Don't miss

Ed Gein

Infamous Wisconsin serial killer cannibal Ed Gein

When the crime scene was discovered inside Ed Gein’s secluded, rundown Wisconsin farmhouse of horrors, the veil was forever lifted on the human psyche and we were forced to accept that evil lives inside us all. But who was the Mad Butcher of Plainfield, and what drove him to find comfort in the flesh of others?

Ed GeinEdward Theodore Gein was born to Augusta Crafter and George P. Gein on August 27, 1906, in La Crosse, Wisconsin. His parents, both natives of Wisconsin, had married on July 7, 1900, and their marriage produced Ed and his older brother, Henry G. Gein.

George Gein was a violent alcoholic who was frequently unemployed. Ed and his brother rejected their violent, aimless father, as did Augusta, who treated her husband like a nonentity. Despite her deep contempt for her husband, the atrophic marriage persisted. Divorce was not an option due to the family’s religious beliefs. Augusta operated the small family grocery store and eventually purchased a farm on the outskirts of another small town, Plainfield, which became the Gein family’s permanent home.

Augusta moved to this desolate location to prevent outsiders from influencing her sons. Gein only left the premises to go to school and Augusta blocked any attempt he made to pursue friendships. Besides school, he spent most of his time doing chores on the farm. Augusta, who was a fanatical Lutheran, drummed into her boys the innate immorality of the world, the evil of drink and the belief that all women (herself excluded) were prostitutes and whores. According to Augusta, the only acceptable form of sex was for biological reproduction/procreation. 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.

Ed Gein's farmhouse in Plainfield, WIWith a slight growth over one eye and an effeminate demeanor, the young Gein became a target for bullies. Classmates and teachers recall other off-putting mannerisms such as seemingly random laughter, as if he were laughing at his own personal joke. Despite his poor social development, he did fairly well in school, particularly in reading and the study of world economics.

By the time his father George died in 1940, Henry had begun to reject Augusta’s view of the world. He had even taken to bad-mouthing her within earshot of his mortified brother. In March 1944, the brothers found themselves in the middle of a brush fire on property they owned in a neighboring county. When Ed ran to get the police, he told them he had lost sight of Henry, but then led them directly to his brother’s corpse. Although there was evidence Henry had suffered blunt trauma to his head, the local county coroner decided he died of asphyxiation while fighting the fire. Gein then lived with his mother. Less than two years later, on December 29, 1945, Augusta died from a series of strokes, leaving her grief-stricken son alone on the isolated farmstead.

The body of local hardware store owner Bernice Worden hangs in Ed Gein's housePolice suspected Gein to be involved in the disappearance of a store clerk, Bernice Worden, in Plainfield on November 16, 1957. Upon entering a shed on his property, they made their first horrific discovery of the night: Worden’s corpse. She had been decapitated, her headless body hung upside down by means of ropes at her wrists and a crossbar at her ankles. Most horribly, the body’s trunk was empty, the ribcage split and the body “dressed out” like that of a deer. These mutilations had been performed postmortem; she had been shot at close-range with a .22-caliber rifle.

Searching the house, authorities found:

  • Human skulls mounted upon the cornerposts of his bed
  • Human skin fashioned into a lampshade and used to upholster chair seats
  • Human skullcaps, apparently in use as soup bowls
  • A human heart (it is disputed where the heart was found; the deputies’ reports all claim that the heart was in a saucepan on the stove, with some crime scene photographers claiming it was in a paper bag)
  • The head of Mary Hogan, a local tavern owner, found in a paper bag
  • A ceiling light pull consisting of human lips
  • A “mammary vest” crafted from the skin of a woman’s torso
  • A belt made from several human nipples, among many other such grisly objects
  • Socks made from human flesh

Human skin mask found in Ed Gein's houseGein’s most notorious creations were an array of “shrunken heads.” Various neighborhood children — whom Gein occasionally babysat — had seen or heard of these objects, which Gein offhandedly described as relics from the South Seas, purportedly sent by a cousin who had served in World War II. Upon investigation, these turned out to be human facial skins, carefully peeled from cadavers and used by Gein as masks.

Gein eventually admitted under questioning that he would dig up the graves of recently buried middle-aged women he thought resembled his mother and take the bodies home, where he tanned their skin to make his macabre possessions. One writer describes Gein’s practice of putting on the tanned skins of women 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, who had been missing since 1954.

