Summer vacation means trips to the shore and theme parks for most normal people. Well, I’m not completely normal. Fascinated with anything creepy or dark, when you’re trying to find the perfect spot to lay your beach blanket, I will be looking for another kind of plot, the unmarked grave of America’s first serial killer, H.H. Holmes (a/k/a Herman Webster Mudgett and Dr. Henry Howard Holmes).
Holmes was the mastermind behind the hotel at the Chicago World’s Fair, known as the Castle. The good doctor’s own drugstore was located on the first floor of the Castle, but the upper floors harbored something far sinister. The guests were never intended to leave, at least not alive anyway. Each room was designed to kill by suffocation, rooms fitted with gas lines to choke people locked in their rooms. Holmes sold some of the victims’ skeletons to medical schools. For more about H.H. Holmes and his connection to Philadelphia, see here.
America’s first serial killer was buried on May 8, 1896 somewhere in the Holy Cross Cemetery in Yeadon, Pennsylvania after being hanged at the Moyamensing Prison. I say somewhere because his grave is unmarked. However, thanks to findagrave.com (yes, there is such a thing) I have the GPS coordinates for his final resting place. Holmes’ coffin is encased with cement because he feared grave robbers would remove his remains for medical purposes. The irony of this is not lost on anyone.
Another local monster was Gary Heidnik, the madman who was convicted of the kidnap, torture, rape, and murder of women he held prisoner in his basement. I’ve read Cellar of Horror, and Heidnik was a despicable human being who became the last person executed in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. For more on his crimes, see here.
While the house itself, once located at 3520 North Marshall Street in Philadelphia, is long torn down, I want to see the lot where it once stood. I’m not sure why, maybe it has something to do with my interest in things closed and abandoned. Viewing the site where the crimes occurred will make it seem more real, rather than just a horrific story I read.
Another place I would like to visit involves a bit of a road trip, to Baltimore to be exact. I want to tour Westminster Burying Grounds and Catacombs, with Westminster Cemetery the final resting place of Edgar Allan Poe. This is something I have wanted to do for a while but have never had the opportunity, and I’m hoping I can check it off my list soon.
In August I will be appearing in the annual reenactment of the murders at the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast in Fall River, Massachusetts on the anniversary of the crime. More on that at a later date.
Aside from these unconventional warm weather plans, I will participate in activities that are more traditional to the summer months, such as trips to the shore and concerts. What are your plans for summer vacation?