Hi there! My name is Chantal and I run a nifty little business called Toronto Cemetery Tours. I help people relive history while walking through the city’s beautifully landscaped graveyards. Most of my tours are themed and I like to focus on people and facts that are not always easy to find out in just a simple Google search. Think Victorian diseases, Escapes Slaves, Murder, and the Women who built our fine country. There is so much history buried beneath our feet and I have a passion for digging it up and sharing it with you. Including this little-known tidbit….
In these strange times, let’s wish a strange happy birthday to Herman Webster Mudgett, born this day, May 16th in 1861. You may better know him as the serial killer H.H. Holmes.
Holmes is recognized as one of the United States’ first serial killers. He built a hotel in Chicago now better known as “The Murder Hotel”. During the 1893 World’s Fair he would lure people there, then kill them after they became lost in the hotel’s confusing and labyrinthine rooms and hallways. He is said to have killed anywhere from 50 to 200 people, mostly young women.
His connection to Toronto stems from an insurance scam Holmes tried to capitalize on. He killed Ben Pitezel, a long-time conspirator, and stole away with his wife and children. Through a bizarre series of events, the con-man ended up in Toronto with two of the Pitezel girls, Alice and Nellie. Here, Holmes killed them and buried their bodies in the cellar of the house he was renting at No 16 Vincent Street. The building has long since been demolished and the street itself was incorporated into Bay Street.
Not long after, the killer returned to Chicago and his unthinkable crime was discovered. Upon his capture, he has this to say of his life, “I was born with the devil in me. I could not help the fact that I was a murderer, no more than the poet can help the inspiration to sing. I was born with the evil one standing as my sponsor beside the bed where I was ushered into the world, and he has been with me since.” For his multiple crimes, H.H. Holmes was executed by hanging in Philadelphia on May 7, 1896.
The bodies of his two Toronto victims were buried in an unmarked grave in St. James Cemetery, one coffin above the other, in a space not far from the front gates.
If you’re interested in reading more about serial killer H.H. Holmes pick up the book “The Devil in the White City” by Erik Larson.
To learn more about Toronto Cemetery Tours or to book your own private tour when we no longer have to stay the fuck home, email firstname.lastname@example.org or check out my social media:
See you in the cemetery!