Dark Dreams
The Mad Butcher Who Inspired Silence of the Lambs & Psycho

Devan Sagliani | 6 Nov 2015 15:00
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Prosecutors later described Gein's sexualized killing fantasies as an "insane transvestite ritual" during his subsequent trial, but for nearly a decade Gein lived without hurting anyone. That changed in 1954 when he killed 54 year old tavern owner Mary Hogan. Cops had no idea what happened when Mary vanished but suspected foul play after finding blood in the tavern around the time of her disappearance. A few years later, in November 1957, Gein shot to death hardware store owner Bernice Worden. Her son Frank, a deputy sheriff, recalled that Gein, who he referred to as a "local weirdo", had visited his mom's store several times the previous week. The authorities decided to drop by Gein's house to see what they could find out, unaware that what they would stumble upon would give them graphic nightmares for the rest of their lives.


The first victim they discovered was Bernice Worden. Her remains had been hung upside down on a meat hook in a shed, dressed like a deer that's been gutted after being hunted and killed. Her head had been carelessly hacked off at the base of the neck. Her torso was slit down the front. Her head and intestines had been tossed in a box, except for her heart, which they later found sitting in a saucepan by the stove. But that was just the tip of the creepy iceberg. Cops also found human organs in the refrigerator, newspaper stuffed heads hanging on walls like prized hunting trophies, and scores of other grisly items scattered throughout the house of death, including a lampshade made from the skin of a human face, skulls on his bed posts, masks made from the women's faces, and missing tavern owner Mary Hogan's skinned face in a paper bag. All the ghoulish artifacts were photographed at the state crime laboratory before being destroyed.

Ed Gein Arrest

Gein eventually admitted to killing both Hogan and Worden, but denied having sex with any dead bodies due to the smell. During many hours of interrogation he remained calm and helpful, as he joyfully described his gut wrenching murders and other fiendish exploits. On November 21, 1957, Gein was arraigned on one count of first degree murder in Waushara County Court, where he pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. He was ultimately found mentally incompetent and sent to the Central State Hospital for the Criminally Insane, a maximum-security facility in Waupun, Wisconsin, and later transferred to the Mendota State Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin where he was diagnosed with advanced schizophrenia.

Ed Gein 2

Gein's house and property were scheduled to be auctioned March 30, 1958, amid rumors the house was to become a tourist attraction. The sensational nature of the crimes captivated people from around the globe, spawning a new subgenre called "black humor" as a series of tasteless jokes known as "Geiners" became popular. Gawkers flocked to Gein's nightmare house of horror, and the company handling the property floated the idea of charging 50 cents admission for a tour. It's a well-known fact that the townspeople were not happy about the notoriety they received over Gein's heinous crimes, which might explain for the house mysteriously burning down on March 27, 1958. Arson was suspected but the cause of the fire was never officially determined, or investigated for that matter. The people just wanted the nightmare in their backyard to be over. Upon learning of his loss Gein shrugged and said, "just as well." The serial killer's car, which he used to haul the bodies of his victims, was sold at public auction for $760 to carnival sideshow operator Bunny Gibbons, who later charged carnival goers 25 cents admission to see the vehicle.

While authorities could only ever definitively attribute 2 murders to Gein, they found body parts from no less than 15 women on his property. They believe some of those remains came from other missing persons who may have come into contact with Gein or been in the vicinity of his farm. The so-called "Mad Butcher of Plainfield" spent the remainder of his life locked up in high security mental institutions, where he was said to be a model patient that got along well with others and never needed to be tranquillized, although he often stared with disturbing ferocity at female nurses who wandered into his presence. Gein died at age 77 in 1984 after an extended battle with cancer. After his passing one of his doctors from the Central State Hospital for the Criminally Insane told reporters "if all our patients were like him, we'd have no trouble at all!" His victims and their relatives would surely disagree with the doctor's assessment of the man who killed and defiled their loved ones remains as docile and cooperative. For them, as well as countless others who've become enthralled by the horrific tale of his crimes, Ed Gein is and always will be nothing but a depraved monster that haunts their worst nightmares.

Until next time... Stay scared!
Devan Sagliani


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