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Crime Case Study: Ed Gein, Making of a Killer


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This is not about Jack, but I had no idea where else to put it. :rant

Nobody will ever know what went on in the mind of Ed Gein. Just what was the dark and terrible world he inhabited that caused him to rob graves? What made him create a second skin of female skin, live in what was little more than a human abattoir and murder two women who he subsequently mutilated and disembowelled?

After his arrest, Gein related in detail to psychiatrists how he had robbed graves, but was never able to explain what had happened when he murdered, he only ever confessed to one killing and all he would say was that “I had a compulsion to do it”

As in many psychologically damaged people, the seeds of Gein’s madness were sown years before. In 1906 Augusta and George Gein had their second child in the small town of La Crosse, Wisconsin. To Augustas bitter disappointment, it was another boy. Fanatically religious, Augusta loathed and mistrusted men - with some justification, since her husband would often beat her whilst drunk. She named her new baby Edward Theodore and vowed he would not turn out like the rest of the male sex, promising to protect him from corrupting influences of the lustful, godless men that she saw all around her. Indeed, until she died 39 years later, Augusta completely dominated Ed and from this developed an intense love-hate relationship between mother and son - a relationship that quiet possibly spawned the horrific personality disorder that drove Gein to commit his crimes.

As he grew up, Gein was allowed no friends. The moment he showed any signs of becoming close to any of his peers, Augusta would find fault with the child or the family. She saw evil everywhere and it was her duty to protect her sons, Henry and Ed, by effectively isolating them from the wicked world.

Virtue was her main obsession. She preached about sex, which she saw as a filthy activity and made her sons promise to never engage in this vice.

Such a childhood was already having a perverse effect on her youngest son, who would later describe one of his earliest childhood memories as peering through the open door of the slaughter house behind his parents grocery store and watching, mesmerised, as his father held up a trussed pig. Then, he remembered in vivid detail, how his mother skilfully slit its belly and drew out the entrails with a long knife.

When Ed was 12, his parents sold their store in La Crosse and moved to a 160 acre smallholding near Plainfield. The upheaval, the isolation of the new surroundings and his mothers continued suspicion of outsiders caused the young boy to withdraw completely. Apart from having to attend school, where he did not fit in at all well, the only company he had was his older brother. The two boys did not get along.

To those that knew him at this stage in his life. Ed was a shy, sensitive boy who could not bear the sight of blood. Privately, however, he showed an unnatural interest in gory horror and war comics.

Gein had no happy memories of his early years. He recalled later that his mother never hugged him, yet he never questioned her beliefs and adored her more than anybody. In 1940 George Gein died from cirrhosis of the liver, the reward for decades of hard drinking. As a result, Henry and Ed were left to run the farm.

Since Henry was the older of the two, Ed was forced into a subservient role, a position he resented. In the same year, one of the barns at the Gein farm caught fire and as the two brothers desperately fought the flames they became separated. When the fire subsided, Henry was found dead in a corner. Despite extensive bruising to the face, the coroners verdict was death by asphyxiation - but in view of what was to happen it seems possible that Henry may have been his brothers first victim.

The shock of her sons death caused Augusta to suffer a stroke and, although nursed by Ed, she died within a year. He was now totally alone in a world that he did not understand, a world he had been told was evil and hostile. His mother had been the only person to show him any attention, unhealthy as it was, so it is not surprising that the targets of his affection should be women who resembled her.

A keen reader, Gein became obsessed with the atrocities committed by the Nazis in World War Two, and the medical experiments carried out by them on the Jews. He also became fascinated by the female anatomy, from whos company his mother had effectively excluded him. He fed his interest with medical encyclopaedias and pornographic magazines.

As he retreated more and more into a fantasy world, the coldness, violence and repression of his childhood became hideously twisted in his mind. As much as he hated his mother, he also wanted to become like her.

Approaching a living person was impossible, so Gein began to seek solace in the graveyards of Wisconsin, always visiting at the time of the full moon. There he exhumed bodies of women, as well as body parts, and transported them back to his increasingly ramshackle farm. As he reported later to psychiatrists, wearing the skins he fashioned from their bodies gave him a sense of intense gratification. Grotesque as the conduct was, Gein only became really dangerous in 1954 when he began to target women who were alive.

