Many of you have heard of Ed Gein, but do you really know who he was? While researching him and writing this post, I realized there was so much more I didn’t know. His life started with mental abuse from his parents. While this doesn’t excuse the behavior (at all), it helps understand some of his future actions a little bit better.
A Rough Childhood
Edward Theodore Gein was born on August 27, 1906, in La Crosse, Wisconsin, to Augusta and George Gein. His father didn’t handle his liquor well, which left Ed and his brother, Henry, to look after their mother to protect her from their father’s alcohol-induced rage.
Ed’s mother was a very religious woman, but she also had a habit of mocking and shaming both her children. She was very stern with them and often preached about sexual desire, lust, and sin. In 1915, the Gein family moved to isolated farmland in Plainfield, Wisconsin. Ed was nine years old and only left the farm for school.
The family lived here for years to come. In 1940, Ed was 34 years old. He still lived at home when his father died. This left the two boys at home with their mother, who was still shaming and mocking her adult sons.
A Family Tragedy
Ed and Henry were now the men of the house. They had to take care of everything their father had previously done, such as tend to the farm. They also had to do many different odd jobs to keep money coming into the house to support their mother.
In 1944, the two brothers were burning brush on the farmland. The fire quickly grew out of control. This fire resulted in Henry’s death. Many people today wonder if his death was indeed an accident.
The Gein household now consisted of Ed and his mother. Ed was practically a servant for his mother. He very rarely left the house, and he never dated anyone. He waited on her, there at her every call. However, this was only for a brief period. Just a year after his brother’s death, Ed’s mother died after suffering a stroke.
The Killings Started
Ed’s mental health tanked after his mother’s death. He had a rough upbringing and a mentally abusive mother. When she died, Ed was left alone at the farm he inherited. He was secluded and severely mentally ill.
He neglected every part of the house except for his mother’s room. Ed kept this room spotless. He also developed an interest in anatomy books and began collecting them.
Even though Ed Gein wasn’t the most stable person, he still managed to support himself financially. He worked as a handyman and a babysitter of all things. However, people around town started disappearing.
Mary Hogan ran a tavern in Pine Grove. Ed was known to visit often after his mother’s death.
Another woman, Bernice Worden, went missing on November 16, 1957. She owned a hardware store in Plainfield. Bernice’s son, Frank, was a deputy sheriff. He was very suspicious of Ed Gein.
The local authorities went to Ed’s home and found a gruesome sight. Bernice Worden was headless and hanging from the ceiling. She had also been gutted. However, they would soon discover even more throughout the Gein house.
There were organs in jars and various skulls that he had been using as soup bowls.
What many people don’t realize is Ed Gein was not a serial killer. While authorities tried to connect him to other disappearances in the area, there was no definitive evidence. The many body parts they found were from the numerous corpses Ed had dug up. He used the bodies for practicing necrophilia and making masks and suits from the skin.
He also made a variety of other pieces from the corpses he cut up. This included lampshades, nipple belts, corsets, chairs, and gloves, to name a few.
Along with the confession to Bernice Worden’s murder, Ed Gein also confessed to the murder of Mary Hogan.
William Belter, Ed’s lawyer, entered into a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity. Ed Gein was found unfit to stand trial in January of 1958. He was sent to Central State Hospital. While he was there, he worked as a carpenter’s assistant, a mason, and a medical center aide.
Ed was later deemed fit to stand trial in 1968 and was found guilty by reason of insanity. He was then sent to a state facility. On July 26, 1984, he died there of cancer at the age of 77.
In 1958, the famous farmhouse burned down after it had attracted many curious people. Many different movies have been adapted from Ed Gein’s crimes such as Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Silence of the Lambs, and Psycho.
Margaritoff, M. (2019, May 7). 21 Petrifying Pictures Inside Ed Gein’s House Of Horrors. Retrieved March 20, 2020, from https://allthatsinteresting.com/ed-gein-house
Ed Gein. (2019, October 21). Retrieved March 20, 2020, from https://www.biography.com/crime-figure/ed-gein
History.com Editors. (2019, July 27). Infamous serial killer Ed Gein dies. Retrieved March 20, 2020, from https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/real-life-psycho-ed-gein-dies