The Truth About Ed Gein's Disturbing Childhood

Ed Gein grew up in Plainfield, Wis. and eventually became known for a number of gruesome crimes he committed as an adult. According to Film Daily, the story of "The Butcher of Plainfield" eventually inspired components of the movies like Psycho, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Silence of the Lambs. A close look at Gein's difficult childhood can likely explain some of the chilling crimes he did later on in life.

Gein ultimately became notorious for what authorities found at his home during a search for a missing woman in 1957. After local store owner Bernice Worden went missing, authorities learned that Gein had been one of the last people to stop by her hardware store prior to her disappearance. The police arrested Gein and searched his house, which produced horrifying results.

Answers regarding Worden's disappearance were found at Gein's home, but the authorities found much more than they'd bargained for in this case. Worden was found decapitated, disemboweled, and hanging upside down from the ceiling. It quickly became clear that Worden hadn't been Gein's only victim. History detailed that the remains of another missing woman, Mary Hogan, were found there as well. Gein ultimately revealed he'd dug up numerous graves of other women and stolen body parts. His home was filled with human skulls along with clothing and furniture he'd created from the stolen skin and body parts of numerous women.

Ed Gein relationship with his mother gave Hitchcock ideas

Ed Gein's challenging childhood set the stage for the dark turn his life took (via Britannica). His father George Gein was an alcoholic and his mother Augusta was a domineering, verbally abusive woman who believed sex and women were evil, per History. According to Film Daily, Augusta was a religious fanatic while George was passive. The couple's marriage was poor, but Augusta's religious beliefs prevented a divorce. Ultimately, George died in 1940.

According to The Firebirds Among the Psychopaths by Willem Martens, Ed was a shy child, and he had a lazy eye and a lesion on his tongue that impacted his speech. Bullies targeted him, and George would beat Ed when he cried over it. In addition, Ed had an older brother, Henry, who died in 1944 after a fire. Henry's death was supposedly due to asphyxiation or heart failure. However, it is now commonly believed that Ed killed Henry.

Ed was obsessed with his mother, and this intensified after George and Henry died. Augusta had a stroke shortly after Henry's death, and a second stroke prompted her death in 1945. Alone on the family farm, Ed's obsession with women and his dead mother escalated. He turned her frequently used areas into a shrine, sealing them off from the rest of the home. After the horrors of his home were discovered and he was arrested, Ed spent the rest of his life in a mental institution before dying of cancer in 1984.