Ed Gein

Reign of terror: 8/12/54 - 16/11/57

Motive: Unknown, possibly sex

Crimes: Murder of Mary Hogan on 8 December 1954 and Bernice Worden on 16th November 1957, both in Plainfield, Wisconsin.

Method: They were both shot with a rifle. After death, they were gutted, skinned and hung up by the ankles as if they were deer.

Sentence: Gein did not have a trial until January 1968, as it was decided that he was insane. At the trial, it was found that he had committed the two murders, but that he was not guilty on the grounds of insanity. He was to spend the rest of his life in a mental institution.

Interesting facts: The murders that Gein committed were just a means to an end for him. It was the fresh bodies that he really wanted. Before he had committed any murders, Gein used to rob graves of their recently interred bodies. He would take them home and skin them like game, gutting them and hanging them up to drain. He did the same when he converted to killing his victims himself.

The police arrested Gein when they discovered that he was the last person to have been served by Worden at her shop. He was asked for his account of his day, but when asked again later for details, he contradicted himself and was vague. Later that evening, the police obtained a search warrant for his farm, where they discovered an array of horrific findings. A woman's decapitated, skinned and disembowelled body was found hanging from her heels. In the kitchen were 8 human skulls, some sawn in half and being used as bowls, a cup containing 4 human noses and a human pair of lips hung by string from the window. Worden's heart was found in a plastic bag and her innards wrapped in a suit. Her head was found intact in a sack in the corner of the room. In Gein's bedroom, there were two skulls impaled on his bedposts and nine shrunken heads suspended by their hair or by hooks from their ears. There were also around the house a number of items made from human skin - the seat of one of the kitchen chairs, a lamp shade, a knife sheath, a drum, a bracelet and a rubbish bin. There was also a skin shirt complete with breasts and several pairs of skin leggings.

Curiously, the police discovered that the front section of the house was completely preserved as a normal set of rooms. They were a shrine to Gein's mother and had not been touched in the ten years since she died. Gein's mother had protected Gein from the world, because she believed that men were evil, and she didn't want her son to turn out like them. This intense relationship is identified by some to be the source of Gein's personality disorder.

After his arrest, Gein was sent to the Central State Hospital in Waupun. In 1968, he was found insane at trial, and returned there. In 1974, a petition was lodged that he was restored to full mental health and no longer represented a threat to society. However, experts believed that his mental problems simmered beneath the surface and he was returned to the hospital. In 1978, he was transferred to Mendota Mental Health Institute, where he died on 26th July 1984, at the age of 77. He is buried next to his mother.

Several films have been inspired by the story of Ed Gein. Psycho is about a man who dresses in his mother's clothes, wears her wigs, and uses her voice, while all the time her mummified body sits in the cellar; Silence of the Lambs has a psychopath who skins his victims and makes clothes out of their skin; The Texas Chainsaw Massacre had a man who skinned his victims and wore their skin.