Tuesday, December 24, 2013
Edward Gein, the mild mannered, Midwestern psychopath from Plainfield, Wisconsin who, in the nineteen fifties, would shock the nation with his gruesome crimes. He would become the basis for the best selling book by Robert Bloch, "Psycho", as well as for the Hitchcock film of the same name. Accounts of Edward Gein's heinous crimes would also enter the consciousness of a young Tobe Hooper who, as an adult, would write and direct the classic cult film, "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre".
In November 1957 the world would learn about a seemingly innocuous man from America's heartland who ended up being so deviant from the norm, Ed Gein. He would shock the nation with his last grisly crime, that of hardware store owner Bernice Worden, and with his secret hobby so depraved that it would shock the entire nation when it came to light. News anchors from around the world and journalists would come to the small town of Plainfield Wisconsin to give the public a brief, visual glimpse into the life of Edward Gein.
Edward's mother, Augusta would move him and his older brother, Henry, from La Crosse Wisconsin to Plainfield when they were still children. His mother moved to this location to prevent outsiders from influencing her sons. They were only allowed to leave the premises to go to school and spent most of the time doing chores on the family's farm. Augusta, a fervent Lutheran, believed in and preached to her boys the innate immorality of the world which in her eyes was the evil of drinking, and the belief that all women (herself excluded) were prostitutes and instruments of the devil. She reserved time every afternoon to read to them from the Bible, usually selecting graphic verses from the Old Testament dealing with death, murder, and divine retribution. Gein tried to make his mother happy, but she was rarely pleased with her boys; she often abused them. During their teens and throughout their early adulthood, the boys remained detached from people outside of their farmstead, and so had only each other for company. To make matters worse, his mother punished him whenever he tried to make friends, which was difficult for him to do in school since he had a very shy and effeminate nature which made him a target for bullies.
When His father died the two boys took up random jobs around town to help pay expenses and Ed would start to babysit for families in the community. He enjoyed babysitting, seeming to relate more easily to children than adults. As his older brother matured, Henry began to reject his mother's view of the world and worried about his brother Ed's attachment to her. He spoke ill of her around his brother and it wasn't long after this behavior that he would wind up dead. According to statements by Ed Gein, on May 16, 1944 his brother Henry decided to burn off a marsh on the property. Reportedly, the brothers were separated, and as night fell, Ed Gein lost sight of his brother. When the fire was extinguished, he reported to the police that his brother was missing. When a search party was organized, Gein led them directly to his missing brother, who lay dead on the ground. The police had concerns about the circumstances under which the body was discovered. The ground on which Henry Gein lay was untouched by fire, and he had bruises on his head. Despite this, the police dismissed the possibility of foul play and the county coroner listed asphyxiation as the cause of death. Although some investigators suspected that Ed Gein killed his brother, no charges were filed against him.
Shorlty fallowing the mysterious death of his brother, Gein lived alone with his mother, who died on December 29, 1945. Gein was devastated by her death; in the words of author Harold Schechter, he had "lost his only friend and one true love. And he was absolutely alone in the world." Gein remained on the farm, supporting himself with earnings from odd jobs. He boarded up rooms used by his mother, including the upstairs, downstairs parlor, and living room, leaving them untouched. He lived in a small room next to the kitchen. Gein became interested in reading death-cult magazines and adventure stories to pass the time as he lived alone on the farm house. It is clear the Edward Gein had an abnormal attachment to his deceased mother. It was an attachment that would manifest itself in unimaginable ways. It is almost hard to believe that such a diminutive, seemingly inoffensive man could be such a madman, but who but a madman would do what he did? Edward Gein, it was discovered, had turned his small farmhouse into a gruesome charnel house, replete with furnishings adorned with human flesh and bones.
On November 16, 1957, Plainfield hardware store owner Bernice Worden disappeared and police had reason to suspect Gein. Worden's son had told investigators that Gein had been in the store the evening before the disappearance, saying he would return the following morning for a gallon of anti-freeze. A sales slip for a gallon of anti-freeze was the last receipt written by Worden on the morning she disappeared. Upon searching Gein's property, investigators discovered Worden's decapitated body in a shed, hung upside down by ropes at her wrists, with a crossbar at her ankles. The torso was "dressed out" like that of a deer. She had been shot with a .22-caliber rifle, and the mutilations were made after death.
Searching the house, authorities found:
* Four noses
* Whole human bones and fragments
* Nine masks of human skin
* Bowls made from human skulls
* Ten female heads with the tops sawn off
* Human skin covering several chair seats
* Mary Hogan's head in a paper bag
* Bernice Worden's head in a burlap sack
* Nine vulvas in a shoe box
* A belt made from human female nipples
* Skulls on his bedposts
* Organs in the refrigerator
* A pair of lips on a draw string for a windowshade
* A lampshade made from the skin from a human face
When questioned, Gein told investigators that between 1947 and 1952, he made as many as 40 nocturnal visits to three local graveyards to exhume recently buried bodies while he was in a "daze-like" state. On about 30 of those visits, he said he had come out of the daze while in the cemetery, left the grave in good order, and returned home empty handed. On the other occasions, he dug up the graves of recently buried middle-aged women he thought resembled his mother and took the bodies home, where he tanned their skins to make his paraphernalia. Gein admitted robbing nine graves, leading investigators to their locations. Because authorities were uncertain as to whether the slight Gein was capable of single-handedly digging up a grave in a single evening, they exhumed two of the graves and found them empty, thus corroborating Gein's confession.
Shortly after his mother's death, Gein had decided he wanted a sex change and began to create a "woman suit" so he could pretend to be a female. Gein's practice of donning the tanned skins of women was described as an "insane transvestite ritual". Gein denied having sex with the bodies he exhumed, explaining, "They smelled too bad." During interrogation, Gein also admitted to the shooting death of Mary Hogan, a tavern operator missing since 1954.
A 16-year-old youth whose parents were friends of Gein and who attended ball games and movies with Gein reported that he was aware of the shrunken heads, which Gein had described as relics from the Philippines sent by a cousin who had served in World War II. Upon investigation by the police, these were determined to be human facial skins, carefully peeled from cadavers and used as masks by Gein.
At his trial, some hair-raising testimony on what was found at Gein's home, as well as on some of the ghoulish practices in which Gein engaged, took nearly a year from start to finish, and resulted in Gein being sent to the hospital for the insane in Waupun Wisconsin.
The case of the century was drawing to a close and for many years, it would still be a topic discussed in newspapers, books, in movies, on television and in comics. Even today we see new films and even *musicals about the notorious Ed Gein who had exhumed corpses from local graveyards and fashioned trophies and keepsakes from their bones and skin. Who confessed to killing two women: tavern owner Mary Hogan in 1954 and a Plainfield hardware store owner, Bernice Worden, in 1957. Not just the murders would be horrific to many, but the way in which they were treated after death make's Ed Gein one of Americas most bizarre murderers, long before other deviants such as Jeffrey Dahmer and Ted Bundy.
Ed Gein was placed between his older brother and mother and due to his tombstone being vandalized and even stolen on 3 ocassions, it is no longer placed there. This is also spot for many of Ed's visits to exhume bodies that he would then use to make his many furnishings in his home. One of the bodies he stole was only one row in front of him. Bernice, his last victim, is also buried at this cemetery only about 20 feet away.
These are the photo's taken of Ed Gein's property. The home was burned to the ground by the locals in 1958 after he was convicted of the crimes and sent to the mental institution. When he was told about it, he shrugged and said, "Just as well." Now the property is vacant.