Edward Gein



All through history there have been stories of death and killing. There have been many murders in America. Some

killers have had odd practices that they inflict on their victims; however, few have gone to the extent of Edward

Gein. Because of his obsession with women and odd practices committed on the bodies of his victims, Edward Gein

is considered to be the most bizarre murderer in America's history.

Ed Gein was born in La Crosse, Wisconsin on August 21, 1906 (Woods 8). His father later moved the family to

Plainfield, Wisconsin (Woods 9). Gein had one brother named Henry (Woods 6). Their father was an alcoholic and

their mother was a strict believer in God and doing the right thing. Their mother impressed on them the importance

of marriage before sex. In 1940, Ed's father died. Even though he was thirty-four, Gein was still living on the farm

with his mother and brother (Woods 22).

In 1944, Henry Gein asked Ed to help him do some controlled burning on a marsh on the family's property. Ed had

taken care of his part of the burning and went looking for his brother, but could not find him. Ed organized a search

party, but they found nothing. On his way back to the house, Ed found Henry laying on a brush pile, dead. Ed

attributed the death to heart attack or smoke inhalation, and the idea of an accident was accepted by all. No autopsy

was performed. Some people believe that this may have been the beginning of Ed's killing spree(Woods 23).

The next year, 1945, Ed's mother suffered a stroke. Ed says it was because of the way his neighbors constantly

argued and how much it upset his mother. Ed was in charge of taking care of his mother. He took care of her for a

period at the farm but could not handle it and was forced to put her into a hospital. Soon after, she had a second

stoke and died (Woods 34).

This left Ed alone. He began reading books about the female anatomy and became very interested in adventure

stories involving head hunter and cannibals. At one point, a well-meaning person brought him back two shrunken

heads from the Philippines. Ed found them very interesting and showed them off to many people in the community.

As time went on he also became interested in the preservation of the human body after death and read books on the

subject (Gollmar 74).

In 1947, Ed began robbing graves in three local cemeteries. Sometimes he would take the whole body and

sometimes just parts. His favorite part was usually the head of the dead person (Gollmar 58). He would cut it from

the body in the cemetery and take it back to his house. When there, he would make a death mask. He would remove

the skin from the bone and stuff the skin with tissue paper and saw dust. When the police searched his house, they

found approximately ten of these masks scattered around the home of Ed Gein (Portrait of a Killer 40).

In 1954, Ed committed the first murder he admits to. Mary Hogan, the owner and operator of a local tavern was

killed. She was shot and her head was possibly cut off at the scene. At the scene, the police found a large pool of

blood but no drag marks. Therefore Mary Hogan had been carried from the bar. After Gein had been caught, the

police realized he was too small too carry the large stature of Mary Hogan from the scene and believed he may have

had an accomplice for this murder and the grave robbings, but Gein constantly denied this (Gollmar 89).

Ed Gein had few close friends. However, after he was caught a man who was believed to be Gein's best friend

became violently mentally ill and was committed to a mental hospital. He died in the hospital a short time later. The

police think he may have been Gein's accomplice in the murder of Mary Hogan (Gollmar 45).

Ed Gein's final victim was a local shop owner named Bernice Worden. The killing took place on November 16,

1957. It was opening day of deer season so