We Spoke To The Descendant Of America's First Ever Serial Killer And It's Pretty Eye-Opening

You’re going to want to Google H.H. Holmes before you read the rest of this article.

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We Spoke To The Descendant Of America's First Ever Serial Killer And It's Pretty Eye-Opening

We don’t have serial killers here in Malaysia, unless you count heart disease, the number one cause of death in Malaysia.

As he tells it, Jeff Mudgett was having a nice family dinner when he discovered that he was a descendent of Herman Webster Mudgett, America’s first serial killer, better known as H. H. Holmes.

The very bad man reportedly confessed to killing 27 people - most of them allegedly in a mixed-building he owned - but investigators believe that the number could be as high as 200!

He was executed in May 1896 for the murder of his dear friend Benjamin Pitezel.

 A newspaper clipping on the day after H.H. Holmes' hanging
So pretend you’re related to heart disease, and you’ll partway understand what Jeff Mudgett went through when he found out about his infamous heritage.
Our interview with the man was part of HISTORY channel’s newest series premiering 15 November titled American Ripper.

It’s the story of Jeff Mudgett piling on his great-great-great-grandfather legacy of murder with even more murders; tying H.H. Holmes to Jack the Ripper, another infamous serial killer in London.

(If you do not know who Jack the Ripper is, he's one of the world's most infamous serial killers, having murdered five women between 1888–1891. His identity still remains a mystery today)
To extend our metaphor, that’s like being related to heart disease, and claiming heart disease also caused road traffic accidents (the #4 killer of Malaysians).

 An early newspaper illustration depicting the discovery of Jack the Ripper's victims
As Jack the Ripper is still unidentified even after more than a century, Jeff Mudgett believes he has sufficient evidence to prove that Jack the Ripper and H.H. Holmes are one and the same.

When we were given the chance to speak to him, we cut right to the chase: "What do you need to prove conclusively that the two serial killers are one and the same?"
“In my opinion, the mystery is solved and the case is closed. Were Holmes alive today, English prosecutors could come to the United States, obtain an arrest warrant, an order for extradition; they could take Holmes back to London with them and have him tried for the murder of Catherine Eddowes and Elizabeth Stride.”

 The murder castle of H.H. Holmes. Google with caution
According to Jeff, they have enough evidence to have H.H. Holmes stand trial today (you’ll have to watch the show to find out what that evidence is exactly). He continues that since American Ripper aired in the U.K, people have contributed to his investigations.

“Almost every day now I get emails from people who have documents or artifacts connecting H.H. Holmes with Jack The Ripper asking me to come to London to inspect the evidence.”

As we all know, filial piety is important in Asia and you never want to be the journalist (read: disappointment) in a family of doctors, lawyers, and engineers.

With that in mind we asked him, "Did you ever try to disprove your geneaology?" 

"You know, I've never been asked that question. When I first started, I did try to disprove it. As do most." 

Fair enough. 

We were on the conference call with Jeff and another media representative from the Philippines who asked many family-related questions as well: "Do the families of the victims feel vindicated, does your family feel like the evil genius dishonours the family name, and what is your family going to do once you have H.H. Holmes body exhumed?" 

The excavation of H.H. Holmes bodySince we're not the kind of publication to piggy-back on other people's questions and claim the answers as our own, we aren't going to publish it here.

But the part about H.H. Holmes' body being exhumed is interesting. Jeff and his team from HISTORY and A&E actually managed to convince a judge to do a DNA test on the supposed body of H.H. Holmes that is buried in Philadelphia (again, that's another story you'll have to watch unfold in the final episode). 

If you're interested to learn more about Jeff, you can watch his TedTalk below and you can check out his books online. 

A promotional still for 'American Ripper'American Ripper premiers, 15 November, Wednesdays at 9.55pm on HISTORY (Astro channel 555 and HD 575). 

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