'American Ripper' Has A Lot To Prove In A Short Series

Eric Ogden/History

Public interest in H. H. Holmes has had a huge growth in the past 15 years or so, thanks to American Horror Story: Hotel and Erik Larson's book The Devil In The White City, which is being adapted for the screen by Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorcese. Now, History could be adding a new chapter to the infamous story. American Ripper premieres on July 11 and investigates a fascinating theory: what if infamous American serial killer H. H. Holmes and infamous English serial killer Jack The Ripper are one and the same? The H. H. Holmes tale is already dense and complex as it is, so how many episodes of American Ripper will lay out this particular case?

H. H. Holmes' bloody Chicago reign began in the late 1800s, according to Biography. Over a century later, Larson's book was released and has led to H. H. Holmes capturing the minds of those interested in monstrous killers and incredible true crime tales. In addition to a whole season of American Horror Story, Holmes has also inspired characters in shows like Sherlock and Supernatural.

But while television has played fast and loose with the legacy of H. H. Holmes, American Ripper seeks to use factual evidence to make its case in a mere eight episodes. If these episodes are going to lay out — and ideally, prove or disprove — the entire theory, there is a lot of ground to cover. Here are the questions American Ripper has to answer to come to a convincing conclusion:

When Was H. H. Holmes In England?

H. H. Holmes was born in 1861 and was executed for murder in 1896. American Ripper posits that Holmes traveled to England around 1888 and continued to kill. Getting from Chicago to England in the late 19th-century was far from easy, so how would Holmes have been able to travel to England while the construction and perfection of his murder castle was taking place? Did he choose to go on a months-long death vacation?

How Did H. H. Holmes Fake His Death?

Part of American Ripper's theory involves Holmes faking his own death. Holmes was hung for murder in Moyamensing Prison in Philadelphia. However, the show's investigators — including Holmes' descendant Jeff Mudgett — believe that there's more to the story. Even if Holmes did fake his 1896 death, it wouldn't explain how he could have committed the Ripper murders. Those occurred between August and November of 1888, years before Holmes was supposedly hung. Could there be more to the Jack The Ripper story as well?

Why Is H. H. Holmes The Ripper And Not Someone Else?

There is no shortage of theories about the true identity of Jack The Ripper. This mystery has baffled experts for over a century and seems no closer to being solved. If the investigators of American Ripper are able to place Holmes in London during the time of the Jack the Ripper murders, then they could make the argument that they are the same person. But to prove that they are the same, they'll need to prove that their theory is stronger than every other theory that has popped up over the past century as well.

The puzzle of Jack The Ripper's identity has intrigued people since his first victim, and American Ripper's crossover theory is one of the most engaging guesses that has been put forth yet. American Ripper's eight episodes may not end with a definitive answer, but the series should challenge viewers to be vigilant in searching for the truth and examine all possibilities — even the outrageous ones.