Ed Gein Biography

Ed Gein infamously known as the ‘Butcher of Plainfield’ was an American murderer and body snatcher. Check out this biography to know about his childhood, family life, and other facts related to his life.

Quick Facts

Birthday: August 27, 1906

Nationality: American

Famous: Murderers Serial Killers

Died At Age: 77

Sun Sign: Virgo

Born in: La Crosse County, Wisconsin, United States

Famous as: Murderer

Height: 1.7 m


father: George Philip

mother: Augusta Wilhelmine Gein

siblings: Henry George Gein

Died on: July 26, 1984

Continue Reading Below

Edward Theodore "Ed" Gein, infamously known as the ‘Butcher of Plainfield’ was an American murderer and body snatcher. Born into a small farming community, he lived an isolated and repressive childhood with little social interaction. He was obsessively devoted to his mother and stayed with her until her death. The crimes that he committed around the locality of Plainfield, Wisconsin attracted attention after authorities discovered that he exhumed corpses from graveyards in order to maintain them as keepsakes and trophies. Later, he also confessed to murdering two women in the years 1954 and 1957. However, as he was found mentally unfit for trial, he was transferred to a mental health facility. Years later, he underwent trial for one murder and was subsequently sentenced to life imprisonment, which he spent in the mental hospital. His life story has influenced the creation of several fictional characters in music, movies and literature, such as Norman Bates in ’Psycho’ (1960), ‘Ed Gein’ from The Ziggens' album ‘Rusty Never Sleeps’ (1992), Deranged (1974) and Ed Gein: The Butcher of Plainfield (2007).

Recommended Lists:

Recommended Lists:

Childhood & Early Life
  • Edward Theodore "Ed" Gein was born on 27 August 1906, at La Crosse County, Wisconsin in USA to George Philip and Augusta Wilhelmine Gein. He had an older brother named Henry George Gein.
  • During his childhood, his family shifted near Plainfield in Wisconsin. He was known to have an isolated childhood, leaving home only to attend school.
  • As a child, he was shy, had poor social skills and often became a target of bullies. His teachers remembered that he had demonstrated queer mannerisms, such as laughing randomly.
  • His mother was an ardent follower of Lutheranism and shared knowledge on topics like the innate immortality of the world, the sins of carnal desire and drinking etc, to his brother as well as to him. She discouraged any contact from outsiders to avoid them being influenced.
    Continue Reading Below
Later Life
  • In 1940, Ed Gein’s father died of a heart failure caused by alcoholism. Post the incident, he along with his brother began working odd jobs in the neighbourhood. He had worked as a handyman and babysitter and was considered reliable in the locality.
  • He was known to be extremely attached to his mother, and this behaviour was a cause of concern for his older brother. Henry Gein had begun to oppose his mother’s views on the world.
  • On 16 May 1944, Ed Gein went to extinguish a brush fire close to their farm along with his brother. However, based on records, by nightfall the brothers were separated and Henry Gein was reported missing. He was later found dead on the ground with bruises on his head. However, the county coroner listed the cause of death as asphyxiation.
  • Following his brother’s death, he lived along with his mother who had by then suffered a series of strokes. He was excessively devoted to her and did not meet or date any woman during the time. His mother passed away on 29 December 1945. *Post his mother’s death, he secured the rooms previously occupied by his mother and shifted to a room next to the kitchen. During this time, his interest in reading death-cult magazines and adventure stories involving cannibals and Nazi atrocities began to develop.
  • He continued doing odd jobs to cover expenses. From 1951, he began receiving a farm subsidy from the federal government. Occasionally he worked as part of the crop threshing crew or municipality crew in the locality. During these years, he also sold the 80-acre parcel of land that was owned by his brother.
  • A few years later, on 16 November 1957, police suspected Ed Gein for the disappearance of a store clerk named Bernice Worden in Plainfield. He was suspected as he was the last customer to have billed at the store prior to Bernice Worden’s disappearance.
  • In relation to the disappearance case, the police inspected his shed and property, only to make several horrific findings. The first discovery was Bernice Worden’s decapitated corpse hung upside down with ropes on her wrists and a crossbar at her ankles. The body was dressed up like a deer and was empty. It was later found that the mutilation was performed after she was killed by shooting with a rifle.
  • Upon searching the house police found several other disturbing articles including human skulls on bed corner posts and skull tops used as bowls, human skin used as lampshades and chair covers, a belt made of human nipples, socks from human flesh, a collection of female genitalia and noses.
  • Among these items, were articles that neighbours and acquaintances recognised as relics from the South Seas, sent by Ed Gein’s cousin who had served in World War II. However, they turned out to be human facial skin that was peeled from the skull and used as masks occasionally.
    Continue Reading Below
  • Upon questioning, he admitted to making almost 40 nocturnal visits to the local graveyards in order to exhume bodies and during some of the visits he dug up graves of recently buried middle aged women to take home and make articles. *Ed Gein denied having sexual interaction with the bodies and stated that “they smelled too bad”. After the death of his mother, he tried to create a woman’s suit with human skin as well.
  • During the interrogation, he admitted to killing Mary Hogan, a tavern owner, who had gone missing since 1954, however later he denied any memory of the incident. Her head was found in his house during the investigation.
  • While questioning, Waushara County sheriff, Art Schley, purportedly assaulted him by banging his head on the wall, thereby making his initial confession inadmissible. The county sheriff died in 1968 prior to the trial and was believed to have died due to the trauma of the horrific crimes committed by Ed Gein.
  • Ed Gein was found medically unfit to undergo trial and subsequently was sent to Central State Hospital in Waupun, Wisconsin. He was later transferred to Mendota State Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin.
  • In 1968, he was declared fit by doctors and upon trial was found not guilty by Judge Robert H. Gollmar on the basis of mental insanity. He spent the rest of his life in prison.
Recommended Lists:

Recommended Lists:

Personal Life & Legacy
  • Ed Gein died of lung cancer on 26 July 1984 in Goodland Hall at the Mendota Mental Health Institute.
  • He was buried at the Plainfield cemetery. Over the years many visitors vandalized the gravestone by chipping off pieces in seek of souvenirs and in 2000 a majority of the gravestone was stolen. It was recovered the following year and currently maintained in a museum in Waushara County.
  • Ed Gein’s story had a major impact on movies, literature and music. Several movies based on his were made, such as ‘Deranged’ (1974),’ In the Light of the Moon’ (2000), and ‘Ed Gein: The Butcher of Plainfield’ (2007).
  • His crimes paved way for a new genre in arts called ’black humour’. Examples of this include the song ‘Dead Skin Mask’ from the Slayer album ‘Seasons in the Abyss’ (1990), ‘Nothing to Gein’ from Mudvayne's album ‘L.D. 50’ (2001), and ‘Ed Gein’ from The Ziggens' album ‘Rusty Never Sleeps’ (1992).
  • The car that he used to haul the corpses from the graveyard was sold at a public auction for a sum of USD 760 to an enterprising carnival show operator.

See the events in life of Ed Gein in Chronological Order

How To Cite

Article Title
- Ed Gein Biography
- Editors, TheFamousPeople.com
- TheFamousPeople.com
Last Updated
- February 24, 2017
Ed Gein

People Also Viewed

Gary Ridgway
David Berkowitz
Edmund Kemper
Mark David Chapman

Christopher Scarver
Yolanda Saldívar
Darlie Routier
Whitey Bulger