A notorious murderer and grave robber, Edward Theodore Gein was among the most infamous and at the same time understated criminals in history.

He admitted to killing two women, but in both cases he pled not guilty by reason of insanity. His plea was approved and therefore Ed Gein was deemed unfit for trial. Although not proven, he was suspected of killing (or at least being responsible for the disappearance) of more people.

Ed Gein was born to Augusta and George; fanatically religious mother and an alcoholic father, respectively. He grew up alongside his brother Henry, in a repressive household dominated by his mother and ruled by her puritanical preaching about sins of carnal desire and lust.

His crimes did not really attract the attention of media and general public, partly because the murders took place in a small town of Plainfield, Wisconsin – a place most people have never heard of.

He was quite easily apprehended, but not before he had successfully killed at least two people, Mary Hogan and Bernice Worden, both were women and allegedly resembled his mother.

But murders were not Ed’s only crimes, as he also confessed to digging up corpses for practicing necrophilia and cutting off body parts.

Although relatively unknown at first, Ed’s life and crimes inspired some popular horror books and films such as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Silence of the Lambs, and Psycho. And behind his tendency to commit savagery, there are some shocking revelations about Ed’s life.

10 Ed Gein Was Once A Babysitter

Following the death of his father at the age of 66 due to excessive drinking, Ed and his brother Henry began looking for some others jobs outside the family farm to help with expenses.

They actually had a good reputation as hard-working handymen in the community, so it wouldn’t be too difficult for them to get hired to do a variety of jobs around the town. In addition to being a handyman, Ed Gein also worked as babysitter. He said that he liked the job and that he related much better to kids than adults.

His father died in 1940, and at that time Ed had not shown any sign of savage personality which he would eventually develop in the following years.

Nobody in the community suspected him of any wrongdoing while he was working in this particular profession. However, it was also around the same time that Henry started to notice Ed’s infatuation with their mother. Some people say Ed did not take it well.



9 Henry's Death Was Surrounded By Suspicious Circumstances

About four years after the death of his father, Henry was found dead. In 1944, Henry and Ed were burning brush on the property. The fire raged out of control, but thankfully the fire department came to the rescue.

Soon after the incident, Ed filed a report of a missing person: his brother was nowhere to be found after the fire. The search party came at night and began scouring the property to look for him. After a while Henry’s body was found, facing down and motionless.

Heart failure was ruled as the initial cause of death, but the circumstances surrounding his death added with future revelations of Ed’s behavior, led to a suspicion that the younger brother was responsible. Coroner actually changed the cause of death from heart failure to asphyxiation.

Although no autopsy was performed, there were apparent bruises on Henry’s dead body, most likely the result of a violent blow.

8 Isolation On A Farm

In 1915 when Ed was just a 9-year old boy, his family moved from La Crosse, Wisconsin to a farm outside Plainfield also in the same state. Ed Gein rarely left the farm except for attending school. Even if Ed and Henry had wanted to go out and play, their mother wouldn’t have allowed them to.

She would constantly preach about how bad the outside world was and that all women – perhaps except her – were whores, tools used by the devil to lure men into sins. Due to this isolation, Augusta became Ed’s most devoted and only friend.

Ed practically had zero social interaction with anybody else outside the family, and things did not turn out as peaceful as his mother had always expected.

Augusta did not allow any other women to come inside the house; when she saw women with other men (who were not their husbands) she would cuss them out. Ed and Henry probably witnessed such instances more often than they needed to.

7 Bible Study Every Afternoon

An old-school Lutheran, Augusta was a fanatically religious person and she would use every chance to preach to Ed and Henry about the dangers and consequences of sins. So every single day after school, the boys would come home from school to attend another class, but not a typical extracurricular activity.

For them home class meant Bible study with their Lutheran mother to learn about the Old Testament. Augusta did not hesitate to use (or cite) verses that were probably too heavy for children to take. Bear in mind that some verses written in the Old Testament should be rated “R” for Restrictive or at least “M” for Mature.

This is not to say that Bible study is bad or unnecessary in all situations, but such lesson especially in the Geins family seemed to contribute to Ed’s peculiar behaviors for examples laughing at random (inappropriate) times and sometimes at his own jokes.

The obligatory Bible study prevented Ed from going outside and making friends. There were several possibilities involved here: whether Ed did not receive enough Bible study, the isolation triggered his eventual behavior, or it was the Old Testament study that sparked off his strange violent behavioral tendency.

6 Mother’s Death Broke Ed

After his father and brother had passed away, Ed lived alone with his mother. Augusta suffered from a paralyzing stroke after Henry’s death, and therefore Ed devoted himself to take care of her.

In 1945, both of them actually came out of the farm to visit a man called Smith to purchase straw. His mother saw Smith beating a dog, and then a woman coming from inside his house telling him to stop. Smith didn’t even bother and he just continued beating the dog to death.

