New photos Sept 26 2012
I added the second flower
(pix from ED Gein movie
starring Steve Railsback
aka In the Light of the Moon (2000)
...taken on The Wall at G's place)
Ed Spread in Local
Posted November 16, 2007
faces of Ed Gein, from the eyes of a child
The Stevens Point Journal once carried a quote that said, "Edward Gein
had two faces. One he showed to the neighbors.
The other he showed only to the dead."I think he had many more faces
The face I saw as a kid was simply the face of a seemingly normal old
Being a handyman of sorts, Gein kept the farm vehicles in running order,
and at times even worked a bit on cars and trucks for other people. When
in need of a used part for repairs, if it could not be found in Plainfield,
he looked further down the road, sometimes coming to Wisconsin Rapids and
to my father's Standard Oil gas station,
Whetstone's Highway 73 Garage, just three miles east of Nekoosa in
We had a fence that bordered the yard, running up to meet at a gate
in the northeast corner where Dad's shop was. There was also a drinking
fountain at that corner, providing the perfect place for us children to
hang out when someone came who might be willing to buy us a candy bar and
chat for a bit. Such was the case with Ed Gein.
Although I have no firsthand experience in how he interacted with adults,
he seemed to like children fine.
Much like one recalls the Kennedy assassinations, the Challenger explosion
and the tragedies of Sept. 11, 2001, I can distinctly recall 50 years ago
on Nov. 17 when my father came into the house and somberly told my mother
about the strange happenings of the day before.
Even then, with most of the details still forthcoming,
I remember the effort made to keep us children from knowing what was
It would not be until the next day at school, when children whose parents
were not as careful started talking about the happenings down in Plainfield.
I put two and two together. Even then, I could not quite reconcile the
and other acts with this man who seemed so quiet and unremarkable.
As days passed, and more information regarding the life of the reclusive
Gein came to light -- although the newspaper at our house stayed conspicuously
missing -- all the jokes started. No one enjoyed telling them more than
I did. I would come home with the latest one, happy to share it with the
rest of the family. Both of my parents tried not to laugh and keep a stern
countenance, but sometimes failed, which only fueled the need I had to
find new jokes the next day at school. It was almost as if making the jokes
could dispel the evil of the monster and his deeds. I tried not to think
of him as someone I knew,
and most certainly never shared with my friends the fact that I had
actually met the man.
Through the years, I have been asked from where I derived my fascination
with the macabre -- my interest in authors such as Stephen King and Dean
Koontz, who by the way is also a relative -- and I have always said I did
not know. In retrospect, I think perhaps I do know. They say that events
from your childhood do more to shape who we are than we can ever imagine.
But getting back to those two faces of Ed Gein--I think there was third
face to Gein also–the one he showed only to those he was going to kill.
That would have been the worst face of all.
gallery: Ed Gein
(November 16, 2007)
WAUTOMA, WIS, Nov. 18, 1957. Ed Gein, farmer, who is being held for
questioning in connection with the death of ten persons, is shown leaving
county jail. Gein was arrested after Plainfield hardware store operator
Bernice Worden's decapitated and eviscerated body was found hanging by
the heels in a shed at the rear of Gein's farm house.
Portions of ten bodies were also found in the home on his farm near
Plainfield, WI. Nov. 19, 1957. Waushara County Deputy Sheriff Art Judge
points out the rafter where the body of Mrs. Bernice Worden, 58, was hung
at the farm home of bachelor Edward Gein, about six miles west of here.
Plainfield. This is the kitchen on the farm home of Edward Gein, 51.
Authorities found parts of more than a dozen women's bodies. Worden's body
was found Saturday night hanging from a rafter of an adjacent room. (AP
PLAINFIELD, WIS. BEDROOM ON THE MURDER FARM. Bachelor farmer Edward
Gein, 51, slept in this bed on his farm about six miles southwest of here.
