiple wives, as well as numerous children. He could have had a very prosperous life without murdering in hopes of acquiring extra money. I chose the Anomie Theory to describe him for this reason. The norms in his life were extremely conflicting. On one hand, he was an gifted man with a bright life and future. His other side was one deeply obsessed with the human body, and apparently compelled him to kill.
Rehabilitation? I do not believe that Herman Webster Mudgett would have been able to be successfully rehabilitated. His actions were not one of a man who was confused or developed from being surrounded by poor role models. He was clearly a sick man who showed little regret for his actions. He had the ability to kill people, of all genders and ages, in gruesome and painful ways just to make money. I believe that his death sentence was appropriate in the time period that he lived in, and would still be appropriate in today’s age.