Shortly after his mother’s death, Gein decided he wanted a sex change, although it is a matter of some debate whether or not he was transsexual; by most accounts, he created his “woman suit” so he could pretend to be his mother, rather than change his sex.

Harold Schechter, an author of several true crime books, wrote a best-selling book about the Gein case called Deviant. In this book, Schechter mentions that Plainfield police officer Art Schley physically assaulted Gein during questioning by banging Gein’s head and face into a brick wall; because of this, Gein’s initial confession was ruled inadmissible. Schley died of a heart attack at the age of 43 shortly before Gein’s trial. Many who knew him said he was so traumatized by the horror of Gein’s crimes and the fear of having to testify (notably about assaulting Gein) that it led to his early death. One of his friends said, “He was a victim of Ed Gein as surely as if he had butchered him.”

Gein was found mentally incompetent and thus unfit to stand trial at the time of his arrest, and was sent to the Central State Hospital (now the Dodge Correctional Institution) in Waupun, Wisconsin. Later, Central State Hospital was converted into a prison and Gein was transferred to Mendota State Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin. In 1968, Gein’s doctors determined he was sane enough to stand trial; he was found not guilty by reason of insanity by judge Robert H. Gollmar and spent the rest of his life in the hospital.

Ghoul car on display in the Bunny Gibbons carnival sideshowWhile Gein was in detention, his house burned to the ground. Arson was suspected. In 1958, Gein’s car, which he used to haul the bodies of his victims, was sold at public auction for a then-considerable sum of $760 to an enterprising carnival sideshow operator named Bunny Gibbons. Gibbons called his attraction the “Ed Gein Ghoul Car” and charged carnival-goers 25 cents admission to see it.

On July 26, 1984, Ed Gein died of respiratory and heart failure due to cancer in Goodland Hall at the Mendota Mental Health Institute. His gravesite in the Plainfield cemetery was frequently vandalized over the years; souvenir seekers would chip off pieces of his gravestone before the bulk of it was stolen in 2000. The gravestone was recovered in June 2001 near Seattle and is presently displayed in a Wautoma, Wisconsin museum.

The Plainfield Cemetery, where Ed Gein is buried beside his mother

Share on Tumblr Share

824 Comments

  1. LESTAT 77

    January 30, 2014 at 8:39 am

    his primary aim was to have sex with the corpses AND HE MAY HAVE KILLED
    MORE PEOPLE

  2. ada

    January 3, 2014 at 5:10 pm

    While it’s easy to debate vigilante justice when it comes to an individual, how about pharmaceuticalss,
    ffactories….

  3. Ridgeway

    November 27, 2013 at 8:12 pm

    I have a question to post to all visitors of this sight. Would a person who killed people society thought should die stir up this big a frenzy or would people say he was doing a service? There was a story where a man in texas walked in on a ranch hand molesting his daughter, the man reacted by beating the man to death, and texas law says it is legal to take lethal action when someone is assaulting their offspring. So say a man walks by an alley where he sees a man molesting a young boy, now say the man has a gun on him, say the man pulls the gun and shoots the molester? How would the public at large react? Look up the Subway vigilante, then you’ll see my point.

    • Mona Thompson

      November 28, 2013 at 9:37 am

      Absolutely kill their asses. And don’t give me any of this crazy religious bullshit either that only god can judge. You fuck with children or babies your ass needs to not be on this earth anymore…period.

      • Bettybuttkiss GuildMaster

        December 7, 2013 at 11:09 pm

        Mona self righteous…. well any way… you should be more concerned to the fact that drug dealers and social glamerizing of the life style destroy more children’s lives then all the killer’s and molesters who have ever lived…and that is by the day… these type pf people do these things for self greed and social “respect” witch has become the normal american life…

    • Pale rider

      November 28, 2013 at 7:44 pm

      It would depend on the state in which the crime was in. And how much proof the so called hero have to back his side. Plus does this man have a license to carry a gun. If say he has no proof, no license to carry a weapon and in any other state but Texas. Then he’s the villain, the bad man that killed a poor innocent man that wasn’t doing anything wrong. Wouldn’t matter if the young boy said he was being molesting by him, people will only see the bad. But it all was in his favor then yes he will be a good guy, a hero.

  4. Fubar

    November 21, 2013 at 12:39 pm

    Stacy and lilmeme are the same person in a battle for control of the mind! True Story.

  5. shygirl

    November 19, 2013 at 8:01 pm

    Poor people.. All the ones he masscured.. There poor families too.. That sucks he was mistreated as a kid maybe thats why he went crazy.. I mean kids at schools are shooting people becuase rhere getting bullied

    • GeinMachine

      November 27, 2013 at 1:10 pm

      He only killed two people. or at least was only convicted of it.

