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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.

Invasion on Chestnut Ridge

New Documentary Uncovers the Secrets of Pennsylvania’s Chestnut Ridge

The latest film from Small Town Monsters explores the true story of Chestnut Ridge, where unexplained phenomena has been reported for decades.

For reasons unknown, the stretch of Allegheny Mountain foothills that runs through Pennsylvania, known as Chestnut Ridge, has been the source of countless UFO sightings and run-ins with mysterious creatures for decades. Now, for the first time ever, a new documentary aims to uncover the secrets of one of the strangest places in the world.

Small Town Monsters, the production company behind the Mothman of Point Pleasant documentary, just released the first trailer for their latest project: Invasion on Chestnut Ridge. The film tells the true story of the strange activity along the ridge, including the Kecksburg UFO crash, Bigfoot and UFO sightings in Uniontown, encounters with a large, prehistoric bird in Keystone State Park, and more.

The film is produced and directed by Seth Breedlove, the award-winning director of Boggy Creek Monster, Beast of Whitehall and The Mothman of Point Pleasant.

Invasion on Chestnut Ridge documentary

Invasion on Chestnut Ridge will be released on October 20th.

Exhuming serial killer H.H. Holmes

H.H. Holmes Skeleton Found in Concrete with Brain Intact

What was found inside the grave of H.H. Holmes? Researcher Jeff Mudgett reveals the details of the exhumation.

Back in May news broke that the body of H.H. Holmes would be exhumed for a DNA test. Jeff Mudgett, the great-great-grandson of America’s first serial killer, is hoping to determine whether the rumors that Holmes escaped the gallows in 1896 are true or not. He believes Holmes may have been Jack the Ripper, which is the basis of the History channel series American Ripper, and is hoping to find supporting evidence.

So what exactly did they find when they dug Holmes out of his unmarked grave in Philadelphia’s Holy Cross Cemetery?

The dig, lead by archaeologists from the University of Pennsylvania, first uncovered an empty pine box, Mudgett told NBC. Then, a few feet deeper, they hit concrete.

Holmes feared that grave robbers would steal his body after burial, so he requested to be entombed in cement. The teamed cracked open the concrete sarcophagus and found a man’s skeleton inside.

“Chills went up and down my spine,” Mudgett said. “To see that skeleton and that skull with the brain still inside, which is a phenomenon that scientists still have not explained…scared the heck out of me.”

Anthropologists are still testing the remains at UPenn. If there is any substantial clues to be gleaned from the bones, it will likely be featured in a future episode of American Ripper.

Update: DNA proves Holmes didn’t escape the gallows

World's largest Ouija board

Haunted Hotel Sets World Record For Largest Ouija Board

The haunted Grand Midway Hotel in Windber, PA set the first ever Guinness World Record for the World’s Largest Ouija board.

The Grand Midway Hotel in Windber, PA has a long history of ghostly occurrences emanating from it’s sordid past, including ghost miners, prostitutes, and even the spirit of a little girl who may be buried in the basement. So when owner Blair Murphy was looking for something to fill the giant blank canvas of the roof, a Ouija board just seemed natural.

Murphy contacted Guinness World Records for the dimensions of the largest Ouija board, and discovered a category for talking boards didn’t even exist. They let him know what to do, and he got to work along with his girlfriend Camille Zamboni and friends.

World's largest Ouija board on the roof of the Grand Midway Hotel

The board, completed in October 2016, measures 44 feet by 29 feet with a 10-foot planchette on wheels. It was officially named the World’s Largest Ouija Board by Guinness on October 28.

The record says:

The largest Ouija board measures 121.01 m² (1,302.54 ft²), achieved by Blair Murphy and Team Grand Midway (USA) in Windber, Pennsylvania, USA, on 28 October 2016.

The Ouija board was created on the roof of the Grand Midway Hotel, whose haunted reputation contributed to the inspiration for this record attempt.

Playing the world's largest Ouija board

UPDATE: World’s largest Ouija board OuijaZilla unveiled in Salem

Centralia’s Underground Mine Fire Has Been Burning for Almost 60 Years

Besides a few homes and smoldering cemeteries, not much is left of the small Pennsylvania coal-mining town that’s been burning since 1962.
Abandoned highway in Centralia, PA
The abandoned Pennsylvania Route 61 highway buckled and smokes due to the fire burning beneath.

When the fire began in 1962, the town of Centralia had a population of around 1,400. Today, there are only 10, and the town continues to vanish. The U.S. Postal Service discontinued its zip code in 2002. When someone dies, their home is condemned and torn down. The only new residents are those who return in coffins to be interred in the burning earth beside their families in Centralia’s smoking graveyards.

The strange story of the town’s slow, smoldering demise began nearly 60 years ago. In preparation for Memorial Day celebrations, the town council decided to burn the contents of an old strip mine from the 1930s that was being used as a landfill. On May 27, 1962, firefighters lit the first flames, which moved into other abandoned mines and ignited coal seams beneath the town that have been burning ever since.

Concerns of the rising temperatures beneath the ground, as well as toxic fumes, steadily grew, but it wasn’t until a 12-year-old boy fell into a sinkhole in his yard in 1984 that the government got involved. The majority of the population abandoned Centralia to nearby areas through a voluntary relocation program in the 1980s. In 1992, the governor of Pennsylvania invoked eminent domain on all property and condemned the buildings. Formal eviction began in 2009. In 2013, the few remaining residents won the right to live out the rest of their lives in their homes.

But when they’re gone, Centralia will cease to exist.

The fire may continue to burn for another 250 years.

Silent Hill: The last remaining church in Centralia

The Assumption Of The Blessed Virgin Mary church, built in 1912, still overlooks Centralia from the hilltop. It is just outside of the “impact zone” and has been allowed to remain. It is the last of seven churches that once stood in the area.