| Last updated
The family of a 19th century serial killer in Philadelphia have won a court ruling to have his body exhumed.
The great-grandchildren of Dr. H. H. Holmes have requested to have his remains dug up in an attempt to put an end to rumours that he escaped before his execution.
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia, which owns the cemetery where the body was located, confirmed the exhumation was to take place.
WCAU-TV reports that an excavator was removing dirt from a grave at Holy Cross Cemetery on Friday, although there is no official word on whether or not the process has actually started.
Herman Webster Mudgett, the real name of Dr. H. H. Holmes, became one of the first documented serial killers of modern times.
He is said to have killed as many as 200 people, although the actual number remains a mystery.
Many of Mudgett's victims met their deaths in a hotel building he owned, about three miles west of the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition.
The building was nicknamed Murder Castle and was filled with windowless rooms, stairways that led to nowhere and hallways with dead ends.
Mudgett even constructed gas jets which ran into the hotel room walls and a disposal chute which fed directly into a human body sized kiln in the basement.
Once his hotel was complete he went about placing adverts in local papers to lure unsuspecting women into his lair.
It's believed that the majority of people who entered Mudgett's hotel of horrors were never seen again.
After he had finished experimenting with his victims on his dissecting table, or torturing them on the stretcheing rack, he would cash in and sell their bones to medical schools as human skeleton models.
Ultimately, however, it was the murder of his business partner which led to his arrest and subsequent hanging in 1896.
Mudgett was executed at a public event in Philadelphia and reportedly told the executioner not to rush. It took 15 minutes for him to die.
In spite of the records of his hanging, rumours circulated that he managed to evade the execution and put another convict in his place instead.
His great-grandchildren are keen to put such stories to bed.
Words: Paddy Maddison
Chosen for YouChosen for You
Most Read StoriesMost Read