    • Pale rider

      November 28, 2013 at 7:50 pm

      I call bulls**t on that. I was bullied at school and mistreated as a kid but I didn’t go crazy and kill humans. Don’t find excuses for killer. Shygirl. They do it because they can and cry about their life when they are punished.

  6. Meatloaf

    November 19, 2013 at 4:06 pm

    Sssssooooooooooo…I’d like to read Ed’s actual confession that was thrown out of court. Since he is deceased I don’t see why that would not be available on the fine and dandy internet.

  7. Mary

    November 19, 2013 at 12:55 pm

    Did either of these women that Ed murdered have any family? Seems there was no mention of any.?.

  8. donald

    November 15, 2013 at 12:06 am

    My father ran Ed Geins farm. My father recently passed away, now i feel compelled to share what i was unable to while he was alive. My dad was one of 27 brothers & sisters, he was an alcoholic, mean, & uneducated as a father, nut a good provider, & loved his wife, my mother, who was a saint!

    • Theodore Burdette

      November 18, 2013 at 11:34 pm

      What The Fuck Are You Talking About?

    • AENewman

      November 19, 2013 at 1:30 pm

      Seek help at Al-anon … you need it more than you know … recovery from that type of environment in a lifelong process … the best you can do for yourself is seek counseling.

  9. Bubba D.

    November 3, 2013 at 9:26 am

    Poor Ed. So misunderstood and tortured his whole life. There is a macabre beauty in the lines and angles of his rugged face. The jaunty tilt of his cap…. the heavy-lidded eyes, asparkle from some unknowable inner mirth.
    “I am yours now, do with me as you may. It is finally over……..”

    • John

      November 17, 2013 at 3:22 pm

      You’re a weirdo!! Poor misunderstood killer? Really?

    • Theodore Burdette

      November 18, 2013 at 11:30 pm

      Yes It Is True! Poor Ed… His Mentality Put Him In The Area Of Retarded… (By Today’s Terms)
      Unfortunately In His Day They Just Considered Him Odd.. Ed’s Ability To Understand And Comprehend In a rational Method Was Corrupted. Due To Physical And Social Sub-standards. If Ed Would Have Been Executed We Would Not Have The Better Understanding Of His Condition, And The Hindsight To See These Same Symptoms In Young People Today!

      • AENewman

        November 19, 2013 at 1:36 pm

        We as a society, and/or, as parents in denial, still do not see these symptoms in young people. Gabby Gifford shootings? Sandy Hook shootings? Aurora Theater shootings? Reagan politics “mainstreamed” the mentally ill to save tax dollars for the GOP rich … and the birds are coming home to roost for the next generation.

        • Theodore Burdette

          November 20, 2013 at 9:09 pm

          No. Sadly We See. We Understand. But As A Society Just Don’t Give A Shit Till We Can Get On The News And Have Two Seconds Of Egotistical Fame At The Cost Of Innocent Lives… We Are A Morally Corrupt Society….

        • Lisa

          December 2, 2013 at 8:01 pm

          Yes, blame the Reagan administration… it was much better for the mentally ill to be housed in government institutions having horrible, torturous experiments (I mean “treatments”) done to them against their wills. Give me a break!

          • Bettybuttkiss GuildMaster

            December 7, 2013 at 11:03 pm

            It is called scientific progress..these institutions did what the times called for.And sadly. we now see where scientific medicine was flawed And because people like Ed were not executed..and treated we now have different methods of dealing with this conditions. Such as Old ways of lobotimizing and shock therapy… witch have improved greatly and do a lot of good for people when handled responsibly. and not just people like Ed.. but people with other great mental health problems today..

      • JimWilly

        November 23, 2013 at 4:25 pm

        That is an incorrect and dangerous view, Ted. The man was not retarded. He may have been brainwashed by his mother, but we have millions of brainwashed people that vote. He knew what he was doing and knew it was wrong. He was a sick individual with an Oedipal complex. He managed to pay his bills and apparently was able to socialize with his neighbors. He he There is no excuse for his behavior.

        • Lisa

          December 2, 2013 at 8:03 pm

          Ditto!

  10. ken

    November 2, 2013 at 8:41 pm

    there is over 200 serial killers in the us at any given time

    • CriminalStudent

      November 11, 2013 at 5:53 pm

      That’s the largest estimation, but in actuality it’s from 40 to 200, but more like 40-50. Really no one knows, not even the FBI.

