It was when the police entered the old farmhouse that they found themselves in a scene of pure macabre depravity. One they would never forget...
Gein was now a suspect in the disappearance and investigators drove out to the old farmhouse where he lived.
The search began in the shed, where a female body was discovered decapitated, suspended upside down from the rafters, chest slit open, sternum split and the organs removed. It was commented that the condition of the body was exactly the same as a hunter would do to a fresh deer kill.
The body was identified as that of Bernice Worden. She had been shot in her store, and Gein had placed her body in the boot of his car and brought it home.
The shock of the body’s condition could not even begin to prepare investigators for what they were to find in Gein’s house.
There were human body parts and remains all over the place. Many had been turned into ornaments and keepsakes: Human bones and fragments adorned shelves like decorations, several skulls had been turned into bowls, Human skin was used as seat upholstery, a lampshade was made with a human face, several masks of human skin, ten lower halves of female heads, a box filled with vulvae, a belt of nipples, shrunken heads... the list goes on and on.
Benice Wordens head was found in a sack.
Gein soon began to talk. He told how he had made many visits to local cemeteries in order to dig up the fresh burials of women who resembled his mother!
Gein had also murdered saloon owner Mary Hogan in 1954 (her head was also found in his house.) He had committed this crime to sate his need for ever fresher bodies in which to practice his experiments.
A Troubled Upbringing
Edward Theodore Gein had one older brother and the two of them only mixed with 'outsiders' during school time, the rest of their days spent at home doing chores on the family farm. They were taught of the many evils in the world, not the least of all was women. They were dissuaded from making friends, and soon Ed Gein (and likely his brother) was a target for bullies.
Ed became a bit of a 'mommy's boy' and his brother used to make derisive fun of the relationship. It is not known for sure how far Ed's relationship with his mother went, but it was said that one of the 'female parts' found in the shoe box belonged to his mother Augusta.
In 1944 Ed's brother Henry decided to do a burn off of some of the scrub around the Gein Property. The fire got out of hand and the fire department was called to help bring it back under control. When all had returned Henry was found to be missing and a search began.
Henry was found face down, but not burnt, and it was determined a heart attack was the cause. Later on it would be suggested that Ed had killed his brother, but no charges were ever laid against him.
It was now just Ed and his mother living in the family home. Ed took on odd jobs to supplement the farms income, and even took on a job as a babysitter on several occasions. However in 1945 Augusta Gein, Ed's mother died leaving her son alone.
The Plainfield Ghoul
He started to fantasise about women and soon began to prowl the cemeteries in an effort to dig up bodies and collect trophies. One of his earliest forays was to the grave of his mother. Gein started experimenting in human taxidermy, tanning and mounting skins and body parts. It is said Gein also fantasised about becoming a woman and began constructing a 'woman suit'.
Gein denies having sex with any of the dug up corpses, as they 'smelled too bad' but the allegations still carry today, as well as talk of cannibalism.
Gein travelled to the cemeteries more than fifty times, but only took home body parts on a dozen odd occasions. He said that sometimes he would snap out of a daze while in the process of digging up a corpse. At those times he would backfill the grave and leave it in good condition. Other times he would find he had a body (or parts) at home, and used them for his macabre works.
All of the bodies Gein dug up were those that were middle aged and resembled his mother.
A decade later, Gein was found to be sane enough to stand proper trial and after a week he was found guilty for the first degree murder or Bernice Worden, however he was found to be legally insane and spent the rest of his life in a mental hospital.
Ed Gein became the inspiration for many horror writers (book and screen), including the characters of Norman Bates from 'Psycho' (his obsession with his mother), Jame Gumb from 'The Silence of the Lambs' (the suit of female skin and fantasies about changing sex) and Leatherface from 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre' (not a hard stretch of the imagination, with all the body parts found around the secluded, run down farm house).
Ed Gein died of respiratory failure in the Mendota Mental Health Institute July 26, 1984, aged 77. He was buried in Plainfield with his headstone being the target for vandalism and souvenir hunters.
The Gein Farmhouse was originally scheduled to be sold at auction, but several days before the sale it burned to the ground; arson was suspected. The car Gein used to transport his victims and their body parts was sold to a carnival owner who used it as a macabre piece for his museum.