Sunday, February 6, 2011

My spine is tingling...was it a close encounter with a notorious serial killer?!!

Brace yourselves this is going to sound a little far fetched...but here goes...

Several years ago, I bought a book about a Chicago serial killer who lived in the late 1890's.  I've had a keen interest in serial killers and crimes/unsolved murders, etc., most of my life.  The first 'adult' book I read was a murder mystery my mom had left lying on the back of our couch and I picked it up...hooked!  I was barely 9 years old.

When I was a freshman in high school, I borrowed a book from the school library about Jack the Ripper.  I studied his crime spree and all the evidence.  Since then I have read dozens, if not hundreds, of these books.  There's something I enjoy about pouring over crime scenes, evidence, photos, autopsies, etc.  It seems a rather grim hobby, I know!!

Back to the Chicago killer...his name was H. H. Holmes (which was actually an alias--his real name was Herman Mudgett) and he was a physician.  He swindled people, was a bigamist, and a was a cruel, prolific murderer.

The book was a darkly addictive.  I was amazed at how horrific this man's crimes were!  After completing it, I held onto it for awhile, but eventually threw it in the garbage.  Sometimes very dark things bring a sense of oppression, and I wanted to purge that from my home.

Years went by, at least a decade, and I started reading a new book: The Devil In The White City.  The book was a thorough history of the people and details of the Columbian Exposition, aka the 1893 World Fair, held in Chicago.  Throughout the book, the story of the infamous H. H. Holmes was told in relation to the development and presentation of the fair.  I believe a movie is in the works, based on The Devil In The White City.  This book did not go into all the gruesome details that the first book had, just giving the minimum explanations.

Now, here's what I think is eerie:  in the 1890's, at the very same time that Holmes lived in his murder castle, which was a sprawling hotel he had custom built, and was located in downtown Englewood, South Chicago, my great grandmother was a new settler from Sweden.  She was a young girl who had emmigrated just as she had entered her teens.  Her elder brother, wife, and child, had previously settled here, and needed a nursemaid to help with their baby.  She sailed all alone to the new country, a brave young girl, undoubtedly.  Her name was Helen Louise Ericcson.  (Incidentally, her brother and his family stayed only a short time after that and returned to Sweden.  Helen stayed in Chicago alone.)

My mother is the oldest child in her family, and her memories of her grandmother's tales are sketchy.  She has often told the story of how young Helen lived in Chicago and met her future husband (William)in the confectionary shop that she worked in.  He would often come in with his brothers-- the Fitzgerald brothers, who were Irish immigrants. 

Mom also remembered that 'Pop' (her grandpa) Fitzgerald (and his brothers) worked in the steel mills of Chicago.  She does not know what they did, but they all seemed to be fairly well off.  When Helen and William married, they stayed in Chicago for several years, but eventually moved to western PA and settled in a farm house on Buhl Farm Drive in Hickory.  (Now Hermitage.) 

Helen not only worked in a confectionary (candy) shop, she also gained employment as a nanny with a doctor.  This is the part where I WISH I had more details!!!  One night, she witnessed him killing the child with some chemical.  Great Grandma fled after that.  Was the doctor the infamous H. H. Holmes?  In my research, there are several pieces that fit in this puzzle.  H.H. Holmes killed a child that belonged to his live-- in mistress with chloroform! 

Also, the area of town where he lived was where the steel mills grew up, and these same mills sent many of their workers to the Sharon/Hermitage/Farrell area!  And...The building H.H. Holmes  owned had a candy shop in the bottom floor.  A 17 year old girl that worked there was invited to work for the doctor and she disappeared!  She was one of his many victims.  There were a minimum of 28 murder victims in this case.  So many coincidences. 

I have only been doing this research for the past 2 days, and I'm sincerely thinking I might be onto something here!

I'm going to do more research and will update this as soon as I can!

CRAZY stuff!

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