Edward Theodore Gein, also known as The Butcher of Plainfield, was an American murderer and body snatcher. His crimes, committed around his hometown of Plainfield, Wisconsin, gathered widespread notoriety after authorities discovered that Gein had exhumed corpses from local graveyards and fashioned trophies and keepsakes from their bones and skin. Take a look below for 30 more scary and bizarre facts about Ed Gein.
1. Gein confessed to killing two women; tavern owner Mary Hogan in 1954, and a Plainfield hardware store owner, Bernice Worden, in 1957.
2. Gein was initially found unfit to stand trial and confined to a mental health facility.
3. In 1968, Gein was found guilty but legally insane of the murder of Worden, and was remanded to a psychiatric institution.
4. He died at Mendota Mental Health Institute of cancer-induced liver and respiratory failure at the age of 77 on July 26, 1984.
5. He is buried next to his family in the Plainfield Cemetery, in a now-unmarked grave.
6. Gein was born in La Crosse County, Wisconsin, on August 27, 1906, the second of two boys of George Philip Gein and Augusta Wilhelmine Gein.
7. Gein had an older brother, Henry George Gein.
8. Augusta despised her husband, an alcoholic who was unable to keep a job; he had worked at various times as a carpenter, tanner and insurance salesman.
9. George owned a local grocery shop for a few years, but sold the business, and the family left the city to live in isolation on a 155 acre farm in the town of Plainfield in Waushara County, Wisconsin, which became the Gein family’s permanent residence.
10. Augusta took advantage of the farm’s isolation by turning away outsiders who could have influenced her sons.
11. Gein left the farm only to attend school. Outside of school, he spent most of his time doing chores on the farm.
12. Augusta was fervently religious, and nominally Lutheran. She preached to her boys about the innate immorality of the world, the evil of drinking, and her belief that all women, except herself, were naturally prostitutes and instruments of the devil.
13. She reserved time every afternoon to read to them from the Bible, usually selecting graphic verses from the Old Testament concerning death, murder and divine retribution.
14. Edward was shy, and classmates and teachers remembered him as having strange mannerisms, such as seemingly random laughter, as if he were laughing at his own personal jokes.
15. To make matters worse, his mother punished him whenever he tried to make friends.
16. Despite his poor social development, he did fairly well in school, particularly in reading.
17. Gein’s brother, Henry, eventually got married but worried about Ed’s attachment to their mother. He mentioned this to Ed several times, but it would cause Ed to be hurt.
18. On May 16, 1944, Henry and Ed were burning vegetation on the property when the fire got out of control. After the fire was extinguished, Ed reported his brother as missing. Henry was eventually found, but no foul play was suspected. However, it was later determined that Ed had probably killed his brother.
19. Gein’s mother eventually died, leaving him devastated. According to author Harold Schechter, he had, “lost his only friend and one true love. And he was absolutely alone in the world.”
20. Gein boarded up the rooms in which his mother had lived and lived in one room next to the house. Around this time, he became interested in death-cult magazines, particularly those involving cannibals or Nazi atrocities.
21. On the morning of November 16, 1957, Plainfield Hardware Store owner Bernice Worden disappeared. Her son, the deputy, found blood stains everywhere, and the last receipt was made out to Ed.
22. Gein was arrested later that day and his farm searched. Deputies discovered Worden’s decapitated body hanging in a shed on Ed’s property.
23. After searching the house, authorities also found bowls made from skulls, masks made from human heads, and other atrocious paraphernalia designed from human body parts.
24. Upon questioning, Gein admitted to having visited three local graveyards up to 40 times during the night while in a trance-like state.
25. About three quarters oft he time, he snapped out of the trance and returned home empty handed, but the rest of the times he would dig up the bodies of middle aged females he thought resembled his mother.
26. Ed brought the bodies home, tanned them, and then used them to make his paraphernalia.
27. Soon after his mother’s death, Gein began to create a “woman suit” so that he could become his mother and literally crawl into her skin.
28. During questioning, Gein denied having sex with the bodies because they “smelled too bad.”
29. Gein described the shrunken heads he had in his house as relics from the Philippines sent by a cousin who had served there in World War II. Later investigation found them to be human faces from the local cemeteries.
30. During the interrogation, Waushara County sheriff Art Schley allegedly assaulted Gein by banging his head into a wall. For this reason, Ed’s first confession was thrown out. Schley died before Ed’s trial due to heart failure at the age of 43. Many people thought that he was so traumatized from Ed’s crimes that he just couldn’t handle it. One friend commented, “He was a victim of Ed Gein as surely as if he had butchered him.”