Ed Gein, The Butcher of Plainfield
When talking about all things creepy and scary, one would be remiss if they failed to mention the gruesome crimes of Ed Gein. Who can forget that iconic scene of actress Janet Lee being knifed to death in the shower of her bathroom. The hand that supposedly administered the fatal blows belonged to the film’s creepy protagonist, Norman Bates. The inspiration of the film was taken from a true life mad man by the name of Ed Gein. The master of horror, the late director and film maker Alfred Hitchcock, discovered the crimes of Gein and transferred that real life horror onto film with iconic 1960 film “Psycho”. This demon was real, not made up, and it made the film much more terrifying. Ed Gein was transformed into many other roles- Leatherface in the ‘Texas Chain Saw Massacre”, and Buffalo Bill in the Silence of the Lambs. All are about, in one form or another, Ed Gein.
The crimes and M.O. Of Ed Gein gave the screen writers a lot of material to work with. Many said they could not make up horror that was as terrifying as the real life crimes attached to Gein. His crimes were committed against both the living and the dead. What’s at the bottom of the story, is the story of Gein and his mother. In the fall of 1957, Plainfield, Wisconsin had about 700 people living there. It was hardworking people that lived in the small town that had one hardware store, a food market and a restaurant or two. It was just a small tiny town, similar to any other small town in the Midwest in the 1950’s.
That all changed over the course of one cold weekend. In November of 1957 all the men in the town would go out to hunt for deer. As the season started, they depended heavily on the meat to stock their freezers. The hardware store, owned by 58 year old Bernice Worden, was very quiet on Saturday November 16th, even though it was supposed to be open.
People started to wonder where she was. Worden’s son recalled that Gein had been in the store the night before, and said he would be back the next day to buy anti freeze. When her son came back from deer hunting, he discovered the store a mess, and blood all over the floor. He told police that Gein was in the store the night before. Police searched Gein’s property and found the decapitated body of Worden.
Gein, a 51 year old bachelor, lived in a remote farm house with his mother. He was known as the ‘village oddball’. His place was a spooky house at the edge of town. It was dark, with no sign of life there. The doors were all locked when the police arrived. They decided to look in a shed, but nothing had electricity so everything was dark. It was in the shed that they found Worden, hanging up side down, naked with her head cut off, gutted like a deer. Ed Gein was taken into custody that night. As he sat quietly in cell in the county jail, detectives continued to search his work shed.
At some point, they ventured into his home. Inside they found the unimaginable: Worden’s gutted carcass was only his latest crime. It was a cold, dark, night and his home had no electricity. The police used lanterns and flashlights. His house was in complete disarray and chaos; there was dirty messes in every corner. The found a ghastly array of human remains throughout his entire house. They found bowls made from human skulls. In the living room, they found furniture made from human skin. They found masks made out of humans and hung on the walls as decorations. One officer found a brown paper bag, human hair, and the remains of another woman missing for 3 years. Gein said he only killed 2 people, and the rest of the remains were stolen from gravesides. All the things he did simply shocked the townspeople. Reporters quickly gathered in the town, and his crimes were now known by the entire country.