As many of my readers have gathered over the years in addition to the ghost lore and legends of Chicago, one of my favorite topics is the 1893 Columbian Exposition. Add to that fact that I am a former criminal investigator, historian and genealogist and you can see why I was so fascinated by the book, Bloodstains.
For those of you not familiar with the book I offer a little history lesson. Dr. H. H. Holmes was an alias used by an actual doctor, Dr. Herman Webster Mudgett. Dr. Mudgett used the alias while he was “practicing” in Chicago during the same time period as the Columbian Exposition. While other physicians took a Hippocratic Oath to “never do harm”, Mudgett was having his “Murder Castle” built at 63rd and Wallace. (701-703 63rd St. to be exact). While many have referred to Mudgett as “America’s first Serial Killer” as a former investigator I tend to disagree with the terminology. While I never met the man, from what I have researched he did not strike me as someone with an intense, overwhelming, unstoppable desire to kill. Mudgett seemed to me to be driven by ego and the almighty dollar and if he could make money by killing someone then so be it. Or if someone was of no more use to him and they knew too much then they would have to go as well. Mudgett could kill as easily as we take out the garbage but with less remorse.
I have done quite a bit of research into Mudgett’s activities in Chicago and I would have to say that he is an amazing case study into the criminal mind. In fact I would go so far as to say that a study into Mudgett would be a great training tool for law enforcement even 120 years later. The man was ruthless, cunning and intelligent and I have run across statements of Cook County law enforcement officials at the time that said they really liked the man.
Now take all of that great history and intrigue and throw into the mix a man, Jeff Mudgett, who finds out at the age of 40 that he is the great great grandson of this monster and decides to write a book about the real life challenges both mental and physical that take place as a result.
My wife and I had the opportunity to meet Jeff Mudgett and his wonderful daughter last year in Chicago and had a great time discussing his great great grandfather and what challenges he has had to weather. We actually met down in Jackson Park, the site of the “White City” of 1893 and had the eerie opportunity to walk the same paths that his sociopathic ancestor may have followed.
Of course I had to admit to Jeff that being a professional genealogist and before I met him I had to research his family line and I am here to tell you that he is the real McCoy. In fact, Jeff’s line comes from Mudgett’s only legitimate wife, Clara Lovering and her child Robert Lovering Mudgett.
I was really excited to learn that the book was out on audio. (admittedly I had a little inside information when Jeff and his crew was in the studio recording). I am also thrilled but not surprised that Jeff used the top notch voice talent of Kim Estes and Tim Ellis to bring his real life story to life!
If you haven’t read the book yet and are as busy as I am, the audio book option is a real time-saver and if you are from Chicago and spend half your life in commuter traffic it would be a great way to spend your time.
If you would like to order any version of the book, hardcopy, e-book, or audio book you can visit Jeff’s website at www.bloodstainsthebook.com Oh and by the way, if that is not enough strange Chicago history then you’ll also be interested to know that Jeff has reason to believe that this same monster may in fact be none other than “Jack The Ripper”!