A Handful of History’s Houses of Horror

“Murder Castle”

The Murder Castle

At age 29 Holmes bought a lot across the street from his drug store in Englewood, with the intention of constructing a ghastly house of horrors that would come to be known as Murder Castle. The new establishment would be 162 feet long, 50 feet wide, and three stories high. Holmes employed dozens of contractors to actually build it. In the process no one who helped construct the enormous edifice new anything more than what they needed to know about what they were specifically doing. Little did they know he was building a booby-trapped palace of death.

The strange building was finally finished in 1892, and America’s greatest serial killing spree would soon commence. From the outside, it appeared to be an ordinary commercial shop, although 601 West 63rd Street was anything but. The elaborate apothecary was a fancy pharmacy as well as a swanky jewelry store, plus there was a luxurious boarding house above. Inside there were solid wood shelves and counters with glass cases displaying all sorts of things in various colored shiny glass jars and bottles. There were also about three dozen rooms upstairs, many of which were very ostentatious. Holmes had designed everything to be as appealing as possible to the patrons both upstairs and down.

However, along with this, once you got beyond a certain point, the top two floors became a twisted labyrinthine structure that only consisted of execution chambers and torture rooms. Many of those rooms had no windows, with doors that only opened from the outside. Some rooms were even fitted with gas lines to let in lethal chemicals. The Mad Doctor loved to listen to their screaming and gasping through the walls. Having sprung from his tormented soul, the whole place had a peculiar geometry with halls at strange angles and stairs that didn’t even go anywhere.

As if that wasn’t gruesome enough, some of the rooms upstairs were even outfitted with trap doors that would drop people all the way down into the basement. H. H. Holmes had installed acid vats and pits of quicklime in the bowels of the building. The basement is where the Mad Doctor would butcher corpses to extract the bones from them. He then sold the skeletons to medical schools and offices. There were also two giant furnaces that Holmes used as his own personal crematorium, with which to dispense with the other remains of his victims.

All the unspeakably vile things that took place in that building peaked in 1893 when countless visitors arrived in huge crowds gathering for the Great Chicago World’s Fair, for months on end. At that point, thousands of people wound up going missing in the chaos. To make matters worse, hundreds and hundreds of those incredibly unlucky people met a grisly fate at the hands of the most efficient serial killer of all time. Then when the Chicago Fair finally ended in October of 1893, H. H. Holmes left the Windy City. Decades later in 1938 Murder Castle was finally demolished.

The Torture Bunker

On the surface of it, the cinder block torture bunker looked harmless enough, there in the rolling foothills of the Sierra Mountains. Even inside, the place seemed totally normal with a standard workbench full of tools and the like. Nonetheless, without even knowing the torture bunker was there, the extremely isolated locale left an uneasy feeling in the air. The thing is that upon closer inspection, the workshop in the bunker contained piano hinges on one of the walls with a bookshelf. The whole thing was really a false wall that swung open to reveal the true horror within.

The secret door opened up into a room that was about seven feet long and three feet wide. This was a holding cell that contained nothing more than a plywood platform which served as something to sleep on, and there was a bucket to urinate and defecate in. There was also a small widow-like opening that contained two-way glass, forming a one-way mirror for Lake and Ng to spy on their victim with. This is where they kept someone as a sex slave in complete darkness and absolute silence as they waited to be brought out and into the cabin to get beat and raped.

Inside the house, one of the rooms contained a bed with a wooden frame around it with eye bolts in each corner. The mattress was always covered in blood and there were lots of women’s intimate garments of various sizes and shapes strewn about. There were tons and tons of various different kinds of video equipment on all of the shelves. They even kept some of the vehicles from their victims parked in the driveway, which was a thousand feet long and gated. Along with that, the remains of the victims themselves were buried in the yard in a mass grave. The entire place was just one big house of horror, all the way from one end of the property to the other.

The Dahmer Residence

In growing very paranoid about it all, he installed several locks on the doors, as well as high-tech alarms, cameras, and even monitors. This was his way of discouraging burglars from snooping around and finding something incredibly incriminating, like a person or even just there remains. There were eleven corpses altogether in that apartment, at one point or another. In the kitchen at the very end, there was a human head in the refrigerator and a heart in the freezer. Then along with the refrigerator, there was a separate deep freezer full of remains as well.

