Inside the grave of serial killer H.H. Holmes

Exhumation Ends 120 Year Mystery of H.H. Holmes’ Death

American Ripper ends over a century of rumors that H.H. Holmes escaped his death sentence.

The last episode of American Ripper aired Tuesday on the History channel, finally bringing closure to a mystery that has endured since H.H. Holmes was hanged in 1896. The series, co-hosted by Holmes’ great-great-grandson Jeff Mudgett, focused on the search for clues to support Mudgett’s theory that his ancestor was Jack the Ripper. While it’s an interesting idea (and who doesn’t want to discover conclusive proof of the Ripper’s identity?) I was just tuning in to see the remains of H.H. Holmes exhumed from his concrete grave.

According to records, Holmes was hanged at Philadelphia’s Moyamensing Prison, transported to Holy Cross Cemetery in Yeadon, and buried beneath a layer of concrete. Holmes purchased two burial plots with the money he made by selling his confession to Hearst newspapers. Per his request, he was buried in an unmarked grave at the center of those two plots, at a greater depth than normal.

But soon after, rumors began to circulate that Holmes, the consummate con artist, had managed to swindle his way out of the noose. This was seemingly supported by the mysterious deaths of several people who had been involved in his trial.

The skull of serial killer H.H. Holmes
A mugshot of Holmes beside his skull

Mudgett and Holmes’ other living descendants were granted permission by the court to exhume Holmes back in April with the assistance of archaeologists from the University of Pennsylvania. During the dig, they first uncovered an empty pine box. Digging further, however, they came to a slab of concrete with bones beneath.

In the conclusion of American Ripper, it was revealed that forensic analysis of the remains showed a “conclusive link” to Jeff Mudgett. This discovery ends over one hundred years of speculation, proving even Holmes couldn’t cheat death.

Mudgett plans to continue investigating the connections between Holmes and Jack the Ripper, and is hoping History will green-light a second season of American Ripper.

Remains of H.H. Holmes returned to the grave
Remains of H.H. Holmes returned to the grave. Image via Bloodstains

Holmes was re-interred in his original grave on Wednesday morning.

The Magician and the Spirits

The Magician and the Spirits

The Magician and the Spirits
by Deborah Noyes
160 pages
Viking Books for Young Readers

It’s never too early to introduce kids to the story of Houdini’s crusade against spiritualists. From the book description:

A century ago, the curious idea that spirits not only survive death but can be contacted on the “other side” was widespread. Psychic mediums led countless séances, claiming to connect the grieving with their lost relations through everything from frenzied trance writing to sticky expulsions of ectoplasm.

The craze caught Harry Houdini’s attention. Well-known by then as most renowned magician and escape artist, he began to investigate these spiritual phenomena. Are ghosts real? Can we communicate with them? Catch them in photographs? Or are all mediums “flim-flammers,” employing tricks and illusions like Houdini himself?

Peopled with odd and fascinating characters, Houdini’s gripping quest will excite readers’ universal wonderment with life, death, and the possibility of the Beyond.

The Magician and the Spirits: Houdini and the Curious Pastime of Communicating with the Dead
Buy now on Amazon

MORE: Cult of Weird Recommended Reading

Killed by a bear

Killed By A Bear: The Story of a Mysterious Gravesite in California

The first episode of Ephemera digs into the strange details of a mysterious grave in California and the inscription on a tree that reads “killed by a bear.”

Ephemera is going to be your new favorite web series. Produced and hosted by Brandon Alvis, Ephemera promises to dig up the fascinating details of history’s strange news stories “through historical documents, photos and visual storytelling.”

The first episode tells the story of a mysterious grave at the base of an oak tree, where the badly mangled remains of an man apparently killed by a bear were discovered.

From the episode description:

At the top of Grapevine Canyon, sitting under an ancient oak tree, there stands a marker with a strange inscription. The lack of facts about the inscription have lead to many legends surrounding the life and violent death of the man buried under an oak tree in what is now known as Fort Tejon. Host Brandon Alvis breaks down this strange history to separate fact from legend of this mysterious gravesite.

