Case File - Ed Gein



This page is based on the true life murderer Ed Gein.  He was an unusual character, born on a farm and raised by a domineering mother.  In the space of a few years his entire family died and he was left to raise the farm all by himself. In the next few years he became a grave robber, a necrophiliac, a cannibal, and also took up arts and crafts in body parts.  He is seen as one of the most weird and bizarre serial killers of the twentieth century, and maybe only Jeffrey Dahmer got as close to what Ed did.  His crimes also inspired the movies Psycho, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Silence of the Lambs.  This page is a documentation of his life and crimes.



Ed Gein

Name - Edward 'Ed' Gein.

AKA - The Butcher of Plainfield, The Plainfield Butcher, The Mad Butcher, The Plainfield Ghoul.

DOB/DOD - 1906 - 26 July 1984.

Family - Mother 'Augusta 1878-1945', Father 'George 1873-1940', Brother 'Henry 1901-1944'.

Residence(at Time of Murders) - 160-Acre Farm Seven Miles Outside Plainfield, Wisconsin. USA.

Murder Type/Practices - Serial Killer / Graverobbery, Necrophilia, Cannibalism, Sadism, Death Fetishism.

Method/Weapons Used - Shooting / .22, .32.

Organization - Mixed.

Mobility - Stable.

Victim Vicinity - Plainfield, Wisconsin.

Murder Time Span - 1954 - 1957.

Victim Type - Old Women.

Victims - Mary Hogan (Died 8 Dec 1954), Bernice Worden (Died 16 Nov 1957) (+?).


The Beginning

Ed Gein and his brother Henry were raised by a domineering mother on their 160-acre farm seven miles outside Plainfield, Wisconsin.  She was a very religious woman with a protective attitude towards her boys and a definite conviction of sin.  She discouraged them from women and kept them busy with farm work.

His alcoholic father died in 1940 and a few years later his brother Henry died in 1944, trapped while fighting a forest fire.  Shortly thereafter his mother suffered her first stroke and in 1945 she had her second stroke from which she never recovered from, and Ed was left alone.

It was then that he sealed off the upstairs, the parlour, and his mother’s bedroom by boarding it off and set up his own quarters in the remaining bedroom, kitchen and shed of the big farmhouse.  He stopped working the farm because a government soil-conservation program offered him a subsidy, which he augmented by his work as a handyman in the area.


The Graveyard

In his spare time Ed read books on human anatomy and Nazi concentration camp experiments.  He was quite interested by it all, especially the female anatomy.  Alone in the farmhouse he thought endlessly about sex, until one day he saw a newspaper report of a woman who had been buried that day.

He enlisted the help of an old friend named Gus.  Gus was a weird loner too, and quite definitely odd - he went to the asylum a few years later.  Gus was Ed Gein’s trusted buddy, and agreed to assist Ed in opening a grave to secure a corpse for ‘medical experiments’.  Gus helped dig the graves.

The first corpse came from a grave less than a dozen feet away from the last resting place of Gein’s mother.

Over the next ten years Ed did the same, checked the newspaper for fresh bodies, always visiting the graveyard at the time of a full moon, got the whole female corpse or just the parts he wanted, filled in the grave and took his winnings home.

Ed Gein

His experiments with the dead bodies was bizarre.  He would construct objects from the bones and skin and would store the organs in the fridge to eat later.  He also committed acts of necrophilia on the bodies.  He even dug up his own mothers corpse.

What Ed Gein didn’t reveal to Gus was his own growing desire to become a woman himself; it was for this reason he’d studied anatomy, thought about the possibilities of an ‘operation’ which would result in a change of sex, desired to dissect a female corpse and familiarise himself with its anatomy.  The closest he would get to this is dressing up in his full woman bodysuit, complete with mask and breasts constructed entirely of human skin.

His collection of trophies grew, and so did the range of his experimentation and obsession.

Then Gus was taken away to the asylum, and Ed was all alone again.  Ed thought that fresher bodies would be better for his collection so he turned to murder…


The Murders

Ed Gein’s first victim was Mary Hogan.  Mary Hogan was a 51-year-old divorcee who operated Hogan’s Tavern at Pine Grove, six miles from home.  She was alone when he came to her on the cold afternoon of 8 December 1954.  He shot her in the head with his 32-caliber revolver, placed her body in his pickup truck, and took her back to his shed.

A customer who dropped into the tavern found the place deserted, and a large bloodstain on the floor.  A spent .32 cartridge lay near it.  Bloodstains ran out the back door and into the parking lot, where they halted beside tyre tracks that looked like those of a pickup truck.  It looked as if Mary Hogan had been shot and taken away.

Police were unable to find any clues to the disappearance.  But a few weeks later, when a sawmill owner named Elmo Ueeck spoke of the disappearance to Ed Gein, Gein replied: ‘She isn’t missing. She’s at the farm right now.’ Ueeck could not even work up the interest to ask him what he meant.

Ed Gein

There may have been other victims in the years that followed, but nothing definite is known about Gein’s murderous activities until that day on 16 November, 1957, when he shot and killed Bernice Worden in her hardware store on Plainfield’s Main Street.  He used a .22 rifle from a display rack in the store, inserting his own bullet which he carried with him.  Ed Gein shot and killed Bernice Worden, locked the store and took the body home in the store’s truck.  Gein also removed the cash register, which contained $41 in cash, but not because he wanted to commit robbery, but he later explained that he wanted to see how it worked, and fully intended to return it later.

Bernice Worden’s son, Frank, often assisted her in the store, but on this particular Saturday morning he’d gone deer hunting.  When he returned in the late afternoon he discovered the store to be closed with the lights still on and his mother missing, also the cash register was gone.  There was blood on the floor.

A local garage attendant told him that he had seen the store truck driving away at about 9.30 that morning.

Frank Worden served as deputy sheriff in the area and immediately alerted the sheriff, Art Schley, and reported the circumstances.  He checked the record of sales transactions made that morning.  One of them was for half a gallon of antifreeze.  Worden remembered that Ed Gein had stopped by the previous evening at closing time and said he’d be back the next morning for antifreeze.  Ed had also asked Worden if he intended to go hunting the next day.  Worden also recalled that Gein had been in and out of the store quite frequently the previous week.

Since the cash register was missing, it appeared that Gein had planned a robbery after finding a suitable time when the coast would be clear.

Worden told of his suspicions to the sheriff.  The sheriff Art Schley and captain Lloyd Schoephoester set off for the farm, seven miles outside Plainfield…


Modus Operandi




Time of Death


8 Dec 1954

Hogan’s Tavern

Mary Hogan

Approx Noon

Shot Dead With .32

16 Nov 1957

Hardware Store

Bernice Worden

Approx 9.15am

Shot Dead With .22


Gein’s Residence

The house was dark and Ed Gein was absent, so acting on a hunch, they drove to a store in West Plainfield where Gein usually purchased groceries.  Gein was there as he’d just had dinner with the proprietor and his wife.  He was just about to leave in his truck.

The sheriff halted him, and asked him to get into the police car for questioning.  Gein told of how he thought someone had tried to frame him for Bernice Worden’s death.  Sheriff Schley took Ed Gein into custody, Schley had not mentioned Bernice Worden’s death.

Sheriff Schley and Captain Schoephoester returned to the house with other officers.  The doors to the farmhouse were locked, but the door to the side shed at the rear of the house opened when Schley pushed it with his foot.  It was night time and since the farm had no electricity, the sheriff had to use a torch.  It revealed a naked corpse of a woman hanging upside down from a crossbeam, the legs spread wide apart, and a long slit running from the genitals almost to the throat.  But the throat, like the head, was missing.  The genitals and the anus were also missing.  Bernice Worden had been disembowelled like that of a deer.

Ed Gein's House

There was no electricity in the dark house so they conducted their inspection with oil lamps, lanterns, and flashlights.

The place looked like it had not been clean or tidied in years, there were piles of rubbish everywhere.  The few rooms that weren’t nailed off were littered with books, old papers, magazines, utensils, tin cans, cartons and a lot of other junk.

What those police officers also found in that house is in the extreme.  In the house they found - two shin bones, four human noses, a quart can converted into a tom-tom by skin stretched over both top and bottom, a bowl made from the inverted half of a human skull, nine ‘death masks’ (from the well preserved skin from the faces of women), ten female heads with the tops sawn off above the eyebrows, bracelets of human skin, a purse made with a handle of human skin, sheath for a knife made in human skin, a pair of leggings made from human skin, four chairs with the seats being replaced by strips of human skin, a shoe box containing nine salted vulvas of which his mothers was painted silver, a hanging human head, a lampshade covered with human skin, a shirt made of human skin, a number of shrunken heads (Ed always joked that he had a collection of shrunken heads), two skulls for Gein’s bedposts, a pair of human lips hanging from string, Ed’s full woman body suit constructed with human skin and complete with mask and breasts, Bernice Worden’s heart in a pan on the stove, and the refrigerator which was stacked with human organs.

