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Ed Gein, AKA "Wierd Old Eddie"
Citizens of quiet Plainfield, Wisconsin called him "Weird old Eddie." But for a long time they didn’t know just how weird and deranged he really was."
Weird Eddie’s real name was Edward Theodore Gein. He was born in La Crosse, WI in 1906 and grew up to be a serial killer more monstrous than anyone could ever have imagined. In fact, several highly successful horror movies were patterned after his crimes.
Gein dug up corpses, skinned them and used the hide for various purposes around his home, including making clothes which he wore. No one knows for certain what made Ed do the ghastly things he did, but most specialists agree his sad childhood probably played a major role in his mental development and atrocities he would later perpetrate.
His father was a spineless alcoholic and his mother, the complete opposite. Domineering, deeply religious and demandingly strict, she drummed into him the evils of women, sex and immorality. But, it was known Ed was deeply attached to her…even more so after his father died from alcoholism.
Henry, Ed’s older brother, became concerned over his younger brother’s obsession with his mother and continually brought it to her attention. Henry died shortly thereafter in a fire caused under mysterious circumstances. The townspeople always suspected Ed had something to do with it. His mother died a year later when he was 39 years old, leaving Ed still unmarried and to run the family's 160-acre farm alone..
House of Horrors
However, there was no need to run the farm anymore since he was receiving subsidies from the government. So, the house soon became a rundown shambles which local children avoided believing it to be haunted. And it was in a way. It was haunted by memories of his overbearing, tyrannical mother.
Ed now became a recluse, seldom venturing into town and discouraging visitors. His behavior began to take on psychotic overtones. He locked all the rooms in the house except for one he lived in. His mother’s bedroom was kept exactly the way it was when she was alive…a shrine to her memory.
However, now with no one to watch over him, Ed became obsessed with sexual fantasies and female anatomy. He pored over medical encyclopedias as well as pornographic magazines. He became a voracious reader devouring books about Nazi’s WW ll medical experiments on Jews and pulp fiction horror stories.
At first, residents in Plainfield didn’t notice anything amiss, but female corpses in outlying cemeteries were being dug up. There was one corpse exhumed nearby however…that of his mother. It wouldn’t be long before they would discover the monster in their midst.
With the bodies Gein dug up, he would flay the skin and dissect the rest. He kept skulls, genitalia, hearts and various other organs. With the flayed skins, he often draped the breast portions over his person, perhaps believing it made him a female, a theory many experts believe he wanted to be.
Gein’s ghoulish acts became even more gruesome as he sank deeper into debauchery and sick fantasy world. He no longer was satisfied with decaying corpses. He wanted fresher bodies and graduated to murder…all women about his mother’s age. 54-year old Mary Hogan, who operated a local tavern, disappeared in December 1954. Bernice Worden, who ran the local hardware store, disappeared November 16, 1957.
However, Mrs. Worden's son, Frank, happened to be a deputy sheriff. When he learned Weird Eddie had been seen in town the day of his mother’s disappearance the sheriff’s department began an investigation. What they found at the Gein farm turned their stomachs.
In the woodshed, Frank found his mother’s naked, decapitated body hanging upside down on a meat hook. Her body had been cut open and the intestines and heart removed. Her heart was discovered in the house dining room on a plate.
But that was just the beginning. There was a belt made of nipples, a chair and lampshades covered with human skin, a soup-bowl made out of a skull and human organs filled the refrigerator. The bed posts on Gein's bed were decorated with skulls and a human head hung on the wall. Also found in the house of horrors were nine masks fashioned from skinned faces of women and more hanging corpses with throats and heads missing.
The lawmen found remains of at least fifteen bodies, but Gein couldn’t remember how many bodies he dug up or murders he committed. When the news media picked up the story it shocked America. The whole country learned the horrifying story when Life and Time magazines both published features on Gein’s" house of horrors" in 1957.
Gein spent 10 years in a mental hospital before he was found competent to stand trial. He was found guilty, but criminally insane. He died of respiratory problems and heart failure in 1984