Gein has admitted butchering Mrs. Bernice Worden, 58, widow - storekeeper
in a summer kitchen on the farm. The rest of the house shown to reporters
was much the same. (AP Wirephoto)
BANCROFT, WI. November 20, 1957. This tavern in Portage County was
operated by Mary Hogan, 54, who disappeard from the place Dec. 8, 1954
amid indications of violence. Sheriff Herbert Wanserski said her head was
in the ghastly collection found in the home of Ed Gein, 51, who, Waushara
County authorities say,
has admitted slaying another woman, Mrs. Bernice Worden, Plainfield.
PLAINFIELD, WIS. November 18, 1957. This is the store from which Mrs.
Bernice Worden, 58-year-old widow, disappeared Saturday. Her butchered
body later was found hanging in a shed of a bachelor farmer. Mrs. Worden
had operated the hardware store for many years following the death of her
husband. (AP Wirephoto)
Plainfield, Wis. Nov. 20, 1957. Pallbearers carry the casket containing
the body of Mrs. Bernice Worden, who was slain last Saturday, from church
after services today. Investigators continue to question Edward Gein, 51-year-old
farmer, regarding her death. (AP Wirephoto)
Madison, WI, Nov. 20. 1957. Jan Beck, State Crime Lab official, carries
a cash register found at the home of Ed Gein, 51, Plainfield, Wis., into
lab. Cash register was taken from hardware store operated by Mrs. Bernice
Worden, 58, whose body was found Saturday night hanging in Gein's farm
home. Gein held on charge of theft of register. Crime lab mobile unit,
loaded with cargo of parts of humans and other evidence being studied by
technicians, arrived late last night.
WAUPUN, WI. Nov. 23, 1957. Fifty-one-year-old Edward Gein, (right)
of Plainfield, Wis., paused for a photographer to take his picture today
as he entered the Central State Hospital for the Criminally Insane and
a 30-day mental examination. Gein is the man who admitted slaying two women
and dismembering their bodies. He also told authorities that he robbed
graves. Sheriff Art Schley of Waushara County turned Gein over to hospital
authorities. Schley headed the invesitgation of the macabre slayings. (AP
WAUTOMA. Nov. 21, 1957. Edward Gein, 51, center, walks with Sheriff
Art Schley, left, and deputy Arnold Fritz to the preliminary hearing today
on death of Mrs. Bernice Worden, of Plainfield. (AP Wirephoto)
December 23, 1957. Appleton Post-Crescent article
Jan. 7, 1958. Appleton Post-Crescent article. After being charged with
the first-degree murder of Worden, Gein was judged mentally unable to stand
trial and committed to Central State Hospital in Waupun on Jan. 6, 1958.
March 20, 1958. Appleton Post-Crescent article. Ed Gein's home, which
stood vacant since his arrest was destroyed by fire. The house had figured
recently in a local controversy. Several area clergymen, among others,
protested plans for an auction of the Gein property on Palm Sunday.
Jan. 23, 1968. Ed Gein - After spending 10 years in Central State Hospital,
Gein was released when he was declared competent to stand trial. Gein is
shown attending the 1957 murder hearing at Wautoma.
January 23, 1968. Ed Gein, at his 1957 murder hearing in Wautoma.
Jan. 24, 1968. Article in the Appleton Post-Crescent. When asked how
to pronounce his last name,
Gein replied "I pronounce it (like keen)."
January 23, 1968. Ed Gein leaving his 1957 murder hearing in Wautoma.
January 23, 1968. Ed Gein smiling as he leaves his 1957 murder hearing
Jan 23, 1968. Ed Gein surrounded by the press as he leaves his 1957
murder trial in Wautoma.
Nov. 15, 1968. Appleton Post-Crescent article. Ed Gein was found guilty
of first-degree murder and then found not guilty by reason of insanity
on Nov 14, 1968. Gein was again committed to Central State Hospital.
June 27, 1974. Ed Gein attending a five-hour sanity hearing in a bid
June 30, 1974. Appleton Post-Crescent. Ed Gein looses his bid for freedom
after a five-hour sanity hearing.
July 26, 1984. The Post-Crescent. In 1978, Gein was transferred to
the Mendota Mental Health Institute in Madison where he would spend the
rest of his life. On July 26, 1984, Ed Gein died at the age of 78 of respiratory
and heart failure while suffering from cancer. His grave is in the Plainfield
Ed Gein's story was adapted into movies, music and literature such
as this comic book published in 1978. Author Robert Bloch wrote a story
about Norman Bates, a character based on Gein,
which became Alfred Hitchcock's classic thriller "Psycho".
