Edward Gein

The Real American Psycho

Gein was born in 1906 in La Crosse, Wisconsin. He and his brother Henry were kept very sheltered by their extremely religious mother, who would often read graphic verses from the bible containing death and murder. His brother died "because of a fire" in 1944, and his mother in 1945 from a series of strokes. Heartbroken by the death of his mother, he boarded up rooms she often stayed in. He was left alone, supporting himself from doing odd jobs.

Police entered one of his sheds in 1957 and found the corpse of Bernice Worden. She was decapitated and hung upside down with ropes at her wrists and a crossbar at her ankles. Her torso was cut open, rib cage split, and gutted like a deer, and before all of this was shot at close range. They also found the head of Mary Hogan, a local tavern owner who had gone missing in 1954, in a paper bag. Kids he babysat had heard of these shrunken heads he got from a cousin, but they turned out to be human faces Gein used as masks. Gein also admitted to digging up recently buried women who resembled his mother and taking them home, using their skins to make relics and a "woman suite." After his mother's death he said to have wanted a sex change, but some suspect he made the skin suite to be not just any woman, but his mother, whom he deeply admired.

Upon further investigation, the following were found on his property:

  • Human skulls mounted upon the cornerposts of his bed
  • Human skin fashioned into a lampshade and used to upholster chair seats
  • Human skullcaps, used as soup bowls
  • A human heart
  • The head of Mary Hogan, a local tavern owner, found in a paper bag
  • A ceiling light pull consisting of human lips
  • A “mammary vest” crafted from the skin of a woman’s torso
  • Socks made from human flesh
Gein was found mentally incompetent and could not stand trial at the time of his arrest. He was then sent to the Central State Hospital, and later moved to Mendota State Hospital after CSH was turned into a prison. In 1968 he was deemed sane enough to stand trial, but was found not guilty by reason of insanity. He spent the rest of his life in the hospital. On July 26, 1984, Gein died of respiratory heart failure because of cancer. In 1958 his house was burned to the ground, some think on purpose. His car, which was used to haul victims bodies, was sold at an auction to a carnival sideshow. After Gein was buried many vandalized his headstone and chipped pieces of it away. It is now on display in a museum in Wautoma, Wisconsin.