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Ed Gein

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Real World Bio
Ed Gein
Name Edward Theodore Gein
Alias Ed
Eddie
The Mad Butcher
The Plainfield Ghoul
The Plainfield Butcher
The Butcher of Plainfield
Gender Male
Birth Date August 29, 1906
Place of Birth La Crosse County, Wisconsin
Date of Death July 26, 1984
Place of Death Madison, Wisconsin
Pathology Unclassified Killer
Necrophiliac
Modus Operandi Shooting
Type Disorganized
No. of Victims 2+
Status Deceased

"I had a compulsion to do it."

Edward Theodore "Ed" Gein, a.k.a. "The Plainfield Ghoul", was a murderer, necrophiliac, and body snatcher active during the 1950s.

HistoryEdit

Gein was born on August 27, 1906 into an unhappy family: his father George was a drunk and usually unemployed and frequently physically abused him and his older brother, Henry. Their mother, Augusta Gein (née Lehrke), was a religious fanatic who also abused Gein and Henry and taught them that all women, herself excluded, were prostitutes and instruments of the devil. Though she despised George, their religious belief prevented them from considering the possibility of divorce. She prompted the family move to the small town of Plainfield, Wisconsin, in order to keep her sons away from any outside influences. Throughout his upbringing, Gein was kept at the farm, only being allowed to leave to go to school, where he was frequently bullied by his classmates. Augusta also scolded Gein whenever he tried to make friends.
Gein Social Security

Gein's Social Security card.

Despite this social isolation, he did fairly well at school, especially at reading. Even when the Gein brothers were in their teens, they were kept at the farm, having only each other for company. When George died of a heart attack in 1940, they took a number of odd jobs in the town to support their living. As Henry matured, he came to reject his mother's view on the world and became worried about Gein's close attachment to her, often speaking ill about her in front of him. In 1944, a bush fire came close to the farm and Gein and Henry went over to put it out. After the fire was put out, Henry was found dead with blunt-force trauma, with no signs of him having been burned by the fire. Though some investigators suspected that Gein had killed him, the coroner listed the cause of death as asphyxiation and no charges were pressed.
Gein Farm

The Gein farm.

After that, Gein lived alone with Augusta, who died on December 29, 1945, after a series of strokes. Remaining on the farm and making a living through various odd jobs, Gein boarded up the rooms that had been used by her, including the upstairs, the downstairs parlor and living room. He lived in a small room next to the kitchen and began reading death-cult magazines and adventure stories. Over the following years, Gein would visit cemeteries, dig up freshly-buried middle-aged women, and take them to his farm. Eventually, he began targeting living women in hopes of preserving the skins longer. In the middle of November 1957, local investigators linked him to his second known murder victim, store owner Bernice Worden, through a sales slip. When they searched his property, they found Worden in a shed, shot dead, decapitated, and gutted the same way a hunter would cut open a deer post-mortem. In the house, they also found:

  • A shoebox containing female genitalia
  • A belt made of nipples
  • A vest made out of womens breasts
  • A human heart in a paper bag
  • Tops of human skulls used as bowls
  • A human head
  • A suit made of human skin
  • Human skin covering several armchairs
  • Human organs in the refrigerator
  • Whole human bones and fragments
Psycho

Poster of Psycho, one of the movies that were inspired by Gein's case.

Gein was arrested and, during questioning, he confessed to killing Mary Hogan, a tavern operator who had gone missing in December 1954, and adding her body parts to his collection. He had been a suspect when she disappeared, but there was no hard evidence incriminating him and the local police never visited his home. He was charged with the murder of Bernice Worden, the other murder having been left out due to prohibitive costs, and pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. He was found mentally unfit to stand trial until 1968, when he was tried for the murder and found guilty. He was then sent to another mental institution, where he remained until he died of respiratory and heart failure caused by long-term cancer on July 26, 1984. While he was there, Gein was a model patient and often read, engaged in occupational therapy, took an interest in ham radio, and was never violent or troublesome. On March 20, 1958, Gein's old house was burned to the ground. When he heard about it, he just shrugged and said "Just as well". Gein has since served as inspiration for several fictional serial killers, including Norman Bates, the killer from Psycho, and Jame Gumb, a.k.a. Buffalo Bill, a serial killer in The Silence of the Lambs.

Modus OperandiEdit

As Gein claimed to have been in a daze-like state whenever he went grave robbing or killed his victims, the details of his murders are a bit vague, but it has been established that he killed both his victims by shooting them with a .22 rifle, after which their remains were made part of his macabre collection. The women he dug up or killed were middle-aged women who resembled his mother. During his grave-robbing days, he would find potential targets through the obituaries of the newspaper.

PathologyEdit

After his arrest, Gein was diagnosed as having been a schizophrenic as well as a sexual psychopath. His mental illness stemmed from his love-hate relationship towards women, which later turned into a full-scale psychosis. After his mother's death, Gein had decided that he wanted to become a woman. The bodies he collected were meant to be used as components for a "woman suit". Gein was a necrophiliac as body parts excited him sexually, though he denied ever actually having sex with the bodies on the grounds that they "smelled too bad".

Known VictimsEdit

Mary Hogan

Mary Hogan.

  • May 16, 1944: Henry Gein (his brother; possibly; was found dead with blunt-force trauma; death was classified as unrelated asphyxiation from a brush fire)
  • December 8, 1954: Mary Hogan (was decapitated; her remains were found in his house)
  • November 17, 1957: Bernice Worden (was decapitated, then gutted post-mortem)
  • Notes: Gein was also suspected of a number of other deaths and disappearances in the area, but was never linked to any of them. Five disappearances that could be neither proven nor dis-proven to have any connection with Gein were:
    • May 1, 1947: Georgia Jean Weckler, 8
    • November 1952: Victor Travis and Ray Burgess
    • October 24, 1953: Eveleyn Grace Hartley, 15
    • August 1956, Irene Keating, 30

NotesEdit

  • Though Ed Gein is frequently referred to as a serial killer, he has only been positively linked to two murders and therefore does not qualify for that term.

On Criminal MindsEdit

EdGein

Ed Gein in a flashback in Cold Comfort.

Gein has been referred to on a few occasions in Criminal Minds, most notably in the Season Four episode Cold Comfort, in which the BAU dealt with a necrophiliac, accompanied with a flashback (in which Gein is portrayed by David O'Hara). Gein may also directly or indirectly have been part of the inspiration for Rhett Walden, as both had domineering and emotionally abusive mothers and were schizophrenics. Walden's habit of keeping his mother’s body in the house may have have been mainly inspired by Norman Bates from Psycho, who did the same and was, in turn, inspired by Gein.

SourcesEdit

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