Notorious People

The Devil in White City

image After reading Bloodstains, many reviewers on Amazon suggested this was the next "definitive guide" to Holmes and his notorious crimes during the Columbian Exposition or Chicago World’s Fair as it was known. This book was to give a chronology of events and reveal details of Holmes and his activities.

It didn’t.

After reading Devil in White City, I once again felt duped. I trudged through 400+ pages of mind numbing details about the men tasked with the fair, their delays, the in fighting, the poor sales, the bad weather, union strikes, the lack of respect for landscaping, the toothaches, the headaches, the trash, the noise, the pigs and even the items listed on the dinner menu, waiting for the details about Holmes. Out of the 400 pages, only 40-50 revolve around Holmes and they were nothing but vague summaries that you could read about in Wikipedia. For someone who can just about document the number of bolts used in the Ferris Wheel, the details about Holmes’ Castle, life and crimes are shockingly hollow. In fact, Holmes is nothing more than a cameo appearance in this book and in my opinion is used as a lure to sell this book.

Every day I wondered why I kept reading. I thought perhaps the book would transition to an account of Holmes once the fair was up and running.

It didn’t.

There is absolutely nothing interesting or new to be learned about Holmes. The Strange Case of H. H. Holmes will give infinitely more detail than this long-winded tome. Even as an account of the fair itself it falls short. Erik Larson bogs down with excruciating details that simply don’t matter. Far too much time and too many pages are dedicated to meeting, dinners, train rides and trips abroad. This book should be condensed to 100 pages and it would be quite enjoyable.

Unfortunately, this is a bloated and boring read that left me frustrating for having wasted so much time when I learned so little. If you’re interested in reading about H.H. Holmes, aka Herman Webster Mudgett, look elsewhere. Again, you can read more in less time through Wikipedia.

The Devil in the White City: A Saga of Magic and Murder at the Fair that Changed America

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Bloodstains – The Analysis

Every family has their secrets. Every family has a dark sheep. And there is a dark side to us all. But what if you were forced to look into your own past and discovered unsavory secrets? What if your family tree contained criminals. What if those criminals committed violent crimes? What if there was murder?

If that weren’t bad enough, what if that lineage contained a serial killer? What if that killer turned out to be the first recognized serial killer in America? What if you found evidence he was THE serial killer…

Jeff Mudgett takes us on a journey of discovery as he opens a seemingly innocent box of fishing lures left to him by his deceased grandfather. That box contains two journals that date all the way back to the late 1800s. In fact, they belong to the infamous H.H. Holmes, the alias for Herman Webster Mudgett, Jeff’s great-great-grandfather.

But why two journals? He was hanged while barely in his 30s.

Or was he?

That’s the question Jeff investigates as he reads through what appear to be the real journals of H.H. Holmes. And there are two of them because it is believed that Holmes was actually able to escape the gallows and continued to live on until the 1950s, perhaps the 60s.

At times this book is startling and shocking and I found myself reading as quickly as possible and turning pages so I could take in all the much information. Jeff provides a lot of insight into Holmes and makes multiple links between Holmes and other events in history. It gives way to amazing theories.

Was Holmes indeed Jack the Ripper? Was he actually out of Chicago during that time period? Did Holmes actually train an assistant to cut up the bodies and make such a spectacle so as to cover his true intentions of being in London?

Did Holmes escape the gallows? Was the public confession and the demand for cash part of his plot to escape? Did he use the power of suggestion to morph his appearance in the public eye so that he could actually switch places with one of the guards? And the cash was so he could start his life over once he was out and free?

Is the former site of the Murder Castle haunted? Jeff visited the site and had some powerful experiences. Did he run into the spirits of the victims, perhaps even Holmes himself?

Was the post office built on the former site of the Murder Castle because Holmes was actually able to convince the President at the time it was a good idea? Was he actually covering his tracks by burying the infamous basement and it’s acid baths, lime pits and crematoriums?Is this further evidence he actually escaped the gallows?

Does the Holmes grave, encased in concrete and buried 10 feet deep contain the body of a prison guard? Was the concrete actually to hide the evidence on his crime and his switch rather than a way to keep people from digging up and dissecting his own body?

Is Holmes buried in an unmarked grave Jeff’s grandfather knew about?

Is there some link between Holmes and the Zodiac killer?

Jeff explores all of these and it’s a truly fascinating read. I was riveted. However, like many other have said, it’s hard to tell what is actually information from the Holmes journal, what is conjecture on Jeff’s part, and what is simply fiction. Are his Ripper theories really based on Holmes teaching someone else to commit the crimes and make them so heinous they distract from his real purpose in London? Or is it just an interesting way to get people to read his book?

As I read along, I bought into everything Jeff had to say. I trusted his authorship based on the fact he had these two journals. The book starts off with him having them authenticated and conclusions that they were written by the same person. But by the time we get toward the end of the book things change. Jeff is having seizures, visions, voices in his head, hallucinations, lost time and dreams where he is being coerced to commit murder. He’s becoming violent, aggressive, dismissive of people and their feelings. Is this the work of Holmes, gripping him from beyond the grave?

In the final chapter, things come unraveled. It’s hard to tell what’s real and what’s imagined. What starts off as a book rooted in fact ends with wild stories of unmarked graves along the railroad tracks, during a rain storm under the light of a full moon.

And then the hammer falls. Jeff has had multiple grand mal seizures, brain damage and has actually been brought back from the dead. He’s been studied and the doctors say nothing he experienced was real.

Does that mean all of this was a dream? Were the last 300+ pages simply a wild goose chase? Is there evidence to support his theories? Everything seemed so logical, so based on fact, it all seemed to make sense. Then we are hit with the idea that none of this could be real. All of it has been part of brain damage he suffered from the seizures.

