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James Patrick March was born on October 30th, 1895. He started killing in the 1920s. In 1925, he built the Hotel Cortez, which opened on August 23 of 1926. Having constructed a number of secret rooms and hidden hallways to carry out his twisted hobby of murder, James used the hotel's infrastructure to hide all evidence of his life as a serial killer, creating blocked hallways and bricked rooms to make killing more fun and keep his victims' bodies for further acts of depravity, as well as concealing their bodies from the police. His wife, Elizabeth, loved hearing his victims screaming for help and encouraged his dark desires, much to her own amusement.
Oftentimes, James took great fun in the art of murder, killing his victims in a number of playful, thespian-esque ways (i.e. decapitating them via a bloody game of cricket and walling them up alive, among other gruesome methods). He would then have sex with their dead bodies before throwing their remains down a series of chutes that were hidden in each room, which led to a dungeon in the basement that he used to store corpses.
March confessed he had tried many drugs in his time. However, none could satisfy him; it led to his serial murder addiction. He was also said to be a man of "new money", meaning he made his own fortune, to which he added he did at an early age. He described his father as being a true believer in God, but the "meanest son of a bitch [he'd] ever seen".
March despises religion, explaining to one of his victims that it was the worst thing in the world right before he killed him. He states he was going to have to kill God, because as long as there was a God, men like himself would never find peace. He also went as far as to collect all the bibles from the hotel bed stands and arrange them with a pile of his victims - slaves that were working on the Sabbath - to leave behind for the police; the first killing in the Ten Commandments murders.
On February 25, in the early 30s, the police came to the Hotel Cortez to arrest March after receiving an anonymous phone call assuring them that March was responsible for the first Ten Commandments murders. When his faithful minion Miss Evers told him, he decided to kill them both by letting her choose which way to die - with a knife or with a gun. She decided to let him kill her (because she was secretly in love with him) as his last victim, and after shooting her, he sliced his own throat. He became one of the most famous serial killers of all time; the ghosts of his victims and himself have remained trapped in the Cortez ever since.
Personality and Appearance
James March is an attractive young man in his early thirties, with a fit physique. He is very immaculate of his outward appearance, always wearing pinstripe suits in 30s style. His black hair is combed back, and he has a moustache like that of Vincent Price or Howard Hughes, with striking dark brown eyes. An interesting element of him is his strange accent, reminiscent of the Brahmin accent.
Mr. March has a distinctly sadistic personality, seemingly finding great pleasure in releasing a deadly rage onto his victims as well as having sexual intercourse with them during their murders, which occur in ways quite theatrical. He states that he was strongly influenced by his father, a fervently religious man, who sparked in him a profound aversion to the Christian values. He murders, in part, so as to wage a personal battle against God, nihilistically speaking. Despite this, he is also quite charming, finding joy in the company of the pupils he taught to be notorious serial killers during their times alive (i.e. Aileen Wuornos, Jeffrey Dahmer) and taking great pride in their successes. During the events of Devil's Night, when his former colleagues raise their glasses to him in salutation, he is deeply gratified and brought to tears, stating that he could not be happier that their homicides will forever be ingrained in history and pop culture. Among them, he shows a high opinion of John, describing him as having a "once in a generation rage" that enabled him to complete James's unfinished work as the Ten Commandments Killer - an act with which none of James's other proteges were capable.
He has a complicated relationship with his ex-wife, Elizabeth, with whom he hosts monthly dinner arrangements despite believing that it was she who turned him in to the police back in the 30s, ultimately culminating in his murder-suicide. He is aware that Elizabeth does not love him, yet in his time alive he brought her wealth and jewels to her heart's content, hopeful that in doing so he could move her and change her feelings about him, to no avail. He continues to show her all the manners of a gentleman, however - offering her drinks, pushing her in her chair, asking her about her days in the world beyond the hotel's confines, and nonchalantly talking about the people they've both killed - in the hopes of earning some semblance of her affection. He describes their brief time together as a reprieve from his ghostly state, possessed of a profound loyalty and respect for his former bride that has carried over even in death. He values Elizabeth more than Miss Evers, his partner in crime, stating to her that while he is delighted by her work as his maid, Elizabeth is a "creature from Heaven" that has far surpassed her in every way. He later berates Miss Evers after she remarks that Elizabeth should be mindful of the time she's expected for supper, angrily retorting that "the lady of the house deserves more respect!" and commanding Miss Evers "should be elsewhere".
Elizabeth, however, openly resents James, criticizing him for his delusions that the two of them can once again be a couple, and admonishing him for the compulsive behavior she sees as pathetic and weak. When James asks her to hypnotize John as a means of driving him to insanity, thereby enabling him to continue James's unfinished work as the Ten Commandments Killer, Elizabeth responds, "And why would I help you when it gives me so much joy to see you suffer?" After informing James of her plans to marry Will Drake, she demeans his affection for her, stating, "I've always been scrupulously honest with you James. I never pretended more than I felt. And I never claimed to love you". James is both aggravated and disappointed by these remarks, but refuses to believe that Elizabeth feels nothing for him, vowing not to kill her directly lest he sacrifice the opportunity of "eternal happiness" with her.
