How was Holmes able to scheme his evil plans in The Devil in the White City?
Holmes built a house of evil, specifically designed to make it easy for him to murder. This occurred prior to and during the Chicago World's Fair of 1893. In order to do this, he first needed a fair amount of money and property. He obtained both through murder, deceit, and figuring out he could put off creditors virtually forever if he looked sincere enough when telling lies. He talked his way into a pharmacy business after the death of one of the owners, then no doubt killing the man's wife, telling people she had settled out west. He built his "apartment house" to be a place built for murder by not having the same workmen do very much of the work each; that way, no one knew the whole bizarre design. No one knew there was anything wrong because no one else could put the whole thing together. After women began disappearing, the police did not communicate well enough at that time, and did not have the coordination of services to enable them to realize that Holmes was involved with so many missing people. I get the feeling that people just had a harder time believing that someone could be capable of such things than we would today....we are much more aware. And jaded.