More episodes of Ephemera are on the way, which will delve into the site of New York’s worst disaster prior to 9/11, a house built to conjure dead composers, and more.

Subscribe on Youtube right here.

Confessions of a Funeral Director

Confessions of a Funeral Director

Watch the promo video for the upcoming book Confessions of a Funeral Director by Caleb Wilde.


Caleb Wilde is a sixth-generation funeral director and the death positive blogger of Confessions of a Funeral Director. Now he’s bringing his unique insight and experiences to a book of the same name.

From the video description:

We are a people who deeply fear death. While humans are biologically wired to evade death for as long as possible, we have become too adept at hiding from it, vilifying it, and—when it can be avoided no longer—letting the professionals take over.

Sixth-generation funeral director Caleb Wilde understands this reticence and fear. He had planned to get as far away from the family business as possible. He wanted to make a difference in the world, and how could he do that if all the people he worked with were . . . dead? Slowly, he discovered that caring for the deceased and their loved ones was making a difference—in other people’s lives to be sure, but it also seemed to be saving his own. A spirituality of death began to emerge as he observed:

• The family who lovingly dressed their deceased father for his burial

• The act of embalming a little girl that offered a gift back to her grieving family

• The nursing home that honored a woman’s life by standing in procession as her body was taken away

• The funeral that united a conflicted community

Through stories like these, told with equal parts humor and poignancy, Wilde offers an intimate look into the business and a new perspective on living and dying.

Confessions of a Funeral Director by Caleb Wilde

Confessions of a Funeral Director will be available September 26.


The head of serial killer Peter Kurten in Wisconsin Dells

Weekend Weird: Cannibal Boyfriend, Doomsday Eclipse, Trees That Don’t Touch, and More

Here’s the last roundup of weird news you’ll ever get before the total solar eclipse brings about the end of the world on Monday.

Good news everyone: Monday’s total solar eclipse may mark the end of the world! You didn’t expect it to come and go without some doomsayer predicting Armageddon, did you? According to certain Christian evangelist groups, this rare celestial event could be the beginning of the tribulation with a black sun rising over the United States on the morning of August 21. And I certainly hope so, because I’m tired of going to my stupid dead end job every day.

Here in Wisconsin, though, far from the path of totality, we will only see between 75-87% of the eclipse, depending on where you are in the state. And now it looks like we’re going to have thunderstorms on Monday, so we might not see it at all. Does that mean we will also be deprived of the end of the world? Is God sending a message that he likes Wisconsin? Because we have beer and deranged killers? Or are we just continually being punished?

Anyway, the news story I’m most fascinated by this week is the tale of two lovers in Key West whose quarrel over whether or not one of them was a cannibal ended in tragedy. It seems 24-year-old stripper Justin Calhoun suspected his 67-year-old boyfriend Mark Brann of being a cannibal, and decided to question him about it. imagine the conversation began with something like, “Hey, so, um…what are those fingers doing in your salad?”

But the situation quickly escalated, apparently leaving Calhoun with no choice but to stab Brann’s eyes out with a pen, shove a broken piece of wood down his throat to stifle his screams, and leave him for dead, running off naked into the streets with a backpack full of Brann’s money and prescription drugs.

And now for the rest of this week’s weird news and media:

The severed head of German serial killer Peter Kurten in Wisconsin

Map shows the best places to watch the eclipse with Sasquatch

Trees with “crown shyness” mysteriously avoid touching each other

Afraid of the dark? Why eclipses frightened ancient civilizations

Make America ghostly again: The demon cat of Washington D.C.

Fund the world’s weirdest vending machine

“I am Jack the Ripper” postcard hits the auction block

If you think an eclipse means doomsday, you’re not the first

‘Chicago Phantom’ makes an appearance at Lollapalooza

Our enduring preoccupation with premature burial

Woman ends up in morgue on ‘worst Tinder date ever’

Solar eclipse could bring lizard people, South Carolina emergency officials warn

The bizarre island religion that worships an American GI

Mystery surrounds strange object found in waters off Westerly

“Kentuckians for Coal” to protest the solar eclipse

The man who wore his wife

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