** WARNING – GRAPHIC CONTENT ** Ed Gein, killer and body thief, also known as the Butcher of Plainfield, made sick mementos from the bones and skin of corpses he had exhumed
A convicted murderer known as a “skin suit killer” would create “trophies” such as nipple belts and skull shells from the remains of corpses he has dug up.
Ed Gein was found guilty of murdering one woman and confessed to murdering another, but found insane and admitted to a mental institution until his death.
His gruesome crimes inspired a number of horror stories, including Psycho and “Leatherface” from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
Gein grew up on a remote farm in Plainfield, Wisconsin, USA, where his mother took advantage of isolation by turning away outsiders who might have influenced Gein and his brother Henry, punishing them for trying to make friends.
Gein’s mother, Augusta, was fervently religious, preaching to her sons the immorality of the world, the evils of drinking, and her belief that all women (except herself) were inherently promiscuous and instruments of the devil.
Classmates and teachers remembered that Gein was quite shy and had strange mannerisms, such as laughing at random, like laughing at his own personal jokes.
As Gein got older, he became more and more attached to his mother and was deeply hurt when his brother spoke ill of her.
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In 1944, Gein and his brother burned the swamp vegetation on their property, the fire spiraling out of control and his brother Henry reported missing.
Search parties discovered Henry’s body, but the police denied the possibility of foul play.
It was later reported by the biographer Harold Schechter that Henry had bruises on his head.
George W. Arndt, who investigated Geins’ case, wrote that, in retrospect, it was “possible and likely” that Henry’s death was “the ‘Cain and Abel’ aspect of this case”.
Gein and his mother were alone now, as his father had died of heart failure four years earlier, and Gein, now 34, became even more attached to his mother.
She died just a year later, in 1945, leaving Gein devastated by her death.
Harold Schechter said he had “lost his only friend and one true love. And he was absolutely alone in the world”.
He boarded up all the rooms his mother used and lived in a small room off the kitchen, all the while taking an interest in reading pulp magazines and adventure stories, especially cannibals and Nazi atrocities.
On November 16, 1957, Gein was arrested in connection with the disappearance of the home improvement store owner Bernice Worden.
The sheriff’s department searched his farm and discovered Woden’s decapitated body, hung upside down by her legs with a crossbar at her ankles and ropes at her wrists, with the torso “disguised” like a deer.
Investigators concluded that the mutilations were carried out after her death.
During a search of Gein’s entire property, the authorities discovered a number of utensils made from human remains, including a waste paper basket made from human skin, skull shells, a corset made from a female torso and leggings made from human leg skin.
When asked, the depraved man told authorities that between 1947 and 1952 he made up to 40 nightly visits to nearby cemeteries to exhume recently buried bodies of middle-aged women who he thought resembled his mother her remains home and made his utensils.
Soon after his mother’s death, Gein began creating a “woman’s suit” so that “he could become his mother – to literally crawl into her skin”.
He denied having sex with the bodies he exhumed because they “smelled too bad”.
He also admitted killing Mary Hogan in 1954, a tavern owner whose head was found in his home.
Gein was also a suspect in several other unsolved Wisconsin cases, including the disappearance of babysitter Evelyn Hartley in 1953.