Throughout that time Jeffrey Dahmer wanted to have a living sex doll for his very own, so he abducted people and lobotomized them there in that apartment. In his bedroom, he had pictures strewn all about of men in various stages of dismemberment. There was also a complete skeleton he kept around. In the corner by the door, he even had a 57-gallon drum full of acid to dissolve bodies in. So, really the living room was the only normal room in the entire apartment. The whole thing was such a disaster they finally just tore the whole place down a couple of years after he moved in.

The Toy Box

Inside the expanded trailer home his part of the house was actually rather nice, although still very disturbing. For one thing, there were peg boards from which various different kinds of sex toys were always hanging. There were D rings in the ceiling, ropes and pulleys, and even a box that a sex slave was kept shackled in with a fan on them. Elsewhere, there was a poll to which was attached a 6-foot chain and a metal collar. This is where a victim would be usually be held while in the house. There was a bucket in the room for their waste. There was also an old wood stove fireplace in that room, opposite from where it dropped off next to and kind of away from but still part of the actual living room. Under the victim’s bed, there were the chains and manacles with which people were involuntarily held. Throughout the years he must have had about 50 different victims in and out of there.

Next to the main house out front was the infamous travel trailer, known as the Toy Box as well as Satan’s Den. It was essentially a 15 foot by 25-foot room specifically designed for sexual torture. Although the victims were kept in the house and taken from room to room and assaulted in various different ways most of the time, many were also brought out to the Toy Box. There were hundreds and hundreds of different things in there, like leg spreaders, cattle prods, soldering irons, rubber ropes, intubation tubes, duct tape, jumper cables, rubber gloves, speculums, an oxygen tank, as well as numerous different handmade torture devices that were all built from scratch. There was even a fur-lined coffin. However, the main attraction in the room was a large stainless steel gynecological chair. It was completely black with red straps all over it.

Throughout the years Ray must have spent more than a hundred grand soundproofing the truck trailer and outfitting it with unspeakable objects. The portable office trailer was converted into a terrifying house of horror. He spared no expense and had a great attention for detail. Being an expert mechanic he was really good with his hands. He had quite a bit of technical skill, but he was also a brutal rapist and murderer. Dave Ray kept a black box in Satan’s Den that he used to put his victims' heads in to increase the fear they felt. Then, in taking things a whole different direction he also often used a camera with screens to show the victim’s what was actually being done to them in real-time.

Regardless, David Parker Ray eventually got a girlfriend named Cynthia Hendy. The sadistic Satanic serial killer slowly brought her into his world. In no time at all, in the master bedroom on the corner table, Dave and Cindy kept their medicine and hygiene products right next to sex toys and torture devices. Ultimately, David Parker Ray was a terrorist, nearly being a cult leader. He was so wicked that he enlisted others including his very own daughter to help him commit all of those heinous crimes. Then, in the end, it was his girlfriend who finally got them all caught by letting one of the victims getaway on her watch. Although Dave always went to great lengths never to get caught, Cindy didn’t. So, on March 2nd of 1999, they were apprehended and taken into custody.

The Gein Farmhouse

Inside, there was a ghastly array of human remains that decorated the interior of the filthy house, in a perversely macabre fashion. He used bowls made from the tops of human skulls. There were shade pulls made from women’s lips. There were even human skin chairs and matching lampshades. The walls were covered with flayed off faces. Much of this was removed from corpses that had been filched from local cemeteries. Ed only ever actually killed two people. He just robbed a whole lot of graves. Of course, he did have the remains of one of his victims out in the woodshed, dangling upside down from the rafter. She had been decapitated and gutted.

Ed Gein had been very dependent on his mother, so much so that he really had no idea what to do without her. Her bedroom served as a shrine for him. It was the only room of the house that remained clean, in pristine condition with nice furniture and all. The bed was made and there was even a Bible on the nightstand next to it. After she died everything changed in his life. All on his own the man was left to his own devious devices. There in that isolated farmhouse, he struggled to cope with life, working odd jobs struggling to get by. Being all alone in the world, without any guidance from his mother, he turned into a full-blown psychopath.

The dilapidated and decaying old farmhouse was altogether unlivable by any stretch of the imagination. Ed Gein stayed there without any basic utilities whatsoever. There was no electricity or indoor plumbing, nothing. However, that was all brought to an end when Ed was apprehended on November 16th of 1957. Then, a few months later in the early morning hours of March 20th, 1958, the farmhouse mysteriously caught fire. As a result, that deranged house of horror was completely reduced to rubble in a very fitting end to an utterly despicable place.

An Eclectic Autodidact Polymath Essayist

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