America’s First Serial Killer: Chicago Serial Killer H.H. Holmes and His ‘Murder Castle’ Will Be Featured in Hulu Series Produced By DiCaprio

Chicago’s notoriety as the home of America’s first serial killer was highlighted in the 2003 book “The Devil In the White City,” the story of H.H. Holmes and his now-famous “murder castle.” CBS Chicago Gilma Avalos reports.

H.H. Holmes was a 19th-century serial killer who lured his victims around the time of the 1893 World’s Fair into the World’s Fair Hotel, nicknamed “Murder Castle” which is reported to have contained a gas chamber, a 3000°F crematorium and a dissecting table. Apparently the hotel was never opened as an actual hotel. The Chicago World’s Fair was open to the public from May 1, 1893 until October 30, 1893.

“The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America” is a book released in 2003 by author Erik Larson. The White City was the nickname for the Chicago World’s Fair because the central array of buildings were all painted white. The Devil refers to H.H. Holmes., who was Dr. Henry Howard Holmes. The book is two stories intertwined, based on real events of architect Daniel H. Burnham, who was a leading architect in Chicago, and serial killer Henry H. Holmes, who built a hotel known as “Murder Castle” across from his pharmaceutical business just west of the World’s Fair: Columbian Exposition fairgrounds.

Author Erik Larson explained there were many factors against the fair as it was being developed. Larson was impressed by the way the fair was developed, but then vanished so quickly when it was finished. Also, in the Burnham plot, is a story about two characters who had been involved in the development of the fair, traveling the RMS Titanic and the RMS Olympic, and failing to communicate via new radio technology on the night the April 14-15, 1912 because the Titanic was sinking. Later, the same year the Titanic sank, Burnham died on June 1, 1912.

Leonardo DiCaprio purchased the film rights to the book in 2010; and initially a movie starring DiCaprio was to be produced by Paramount Pictures, Stacey Sher and Michael Shamberg’s Double Feature Films, and DiCaprio’s own production company Appian Way Productions. For an extended period there was no news about the film.



On Monday, February 11, 2019 multiple news sources reported that Over the Top (OTT) television service Hulu is developing a television series based on the book “The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic and Madness at the Fair That Changed America” by Erik Larson. Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese will be executive producers of the project, working along with Stacey Sher, Rick Yorn, Emma Koskoff, and Jennifer Davisson. Paramount Television will produce.

There was no confirmation with the latest development whether DiCaprio, who starred in a leading role in Titanic, will star in his own Hulu television series.

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The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America (Crown Publishers, ISBN 0-609-60844-4) is a 2003 non-fiction book by Erik Larson presented in a novelistic style.