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Ed Gein, Killer

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Ed Gein Ed Gein was a serial killer whose activities were the inspiration for the Norman Bates character in Psycho and the Buffalo Bill character in Silence of the Lambs.

This story is not for the squeamish.

There had been rumors, of course. Some boys had claimed they had seen body parts at Ed Gein's farmhouse, but nobody could quite believe it. Not the folks of small town Plainfield, Wisconsin.

Until the day, November 17, 1957, Bernice Worden disappeared from her hardware store. Local sheriff, Arthur Schley headed out to the farm as Ed Gein had been seen around the hardware store and well, there were those rumors.

First Schley noticed that there was junk and garbage covering the whole house. You could hardly walk. But as he's looking around the place with his flashlight, he felt something against his arm and looked up.

A decapitated and gutted body hanging upside down met his gaze. At first his mind wouldn't accept it and he thought it was a deer. But no, not a deer, it was what was left of Bernice Worden.

As they searched the house they found, among other things, a human skull bowl, lampshades and an armchair made of human skin. Recall the character of Buffalo Bill from Silence of the Lambs? How he dressed in clothing made of human skin? Yup, that's Ed Gein's thing.

He was arrested. They had a lot of questions about others who had disappeared over the years. At first he denied all but Bernice. Gein told authorities he had dug up graves which accounted for his large and bizarre inventory. At first they didn't believe Gein, but after much debate, they decided to dig up the bodies, and he had in fact, graverobbed. And eventually he confessed to the murder of a Mary Hogan.

Waiting for the shrinks to show up? Wondering how he got so perverted?

Controlling Mother, Passive Father. His mother, Augusta, had a skewed view of religion. Fearing her boys would be tempted toward sinful sexual behavior, she preached and browbeat on the subject of woman's wickedness. She bought the farm to isolate them and was abusive if they tried to form friendships outside the family. His father, George was a weak man with a drinking problem who died early.

Which brings us to the brother, Henry, who was seven years older. If Eddie was effeminate and shy, Henry had a bit more pluck. He even on occasion criticized the self-proclaimed saint Augusta. This was no doubt a terrible conflict for Ed Gein as his brother was his only attachment other than Mom.

So if I tell you that Henry died under mysterious circumstances, you'll forgive me for suggesting that Henry was Ed's first kill.

Which only left Augusta who died shortly thereafter. Now he's alone with all his crazy thoughts.

The psychiatrists said he was a schizophrenic and a sexual psychopath.
Ed Gein Meanwhile, police are dugging up the farm looking for body parts. There is still some question about a third murder, but all they could prove were Worden and Hogan. As to the many disappearances, nobody is sure.

Gein was declared mentally incompetent after a 30 day stay in a mental institution. So no first degree murder trial for now. He was committed to the Central State Hospital in Waupun, Wisconsin.


After ten years they said he was getting better. Really. So in November of 1968, they tried him for murder. Gein was found guilty of first-degree murder. However, because Eddie was also found to have been insane at the time of the killing, he was later found not guilty by reason of insanity and acquitted. And back to the Central State Hospital for the Criminally Insane he went.

He remained there for the rest of life. Most accounts say he had never been happier and was a model inmate. Maybe his demons had quieted.

Ed Gein died in July of 1984 after a long bout with cancer.

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