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Ed Gein

Notable Fact
Ed Gein was the real-life man on whom Norman Bates, the killer in the movie Psycho, was based.

Around five o’clock on November 16, 1957, Frank Worden returned from a day of deer hunting—it was opening day of hunting season—to the hardware store that he and his mother, Bernice, owned in Plainfield, a tiny town in northern Wisconsin. As he pulled up, he got a surprise: The store was closed. It shouldn’t have been. He looked in the store window and saw no sign of his mother.

Puzzled, he went across the street to a gas station and asked the owner whether he had seen his mother or knew why the store was closed. The owner had no idea, but he said that the store had been closed for several hours. That made Worden even more anxious. He let himself into the store and called out for his mother, but there was only silence.

He searched the store, then wandered behind the counter - where he made a stunning discovery. On the floor was a mass of congealing blood. A red trail led to the back door, as if some wounded person or animal had been dragged out of the store. Terrified, Worden went out the back door, where he kept his pickup truck. It was gone. He went back inside and called the

A few minutes later, three investigators from the Waushara County Sheriff’s Department arrived. One of the investigators called Worden aside and asked him whether he could think of anyone who might be responsible for the disappearance or who might be capable of violence.

Worden immediately blurted out a name: “Gein. Ed Gein.”

Worden didn’t know exactly why; it was more instinct than anything. But he did remember that, just the day before, Gein had been in the store and had asked Bernice to go out with him. To top it off, Gein had asked Worden a strange, now very troubling question: He wanted to know whether Worden would be gone all day, and Worden had said yes, that he was going deer hunting.

Then Worden thought to check the day’s receipts. One was for a gallon of antifreeze, made out to Ed Gein. He had been in the store that very day.

Panic Spreads
Word started to get out that Bernice Worden was missing, and panic spread through the small town. Suddenly the police had a problem on their hands - townspeople had heard that Ed Gein was involved, and a lynch mob could form at any moment. More police called in from surrounding counties responded quickly. They knew that they must find Gein quickly to protect him.

Detective Dan Chase and the village marshal Specks Murty immediately drove the five miles to Gein’s farmhouse. When they arrived, darkness had fallen and there were no lights coming from the house, which had no electricity. They knocked, then pounded, on the door. No answer. Finally they entered the house and Murty lit a match. The place was littered with papers and junk, and in fear of starting a fire they extinguished the light and left. But both men had noticed a peculiar odor that neither could place.

Back in town, the lawmen saw unrest continue to build, and Gein was at the center of it. The townspeople assumed Gein had killed Bernice - and if they found him, they were going to kill him.

Detective Chase knew that Gein sometimes hung around the house of a friend named Hill, so after checking Gein’s house, Chase went over there. Gein was there, just visiting. The cops quickly arrested him and put him in their car, instructing him to lie down across the backseat so townsfolk couldn’t see him. With Gein in custody, a second foray to his house was made, this time by Captain Schoephoerster and Sheriff Seley.

This time the men recognized the all-suffusing smell: decomposing flesh. Using flames to light their way, they went through the house and noticed several bowls - but not ordinary bowls. They were bowls made of human skulls, severed just below the eyebrows. It was, the men sensed, the tip of the iceberg. More officers were summoned to bring better lighting.

The cops were right - the skull bowls were the least of Gein’s “treasures”; they were merely a warm-up to the discoveries in the stomach-wrenching chamber of horror. On the walls, the cops found death masks made of real flesh from real people. There was a lamp made of human skin, a belt made of women’s nipples, human vests with the breasts still attached. To top it all off, the police found a fresh human heart in the saucepan.

It was all too much, and the men regularly ran outside into the November night to gulp down air and try to retain what was in their stomachs. It was horrific; what more could there be? Then, someone yelled from a back shed: There was a body, but no one could be sure whether it was Bernice Worden because it had no head. It was hanging by the feet from a ceiling beam, the body cut from genitals to chest, and it had been disemboweled and washed; the breasts were intact. The body had been prepared just like a dead deer.