Memories of Gein have not faded
(November 16, 2007)
The details are terrible; the crimes, disgusting.
Fifty years ago today, authorities found the unimaginable at a farmhouse
not far from the town of Rome.
In addition to the body of a missing hardware store owner, investigators
discovered decorations and clothing fashioned from human skin and other
body parts dug up from nearby graves.
Decades later, one question remains: why?
How could a seemingly shy and polite man like Ed Gein commit such acts?
Perhaps the question hasn't been answered because there is no reasonable
His actions were simply not those of a sane man. It's hard to even
imagine the scene when
authorities entered the Gein house, and most people in Plainfield and
surrounding towns and villages would rather not even think about it. One
man thrust the isolated rural community into the national spotlight and
for all the wrong reasons.
After half a century, it seems no one has forgotten. Gein remains one
of America's most notorious killers, and unfortunately, one of the most
well-known people to come out of the region.
Do a Google search with the words "Plainfield Wisconsin," and three
of the first five entries refer to Ed Gein.
People regularly visit the community in an attempt to touch history,
no matter how grim the events. Books and documentaries describe in detail
what occurred at the Gein property in the late 1950s.
The stories aren't for the faint of heart.
Gein was the inspiration for Norman Bates, the main character in the
film "Psycho" -- amovie ranked among the American Film Institute's list
of top 100 movies of all time -- and numerous other horror movie villains.
People in the Plainfield area didn't enjoy the attention then, and
they don't now. In fact, they hate it.
When it comes to topics of conversation, Gein's name is off limits
for a lot of residents who call the Plainfield area home.
Really, who can blame them?
Some people aren't going to like that the Daily Tribune features articles
50-year anniversary of his arrest in today's paper.
That's understandable, too. Gein certainly was no one to celebrate,
and it isn't our intention to do so.
There's a lot more to Plainfield than the disturbing events of the
late 1950s. But what was discovered in those days was so appalling that
it will be remembered on a national level-- destined to pique curiosity
and fascination for years to come.
Although Gein died decades ago, his notoriety has not faded. Ed Gein
remains a significant part of local history,
no matter how unpleasant.
rings for grisly small-town murder (Nov. 16, 2007)
Daily Tribune Staff
PLAINFIELD — It has been 50 years since the small town of Plainfield
learned it was home to a man who would inspire nightmares, horror movies
and a pop culture following.
Ed Gein robbed graves in the Plainfield area and killed at least one
woman, acquiring a macabre collection of body parts that he turned into
furniture, ornaments and clothing. News of the gruesome scene shocked central
Wisconsin and the entire nation after Gein, 51, was taken into custody
Nov. 16, 1957.
Among those who had trouble believing the developments was Wilma Booth,
76, who lived down the road from Gein from 1952 until 1956. Booth, who
had a young son and was pregnant with her second child, had moved to her
father’s farm after her husband disappeared. Gein, who was robbing graves
at the time, helped her with the barn chores and even baby-sat for Booth’s
1-year-old son, Jim. She remembers Gein as helpful, quiet and a little
“He always did good things for me; he never hurt me,” Booth said. “He
was always good to kids.”
Many people in the community teased Gein, but Booth’s father, Henry
Pynakker, taught his family to be kind to everyone, and they often had
Gein as a guest at their farm. Gein later blamed many of his problems on
the way he was treated by his neighbors. Gein’s father died in 1940, his
brother in 1945 and his mother in 1945. The deaths took away the structure
and meaning in his life, according to a psychological report ordered by
He began reading about the Nazi atrocities, head shrinking and body
map, timeline and slideshow
* Night of discovery *
On Nov. 16, 1957, Frank Worden returned to his family’s hardware store
in Plainfield about 5 p.m. after the opening day of deer hunting season.
