No, I'm not being stalked by H.H. Holmes. That would be ridiculous. H.H. Holmes has been dead for over 100 years. But I had never heard of him until last year when I started Season 5 of American Horror Story (Hotel) and since then, several of my favorite media have paid homage to H.H. Holmes
Note that I say "I started Season 5," because like Season 4, Freak Show, I just couldn't get through it. And I am a Lady Gaga fan. But I digress.
Season 5 of American Horror Story is centered around a grand hotel that was built with hidden passages and torture chambers where guests check in but . . . well . . . they don't check out. The season was supposedly inspired - at least in part - by the crimes of H.H. Holmes who is known as America's first serial killer. Holmes built a large building in Chicago that was intended for multiple uses. It had commercial space for drug stores and such on the first floor, apartments on the second floor, and a hotel on the third floor. The hotel was never completed and it was later found that the building contained many hidden passages and rooms that were subsequently thought to be used by Holmes for torture and murder. This is architecture of the hotel in Season 5.
The story of the "murder hotel" is fascinating and while I did not finish the season, I remembered the crazed serial killer from the series who built the hotel; so when a similar story made an appearance in one of my favorite podcasts, Serial Killers, I quickly connected the dots. There were descriptions of the building's construction, Holmes' penchant for bigamy, and his life as a con artist - who had a medical degree. Holmes is infamous as "America's First Serial Killer," a statement claim that is probably not accurate. He is America's first documented serial killer. See the difference? Of course you do, you're smart. The state of media and communication in the late 1800s had matured to a point where these crimes could be documented and reported outside local community. The role communication plays in publicizing crime and inciting fear is fascinating to me. Sadly, forensic science was nowhere near ready for a psychopath like Holmes, leading to much speculation as to the real number of his victims.
Recently I was looking for some decompression material at the end of a long week at work and scanned through the latest suggestions from Netflix. It's actually kind of creepy when you look at the shows that Netflix recommends for me - I sometimes wonder if that sort of playlist raises red flags when there is an unsolved crime in the area. I'm hopeful my dogs will always be there with an alibi if somebody I know ever goes missing. Anyway, the movie Havenhurst caught my eye and since it was 8:00 p.m. on Thursday-Friday after a challenging week of work issues and insomnia, I figured it was as good as anything. It was easily accessible, and I was so tired I assumed I would fall asleep in the first half hour so a crappy flick would go unnoticed.
To my surprise (and even moreso, to my husband's surprise), I was still awake through the closing credits. There he was, H.H. Holmes, inspiring yet another one of my media choices. I will say no more to avoid any spoilers here, and I'm not suggesting this is the best horror movie I have ever seen. But any program that can hold my interest well past 10:00 p.m. after a glass of wine (or two) and a long week is better than I expected.
But that doesn't answer the original question. How did I get this far without ever hearing about H.H. Holmes, only to have his story show up three times in the past year? That is a question well worth asking. In the meantime, my question has led me to a documentary on Netflix, H. H. Holmes: America’s First Serial Killer. I missed this one. Clearly I am not being stalked. What a relief.