In December of that year a middle aged widow called Mary Hogan, who bore more than a striking resemblance to Augusta Gein, disappeared from the bar she owned. Three years later, another women in her 50’s, Bernice Worden, who ran the local Plainfield hardware store, also vanished. But this time, her son Frank, the local sheriff’s deputy, noted that the ‘local weirdo’, Ed Gein, had been the last person to be served at the store.

After his arrest, Gein confessed to the killing (by shooting) of Mrs Worden, but could not remember if he had killed Mary Hogan. Once subjected to psychiatric examination, he talked calmly about the grave robbing, the flaying and dismemberments, showing no remorse and sounding proud of his anatomical knowledge.

Due to Geins mental state, he was judged unfit to stand trial for ten years. When he was eventually tried, he was found guilty of murdering both women, but not guilty on grounds of insanity. He spent the rest of his days in asylums.

Ed Gein committed crimes so horrific that he remains one of the most depraved killers of the 20th century. His hideous crimes have been the inspiration for films such as Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and more recently for the Silence of the Lambs. These films as much as anything else have ensured his continuing notoriety.

Edited by Adam Wilkinson
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Guest Stephen Turner
This is not about Jack, but I had no idea where else to put it. :o

Nobody will ever know what went on in the mind of Ed Gein. Just what was the dark and terrible world he inhabited that caused him to rob graves? What made him create a second skin of female skin, live in what was little more than a human abattoir and murder two women who he subsequently mutilated and disembowelled?

After his arrest, Gein related in detail to psychiatrists how he had robbed graves, but was never able to explain what had happened when he murdered, he only ever confessed to one killing and all he would say was that “I had a compulsion to do it”

As in many psychologically damaged people, the seeds of Gein’s madness were sown years before. In 1906 Augusta and George Gein had their second child in the small town of La Crosse, Wisconsin. To Augustas bitter disappointment, it was another boy. Fanatically religious, Augusta loathed and mistrusted men - with some justification, since her husband would often beat her whilst drunk. She named her new baby Edward Theodore and vowed he would not turn out like the rest of the male sex, promising to protect him from corrupting influences of the lustful, godless men that she saw all around her. Indeed, until she died 39 years later, Augusta completely dominated Ed and from this developed an intense love-hate relationship between mother and son - a relationship that quiet possibly spawned the horrific personality disorder that drove Gein to commit his crimes.

As he grew up, Gein was allowed no friends. The moment he showed any signs of becoming close to any of his peers, Augusta would find fault with the child or the family. She saw evil everywhere and it was her duty to protect her sons, Henry and Ed, by effectively isolating them from the wicked world.

Virtue was her main obsession. She preached about sex, which she saw as a filthy activity and made her sons promise to never engage in this vice.

Such a childhood was already having a perverse effect on her youngest son, who would later describe one of his earliest childhood memories as peering through the open door of the slaughter house behind his parents grocery store and watching, mesmerised, as his father held up a trussed pig. Then, he remembered in vivid detail, how his mother skilfully slit its belly and drew out the entrails with a long knife.

When Ed was 12, his parents sold their store in La Crosse and moved to a 160 acre smallholding near Plainfield. The upheaval, the isolation of the new surroundings and his mothers continued suspicion of outsiders caused the young boy to withdraw completely. Apart from having to attend school, where he did not fit in at all well, the only company he had was his older brother. The two boys did not get along.

To those that knew him at this stage in his life. Ed was a shy, sensitive boy who could not bear the sight of blood. Privately, however, he showed an unnatural interest in gory horror and war comics.

Gein had no happy memories of his early years. He recalled later that his mother never hugged him, yet he never questioned her beliefs and adored her more than anybody. In 1940 George Gein died from cirrhosis of the liver, the reward for decades of hard drinking. As a result, Henry and Ed were left to run the farm.

Since Henry was the older of the two, Ed was forced into a subservient role, a position he resented. In the same year, one of the barns at the Gein farm caught fire and as the two brothers desperately fought the flames they became separated. When the fire subsided, Henry was found dead in a corner. Despite extensive bruising to the face, the coroners verdict was death by asphyxiation - but in view of what was to happen it seems possible that Henry may have been his brothers first victim.

The shock of her sons death caused Augusta to suffer a stroke and, although nursed by Ed, she died within a year. He was now totally alone in a world that he did not understand, a world he had been told was evil and hostile. His mother had been the only person to show him any attention, unhealthy as it was, so it is not surprising that the targets of his affection should be women who resembled her.