According to Ed, Augusta was upset not because of Smith’s brutality but the presence of a woman in the house. Augusta called the woman Smith’s harlot.

Augusta suffered from a second stroke soon after the incident, causing her health to deteriorate rapidly. She died on 29 December 1945 at the age of 67.

Augusta death was a devastating blow to Ed, and from that point on, he was absolutely alone without any friend. He lost his one true love. It was the moment that the monster inside Ed woke up to wreck havoc all around.

5 Ed Never Dated

The love Ed gave for his mother was more than just devotion; it was an obsession. When Ed was young, his mother forbade him from making friends, especially with girls.

Apparently Ed never dated even as he grew older. Part of this was because he loved his mother too much to the point where he could not love another woman. Another potential culprit was the social awkwardness; Ed never actually socialized in any other way except in school, so perhaps he had no idea of how to get along with girls of his age.

Now living alone, Ed managed to support himself as handyman. As mentioned earlier, he was also a babysitter for a time; although there were no reports of any harm done to children under his watch, few residents of the area mysteriously disappeared.

One of them was Mary Hogan and another was a babysitter named Evelyn Hartley. Ed admitted to killing Mary Hogan years later in his confession, but there was no clear evidence that he also kidnapped or killed Evelyn Hartley.

4 He Kept His Mother’s Rooms In Pristine Condition

Many things changed in Ed’s life following his mother’s death. His other immediate family also passed away years earlier, but the void his mother left was much more prominent. Ed held on to the farm and earned money from various jobs. He actually renovated the farmhouse, but not in a normal home improvement project.

Instead of transforming the house into more purposeful living space, he boarded-up all rooms his mother once used including living room, upstairs, and downstairs parlor, maybe to prevent further damages. Ed himself chose to live in a small bedroom next to the kitchen. While the rest of the house remained intact, his living quarter quickly turned into a big mess.

It his new bedroom, he indulged in reading obscure magazines filled with uncommon subjects such as cannibalism and Nazis. He studied how cannibals would dismember the bodies of their victims and which organs were edible. He labeled some of the reading materials as “adventure stories” when in fact the content were nothing but evil literatures.

3 Grave Robbing Adventures

Ed visited three local graveyards about 40 times within the span of 5 years. Now in many cases, such activities are not particularly alarming, but Ed claimed that he had done so while he was in distress. He also said that when the feeling of confusion went away, he left.

Despite the confession, his real motivation for leaving the graveyard remains unclear to this day. In about 10 visits, he dug up graves of middle-aged women whom he believed would look like his mother. Regardless of the appearance of the dead bodies, he took them home. In other visits, he was possibly spooked and afraid of getting caught.

When Ed arrived home after the exhumation, he tanned the skins and made all sorts of household items from parts of the dead bodies. When the authorities searched his home, there were countless body parts. Although Ed said he was neither a cannibal nor necrophiliac, he was for sure into something barbaric.

2 Gein’s Crimes Inspired Leatherface

There is no denying that Leatherface from The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is and will always be one of the most easily remembered characters to ever come out of the movie industry. The original movie was released in 1974, and was “loosely” based on the crimes of Ed Gein.

While the plot is fictional, the opening crawl actually suggests that the film is based on true events. In some way, such conceit contributed to the film’s success. Although the movie was low-budget, a lot of events displayed can bring a haunting horror effect to any viewer even if you watch it now. There is even a franchise consisting of comic books, slasher films and even video game based on the original movie; all focus on Leatherface.

A remake of the movie, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (note the different in the spelling of the word Chainsaw) displayed more vivid imagery of a collection of body parts and skin to depict Ed’s tendency to collect human remains.

1 Body Parts Storage

Ed Gein’s bedroom was filled with boxes of body parts. Investigators found the remains of at least 10 women in Ed’s house. From all evidence gathered, the authorities were able to link him to just two murders: Mary Hogan and Bernice Worden. Among the parts found, there were human bones, skulls, face masks, female nipples, vulvae, and noses.

Things became even more severely morbid as the search party also discovered various household items made of human parts and skins for examples bowls (made from skulls), actual skin used as face mask, upholstery (made of human skin), and a corset (from the torso of a dead woman).

When the police stormed his house, they also found a heart placed in a bag near the stove. The most plausible explanation was that Ed wanted to eat the organ, but he denied the allegation.

He did not deny murdering two women and robbing graves, yet he claimed to commit a lot of the crimes in a daze-like state so he could not remember clearly.

He was later deemed unfit for trial and sent to various psychiatric institutions.  Actually in 1968, Ed was deemed fit for his own defense, but then it was ruled that he had been insane at the time of the crime. He returned to Central State Hospital where he remained until his death in 1984.

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