In Serialization, Clarion writer Ashley Brown takes a look at some of the most infamous serial killers in history, the crimes they committed and analysis of why they did it. These articles are in no way trying to glorify the horrific crimes of the killers mentioned and will include graphic content. This article includes descriptions of human remains. Reader discretion is advised.
Ed Gein was born in 1906 in Plainfield, Wisconsin. He was born into a family with an alcoholic father who was quite absent, a controlling mother and an older brother. Growing up on an isolated farm, his mother instilled ideas that women and sex were evil.
When he attended school in his early years, he was described as shy. Many of the other students and even some teachers also described him as odd. Arguably, this is due to the fact that his mother would often punish him for trying to make friends, thus causing more of an isolated and solitary lifestyle for young Gein.
When Gein turned 38, he and his older brother were working the field when tragedy struck.
They were working with fire to burn down marsh vegetation, which was a very common practice in this area. The fire had gotten out of hand, requiring Gein to call the fire department. After the fire was taken care of and the fire department had left, he then reported his brother missing.
That night they found his brother face down dead from asphyxiation. The cause of death was originally thought to be from the fire. However, his time of death lined up to before the fire and he had bruising on his head.
Authorities had suspected that Gein had killed his brother. However, due to not having enough evidence, nothing came of it. They were forced to accept Gein’s brother’s death was an accident.
A few years later all his family had passed away, including his mother. Gein remained on the farm and lived there by himself. He then decided to renovate the whole house. He boarded up every room that was used by his mother. He only left one bedroom next to the kitchen open and lived a secluded life continuing to keep to himself.
Until in 1957, a hardware store manager went missing. The manager’s name was Bernice Worden.
When Bernice’s store remained closed all day, her son, Deputy Frank Worden decided to check on her. When he went into the store he looked to find the cash register was open and there were bloodstains.
Frank remembered running into Gein the day before his mother’s disappearance. They were talking about various things and Gein mentioned he was going to swing by the store to pick up some antifreeze. When they were investigating the store the last sale recorded was for antifreeze.
This gave Frank enough reason for suspicion and he and the local police force headed over to Gein’s house and arrested him. The police investigation revealed that he had not only Bernice’s remains but multiple human remains were found in his house.
In total, the remains of ten different women were found throughout the house. There was a collection of human skulls. He used the skulls for a variety of purposes, like bedposts, bowls and eating utensils.
He has also used the skin to make several types of furniture and clothing. He had lampshades, chairs and wastebaskets made from human flesh. He also had leggings made from the skin off a leg. He had a corset made of a female’s torso, a mask made of various faces and many other things.
It should, however, be noted that he was not confirmed or convicted of killing all ten women. He was only linked to the murder of Bernice Worden. When questioned, he claimed to have dug up graves to collect the other body parts.
He said he did this because they reminded him of his mother. He wanted to make a human suit so he could wear it and feel like his mother.
During the trial he was deemed mentally unfit to stand trial, thus sending him to a state hospital until 1968 when he was believed to be sane enough to stand trial. However, the judge declared him guilty by reason of insanity.
Gein then spent the rest of his days in a state facility, later dying at the age of 77 on July 26, 1984.
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