His mother, Bernice Worden, was missing, and there was a pool of blood
on the floor and a trail leading to the store’s back door. He called Waushara
County Sheriff Art Schley and told him his mother had been murdered. Suspicion
quickly turned to Gein, according to court documents. He reportedly had
an interest in Bernice Worden — she looked like his mother — and he asked
her to go roller skating. The last receipt in the store was made out to
Gein for antifreeze. He was soon located and arrested at a friend’s house
where he had been eating supper and playing checkers. At about the same
time, officials went to his home to try to locate the missing woman.
After knocking and not receiving an answer, an officer went into his
residence and found the headless body of Bernice Worden hanging upside
down in the attached shed. Its torso had been cut open similar to the way
a deer would be dressed. Ten years later, Gein’s attorney argued officers
overstepped their authority by searching the home without a warrant, even
though a local judge was present for parts of the search. The judge chose
not to throw the evidence out because there was the possibility of finding
a victim who needed help and of finding a suspect — time was a factor,
* The horrors within *
In the residence, officials discovered Gein’s collection of body parts,
including skulls he used to decorate his bed posts and furniture made from
skin. During the search, officers found part of the remains of Mary Hogan
that had been fashioned into a mask. Hogan was a tavern keeper in Portage
County’s Pine Grove who disappeared in December 1954.
Booth remembers a party at her father’s farm where Gein admitted to
killing the missing bartender. No one believed him at the time. “He was
always saying things that were kind of strange,” she said.
Gein was smart, Booth said. He would often talk about rockets and going
to the moon. Her neighbor also was private. Although some people reported
being inside the home, Booth was never aware of anyone getting past the
* Gein confesses *
Authorities took Gein to jail the evening of Nov. 16, 1957, and interrogated
him in the presence of three deputies, according to court documents. He
didn’t have an attorney, and since it was before the time of Miranda rights,
he hadn’t been told he had the right to one. In the early morning hours
of Nov. 17,Sheriff Art Schley, a former highway department worker who had
taken office six weeks prior to Worden’s murder, returned to the jail and
asked the deputies whether Gein had confessed. When he was told no, according
to court documents, Schley grabbed Gein and threw him against a wall. The
interrogation became so violent that three deputies had to intervene.
At 4:30 a.m. Nov. 17, Joseph C. Wilimavsky Jr., a lie detector expert
from the state crime laboratory in Madison, took his turn questioning Gein,
who was interrogated intermittently from 4:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Gein was
taken Nov. 19 to Madison where the questioning continued, all without an
The Wilimavsky interviews of Gein produced a confession that is more
than 200 pages long. In 1968, Circuit Court Judge Robert H. Gollmar, presiding
over Gein’s murder trial, threw out the confession because of Gein’s mental
state — he was diagnosed with chronic schizophrenia — and the manner in
which it was obtained.
Gein admitted to stealing bodies from graves. He said he would wear
the female parts he removed and dance around outside in the moonlight.
Although the media descended on Plainfield as soon as the story began to
get out, Booth’s father instructed her family not to talk to the press.
The discovery was upsetting, but didn’t sink in immediately.
“It wasn’t until I saw the first movie about him that it really hit
me what he had done,” she said.
Gein was sent to a state hospital for a mental evaluation after his
arrest. In early 1958, he had a hearing in Wisconsin Rapids on the charges
of the murder of Bernice Worden and the theft of a cash register from her
store. Judge Andrew Cotter found probable cause and set a $10,000 cash
bond for Gein. He was later found unable to stand trial because of mental
illness, according to court documents and was sent to Central State Hospital
for the Criminally Insane in Waupun.
In 1968, it was determined court proceedings could occur. Gollmar presided
over the trial, which was held in Wautoma, the Waushara County seat. Gein
waived his right to a trial by jury, allowing Gollmar to decide his fate.
Gein was quiet and polite during his time of incarceration, said current
Waushara County Chief Deputy Ron Thurley, who was in charge of the jail
when Gein stood trial in 1968.
“He was just an old man,” Thurley said.
