Sounds like it might have been loosely based on the real serial killer chronicled in Eric Larson's DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY.
He lured a large number of young women to their deaths during the Chicago World's Fair in the 1890's.
Herman Webster Mudgett aka H.H.Holmes infamous murder castle-complete with acid baths and trap doors. That's a great book,by the way. I read it about 5 years ago.