THE MAD BUTCHER
Ever wonder who inspired the insane characters in movies such as Psycho, The Silence of the Lambs, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and for the hardcore followers of such movies, Deranged and In the Light of the Moon? In all those movies it was probably a man whose name you’ve never heard.
Ed Gein was one of the most bizarre murderers in history. He was born at the turn of the 20th century and raised on a farm in Wisconsin with his older brother, Henry. Their mother raised them alone as the father was an violent alcoholic who abandoned the family. Ed’s mother was a fanatical religious zealot who taught her sons that all women, except herself, were whores and prostitutes who would cause them to be condemned to hell.
The two sons stayed with their mother on the farm after becoming adults. Their father died in 1940 and the older brother, Henry, began to reject his mother’s view of the world and probably more specifically, her view toward women.
Four years later, he and Ed were fighting a brush fire on their property. When the fire was extinguished, Ed reported to the sheriff that his brother was missing. When authorities arrived, he led them directly to his brother’s body. Although the brother had a wound to his head described as a blunt trauma wound, the death was ruled accidental as a result of asphyxiation. This may have been Ed Gein’s first murder.
Not long after Henry died, Ed Gein’s mother also bit the dust. So he was left alone to grieve and what a way he chose to deal with it. In 1957 a store clerk disappeared. The last sales receipt she wrote was to Ed Gein. The sheriff went to his house to interview Gein, but apparently he wasn’t at home. As the sheriff walked into a shed on the property, he saw a headless woman’s body hanging like a gutted deer from the ceiling. It was the missing clerk’s body.
Gein soon confessed to also having murdered a barmaid in 1954. Numerous body parts were recovered at his home. It was a sick mind of a man who skinned a woman to create a body suit from the skin. He apparently wore the suit at times. Gein also made a belt with female nipples attached as studs around it. He was particularly interested in harvesting and preserving female body parts. But there weren’t that many missing women in the entire State. Who where the women whose body parts Gein had collected?
When questioned, the deranged man told investigators that he had taken the body parts from recently buried females in the local cemetery. He said he had recruited an ally, who was identified by only the first name, Gus, to go with him to the cemetery the night after a funeral, dig up the body, harvest the parts Gein wanted, from skin to sex organs, and then return the body to its grave. Authorities confirmed his story after opening several graves and finding the mutilated remains. By the time Ed Gein was arrested, his accomplice, Gus, had been placed in a nursing home and was apparently not prosecuted.
Gein said he wouldn’t have started killing women except that when his friend Gus went to a nursing home, it was too hard for him to dig up the corpses by himself. When asked if he performed sexual acts with the corpses, he consistently denied it, saying simply that the bodies smelled terrible.
Ed Gein was determined to be insane and spent the remainder of his life in a mental hospital. But he is immortalized, after a fashion, by becoming the model for deranged characters in movies, some listed at the beginning of this story and others, including the release in the U.S. in 2001 of the movie In the Light of the Moon, under the new title, Ed Gein, the Butcher of Plainfield.