Arrested 50 Years Ago, Ed Gein Inspired 'Psycho'

Ed Gein, the grave robber and insane murderer whose story inspired the movie "Psycho" was quiet, helpful and a little bit strange.

People of Plainfield, Wisconsin remember Gein that way, far from the loner who gained worldwide notoriety a half century ago as a collector of body parts turned into furniture, ornaments and clothing.

It was 50 years ago Friday that 51-year-old Gein was arrested. Investigators found a macabre scene at his ramshackle farm just west of Plainfield as they searched for the killer of Bernice Worden. She was missing from her family's hardware store in town.

Her headless body was found hanging at Gein's farm home, dressed like a deer carcass.

Investigators also found parts of other bodies. They concluded Gein had robbed graves and may have murdered other people.

Searching the house, authorities found:

-Porn magazines
-Human skulls mounted upon the cornerposts of his bed;
-Human skin fashioned into a lampshade and used to upholster chair seats;
-Human skullcaps, apparently in use as soup bowls;
-A human heart (it is disputed where the heart was found; the deputies' reports all claim that the heart was in a saucepan on the stove, with some crime scene photographers claiming it was in a paper bag);
-The head of Mary Hogan, a local tavern owner, found in a paper bag;
-A window shade pull consisting of human lips;
-A "mammary vest" crafted from the skin of a woman's torso;
-A belt made from several human nipples, among many other such grisly objects;
-Socks made from human flesh;
-A sheath made from human skin;
-A box of preserved vulvas that Ed admitted to wearing.

While Gein was in detention, his house burned to the ground. Arson was suspected. In 1958, Gein's car, which he used to haul the bodies of his victims, was sold at public auction for a then-considerable sum of $760 to an enterprising carnival sideshow operator named Bunny Gibbons. Gibbons called his attraction the "Ed Gein Ghoul Car" and charged carnival-goers 25 cents admission to see it.

Gein was eventually sent to a state hospital for a mental evaluation and was deemed unable to stand trial until 1968.

He was found guilty in Worden's death but criminally insane. He died in a mental hospital in 1984 at the age of 77.


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