Edward Theodore was born on August 27, 1906, to Augusta and George Gein in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Eddie was the 2nd of two children. Eddie’s mother was a fanatically religious women, who was determined to raise the boys according to her strict moral code.
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Eddie’s mother repeatedly warned her sons of the immorality and looseness of women, hoping to discourage any sexual desires the boys might have. ( In the Beginning) Augusta was a domineering and hard woman, while her husband George, was a weak man and an alcoholic. George had no say in the raising o the boys. Augusta began a grocery business in La Crosse the year Eddie was born, so she could save enough money to move away from the sinners in the city. In 1914 they moved to Plainfield, Wisconsin to a one-hundred-ninety-five-acre farm, isolated from any evil influences that could disrupt her family. Eddie’s father died in 1940. ( In the Beginning )
Eddie was average in school, but he loved to read. His schoolmates shunned Eddie because he was effeminate and shy. He had no friends. In 1944 Eddies brother Henry mysteriously died. ( In the Beginning) On December 29, 1945, Augusta died after a series of strokes. Eddies foundations were shaken upon her death, he lost his one true friend. It was after his mother’s death that Eddie began to immerse himself in his bizarre hobbies that included nightly visits to the graveyard. ( In the Beginning )
It was from the obituaries that Eddie would learn of the recent deaths of local women. Having never enjoyed the company of the opposite sex, he would quench his lust by visiting graves at night. Although he later swore to police that he never had sexual intercourse with any of the bodies ( they smelled to bad), he did take a particular pleasure in peeling their skin from their bodies and wearing it. He was curious to know what it was like to have breasts and a vagina, and he often dreamed of being a women.
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He was fascinated with women because the power and hold they had on men. ( Seriously Weird) After a while Gein decided that it was too laborious to dig up bodies alone. It was easier, he concluded, to murder women and bring their bodies to his farmhouse for more “experiments.” His first victim was 51-year-old Mary Hogan, operator of a Pine Grove, Wisconsin, saloon. One winter night if 1954, Gein waited until all of Hogan’s patrons left the remote bar. Mary Hogan recognized him and told him that she was closing. Gein said nothing as he walked around the bar to Hogan’s side. He took a .22 caliber pistol from his pocket, placed this close to Hogans head, and fired a single bullet into her skull, killing her. He then dragged her body from the bar to a sled he had placed outdoors. It took the diminutive Gein several hours to drag the corpse back to his farm.(Nash p.64- 70)
Gein’s next known victim was Bernice Worden, who operated a hardware store in Plainfield. In November 1957 he began frequenting this store more than usual. He hung about talking to Mrs. Worden and her son, Frank Worden, who was the town’s deputy sheriff. When Worden told Gein he would be going hunting on Saturday, Gein realized that Mrs. Worden would be left in the store. He arrived at the store and found the middle- aged women alone. Gein went to a gun rack and took a .22-caliber rifle from the wall. He inserted a single bullet into the chamber, one he had brought with him, then turned on the startled woman and fired a shot which struck her in the head, killing her.
Gein locked the front door of the store, dragged Mrs. Worden’s corpse out the back, and took it to his farmhouse. He carried along the store cash register which contained $41. Both Mary Hogan and Mrs. Worden resembled, to some extent, Ed Gein’s long-departed mother. (Nash p. 64-70) On November 17,1957 after the discovery of Bernice Worden’s headless corpse and other gruesome artifacts in Eddie’s house, police began an exhaustive search of the remaining parts of the farm and surrounding land. They believed Eddie may have been involved in more murders and that the bodies might be buried on his land, possibly those of Georgia Weckler, Victor Travis and Ray Burgess, Evelyn Hartley and Mary Hogan. (Skeletons in the Closet )
While excavations began at the farmstead, Eddie was being interviewed at Wautoma County Jailhouse by investigators. Gein at first did not admit to any of the killings. However, after more then a day of silence he began to tell the horrible story of how he killed Mrs. Worden and where he acquired the body parts that were found in his house. However, after days of intense interrogation he finally admitted to the killing of Mary Hogan. Again, he claimed he was in a dazed state at the time. (Skeletons in the Closet ) His condition was attributes to the unhealthy relationship he had with his mother and his upbringing. Gein apparently suffered from conflicting feelings about women, his natural sexual attraction tp them and the unnatural attitudes that his mother had instilled in him. This love-hate feeling towards women became exaggerated and eventually developed into a full-blown psychosis. (Skeletons in the Closet)
While Eddie was undergoing further interrogation and psychological tests, investigators continued tp search the land around his farm. Police discovered with in Eddie’s farmhouse the remains of ten women. Although Eddie swore that the remaining body parts of 8 women were those taken from local graveyards, police were skeptical. They believed that it was highly possible for the remains to have come from women Eddie may have murdered. The only was police could ascertain whether the remains came from women’s corpses was to examine the graves that Eddie claimed he had robbed. ( Skeletons in the Closet ) There would be another discovery on Eddie’s land that would agin raise the issue of wether Eddie did in fact murder a 3rd person. On November 29th, police unearthed human skeletal remains on the Gein farm. It was suspected that the body was that of Victor Travis who had disappeared years earlier. The remains were immediately taken to a crime lab and examined. Tests showed that the body was not that of a male but of a large, middle aged woman, another graveyard souvenir. ( Skeletons in the Closet )
The police could not implicate Eddie in the disappearance of Victor Travis or the three other people who vanished three years earlier. The only murders Eddie could be held responsible for were Bernice Worden and Mary Hogan. ( Skeletons in the Closet ) The actual trial started on November 6, 1968 at 9:00 a.m. The defense had decided to waive a jury and try the case before the judge. The state filed an indictment with one count of murder ( Mrs. Worden) in the 1st degree and one count of robbery. During the trial the count of theft was dismissed. The case was tried as a bifurcated trial. That means they would first try the murder charge and then if Gein was found guilty, the sanity issue. First degree murder requires proof of intent to kill. While the judge knew that Gein would admit to the actual shooting of Mrs. Worden, he had always contended that the killing was accidental.
The defense, therefore, was aiming at a finding of 2nd degree murder or manslaughter. On November 14,1968 the court determined that the offense committed here is 1st degree murder. Here is the statement from the judge who heard Geins case addressing his decision of mental illness; The court does find that on November 16, 1957, the defendant, Edward Gein, was suffering from a mental disease. The court does further find that as a result of this mental disease he lacked substantial capacity to conform his conduct to the requirements of law. The court does, therefore, find the defendant not guilty by reason of insanity. The defendants, therefore, Committed to Central State Hospital for the Insane.
So ended the trial of Edward Gein, nearly a year after we started it and after the expenditure of many thousands of dollars. Gein returned to the place he started from – Central State hospital. ( Gollmar, p 83-91) On July 26, 1984, he died after a long bout with cancer. He was buried in Plainfield cemetery next to his mother, not far from the graves that he robbed years earlier. ( Gollmar p. 83-91)