This summer’s great murder-mystery surrounding a man hanged in Philadelphia 121 years ago and known as “America’s first serial killer” has been solved.
An eight-part television show called “American Ripper” on the History Channel that examined the life, death and legends surrounding mass murderer Herman Mudgett, aka H.H. Holmes, concluded Tuesday night.
NBC10 Investigators were first to unearth the growing mystery in April of the Holmes conspiracy that he escaped death. Then, in July, NBC10 exclusively reported that a search for the truth was underway — with Holy Cross Cemetery in Delaware County as the epicenter.
The question all along, spurred on by the show’s co-host and Holmes’ great-great-grandson, Jeff Mudgett, was whether Holmes actually hanged at Moyamensing Prison in South Philadelphia in 1896 and was then buried at the Yeadon cemetery.
Mudgett and a team of anthropologists from the University of Pennsylvania exhumed bones found at the grave site Holmes was believed to be buried. Then came skeletal analysis and facial reconstruction and look backs at newspaper accounts questioning whether Holmes escaped his hanging.
Like this news story, the television show waited a while — until the final seconds of the 42-minute season finale — to reveal the DNA evidence that would prove conclusively whether Holmes did indeed hang.
In the end, the evidence concluded … the body in the grave was indeed Holmes.
DNA analysis at Kings College in London, England, comparing the skull of the skeleton in the grave to Mudgett’s DNA, proved a match. By Wednesday morning, the Philadelphia Archdiocese re-interred the skeletal remains in his grave at the Yeadon cemetery.
“Dental records and DNA testing reveal a conclusive link to Jeff Mudgett,” the show announced in its final moments. “Proving that the remains exhumed are those of H.H. Holmes. The result ends a century of speculation about Holmes’ final days.”
Mudgett, however, remains skeptical.