A keen reader, Gein became obsessed with the atrocities committed by the Nazis in World War Two, and the medical experiments carried out by them on the Jews. He also became fascinated by the female anatomy, from whos company his mother had effectively excluded him. He fed his interest with medical encyclopaedias and pornographic magazines.

As he retreated more and more into a fantasy world, the coldness, violence and repression of his childhood became hideously twisted in his mind. As much as he hated his mother, he also wanted to become like her.

Approaching a living person was impossible, so Gein began to seek solace in the graveyards of Wisconsin, always visiting at the time of the full moon. There he exhumed bodies of women, as well as body parts, and transported them back to his increasingly ramshackle farm. As he reported later to psychiatrists, wearing the skins he fashioned from their bodies gave him a sense of intense gratification. Grotesque as the conduct was, Gein only became really dangerous in 1954 when he began to target women who were alive.

In December of that year a middle aged widow called Mary Hogan, who bore more than a striking resemblance to Augusta Gein, disappeared from the bar she owned. Three years later, another women in her 50’s, Bernice Worden, who ran the local Plainfield hardware store, also vanished. But this time, her son Frank, the local sheriff’s deputy, noted that the ‘local weirdo’, Ed Gein, had been the last person to be served at the store.

After his arrest, Gein confessed to the killing (by shooting) of Mrs Worden, but could not remember if he had killed Mary Hogan. Once subjected to psychiatric examination, he talked calmly about the grave robbing, the flaying and dismemberments, showing no remorse and sounding proud of his anatomical knowledge.

Due to Geins mental state, he was judged unfit to stand trial for ten years. When he was eventually tried, he was found guilty of murdering both women, but not guilty on grounds of insanity. He spent the rest of his days in asylums.

Ed Gein committed crimes so horrific that he remains one of the most depraved killers of the 20th century. His hideous crimes have been the inspiration for films such as Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and more recently for the Silence of the Lambs. These films as much as anything else have ensured his continuing notoriety.

Adam, nice case study, and yes its fine to post it here, this is were the MONSTERS live. I have often wondered if after the butchery of Millers Court whether insanity wasnt what happened to Jack, perhaps he lived out the rest of his life in bedlam.. Steve.

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Guest Stephen Turner
Thanks Steve, I am slowly reading through the Jack threads and through the case book site, should be able to add comments soon,

Cheers,

Adam.

Adam, jump in when your ready,I will soon present a new seminar topic on the witnesses, with particular reference to those whose evidence is, at best questionable, Mr Packer et al, your views would be welcome.

Steve.

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Thanks Steve, I am slowly reading through the Jack threads and through the case book site, should be able to add comments soon,

Cheers,

Adam.

Adam, jump in when your ready,I will soon present a new seminar topic on the witnesses, with particular reference to those whose evidence is, at best questionable, Mr Packer et al, your views would be welcome.

Steve.

Cheers Steve, looking forward to it. :)

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  • 11 months later...
To those that knew him at this stage in his life. Ed was a shy, sensitive boy who could not bear the sight of blood. Privately, however, he showed an unnatural interest in gory horror and war comics.

Adam, this shows the problem of relying on memory. Such comics did exist at the time of Gein's arrest; they did not exist when Ed was a boy. Those who knew him were mistaken on this, no doubt "remembering" because of the hysteria over such comics in the '50s.

I think you pretty well nailed the root cause of his particular mania.

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As in many psychologically damaged people, the seeds of Gein’s madness were sown years before.... To those that knew him at this stage in his life. Ed was a shy, sensitive boy who could not bear the sight of blood. Privately, however, he showed an unnatural interest in gory horror and war comics.

I have often thought that George Bush's problem is that he read too many war comics as a child. If he had actually fought in the Vietnam War, and actually experienced combat, I don't think he would have ordered the invasion of Iraq.

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  • 1 month later...

Possibly what is referred to as 'comics' were the early 20th century illustrated 'pulp fiction' some of which were very gory.

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  • 3 months later...
As in many psychologically damaged people, the seeds of Gein’s madness were sown years before.... To those that knew him at this stage in his life. Ed was a shy, sensitive boy who could not bear the sight of blood. Privately, however, he showed an unnatural interest in gory horror and war comics.

I have often thought that George Bush's problem is that he read too many war comics as a child. If he had actually fought in the Vietnam War, and actually experienced combat, I don't think he would have ordered the invasion of Iraq.

I agree with you 100% there John, I am also curious on your view on the upcoming US Federal elections? Who would you vote for if you were able to?

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