The Messed Up Childhood Of Ed Gein

Ed Gein is one of the most notorious killers of all time. As reported by Britannica, in 1957, authorities of the town of Plainfield, Wisconsin, began investigating the disappearance of a woman named Bernice Worden. They visited Gein's farm, as he had been seen with Worden just before she went missing. Not only did they find Worden's lifeless body (she had been shot and decapitated), they found the head of Mary Hogan, a local woman who had disappeared in 1954. They also found a variety of body parts that Gein had stolen from local gravesites and "used to make household items, clothing, and masks." His crimes have inspired some of the most famous horror movies of all time, including Psycho, The Texas Chainsaw Massacreand The Silence of the LambsOne can probably assume that an adult who carries out such sadistic and horrifying murders and was subsequently nicknamed "The Butcher of Plainfield" had a pretty miserable childhood, and in the case of Ed Gein, that assumption is absolutely correct.

Born in Plainfield in 1906, Edward Theodore Gein was the second child of George and Augusta Gein whom Biography called, respectively, a "timid alcoholic" and "fanatically religious." Ed Gein reportedly "idolized" his mother despite her poor treatment of him; Britannica notes that Ed's older brother, Henry, was concerned about how intensely Ed felt about their mother and "occasionally confronted her in Gein's presence." Ed remained "ruled by his mother's puritanical preachings about the sins of lust and carnal desire."

Gein was obsessively devoted to his mother

In 1915, the family moved to a farm outside of Plainfield and Ed Gein rarely left the farm except to attend school. George Gein died in 1940, per Biography, and Henry and Ed started working odd jobs to bring in money. In 1944, they were burning brush on their land when they lost control of the fire. Ed Gein called the police to report that Henry was missing, but when they arrived, according to Britannica, he led them to Henry's burned, dead body. Despite Henry having mysterious bruises on his head, his death was ruled an accident. 

Ed Gein remained "obsessively devoted" to his mother until her death in 1945. Once she was gone, Gein became what Britannica called a "virtual hermit" who "cordoned off the areas of the house that his mother had used most frequently, preserving them as something of a shrine" while the rest of the house became broken down and filthy. He continued supporting himself doing odd jobs and, shockingly, babysitting, despite his increasingly anti-social behavior. After his arrest in 1957, he was declared unfit to stand trial and sent to a psychiatric institution. In 1968, authorities decided he could participate in his defense trial. He was found guilty of killing Bernice Worden and was declared to have been insane at the time of the murder — apparently he wasn't tried for the murder of Mary Hogan for "financial reasons." Ed Gein died in a psychiatric hospital in 1984.