Life and psychological portrait of Ed Gein, “the Butcher of Plainfield” (2/2)

Read the 1st part of Ed Gein’s story: Life and psychological portrait of Ed Gein, the butcher of Plainfield (1/2)


News on the disappearance of mary hogan caused a big impact in the small town of Plainfield and spread to surrounding villages. All the villagers speculated on what could have happened to him. The sawmill owner remembers seeing Ed Gein sitting at the back of Hogan’s tavern bar, alone and absorbed in thought, gazing at the owner with cold, expressionless eyes. He and many other neighbors who had spoken to Ed recalled that he often joked about Mary Hogan’s whereabouts with phrases such as “He’s not gone. He’s actually on my farm right now. moment.”

But none of these comments ever alarmed anyone, as they attributed it to yet another example of the farmer’s eccentric behavior.

No more cold-blooded murders

On November 16, 1957, as the case began to be forgotten, Ed Gein murdered hardware store owner Bernice Worden by shooting her in the head with a shotgun. Like three years ago, he dragged the body to the back of the room, loaded it into his van and took it away. But this time he made a mistake: Ed had walked in with the excuse of buying antifreeze fluid for his van and his name was on the store ledger as the last customer.

While two policemen were arresting Ed, two others went to search his farm and what they saw as they entered the tool shed made their blood run cold: a woman’s corpse hanged upside down from pulleys, beheaded and naked. It had been opened in the chest canal at the base of the abdomen and emptied inside. The intestines were stored in an esparto bag and in another bag appeared the head of Bernice Worden. She had hooks in her ears, ready to hang from the ceiling as a decoration.

Police learn of Ed Gein’s horrific acts

As they continued to inspect the farm, in addition to a large pile of rubbish and debris, they found a gruesome sight: a collection of human skulls, some whole and others cut crosswise to be used as bowls, human skin masks that decorated Ed Gein’s bedroom, as well as chairs and various clothing of similar manufacture. There were boxes with human bones inside, and in the kitchen they found a boiling pot with Bernice Worden’s heart in it. They also found Mary Hogan’s head in one of the bags. The only room in the whole house that was intact was her mother’s, which had been sealed with wooden planks since her death.

Already at the police station, Ed admitted that he often felt the need to go to the cemetery and exhume the bodies of deceased women who remembered his mother, many of whom had met during her lifetime. Sometimes he took whole bodies, other times just the parts that interested him the most. He said he had never had sex with their bodies because he said they “smelled bad”.

Also, Ed Gein he admitted that many nights he had heard his mother’s voice before falling asleep and that somehow he was urging her to kill him.. Thus, according to the classification of serial killers of Holmes and DeBurger (1988), he would be part of the type of “visionary” killer, that is, one who kills driven by an obvious mental disorder. This disorder causes the patient to break with reality and, due to delusions and hallucinations (most often of an auditory nature), obeys orders to kill one type of person, which usually have characteristics in common with each other. . These commandments usually come from beings from another world or from the devil himself, but also from beings who, for one reason or another, exercised great domination over the murderers, who come to perceive them as deities of undeniable authority.

The traumas of the Plainfeld butcher

In this case, Ed’s feelings of love and hate for his mother led him to see her as someone who still had enormous influence even though he had been dying for years. According to the sheriff, Mary Hogan and Bernice Worden were the kind of women who embodied everything her mother hated, so following her strict moral code, she murdered them in an attempt to stop them from continuing her (he believed) life of indecent sin. . The accumulation of forensic evidence at the scene of the crime (the shotgun cartridge, the bloodstains or marks on the snow in the van, not to mention anything on his farm) would be another factor the time to consider Ed Gein within this typology.

However, there appears to be some mismatch, as visionary assassins often drop the weapon and corpse at the very scene of the crime. In addition, their victims are chosen at random and, according to the allegations of witnesses and Ed Gein himself, he had been around them for some time.

There is one more element of great significance to this story, and that is that Ed Gein’s goal in killing these women and digging up the bodies in the graveyard was not just to revive his mother, but he wanted to. becoming: the confrontation of the love he felt, with the feelings of anger and frustration at denying him any contact with women, mixed with a late and abnormal sexual development, made that, at the death of Augusta , Ed Gein give way to fantasies about transsexuality. These gender reassignment ideas and his admiration for death and dismemberment led Ed Gein to make all of these clothes with the skin of the victims. Many nights she would put on her clothes and walk around the house imitating Augusta’s gestures and voice, behaving like she was still alive, sitting in an armchair etc.

The police interrogation was subjected to the Weschler intelligence test, the results of which reflected average intelligence or even surpassing it. But great difficulties were also detected in expression and communication. In addition to these findings, psychologists at the hospital where he was hospitalized judged that he suffered from an emotional disorder that led him to irrational behavior, combined with periods of lucidity during which he felt remorse for the crimes he had accumulated in his history. .

Inside and dead

Ed Gein entered Mendota Asylum indefinitely in 1958, a move that displeased relatives of the victims, who demanded a trial that never took place. After becoming a model inmate, notable for his good demeanor both with the guards and the rest of the inmates, as well as for tasks and various jobs which earned him a good reputation, in 1974 he applied for his release. The judge in charge of the case requested that a second report be made by four psychologists, who unanimously decided that Gein should remain confined.

Ed Gein died of respiratory failure on July 26, 1984 at the Mendota Geriatric Hospital for the Mentally Ill. From Ed Gein’s life, we can draw some conclusions about the risk factors that drove his criminal life to the point of being listed as a serial killer:

  • His past in a dysfunctional household, with a family history of parental neglect, alcohol abuse and abuse, among others, was the first element that made possible the development of his psychopathic and violent personality.
  • Second, the social isolation he experienced during his teenage years made him unable to establish the necessary social connections during this time and thus be able to connect emotionally with people.
  • And finally, the withdrawal and loneliness that led him to generate fantasies and develop antisocial behaviors, based on the belief that the world is a hostile place. The more Ed Gein felt alone, the more he became addicted to his fantasies. Over time, these fantasies became more violent and twisted.

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