* Gein claims death was an accident *
Gein testified during the trial that he had gone to the Worden Hardware
store to buy antifreeze but then decided to look at a rifle. Bernice Worden
waited nearby while he removed it from the display, took out a bullet he
had in his pocket and put it in the gun. Gein said he had trouble with
the rifle, which was different from his own, and the gun accidentally discharged,
striking Worden.After hearing a metallic noise, Gein saw Worden on the
floor. He said the sight of blood caused him to black out, and he did not
remember much that happened next, although he recalled dragging Worden
to the truck outside the back door. The court proceedings were held in
two parts, the first to determine his guilt. Gollmar found Gein guilty
of murder. In the second part of the trial, the judge found Gein not guilty
by reason of insanity and sent him back to the mental institution. Gein
was never charged with the death of Hogan or with grave robbing. To confirm
his story, officials dug up two of the graves in the Plainfield Cemetery
that he indicated he had robbed, but never checked the remaining eight
graves Gein claimed to have disturbed.In February 1973, Gein petitioned
the Waushara County Circuit Court for a re-examination and release. The
release was denied, but the evaluations give additional information about
A letter written by Dr. Thomas J. Malueg on May 16, 1974, said, “Mr.
Gein has little insight concerning the possibility that society will remember
him and his notoriety, and may continue to respond to him in ways that
could be anxiety provoking. He feels that everyone has forgotten him and
that he will be able to simply walk away from harassment should it occur.
He has some unrealistic plans about going to Australia after being released,
although he is not certain about how to arrange his travel plans.”
Gein died July 26, 1984, in the Mendota Mental Health Institute in
Madison. He was 77.
wants to forget gruesome past (Nov. 16, 2007)
By Andrew Hellpap
Daily Tribune Staff
PLAINFIELD — Residents of this central Wisconsin village of about 900
are happy to talk about most topics — except Ed Gein. Fifty years ago,
Plainfield and the nation couldn’t stop discussing what was found in Gein’s
farmhouse, just outside the village in a town of the same name. Gein was
taken into custody Nov. 16, 1957, after the butchered body of a local hardware
store owner, Bernice Worden, was found hanging upside down in his shed.
A lampshade and chair upholstered from human skin and items made from other
body parts were among the discoveries authorities made at the home that
Despite the history, Stuart Clark purchased Worden’s store in 1984.
It’s where investigators said Gein killed her.
“People look at me and say, ‘You don’t know,’ and I say ‘I don’t want
to,’” said Clark, owner of Clark’s Tru Value, 110 Main St.Residents don’t
appreciate that reporters and horror story buffs from throughout the country
converge on their community whenever a movie dealing with Gein’s life debuts
or an anniversary occurs.Although most who live in Plainfield are polite
about the issue, few want to discuss the gruesome discoveries from the
late 1950s.“I guess it depends on who you talk to. Some people will tell
you in no uncertain terms (where to go),” Village President John Zouski
said, with a laugh.
Those living in the community would rather chat about the revamped
section of Highway 73 that runs through the village, the area’s agricultural
heritage, the Tri-County School District that calls Plainfield home or
the popularity of local snowmobile trails.Through the years, there were
hints that some even tried to bury the Gein legacy. When his house was
scheduled to be auctioned off and likely turned into a tourist attraction
in 1958, the structure and everything in it burned to the ground three
days before the sale. The fire’s origins were mysterious, wrote Robert
Gollmar, the judge presiding over Gein’s 1968 trial, in his book “Edward
Gein.” Clark remembers Gollmar’s publication — his first and only formal
introduction to the Gein story.“I had the book in my hand for about 15
seconds,” he said, explaining that a graphic picture prompted him to set
it down. Even as the decades pass, memories remain fresh in some people’s
minds, said Zouski, who has lived in the village for nearly 30 years.
Not that most want to reminisce about those days.
Cornelia Leach, who lived in nearby Hancock in 1957 and moved to Plainfield
10 years ago, was recently playing dominos with two residents at the village’s
police station after serving meals through a Waushara County program.The
three women had little interest in discussing Gein.“(We) just want to forget
about it,” Leach said.
Ed Gein fact or fiction (Nov. 16, 2007)
See if you can tell the difference between the real Ed Gein and the
1. Ed Gein is a convicted serial killer.
2. Gein retrieved dead bodies by digging up graves in Plainfield-area
3. Cannibalism was among Gein’s crimes.
4. Gein participated in necrophilia (sexual intercourse with a corpse).
5. Gein decorated his bedroom with various body parts he collected.
6. While his farmhouse was littered with trash, Gein kept his mother’s
room in its original, pristine condition.
