Nov 16 1957
Ed Gein liked to dress in the skin of his victims and pretend he was his over-bearing mother.
He lived in the small rural town of Plainfield, Wisconsin on a 160-acre family farm with his tyrannical mother and his brother, Henry. They lived an extremely isolated and dysfunctional existence until Henry died in 1944 (supposedly of asphyxiation from a field fire, but there has been speculation Ed killed him). Mother Gein died a year later in 1945.
After his mother’s death, Ed boarded up her room exactly as it was the day she died. He also closed off the home’s dining room and five other rooms upstairs, living in a small room off the kitchen.
With his suddenly ample free time, Gein began obsessively studying the female anatomy. He then started sneaking into cemeteries to steal corpses. He preferred recently deceased women around the age his mother died.
When Bernice Worden’s went missing with a trail of blood through the store, her son told the police that Gein had been in the store and said he’d be returning to buy some antifreeze. He also had reportedly asked Worden out roller skating, and said she resembled his mother. The last receipt filled out by Worden was for a gallon of antifreeze, and Gein became the prime suspect in her disappearance.
When the police went out to check out Gein’s place, they found Worden’s body hung upside-down, dressed like a deer with a crossbar at her ankles and her head decapitated. It is believed she was shot in the head at the store before the mutilations had been performed.
Upon searching the Gein house, police found a nightmare, including a trash receptacle made of human skin, human skull bedposts and bowl, a belt of women’s nipples, furniture upholstered in human skin, masks made from the skin of women’s faces, a corset made from a woman’s torso, and a plethora of other horrifying items.
Fortunately for all but two of his victims (Mary Hogan in 1954 and Bernice Worden), they were already dead when he found them. Under interrogation Gein said he went to three graveyards and exhumed recently buried bodies to bring them home where he tanned their skin and used other body parts in his sick arts and crafts projects.
Investigators were skeptical that Gein used already dead bodies, and dug up two of the graves Ed had indicated which were discovered to be empty. Gein also claimed he went to dozens of other cemeteries intent on digging up bodies, but woke from his daze and instead went home.
As a result of Sheriff Art Schley slamming Gein’s head into a wall to get him to confess Gein’s confession was inadmissible in court. The police also did not have a warrant when they initially searched Gein’s residence.
After extensive psychiatric testing, Gein was found not fit to stand trial. The judge committed him to the Central State Hospital for the Criminally Insane. After a period of ten years, it was decided he competent to stand trial after all.
His trial for the murder of Bernice Worden was in November 1968. The defense was that Gein was a slave to his deviant impulses and could not comprehend the consequences of his actions. Experts testified that Gein suffered from a severe mental disorder rendering him unable to control his actions or act within the law.
Ed Gein was found guilty of first degree murder. He was never tried for the murder of Mary Hogan. He was first sent back to Central State Hospital, transferred to the Mendota Mental Health Institute in 1978, and died in 1984 of cancer. He was buried next to his mother in Plainfield.