On July 26, 1984, Edward Theodore “Ed” Gein died of respiratory and heart failure related to cancer at the age of 77.
This convicted killer wasn’t only satisfied with taking lives. He also exhumed bodies from cemeteries to take bones and skin from corpses. At least 40 of these graveyard trips occurred between 1947 and 1952.
Since the man was only linked to the killings of less than three people, he did not meet the criteria to be labeled a serial killer. Yet, his crimes provided the basis for famous horror film characters: Jame Gumb (Silence of the Lambs), Leatherface (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) and Norman Bates (Psycho).
In 1957, Gein confessed to two killings after police found body parts in his house. Gein, like Jame Gumb, was in the midst of creating a “woman suit” after his mother died, so he could pretend to be a female.
Some of the recovered body parts belonged to Gein’s victims Mary Hogan and Bernice Worden. Hogan was a tavern owner, who Gein admitted to killing in 1954. Warden owned a hardware store and was admittedly killed by Gein in 1957.
Unfit to stand trial, he was initially confined in a mental health facility. In 1968, he was finally tried for the murder of Bernice Worden.
The itemized inventory of parts collected from the Gein home included (from Wikipedia):
- Four noses
- Whole human bones and fragments
- Nine masks of human skin
- Bowls made from human skulls
- Ten female heads with the tops sawed off
- Human skin covering several chair seats
- Mary Hogan’s head in a paper bag
- Bernice Worden’s head in a burlap sack
- Nine vulvas in a shoe box
- Skulls on his bedposts
- Organs in the refrigerator
- A pair of lips on a draw string for a windowshade
The judge stated that “Due to prohibitive costs, Gein was tried for only one murder — that of Mrs. Worden.”
Gein died in Madison, Wisconsin at Mendota Mental Health Institute.