Ever seen Psycho or Silence of the Lambs? Sadly, the characters from those films are based on a real-life serial killer. Ed Gein grew up in a repressive and isolated household and developed an unhealthy attachment to his mother. From skin suits and bone bowls to his early family life and death, here are 25 Creepy Facts About Serial Killer Ed Gein.
Ed Gein gained notoriety after it was revealed that he had exhumed corpses from local graveyards and fashioned trophies from their bones and skin.
Growing up on a rural farm in Wisconsin, Ed's father was an alcoholic who died of heart failure, and his mother turned away any "outsiders" that could influence Ed and his brother.
Classmates recall Ed as having strange mannerisms, like randomly laughing to himself in the back of the room.
Henry, Ed's brother, eventually got married but worried about Ed's attachment to their mother. He mentioned this to Ed several times, but it would cause Ed to be hurt.
On May 16, 1944, Henry and Ed were burning vegetation on the property when the fire got out of control. After the fire was extinguished, Ed reported his brother as missing. Henry was eventually found, but no foul play was suspected. However, it was later determined that Ed had probably killed his brother.
Ed's mother eventually died, leaving Ed devastated. According to author Harold Schechter, he had "lost his only friend and one true love. And he was absolutely alone in the world."
Ed boarded up the rooms in which his mother had lived and lived in one room next to the house. Around this time, he became interested in death-cult magazines, particularly those involving cannibals or Nazi atrocities.
On the morning of November 16th, 1957, Plainfield Hardware Store owner Bernice Worden disappeared. Her son, the deputy, found blood stains everywhere, and the last receipt was made out to Ed.
Ed was arrested later that day and his farm was searched. Deputies discovered Worden's decapitated body hanging in a shed on Ed's property.
After searching the house, authorities also found bowls made from skulls, masks made from human heads, and other atrocious paraphernalia designed from human body parts.
Upon questioning, Gein admitted to having visited three local graveyards up to 40 times during the night while in a trance-like state.
About three quarters of the time, he snapped out of the trance and returned home empty handed, but the rest of the times he would dig up the bodies of middle aged females he thought resembled his mother.
Ed brought the bodies home, tanned them, and then used them to make his paraphernalia.
Soon after his mother's death, Gein began to create a "woman suit" so that he could become his mother and literally crawl into her skin.
During questioning, Gein denied having sex with the bodies because they "smelled too bad."
Although people had already known that Gein kept shrunken heads in his house, Ed had described them as relics from the Philippines sent by a cousin who had served there in World War II. Later investigation found them to be human faces from the local cemeteries.
During the interrogation, Waushara County sheriff Art Schley allegedly assaulted Ed by banging his head into a wall. For this reason, Ed's first confession was thrown out.
Schley died before Ed's trial due to heart failure at the age of 43. Many people thought he was so traumatized from Ed's crimes that he just couldn't handle it. One friend commented, "He was a victim of Ed Gein as surely as if he had butchered him."
Due to the cost of the process, Gein was only ever tried for one murder, that of Mrs. Worden. (Though, he admitted to killing more people.)
Ed was at first found to have schizophrenia and to be too mentally incompetent to stand trial. Eventually, he was sent to the Central State Hospital for the Criminally Insane.
Gein's house was scheduled to be auctioned amid rumors that it would become a tourist attraction, but it burned down before it could be sold as a result of suspected arson.
Ed's car was sold at public auction for $760 to carnival sideshow operator Bunny Gibbons. Bunny later charged people 25 cents to see it.
Ed died at the Mendota Mental Health Institute due to lung cancer in 1984. After his death, souvenir seekers chipped away pieces of his gravestone until the whole thing was stolen in 2000.
The stone was later found near Seattle and returned to the Waushara County Sheriff's Department. Gein is now interred between his parents and brother in an unmarked grave.
Gein had a very long lasting affect on American popular culture, and since his death, numerous songs, movies, and documentaries have been been either directly or indirectly referencing his life.
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