Seven years ago we shared with you two stories of one of America’s first serial killers who plucked his victims from the hundreds of thousands of visitors to the Chicago World’s Columbia Exposition (the forerunner to the World’s Fair subsequently held in cities around the world) of 1893. Young women would travel to Chicago seeking work and would simply vanish, all thanks to a man who would become known as America’s first serial killer. Though his notorious Murder Castle no longer occupies its previous space in the city of Chicago, there is one aspect of this grisly tale that does still exist: the mortal remains of Herman Webster Mudgett a.k.a. Dr Henry Howard Holmes. His remains are due to be exhumed at the request of his great-grandsons John and Richard Mudgett as there has been rumors that not only was Mr Mudgett a serial killer but also a consummate con artist and he somehow conned his way out of the death penalty and took off for parts friendlier to unknown individuals.
If you’re unfamiliar with Holmes’ tale, you can read our previous posts here: H H Holmes’ Murder Castle and America’s First Serial Killer. More information about the exhumation can be read here: The Body Of ‘Devil In The White City’ Serial Killer H.H. Holmes Is Being Exhumed and Who Is Really Buried in the Grave of the ‘Devil in the White City’? There’s also the book titled Devil in the White City A Saga of Magic and Murder at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson.
As a personal note, I tried listening to the audio version of this book and I have to say it’s pretty boring. It’s non-fiction and there’s only a very tiny amount of dialogue. The book takes you through the entire creation of the World’s Fair from the very very beginning when it was all still in the planning stages. Truthfully, the most interesting part for me was learning of the various ideas that the planners were trying to come up with to top the centrepiece of the previous World’s Fair in Paris (1889): the Eiffel Tower. In the end, as you probably are aware, it was the Ferris Wheel (also known as the Chicago Wheel) which was created by George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr. and debuted at the 1893 World’s Fair. Some of the ideas people came up with were pretty crazy, even by today’s standards.
If my story about Robert creeped you out, this story can only add to the feeling…
In one of the many boroughs of Mexico City, in what used to be the independent city of Xochimilco, lies Teshuilo Lake. Once part of a vast lake and canal system which once connected all settlements within the Valley of Mexico, it is now part of a much smaller, similar canal system.
In the middle of this lake is an island which many believe to be haunted. The Island of the Dolls is believed to be haunted by the spirit of a young girl who drowned in one of the canals near the island. The event was witnessed by Don Julian Santana who had left his wife and child to live on the island. While he believed he was haunted by the young girl who had drowned, many others, including his family, believed he’d imagined the whole thing. However it happened, the end result was the same: the island became liberally decorated with dolls of all kinds. According to Don Julian, they were meant to make the spirit of the young girl feel better, or to keep her occupied and not bothering him so much. He displayed the dolls all over the island, ones that he’d found in the canals or in trash or even brand new ones. They were fastened to trees or hung from branches in whatever shape they arrived in. Even the cabin he lived in – still there on the island – was filled with these dolls, which Don Julian never made an attempt to repair.
In 2001, Don Julian was found drowned in the same area of the canals he alleged the girl had drowned. Some believe that the dolls became possessed by tortured spirits and conspired to drown the old man. Others believe it was simply an accident and now the dolls are the island’s caretakers.
In 2009, the SyFy television programme ‘Destination Truth’ aired an episode in which the team visited the island. If you want to find the episode, it’s Episode 302. One of my fellow bloggers here managed to find a 2 minute summary of the episode on YouTube: Island of the Dolls
One of the most perplexing incidents of strange coincidences is tied to the hamlet of Beatrice, Nebraska. At 7:27pm, on Wednesday, March 1, 1950, a natural gas explosion inside the West Side Baptist Church would completely level the building. The church choir practice was scheduled that Wednesday night for 7:20pm, but every single member of the choir was unusually late to practice that evening. The strange circumstances behind the entire choir’s tardiness continue to amaze people who hear about this story.
The village of Cladh Hallan on the Scottish island of South Uist is a site of historical interest due to the age of the village itself. Dating back to prehistoric times, parts of this area give clues to what life must have been like in centuries past. One of the most interesting of these clues was the discovery of two mummies underneath the ruins of an 11th century home–human remains that had been preserved and then re-buried. These preserved remains, theorized to have been kept in the peat bogs to resist decomposition, have fascinated scientists and historians alike for many years. Recently, even more information of these ‘bog bodies’ have come to light that ultimately results in even more questions about these ancient people.
The remains. which were so perfectly preserved they have a nearly statue-like quality, were once thought to be two bodies of a man and a woman. However, recent questions about the structure of the mummies led to DNA experiments, which has led to the new suggestion that they are not the bodies of simply two people–they are instead compilations of several different body parts from several different people. If this is indeed the scenario, what was the human race experimenting with thousands of years ago? Was this a prehistoric ‘Frankenstein’ or part of some ancient ritual, lost to time?
The questions of course are still being answered as more interest grows in these mummies. What has been determined is that the female body is made of parts that were within the same period of time, however the male has parts that are several hundred years apart according to isotopic dating (also known as radiometric dating, or the method for determining the age of an object based on the concentration of a particular radioactive isotope contained within it).
It will likely be some time, if ever, that any type of real hypothesis can be made on why these bodies were pieced together and buried the way they were. It is however, a unique example of no matter how much we have learned, surmised and theorized about life and the human race thousands of years ago–there is still so much we do not know.
“Frankenstein” Bog Mummies Discovered
Tales from the Bog