When we hear about serial killers we often think about the infamous Ted Bundy or about the movie characters such as Hannibal Lecter. However, the truth is that serial killers have been around around for hundreds of years. The lack of organized law enforcement during the 1800′s often allowed serial killers to go undetected for years before getting caught, if they were caught at all. This list of serial killers from the 1800′s details some of the creepiest and most grotesque crimes of the 19th century.
H.H. Holmes has regained notoriety in modern times as one of the most terrifying serial killers in American history with the recent release of the best selling novel, Devil in the White City. Holmes first foray into the macabre began while he was in medical school. He stole bodies from the school’s morgue and bought insurance policies under fake identities. He then disfigured the bodies and reported that these fake persons has accidentally died, thus collecting the life insurance. What Holmes did next, however, is truly horrific. On moving to Chicago, Holmes built a three story hotel which many in the neighborhood referred to as a castle. The top two floors of the building was a maze of sealed rooms, doors to nowhere, dead end staircases and countless other features designed to confuse the unlucky “guests”. Holmes routinely changed building contractors during the hotel’s construction so that only he would know the layout of the hotel.
Holmes, who primarily killed women, targeted his hotel staff, those he was romantically involved with as well as hotel guests. He often required his hotel staff to take out life insurance policies which had him as the main benefactor. Holmes would kill his victims by pumping gas into their sealed rooms or by cutting off airflow to the room. He would then drop the bodies through a chute into the basement where he either cremated the bodies or stripped the bodies of skin and organs so that he could sell the skeletons to medical schools. Holmes was eventually caught in 1894 and charged with the murder of three children. He was hung in 1896. Authorities stated that his killing spree lasted from 1893-1894 and that he killed anywhere from 20 to 200 people during that time.
Manuel Blanco Romasanta
Born in Spain, the family of Manuel Romansanta originally throught that he was a girl, and raised him as one until a doctor performing an exam informed them that he was in fact a male. Records state that Romanasanta reached no more 4 feet 11 inches in height as an adult and may have been even shorter. His first murder occured when a local official attempted to collect an unpaid debt. Romanasanta fled to a rural village where he acted as a mountain guide for travelling women and children. He attempted to allay suspicion by forging fake letters stating that the travelers had reached their destination. This did not last very long, as villagers soon noticed that Romanasanta was selling the women’s clothing within the village as well as soap which appeared to be made from human fat. He was eventually arrested and sentenced to death by garotte. He was active from 1844 to 1852 and killed between 9 and 14 people.
Boone Helm: The Kentucky Cannibal
The American Wild West was the playground of many criminals and psychopaths during the 1800′s. The wide expanses of wilderness and lack of organized local law enforcement meant that lunatics were often able to terrorize settlers for years. Helm was known for killing and cannibalizing traveling companions and those he met along the way when food was running low or they did something to anger him. He would also kill men and save their meat in case food ran low on long journeys. Groups seeking vigilante justice pursued Helm across the West, however, Helm was able to keep one step ahead for a time. In one instance he was submitted to a mental asylum after capture, but soon escaped after tricking the guards into thinking he was harmless. He was finally captured by a vigilante gang and hung in front of a crowd of 6,000. He jumped off the stool moements before the hangman could kick it out. Boone Helm was active from 1850 to 1864 and killed at least 11 people though the final tally is likely much higher.
Any day now, she’ll say her first words.
My wife and I have been playfully betting on what she’ll say first - ‘Mama’ or ‘Daddy.’ I can hear my wife crooning over and over while she feeds her ‘Mama’s little girl! Mama loves you so much!’ Sometimes, she’s not even subtle about it - ‘Say ‘mama!’ Come on! ‘Mama!”
I don’t mind it though. I still believe I’ll win. When we first brought her home, she would scream and cry and nothing my wife would say could calm her down, but I knew just how to hold her to help her fall asleep. Our daughter was a daddy’s girl - my wife needed all the handicaps she could get.
I sit our daughter in her chair and my wife and I begin babbling like chickens - ‘Mama!’ ‘Daddy!’ ‘Say Mama!’ ‘Who’s daddy’s baby?’
I pull the gag from our little girl’s mouth.
“P-please… what do you want from me? Please let me go…”
My wife’s smile falls from her face. With a heavy heart, I put the gag back in as the girl starts to scream. I take her back to the room, locking her in and shutting the lights out. When I return, I find my wife crying.
“It’s ok, honey,” I tell her, “The next one will be better. I promise.”