I’m intrigued, but frustrated. It’s a great book to read, but I feel somewhat duped. Does Jeff Mudgett really have these journals? How much of the book is real? Will we ever get to see these journals so we can judge for ourselves? Did he take some liberties to spice up the story?

Here we have what I think is a golden opportunity to provide facts never available before and sweep away the myths surrounding Holmes and the actual crimes he committed. Unfortunately, I think Jeff has muddied the waters even more. While his book is fascinating and well worth the read, it’s hard to separate the fact from the fiction. We don’t have clear lines to tell us what is straight from the journal and what is conjecture or theory. Just that little addition would make me feel so much happier about what I read. But, perhaps there is still more to this story.

If anything, this makes me want to dig deeper…

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Bloodstains – Jeff Mudgett

image I’m fascinated by the premise of this book on many levels. On the one hand we have a man who unsuspectingly finds out he is the grandson of Herman Webster Mudgett, better known by the name H.H. Holmes, the notorious serial killer that built the Murder Castle during the Chicago World’s Fair and killed who knows how many people. And if that wasn’t enough, there is the theory that this same H.H. Holmes left the US, went over to London and continued to commit his acts of murder, but this time under the name, Jack the Ripper. Could such a thing be true? Is it possible that two notorious serial killers could in fact be the same person? The truth is stranger than fiction and there is indeed evidence to support this claim.

I can’t even imagine what it must be like to discover Holmes is part of your family history. To have his personal diaries, his actual notes, and even his confessions in your own hands. Shocking would be an understatement. But then, what to find out or make the case that there could be more to the story? Have other Ripper experts not followed this line because it’s just too outrageous, or did they not have access to the same material?

I haven’t actually had a chance to read this book, but as soon as time permits, I’m all over this thing. The whole thing is just so strange, so unusual, so fantastic. Could Jeff Mudgett actually have the answer for all these years? Is this the crucial piece of evidence everyone’s been waiting for? Experts have already said the handwriting between Holmes and the Ripper is a match. Does Jeff Mudgett and his bizarre family line have the ability give yet more like to Holmes and thus solve the mystery of the Ripper?

And when will an investigation of the old Murder Castle site take place? It’s been hinted at. It’s been alluded to. If anyone has more details don’t be shy about throwing them out!

Bloodstains by Jeff Mudgett
Jack the Ripper’s Identity Discovered via Forensic Evidence.
Jeff Mudgett & Paranormal team to investigate H.H. Holmes historic Murder Castle
The Devil’s Domain – Author Jeff Mudgett joins Darkness Radio to talk about the new link between HH Holmes and Jack the Ripper
H.H. Holmes is Jack The Ripper – Jeff Mudgett on BlogTalkRadio

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The Dead Files – Lizzie Borden House – S02E01

I’m by no means a fan of this show, (I had such high hopes when it first came on) but I’m intrigued by the location. So when Amy and Steve got a call from the owner asking them to investigate strange occurrences in the now Bed and Breakfast, I thought it was worth a look.

We’ll skip over Amy’s flailing arms and the multitude of silly faces she makes and get to the heart of the matter. She basically makes the claim that the murders took place due to sexual abuse and incest. While doing her walkthrough, she gets the feeling Andrew Borden sexually abused his daughters. She continually says there was a lot of "freaky" sex things going on in the house. When talking to her assistant, she says she sees Lizzie and her sister sexually involved with each other. She also believes that Lizzie and her sister were both involved in the murder.

That is one hell of a bombshell to drop. Despite the fact there is really no true evidence to support these claims, how valid is the idea? The level of violence suggests some serious levels of rage. You don’t do that sort of damage while in the middle of stealing trinkets off the fireplace mantel. The bodies were defiled in their own way, and the sheer number of blows and weapon of choice somewhat indicate a sexual outlet.

I think it’s been said before, that due to the violence of the scene, the murderer would have been intimately familiar with the family and it wouldn’t have been a random event. The abuse would certainly make sense and shed light on the motives. But the opportunity and how it was all carried out is still unknown. Amy also makes the comment that Lizzie is mentally ill. Was she driven to madness over the events or did she succumb to disease? From everything I’ve read she was considered quite mentally sound and I haven’t seen anything that says she began to deteriorate as she got older. Is she picking up on someone else? Is she out in left field?

Another odd piece is the Ouija Board. Let me just state, I put no value in a Ouija other than it being neat to look. I don’t believe a cardboard cutout with writing on it is a direct communication device to the spirit world. If that were so, you could tune in the Bible or any other religious text like a radio. And if it is so damn easy to communicate with the dead using one, why isn’t anyone in the paranormal field using it? It makes a lot more sense than getting spirits to turn flashlights on and off or scanning through radio waves. But moving on…

There just happens to be a Ouija tossed under the couch where Mr. Borden died? Coincidence? Prop? Set up? And is Amy saying that the guests and employees have actually been able to make contact with the Borden’s and those spirits want them to stop? They’re tired of all the questions? If you’re making contact people, ask what the hell happened? That side story seemed to have some direction, but ultimately didn’t go anywhere. Have people made contact? Did they get any interaction? Seems like we may have had something there.

It’s also worth pointing out that the Ghost Hunters did an investigation of the Lizzie Borden house and concluded there was no activity there. The Ghost Adventures team investigated and felt they got plenty of evidence to support Lizzie was there. They even believe they spoke to her.

So what do we have here? Were Lizzie and her sister victims of sexual abuse and incest? Were they forced to have a relationship with each other (while the father watched)? Did the girls have a misguided love for each other that the father tried to stop and because of his interference he was punished? Did the mother stand by and let everything happen? Was the mother at the helm of the abuse and the father did nothing? Was it both of them? Did Amy uncover some new evidence or did she just heap more myth and accusations onto an already convoluted case?

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