Top 14 Terrifying Facts About Ed Gein

The crimes of this serial killer are exactly what horror movies are made of.

In this post, we’ll take a closer look at the top 14 facts about Ed Gein.

1. He is known as the “Butcher of Plainfield”

Ed Gein is one of the most notorious criminals in American history. His crimes are some of the most sickening events in modern history, and therefore, he has been nicknamed the “Butcher of Plainfield.” An alternative to this nickname is the “Plainfield Ghoul.”

While he only confessed to two murders, with multiple more possibly unverified, his other “hobby” is what makes his story so terrifying.

Apart from being the murderer of at least 2 women, he was also a body snatcher who dug up bodies of recently deceased women and used parts of their bodies to create various trophies.

He confessed that he visited graveyards in the area at least 40 times with the intent to dig up bodies of women who had recently died. He then brought them home, cut them up, and used the body parts to make his sickening souvenirs.

facts about ed gein
Ed Gein / Wiki Commons

2. His father was an alcoholic

With most serial killers, things start going seriously wrong in their childhood. Ted Bundy for example was a bastard child and only found out later in life that his complete childhood was a lie.

While many people have bad childhoods, not all of them become deranged serial killers, it can, however, become one of many triggers to push them over the edge.

With Ed Gein, his father’s alcoholism certainly was one of those triggers. Not because he got abused, but because it brought him closer to his domineering mother, a relationship with would eventually trigger his horrific behavior after she died.

3. He was a bit too close to his mother

Ed Gein loved his mother and his mother taught him how he should see the world. They lived on an isolated farm so it was easy for her to influence her two sons, Ed and Henry.

Ed’s ultra-religious mother, who was nominally Lutheran, basically indoctrinated her sons with her distorted view of the world and constantly told them that all women (except herself) were naturally promiscuous and instruments of the devil.

What on earth could go wrong, right?

Luckily, his brother Henry wasn’t that easily influenced and often spoke badly about his mother in the presence of Ed, something that apparently shocked him as his affection for his mother knew no bounds.

House of ed gein
The Gein house. / Wiki Commons

4. He was diagnosed with schizophrenia and it showed early on

As you might have expected, there were early signs that something was really off with Ed, starting in his childhood. Later in his life, he was diagnosed with schizophrenia, something that explains some of his behavior as a kid.

One of those particular forms of behavior was his sudden bursts into laughter for no apparent reason, as if he was laughing with his own jokes. This is a clear sign of schizophrenia, which means he suffered from this condition since his childhood, and it was left untreated his entire life.

One of the most remarkable facts about Ed Gein is that regardless of his weird behavior at times, he was considered to be a smart student who excelled in reading at a young age.

Did ed gein kill his brother
Ed Gein was a schizophrenic. / Wiki Commons

5. Ed Gein used to be a babysitter

One of the scariest facts about Ed Gein is that he was considered to be a friendly and reliable man while he was doing odd jobs in the community.

Ed Gein and his brother were often hired as handymen, and Ed seemed to have been well-liked by the children of the neighbors.

It seems that it was easier for him to relate to children than to adults. Because of his talent, he was frequently hired as a babysitter by people in the neighborhood.

Ed gein babysitter
Would you let this guy babysit your kids? / Wiki Commons

6. Did Ed Gein kill his brother?

On May 16, 1944, Ed and his norther were making a fire to burn some garbage at their farm. The firefighters had to put the fire out as it was spreading out of control, which took the entire day.

When everybody was gone, Ed reported his brother as missing at the local police station. Later that day, Henry was found dead lying face down. The fire was blamed for his death, even though it was clear he had been dead for some time and the official cause of death was marked as heart failure.

Further investigation also uncovered the fact that Henry had bruises on his head, which makes his death all the more mysterious. Some people assume that Ed killed his brother because he was getting fed up with Henry talking bad about their mother.

7. Things went downhill when his mother died

Ed’s father George finally died of his chronic alcoholism at the age of 66 in the year 1940. because Ed’s brother Henry moved in with a woman he had started dating, Ed was left alone with his mother in the final years of his life.

This made the bond that Ed had with his mother even stronger, which also strengthens the theory that Ed actually killed his brother because he couldn’t stand Henry talking bad about her.

Ed’s world collapsed when his mother died on December 29, 1945, at the age of 67. In the words of Ed’s biographer Harold Schechter, ” he had lost his only friend and one true love, and he was absolutely alone in the world.”

Augusta and ed gein
Augusta and Ed Gein / Wiki Commons

8. He was fascinated by pulp magazines related to atrocities

After his mother died, Ed gein started visiting local graveyards to dig up bodies of dead women who resembled his mother.

