The HISTORY channel is about to debut a brand new limited series called American Ripper, and it's a true-crime fan's dream. It investigates the story of H. H. Holmes, one of the United States' first documented serial killers, who terrorized the streets of Chicago in the late 19th century. Holmes confessed to 27 murders, but persistent rumors that he may have killed as many as 200 in his "Murder Castle" survive to this day. One of the series' lead investigators is Jeff Mudgett who has set out to prove an astonishing theory: that H. H. Holmes is also Jack the Ripper. This theory is the subject of the eight-part limited series, but who Jeff Mudgett is adds another fascinating layer to the story.
Mudgett was living a normal life as an attorney until he was 40 years old and his world was turned upside down when he discovered a dark and long hidden family secret: he was related to a serial killer. It turns out that Jeff is actually the great-great-grandson of Herman Webster Mudgett, better known as H. H. Holmes. After learning this shocking news, Mudgett dove into research about his murderous relative, even releasing a book, Bloodstains, detailing his own personal search for truth. While investigating, he came up with the startling theory that his great-great-grandfather was also Jack the Ripper, the infamous serial killer that terrorized London around the same time as Holmes' rampage in the United States.
Between his participation in the upcoming series and his self-published book, it's clear that he is very vocal with the public about his ancestor. Mudgett even gave a TEDTalk detailing part of his journey to discover the truth:
"Slammed in the face by heredity, genetics, DNA, and traits they once referred to at the turn of the century as 'belonging to the one, the devil.' Serial killer, psychopath, evil genius — the words and phrases they invented to describe my ancestor because the ones before his horrible acts weren't working anymore."
The stories of H. H. Holmes and Jack the Ripper sound like something straight out a Stephen King novel. Prepare to sleep with all the lights on when American Ripper premieres on Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET/PT on the HISTORY channel.