It saddens me that we so often can remember the names and deeds of a serial killer and we can rarely if ever, remember the names of the innocent people lost. In this post, when possible the names of those lost to the killer will be shared. Serial killers and what motivates them has been a subject I have spent many hours researching and learning about over the years.
I admire those individuals that have spent their working life studying these real-life monsters and those that dedicate themselves to police work and the apprehension of petty criminals and murderers. It must be a challenge to delve into the minds and activities of killers while still maintaining relationships and communication with a spouse, children, or friends that work in areas outside of law enforcement. That challenge just ads to my admiration of those that work in law enforcement.
Now that my ramblings are done we get to learn about one of the most famous serial killer’s in the USA.
Edward Theodore Gein was born on August 27, 1906, to an alcoholic father and a fanatically religious and domineering mother named Augusta Gein. Ed and his brother, Henry never left home to make a life of their own. Their mother always told them that women were harlots and not to be trusted. After the death of their father in 1940, Ed and Henry worked to support their mother and the small, isolated farm they had moved to near Plainfield, Wisconsin in 1915. Henry began to question his mothers’ teachings and perhaps indicated to Ed that he wanted his own life. While Ed and Henry burned a field on May 16, 1944, Henry went missing. Later that day Henry’s body was found by a search party that Ed had organized. It has been speculated that Ed had caused the death of Henry Gein.
Augusta Gein suffered a debilitating stroke in the months following Henry’s death. The stroke left her bedridden and unable to care for herself. This suited Ed just fine as he had always adored his mother and loved to help her despite her abuse of him. Ed had an unhealthy love for his mother and when she died in 1945 he kept her bedroom in pristine condition while he lived in other areas of the house that were full of squalor.
After the death of his mother, Ed’s mental state became stranger than it was before. Ed became a grave robber and confessed to stealing skin and body parts from about 40 graves in the area. Okay, that is strange enough but the “arts and crafts projects” that he made out of the stolen bodies were shocking, to say the least.
Victims of Ed Gein
Bernice Worden was a resident of Plainfield, Wisconsin and was the owner/operator of the local hardware store. Ed Gein had been seen hanging around the store on November 15, 1957, asking about anti-freeze. November 16, 1957, was the opening day of hunting season and most able-bodied men were in the woods that day. Ed Gein was not one of them. He was at the Worden Hardware Store where he robbed the store and killed Bernice Worden. According to biography.com Bernice’s son was a deputy sheriff who stopped by his mom’s store after hunting that day. Frank Worden saw the cash register was missing and noticed a blood trail leading to the back of the store. Frank immediately suspected Ed Gein. Upon police arriving at Gein’s residence, they discovered a shed that contained the body of Bernice Worden. She had been hung from her ankles, had been gutted like an animal, and her head had been removed. Ed Gein was arrested at his neighbours home later that day.
While searching the Gein property police discovered another body. It was identified as that of Mary Hogan a local barkeeper that had gone missing on December 8, 1954. During the search of Ed Gein’s home, the face of Mary was found on one of the skull caps Ed had.
The inside of Ed Gein’s house and the furnishings and clothing he had made from the skin and bones of either his victim, Mary Hogan, or the body parts he robbed from graves were the things that nightmares are made of. It is hard to imagine that the police working the case in 1957 ever had a full and peaceful nights sleep ever again.
The police found the following gruesome discoveries:
- curtain pull made from the lips of a woman
- lampshade made from human skin
- chairs upholstered with human skin
- skulls made into soup bowls, and ashtrays
- cutlery added to bones to become forks and spoons
- skin face masks that Ed would wear at home
- a corset meant to reduce the size of the wearer’s waist to give a more feminine silhouette made from skins
- a belt made of nipples
- a vest made of human skin and a woman’s breasts that Ed would wear at home
- a human skin dress
- an apron made from various human skin sections such as half a face, and ears
- skin pants, skin gloves, and a necklace made from tongues
Ed loved to tan human skin and he was handy with a needle and thread.
Ed Gein was found to be insane and was sent to the Central State Hospital where he languished until 1968 when he was declared fit to stand trial on murder charges. Ed Gein was found guilty of murder but was deemed to have been legally insane at the time of the murders. He was sent back to the Central State Hospital and was transferred to Mendota Mental Health Institute when he became physically ill with cancer. Ed Gein died there on July 26, 1984, at the age of 77.
It has been reported that Ed Gein was the real-life influence of a few well-known horror characters such as Buffalo Bill/Jame Gumb of The Silence of the Lambs, Norman Bates of Psycho, and Leatherface of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Ed’s mother must be so proud, okay, not really but she did create a seriously sick individual that enjoyed killing women, and maybe even his own brother.
The Other Half a.k.a. Val