Herman Webster Mudgett (May 16, 1861 – May 7, 1896), better known under the name of Dr. Henry Howard Holmes, was one of the first documented American serial killers in the modern sense of the term. In Chicago at the time of the 1893 World's Fair, Holmes opened a hotel which he had designed and built for himself specifically with murder in mind, and which was the location of many of his murders. While he confessed to 27 murders, of which four were confirmed, his actual body count could be as high as 200. He took an unknown number of his victims from the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, which was less than two miles away, to his "World's Fair" hotel.
The case was notorious in its time and received wide publicity through a series of articles in William Randolph Hearst's newspapers. Interest in Holmes's crimes was revived in 2003 by Erik Larson's The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America, a best-selling non-fiction book that juxtaposed an account of the planning and staging of the World's Fair with Holmes's story. His story had been previously chronicled in The Torture Doctor by David Franke (1975), Depraved: The Shocking True Story of America's First Serial Killer by Harold Schechter (1994), and chapter VI "The Monster of Sixty-Third Street" of Gem of the Prairie: An Informal History of the Chicago Underworld by Herbert Asbury (1940, republished 1986).