The likes of Bundy, Ed Gein and John Wayne Gacy have gained high levels of notoriety for their crimes. Increasing widespread media coverage has helped serial killer interest overflow into households, so lets take a look at the widely-known and movie mad-men inspiration, Ed Gein.
Born on August 27th 1906, Ed Gein is the man that influenced the creation of several fictional killers in horror including Norman Bates from the movie and novel Psycho, Leatherface from The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and Jame Gumb (Buffalo Bill) from the novel The Silence of the Lambs. As well as Bloody Face of the series American Horror Story: Asylum, and Ezra Cobb from the film Deranged.
Gein deeply loved his mother, Augusta, who used to preach to her boys about the innate immorality of the world, the evil of drinking, and the belief that all women (except herself) were all prostitutes and instruments of the devil. Augusta would reserve time every afternoon to read to her boys from the Bible, usually selecting graphic verses from the Old Testament concerning death, murder, and divine retribution.
While Gein was devoted to making his domineering mother happy, Augusta was rarely pleased with her boys, believing that they were destined to become failures and alcoholics just like their father. Henry died in 1944 from asphyxiation with Augusta suffering a paralyzing stroke shortly after his death, prompting Gein to dedicate himself to taking care of her. She suffered a second stroke soon after, and her health deteriorated rapidly. She died in 1945, at the age of 67
It is said that the death of his beloved mother is the event that prompted Gein to begin his devilish shenanigans.
In 1957, the police had been given a tip off and suspicion to believe Gein had something to do with the disappearance of a local woman Bernice Worden. Upon searching his home, they found a number of grizzly discoveries. These included a lampshade made from the skin of a human face, another nine masks of human skin, whole human bones and fragments, nine vulvae in shoe box, a belt made from female nipples and Bernice Worden’s head in a burlap sack, just to name a few.
When questioned by authorities, Gein told investigators that he had 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 came 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, and tanned their skins to make his paraphernalia.
Ed Gein was declared unfit to stand trial when being prosecuted and was sent to a mental hospital. He was later successfully tried and convicted but due to prohibitive costs, was tried for only one murder—that of Mrs. Worden. He was declared legally insane and spent the rest of his life in a mental hospital.
On July 26, 1984, Gein died of respiratory failure due to lung cancer at the age of 77 in Stovall Hall at the Mendota Mental Health Institute. His gravestone was frequently vandalized over the years, with souvenir seeks chipping off pieces before the bulk of it was stolen in 2000. The gravestone was then recovered in June 2001 near Seattle and is now in storage at the Waushara County Sheriff’s Department.