On November 16, 1957, serial killer Edward Gein murders his last victim, Bernice Worden of Plainfield, Wisconsin. His grave robbing, necrophilia, and cannibalism gained national attention, and may have provided inspiration for the characters of Norman Bates in Psycho and serial killer Buffalo Bill in The Silence of the Lambs.
Gein was a quiet farmer who lived in rural Wisconsin with an extremely domineering mother. After she died in 1945, he began studying anatomy, and started stealing women's corpses from local cemeteries. In 1954, Gein shot and killed saloonkeeper Mary Hogan, piled the body onto a sled, and dragged it home. On November 16, 1957 Gein robbed Worden at the local hardware store she owned and killed her. Her son, a deputy, discovered his mother's body and became suspicious of Gein, who was believed to be somewhat odd. When authorities searched Gein's farmhouse, they found an unimaginably grisly scene: organs were in the refrigerator, a heart sat on the stove, and heads had been made into soup bowls. Apparently, Gein had kept various organs from his grave digging and murders as keepsakes and for decoration. He had also used human skin to upholster chairs. Though it is believed that he killed others during this time, Gein only admitted to the murders of Worden and Hogan. In 1958, Gein was declared insane and sent to the Wisconsin State Hospital in Mendota, where he remained until his death in 1984.
Michael Thomas Barry is the author of Murder & Mayhem 52 Crimes that Shocked Early California 1849-1949. The book can be purchased from Amazon through the following link: