When was the last time you viewed Psycho, The Texas Chain viewed Massacre, or Silence of the Lambs? If so, you’re likely familiar with the tragic tale of Ed Gein, the “Butcher of Plainfield” and a psychopathic killer.
If you haven’t read these unsettling classics yet, you should after reading about the tragic story of this real-life killer. What Ed Gein did to so many people is beyond comprehension, and this account does it justice.
What Exactly was Ed Gein’s identity?
Edward Theodore Gein, a serial killer and corpse thief from the United States, was born into a poor family in 1906 in La Crosse County, Wisconsin. His devoutly religious mother, Augusta, was deeply opposed to his alcoholic father, George.
Ed Gein’s mother instilled in him a sense of the inherent longevity of the world, the dangers of alcohol, and the idea that all women, with the exception of herself, were tools of the devil. Gein was teased by his peers as a child for being awkward and laughing at inappropriate times.
Augusta, his mother, would chastise him severely anytime he attempted to make friends. He was quite successful in school despite his cold demeanour. Because of his speech impairment and lazy eye, Ed was a prime target for bullies. Who would have thought that a shy kid would grow up to be a monster famous for making body parts into things like furniture and bodysuits?
When did this begin, exactly? However, Ed Gein still deeply loved her mother despite the latter’s stern demeanour. He appeared to accept her bleak outlook on life after learning from her. Ed never questioned Augusta’s faith, but his brother Henry often did. The fact that Ed Gein may have killed his older brother Henry first is hardly shocking.
An Accident Caused Henry’s Death…
Ed Gein and his older brother Henry were clearing a marsh of vegetation in 1944. One of them, however, did not make it through the night. When firefighters arrived to put out the blaze in their field, Ed informed them that Henry had mysteriously disappeared.
A short while later, his lifeless body was discovered face down in the mud. The police found no evidence of foul play, and the county coroner ruled that asphyxiation was the cause of death.
The problem is that after Henry’s death, whether by accident or not, the farmhouse belonged solely to Ed Gein and Augusta. They remained there for close to a year, until Augusta’s untimely demise in 1945. Henry’s head was bruised, according to biographer Harold Schechter.
The Ascension of the Plainfield Serial Killer…
In the wake of Augusta’s death, Ed Gein withdrew into his own world and turned the family home into a shrine. He sealed off the rooms she had been using and kept them in beautiful condition, moving into a tiny bedroom off the kitchen.
Ed Gein occupied himself exclusively with pulp magazines and accounts of cannibalism and Nazi crimes in adventure stories. He developed an unhealthy fixation on Nazi medical experiments, anatomy, and porn.
So, he never even bothered to try dating a genuine woman. His dark fantasies began at this point, but it was years before anyone realised his true potential. Although it wasn’t immediately clear, Ed Gein murdered his first victim in 1954.
Barmaid Mary Hogan was divorced and looked like Gein’s mother. A puddle of blood and a.32 cartridge were found at the bar where she worked, prompting the police to report her missing. Gein began to tease the locals with jokes about the vanished woman.
At first, nobody paid any attention to them, but that all changed in November of 1957 when Bernice Worden, the owner of a local hardware shop, vanished without a trace, leaving only bloodstains for his son, Deputy Sheriff Frank Worden, to find.
Before his mother went missing, he informed police that Gein had come into the business and planned to pick up a gallon of antifreeze the following morning. The antifreeze sales slip was the last thing his mother wrote before she vanished.
Gein was captured the very same night at a supermarket in West Plainfield. The Gein farm was subject to additional searches by the Waushara County Sheriff’s Office. Worden’s severed head and corpse were discovered in a shed on Ed’s property, where she was hung from a crossbar at her ankles and ropes at her wrists.
Having her chest “dressed out like a deer” and being shot with a 22-caliber rifle was a nightmare for the authorities. Fear gripped the officers as they observed their greatest nightmare play out on that property. Ed called the disturbing items they discovered in his home his “crafts,” but the authorities didn’t see it that way.
Worden’s head in a hessian sack and her heart in a plastic bag, nine vulvae in a shoe box, a belt made from female nipples, a pair of lips on a window shade drawstring, a lampshade made from human facial skin and a lot more were among the many items found in his home.
The “Butcher of Plainfield” obviously didn’t stop with Bernice Worden. Gein was a key suspect in many cold cases between 1947 and 1952, including the disappearance of La Crosse, Wisconsin, nanny Evelyn Hartley in 1953.
Gein admitted throughout the examination that he made as many as forty trips at night to cemeteries over those years, excavating recently buried bodies. In reality, he was searching for his deceased mother. Even the “woman suit” had a reason, which Ed detailed. He told police he planned to make a “woman suit” so he could “become” his mother and “crawl into her skin.”
How does the Process of Exhuming Bodies Usually Go Down?
Gein informed the police that he frequented Plainfield, Hancock, and Spiritland cemeteries in the area between 1947 and 1952. But he admitted he did not realise what he was doing at the time. He admitted that he had developed a habit of searching the obituaries of newspapers for ladies of a certain age range (middle-aged to elderly) whom he had known in life.
Then he’d hire a gravedigger solely identified as “Gus,” visit the graveyards, dig up the corpses, and take everything he wanted. In some cases, he simply reburied the body as is, while in others, he removed parts of or the complete corpse.
A Judge found Ed Gein not guilty on insanity Grounds.
Ed Gein pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity when he was tried for first-degree murder in 1957. Due to his schizophrenia diagnosis, the “Butcher of Plainfield” was deemed legally incompetent and so unable to stand trial.
In 1968, his trial began after physicians said he had the mental capacity to stand trial. According to testimony from Gein’s doctor, the murder of Bernice Worden may have been premeditated or accidental.
Ed Gein was found guilty at his trial, which took place without a jury. The judge found Gein “not guilty because of insanity” in the second trial, which focused on his mental health, based on testimony from both prosecution and defence psychiatrists.
Instead of jail time, Gein was committed to a mental institution. Additionally, Judge Gollmar stated, “Due to prohibitive costs, Gein was tried for only one murder—that of Mrs Worden.” His confession included the murder of Mary Hogan.
Was Ed Gein a Human Sacrificer?
People often assumed Gein was a cannibal, but up until his death, he consistently denied this. Because of the media attention, Gein became known as “The Butcher of Plainfield.” Ed Gein may have become preoccupied with reading about cannibals, which raises the possibility that he ate human flesh at some point.
When Killing People, did Gein use a Chainsaw?
Neither Mary Hogan nor Bernice Worden, two of Ed Gein’s confirmed victims, were killed by a knife. Bernice Worden was discovered by authorities in a shed behind Gein’s house in November of 1957, hanging from the rafters. Her head was cut off, and her body had been gutted like a deer’s.
But in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the chainsaw is a plot point that was introduced to the film to further emphasise the film’s tenuous relationship to Gein. While both the 1974 Tobe Hooper version and the 2003 Marcus Nispel remake claim to be “inspired by a true story,” they only loosely adapt the true story of serial killer Ed Gein.
What Happened to Ed Gein?
Gein passed away on July 26, 1984, at the age of 77, from respiratory failure brought on by lung cancer treatment. He was a patient at the Mendota Mental Health Institute. The gravestone in Plainfield Cemetery was vandalised over the years and eventually stolen in 2000 as a souvenir.
Waushara County, Wisconsin is now housing it after it was found near Seattle, Washington in June of 2001. Although Ed Gein’s burial is currently unmarked, he is not forgotten; he is buried beside his family.