When Tristan came to the hotel, he was trapped in the elevator but managed to come out by opening the doors himself. He found himself on the floor that their ghosts inhabit and heard jazz music playing leading him to one of the rooms. He stumbled upon some of March's jewellery and tried to steal it when March appeared. After a talk, Miss Evers came into the room with a girl who tried to prostitute in the lobby. March offered to let Tristan take her last breath but he refused so March killed her himself. Tristan left, calling him crazy.
After "googling" him and being turned by the Countess, Tristan found a detailed account about March and became his fan upon reading it. He became interested in killing and wanted to do it. March showed up and invited Tristan to see his black closet - a sliding wall that leads into a small space with a big spike. Then Will Drake comes in with Claudia talking about his plans to tear out the floor and make it his atelier. When March finds out he is determined to kill Will and makes Tristan do it.
James March holds an annual Devil's Night soirée every year on the day before Halloween where he brings America's greatest serial killers who have ever lived together to celebrate their crimes. 2015 is no exception and the guest list is ready. When Richard Ramirez arrives, he is welcomed by the sight of a tourist family for him to kill as a gift from March. When trying to kill the wife, she runs away only to be killed by March in the hallway. At the soirée, Mr. March invites John Lowe as well as other famous killers including Aileen Wuornos, John Wayne Gacy, the Zodiac Killer and Jeffrey Dahmer. After the dinner, the dessert comes when Sally brings a man who she has drugged for the guests to kill for fun. .
James is excited when his ex-wife Elizabeth wants to have dinner with him a week earlier than usual. She pays him a visit and tells him that she plans to marry again, this time to Will Drake. Elizabeth taunts him, stating that she may have found love for the very first time, but James responds, "Surely not for the first time, Mrs. March". Elizabeth coldly states that she never claimed to loved him, so in exchange he tells her the story of how he trapped her former lovers Natacha and Rudolph in a barricaded hallway of the hotel almost a century ago, causing her to believe that they ran away. Later, James helps Ramona Royale kill Queenie so she can drink her blood, hopeful that she can succeed in killing The Countess. He later orders John Lowe to kill the Countess, thereby ensnaring her as a ghost within the confines of the hotel to prevent her from leaving for good.
- Mr. March (regarding cocaine): "Bolivian marching powder. Too tame for my taste."
- Mr. March (To Tristan): "Pull the trigger and take her last breath. It’s exhilarating."
- Mr. March (To Tristan): "Well, I had it all once. Fortune, fame. But nothing satisfied."
- Mr. March (To Elizabeth): "Might I suggest that when you murder him, you would do so off the property? It'd be damned awkward to keep running into him for all eternity."
- Mr. March (To Elizabeth): "I'm dead dear, not stupid."
- Mr. March (To Tristan): "That sounds obscene."
- Mr. March (To Sally): "I'm not familiar with your military friend and his fondness for poultry, but my killing days are over."
- Mr. March (To Ramona about Queenie): "A shame she had to die. This one had a flare for the dark arts."
- During the Freak Show title sequence, a ventriloquist dummy appears wearing a 1920's style tuxedo. James March mirrors the dummy in style during the grand opening celebration in episode 7 (Flicker).
- James March is the fifth character portrayed by Evan Peters. The first being Tate Langdon («Murder House») the second is Kit Walker («Asylum») third is Kyle Spencer («Coven») fourth is Jimmy Darling («Freak Show») and sixth is Edward Philippe Mott and Rory Monahan («Roanoke»).
- In all, season one, season five and season six Evan Peters' character is a ghost.
- Coincidentally, both, Tate and James were known murderers as Tate is a mass murderer and March is a serial killer.
- All three characters have mental disorders.
- In The Ten Commandments Killer episode, John Lowe and James March refer to the latter accent as a Brahmin accent, which in popular culture often denotes stereotypes such as pretentiousness or snobbery. It was also a slang very popular among American actors of the 30s.
- James March also said that he started talking like that while mimicking one of his marvellous teacher at Exeter and that he ended up getting used to speaking that way.
- James Patrick March is most likely based on Herman Mudgett, also known as H.H. Holmes, an early serial killer in the United States who also had a hotel expressly designed to murder people and would then sell the cadavers to medical students and teachers. His fantastic compound for crime, under the premise of a hotel, had gas chambers, furnaces, and chutes within it. He confessed to 27 murders but was formally charged with 9. However, he may have killed up to 250 people.
- His physical appearance is strongly based on that of billionaire and aviator Howard Hughes.