Police confirmed that the body was that of Bernice Worden a little later on in the search: They found her head under a mattress on one of the beds. The mind-boggling finds did not stop with Bernice Worden. Gein had made chair seats with leg bones and dried fat. On his bedposts were human skulls preserved with salt. In a shoebox were nine vulvas.

One of the most horrifying films of all time, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre MOVIE has gone from 16mm independent film to full-blown horror classic. Tobe Hooper's nightmarish vision from 1974 is a grim and unsettling tale that paved the way for such indie fare as Halloween and Re-Animator.
The Events of that day were to lead to the discovery of one of the most bizarre crimes in the annals of American history. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre." - August 18th, 1973 
Despite being heavily touted as "inspired by a true horror story," both Tobe Hooper's original 1974 film and the 2003 Marcus Nispel remake are only lightly based on the real-life murderer Ed Gein, who is Ed Gein's Homesuspected to have taken several victims between 1954 and 1957. Perhaps the most recognizable similarity is the film's house, whose gruesome content was similar to that found in Ed Gein's home in 1957

Suddenly the sleepy little town of Plainfield - where doors were never locked and neighbors trusted neighbors - became illuminated in a worldwide spotlight that generated fear and anger. But for his part, Gein seemed unimpressed by it all. And he had hardly seemed like a monster. He was a short, slight, watery-eyed man who looked like he could harm no one.

He was given a quick hearing and sent to Central State Hospital at Waupun, Wisconsin, to determine whether the doctors there could discover what manner of creature could have done such things. Police officers and civilians alike wanted the details, an explanation, for why Gein did this. They also needed to find out whether he was qualified to stand trial - he certainly seemed legally insane.

At the hospital, Gein detailed some of his activities for the stunned doctors. Although it was never determined where all the body parts came from, Gein said that he often robbed graves for body parts and would regularly wear the parts as a human-flesh suit. He explained matter-of-factly that on more than one occasion he had donned a female scalp, secured female breasts to his body, shoved the nine vulvas into his underwear, and gone out to dance in the Wisconsin moonlight!

Ten years after he entered Central State Hospital, he went to trial, where he detailed more of his gruesome activities. He was returned to Central State after the trial, having been convicted of murder.

Gein was suspected of another murder, that of a woman named Mary Hogan, but police couldn’t come up with enough evidence to indict him for it. Some of the officers also thought he had killed more people, but a lack of evidence hampered their case.

The Making of a Monster
The most fascinating question of all is, of course, why would Gein do what he did? As with most serial killers, it all starts with an unhappy childhood.

Gein’s father was an alcoholic who would become enraged when inebriated. His mother was the dominant parent, the one who made all the decisions. She was hardworking and religious, with rigid morals. In high school, Gein got along well with his classmates and participated in social activities and sports such as skiing, archery, and basketball. He also enjoyed old music and adventure movies - and stories about headhunters and cannibals.

Gein said that he lived by his mother’s rigid moral code. He was described as hardworking and always willing to help neighbors. And he was hygienic: When asked whether he was a necrophiliac, he denied it for a simple reason - the corpses “smelled bad.” Gein claims that he never had sexual relations with anyone.

Gein had one brother, Henry, who died in a marsh fire under strange circumstances. It was said that Edward lured Henry into the marsh, then set it ablaze, trapping him. But nothing could be proved.

The great hang-up of his life appeared to be his mother. He was devastated by her death; despite the general disarray of most of his house, Gein kept his mother’s room pristine, spotless, just the way it was on the day she died. Gein seemed to find whatever salvation and security he could in keeping the fantasy of her alive in his mind. In a sense, he denied her death all his life. Wearing female body parts and dancing in the moonlight was perhaps his way of living inside her, safe from the world - living in the only safe place he knew of, inside her strong persona.

Gein’s house no longer stands; a short while after he was charged, vandals burned his house to the ground. No one tried to find the arsonists, and many people would just rather forget it all. To this day many people will not drive by the site of the house.

In the 1970s, the asylum where Gein had been kept was closed down, and the inmate patients were distributed throughout the states, some landing in the correctional system. Gein was placed in Mendota State Hospital in Madison. He lived there quietly until his death in 1984.
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