At this time, he also started a fascination with pulp magazines and adventure stories. His interest was limited to stories about cannibals and those that graphically explained the atrocities of the Nazis during World War II.

It’s very likely that the fact that he was now all alone in the world, his schizophrenia, and his discovery of magazines dealing with this matter, pushed him over the edge to start the sick behavior.

9. Ed Gein was arrested on November 16, 1957

In the town of Plainfield, a hardware store owner named Bernice Worden had disappeared. Her son, Deputy Sheriff Frank Worden, found an abandoned store, bloodstains, and an open case register, but no sign of his mother.

The last customer on the receipts was Ed Gein. On November 16, 1957, the same day as the disappearance was discovered, Ed Gein was arrested in a nearby grocery store.

ed gein arrested
During his arrest / Wiki Commons

10. Detectives literally discovered a house of horrors

When the Waushara County Sheriff’s Department searched the Gein farm, nothing could have prepared them for what they were about to discover.

First of all, they found the decapitated body of Bernice Worden in one of the barns. Her body was hanging upside down, tied at the ankles with a crossbar. Her body was cut open, mutilations that were inflicted after she had been shot dead with a shotgun.

The following items were discovered inside his house:

  • Whole human bones and fragments.
  • A wastebasket made of human skin
  • Human skin covering several chair seats
  • Skulls on his bedposts
  • Female skulls, some with the tops sawn off
  • Bowls made from human skulls
  • A corset made from a female torso skinned from shoulders to waist
  • Leggings made from human leg skin
  • Masks made from the skin of female heads
  • Mary Hogan’s face mask in a paper bag
  • Mary Hogan’s skull in a box
  • Bernice Worden’s entire head in a burlap sack
  • Bernice Worden’s heart “in a plastic bag in front of Gein’s potbellied stove”
  • Nine vulvae in a shoebox
  • A young girl’s dress and “the vulvas of two females judged to have been about fifteen years old”
  • A belt made from female human nipples
  • Four noses
  • A pair of lips on a window shade drawstring
  • A lampshade made from the skin of a human face
  • Fingernails from female fingers

All of these gruesome discoveries were photographed and subsequently destroyed.

One of the most interesting facts about Ed Gein and his house of horrors is that the areas in which he lived were a complete mess, filled with these horrific artifacts, but several rooms, including his mother’s bedroom, had been boarded up and left untouched.

Everything in the house that reminded him of his mother was left as if nothing ever happened, which clearly shows how badly attached he was to her.

the mess in ed geins house
Ed Gein’s house. / Wiki Commons

11. The sheriff went mental during Gein’s interrogation

It’s clear that the Waushara County sheriff, Art Schley, didn’t understand that he was interrogating an insane schizophrenic. He actually went as far as banging Ed Gein’s head against the wall, resulting in Gein’s initial confession to be ruled as inadmissible.

Art Schley died of heart failure at age 43 in 1968, just before Gein’s trial would commence. Many who knew the man claim he was completely traumatized by the horrors he witnessed and by Gein’s behavior during questioning that it led to his own demise.

Art Schley (right) and Ed Gein
Art Schley (right) and Ed Gein. / Wiki Commons

12. Ed Gein was found not guilty by reason of insanity

Ed Gein’s first trial began on November 7, 1968, and a week later, he was found guilty of the murder of Bernice Worden. His second trial, however, dealt with his level of sanity and whether or not he would be found insane.

Judge Robert H. Gollmar ruled that Gein was “not guilty because of insanity” and ordered him to be committed to Central State Hospital for the Criminally Insane.

He was transferred to the Mendota State Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin, where he spent the remainder of his life. he died at age 77 from lung cancer and respiratory failure on July 26, 1984.

Mendota State Hosptial
Mendota State Hosptial / James Steakley /

13. His gravestone was stolen in the year 2000

Ed Gein was buried in between his parents and brother at the Plainfield Cemetery. His grave somewhat became a tourist attraction and people visiting would chip pieces of it to keep as a souvenir.

In the year 2000, the infamous gravestone was stolen but recovered near Seattle about a year later. It is now kept permanently at the Waushara County Sheriff’s Department.

Right now, his grave has an unmarked stone in an attempt to keep the souvenir-seekers away.

Ed Gein's original gravestone
Ed Gein’s original gravestone. / Wiki Commons

14. Ed Gein’s story became the inspiration for multiple horror movies

The story of Ed Gein is quite something, isn’t it?

Many moviemakers must have thought the same thing as it became the inspiration for multiple famous horror movies and novels.

Ed Gein became the inspiration for characters such as “Norman Bates” in Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” (1960), “Leatherface” in “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” franchise, and “Buffalo Bill” in “The Silence of the Lambs” (1988).

ed gein interesting facts
The inspiration of multiple horror movies and novels. / Wiki Commons