    • Roarke

      November 17, 2013 at 5:06 pm

      Really? wow I didn’t know the numbers were so high. Why are we over crowding our prisons and mental institutions with theses monsters? Why isn’t the death penalty being enforced? If they are taking human lives for pleasure, they certainly do not deserve to keep their own worthless lives.

      • GeinMachine

        November 27, 2013 at 1:15 pm

        Study. That’s why. I would love to know why people do this, whats wrong with them, how you can fix them, or if they can be fixed. Ed Gein did Horrible things. He was an artist in his own mind, and probably in others. We should let them live, lock them up and look at them, see what makes them tick.

  11. margaret

    October 24, 2013 at 9:45 pm

    I have watched the movie and. Read the book they did on ed gein and his sick family…..you can see why ed turned out the way he did…..his mother wasinsane! I heard somewhere that they never found bernice wordens head and that ed buried it somewhere on the property where the house once stood….thats creepy!!

  12. Edgerton WI

    October 16, 2013 at 8:28 pm

    I love living in Wisconsin

  13. Ridgeway

    September 30, 2013 at 11:50 pm

    Only two murders where ever proven, the rest where grave robberies from fresh dead he read about in the obitouaries. Pardon spelling errors

    • Ridgeway

      October 1, 2013 at 10:40 pm

      There are many worse than Gein. David Berkowitz, Richard Speck, Ted Bundy, BTK, Robert Hansen, Thomas Dillion, Charles Manson, Albert Fish, Ed Kempur, Richard Kuklinski, he was suspected in over 200 murders in 3! Different countries. So there are people worse than Gein, Richard Speck raped and tortured 8 girls, Ed kempur killed over a dozen young women and defiled the corpses.

      • lilmeme

        November 15, 2013 at 2:33 am

        What about chikatilo… I can’t spell it

        • Lydia Wilks

          December 6, 2013 at 7:52 pm

          Andrei Chikatilo killed over 50, and he wasn’t even insane. While there is no pardoning of Gein’s crimes, his mental state has to be considered. Sure, execute the ones who knew what they were doing, but the ones who don’t know the difference between right and wrong at the time of the offence don’t deserve to die.

  14. Ridgeway

    September 30, 2013 at 11:47 pm

    Everyone. Please, I have just come here for research, I have a criminology paper to write and was assigned to Ed gein. I’m not a fan of this stuff its just what i’m minoring in. So please don’t think i came here because i watch snuff films or crazy stuff like that.

    • Stacy

      November 3, 2013 at 1:31 am

      If you didn’t want anyone associating you with this site, why would you post a comment? Perhaps Gein speaks to your inner demons? Your decision to be involved with criminals, a way to indulge those very dark fantasies? A serial killer who hasn’t made the first kill……..yet. Denial to serial killer. I suggest you stop watching those unwatched snuff films, they will speed up your decent into monsterhood

    • lilmeme

      November 15, 2013 at 3:11 am

      Please pay no mind to the bored child (STACY) that chose to write some dumb senseless comment beneath us. she obviously lacks attention and is here obviously seeking some . maybe as a child her mother never gave her any? and now grown up as a bigger child her “man” isn’t giving her any attention either, so now she’s here trying to write a psych eval wen she obviously needs one for herself. so stacy, is this enough attention for u, or do u NEED more?

  15. Theodore Burdette

    September 28, 2013 at 10:04 am

    Before Any Of You Who Wish To Make A Post,Before You Do See This Link First!
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Theodore_Gein

    • Theodore Burdette

      September 28, 2013 at 10:39 am

      he was found guilty by way of insanity of only one murder, that of Bernice Worden, although later after the discovery of her death rumors and conjecture of the human mind he became suspected of maybe 6 disappearances of other missing women from around neighbouring cities, and perhaps the death of his brother Henry, the missing (children due to there ages considered now, but considered young women then) women were not victim types of Gein. As stated here that said by Robert H. Gollmar, the judge for the Gein case “Due to prohibitive costs, Gein was tried for only one murder—-that of Mrs. Worden.” – this is more so do to the fact that there were no other facts or evidence to link Gein to any other crimes, and to do so would be financially corrupt and not beneficial to The State Of Wisconsin.

      • the,odd one

        November 19, 2013 at 7:54 pm

        Owchie my nips hurt fucking shit tge nipple belt

Leave a Comment