The bodies of 15 different women had been mutilated to provide Gein’s trophies.  It is also said that sometimes Gein brought house gifts of fresh venison to his neighbours although Gein said he had never shot a deer in his life.


The End

Gein was in a series of examinations at the Central State Hospital for the Criminally insane.  He was proven insane.  The reasons for his actions were seen; he loved his mother but he hated her, so that is why he killed older women.  It is said that Mary Hogan had more of a passing resemblance to his mother.

Ed Gein

Gein denied being a cannibal or necrophiliac, but he did admit to grave robbing.

The case created a sensation because of the true nature of the crime.  Thousands of people drove to Plainfield to get a look at the 'murder farm'.  Eventually the place was burned down by the Plainfield citizens as they regarded it as a place of evil.

At Christmas, 1957, Gein was judged insane and he was committed to Waupan State Hospital for a life sentence.  Gein died of cancer on 26 July 1984, at the age of 78.  He was buried back in Plainfield next to the graves of his family.

Ed Gein's Gravesite

Ed Gein's Gravesite



There is also the mystery of Ed’s brother, Henry.  It is said that Ed killed Henry so he could be more alone with his mother.  In some sources it says that Henry was found dead in the Gein barn or was killed trying to put out a fire that had got the barn; but in others it says that Henry died while fighting a forest fire, and got trapped and was either burned or died from smoke inhalation.  Whatever is the case the motive for Ed to kill Henry is not substantiated.  He did love his mother, but he killed women who were old and looked like his mother, so why would he kill his brother just to get more of his mothers love?  It is still unknown if Ed Gein did kill his brother and it quite possible he did; Ed was definitely a twisted character.

Ed Gein

One possible early story of Ed Gein is that in 1942.  Ed was invited over to his nearest neighbours house, the Bankses.  A female relative of the Bankses was in the house, and was wearing shorts, Ed couldn’t keep his eyes off her legs.  Later that night a man broke into the woman’s house and grabbed her small son by the throat, asking him where his mother had gone.  The intruder fled before the boy could tell him anything.  The boy thought he had recognised Ed Gein as the man.

Some other stories of possible victims of Gein is an eight-year-old girl who went missing in 1947 and a fifteen-year-old who had disappeared on her way home from babysitting in 1953.  The babysitter’s bloodstained clothes were found but no body had turned up.  In Ed’s house there were also some body parts which didn’t prove to come from that of his grave robbing or 2  known murders.


The Movies

Ed Gein’s activities certainly inspired the literature and film industry.  Because of the true nature of the crimes it gave Hollywood a lot of ideas to work on.

One such early film was Psycho.  Based on the Robert Bloch novel and made into a Hitchcock film.  The connection being the overpowering mother and horror of the film, it made it one of the first of a kind.  Robert Bloch got most of the ideas for Psycho from Ed Gein's life.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was one movie lightly based on Ed Gein.  The story is about a group of travelling teen’s who stumble on a horror house.  The house’s residents are a family of weird homicidal cannibals who also like grave robbing and constructing furniture made of bones and skulls alike.  The lead bad guy is called ‘Leatherface’.  Leatherface likes chasing teen’s around with his chainsaw and wearing the human face mask of his victims.  There are about four Texas Chainsaw Massacre movies each with the teen’s trying to escape the deadly Leatherface.  The connection is mostly with the house, graverobbery and the cannibalism.

One more recent and Academy Award winning film is Silence of the Lambs.  It’s about an FBI agent who’s tracking down a serial killer and to find him she must get the help of an intelligent cannibal, Dr. Hannibal Lector.  The serial killer she’s trying to track down is called ‘Buffalo Bill’ because he likes to kill women and make clothes of their skin, also he wants to be a woman, hence the skin costume like that of Gein.  There are a lot of connections to this film and Ed Gein, being with the skin clothes, cannibalism, and Buffalo Bill being a transvestite.



Ed Gein was definitely one of the most weird murderers of this century.  Even though he did kill only two women and suspected for the disappearance of others he is seen as one of the worlds infamous killers.  Its what was found in Gein’s house that made him instantly infamous in the murder world.



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Modus Operandi - Serial Killers