1. FICTION — Gein was convicted of only one murder — Bernice Worden,
a hardware store owner — but he had the remains of another woman, Mary
Hogan, in his house, and some, including Judge Robert H. Gollmar, who presided
over the case, believe he committed at least several other crimes that
were never solved.
2. FACT — Gein admitted to committing such acts at night out of sight.
3. FICTION — While there is some evidence at the scene that could lead
some to believe Gein ate his victims (a heart was found in a pan on top
of the stove), Gein never admitted cannibalism, nor was it proven.
4. FICTION — Gein denied ever committing such acts, and psychiatrists
who worked on the case believed Gein was a virgin at the time of his arrest.
5. FACT — Authorities found various items Gein furnished using human
remains, which included lamp shades and chair covers made from skin, skulls
on his bed post, and belts made of nipples.
6. FACT — Similar to behavior by Norman Bates in the movie “Psycho,”
Gein kept his mother’s room in the same state it was in the day she died.
push more Gein fiction than fact (Nov. 16, 2007)
By Adam Wise
Daily Tribune Staff
PLAINFIELD -- Much like the grisly discoveries in Ed Gein's farmhouse
shocked and troubled people 50 years ago, fictional characters with Gein-like
traits continue to terrify audiences. Films like "Psycho," "Texas Chainsaw
Massacre," and "Silence of the Lambs" draw from the sometimes exaggerated
details of Gein's life. While modern day horror films such as "Saw" frighten
fans with human killers, those types of movies were rare before Gein's
"I think before, in the '50s, it was all the paranoia stuff, the supernatural
-- aliens, Wolfman, Frankenstein -- the horror was coming from beyond us,"
USA Today film reporter Susan Wloszczyna said. "As far as a sensational
case, I don't think there were many (cases) before (Gein) in the nature,
sickness, and pervasiveness."
Gein's actions were related in some fashion to his mother -- at least
one of his victims and some of the bodies he dug up resembled her -- similar
to the inner turmoil Norman Bates faced in "Psycho." A main reason "Psycho"
and subsequent films were so successful, Wloszczyna believes, is because
the maniacal killers were everyday people, much like Gein appeared to be.
"I think people start thinking the psycho could be next door," Wloszczyna
said. "There's human monsters.
"'Psycho' is probably (Alfred) Hitchcock's scariest movie because of
the way Norman Bates is portrayed. He is all too human." While avoiding
glamorization might be difficult in the world of fiction, that was Steve
Railsback's goal six years ago.
Railsback played the lead role and was an executive producer for the
2001 film "Ed Gein," a project he labeled a character study. "I read everything
I could find," he said of his three-month preparation for the part. "It
was a challenge, (and) I love challenges." "I wanted to show all the colors
that make up a human being," Railsback said. "(Gein) would bring his mother
back (to life in his head) to ask (her) what he should do. A lot of the
film takes place in his mind."
While some fictional characters were based on Gein, the movies were
far from documentaries, leaving Robert Zahnle from the nearby town of Rome
unsure what to believe. "It all depends on how they adapt it," Zahnle said
of filmmakers. "If you start veering off and adding on things because people
in Hollywood think, 'Well if I add this to it, it gets more of a zing to
it,' and the guy may not have even done it. They just put it in for shock
Movies influenced by Gein's case continue to be popular in communities
near where he was arrested -- and they still generate conversation. "It's
just people trying to figure out who he was and what he did," said Bobbi
Kirchhoefer, an assistant manager at Family Video in Wisconsin Rapids.
"The shock that they are so close to where something like that happened."
Given the continued box office success of modern day horror movies, Wloszczyna
believes the genre Gein helped create will continue to stay strong. "It's
a sign that we still have serial killers and mass murderers, and people
are fascinated by these people and horrified," Wloszczyna said. "Given
that there's all these graphic films, it's apparent people still get some
kind of titillation reading and knowing about these psychological deviants."