This Day In History: The Model For Psycho Kills His Last Victim (1957)

On this day in history one of the world’s most notorious serial killers Ed Gein murders his last victim.  Ed Gein became notorious for his grave robbing and cannibalism in the 1950’s.  His case caused a sensation at the time and received world-wide attention.

Gein was on the surface a quiet and even withdrawn farmer in rural Wisconsin. He had lived all his life on that farm under the domineering influence of his mother, it appears that his father was an alcoholic. Gein’s whole life had been shaped by his mother and she had instilled in him both fear and love for her. After she died his world fell apart and it seems that he completely lost touch with reality. Gein had probably been mentally ill for years but he had not been diagnosed. After the death of his mother his mental illness spiraled out of control.

Shortly after the death of his mother he began to steal the bodies of recently dead women from a local cemetery. Soon after he killed his first victim a middle age neighbor, whom he shot and killed and who he dragged whom. Gein desecrated the woman’s body and ate some of her flesh.

This paining by Edward Hopper inspired Hitchcock in the making of Pyshco- it was the model for Norman Bates home.

On this date in 1957, Gein went to his local grocery store. Here he attacked the shop owner, a middle-aged women. Her body was discovered by her son who was also a local deputy. He had long been suspicious of Gein and believed that he was mentally deranged. The deputy sought a search warrant for Gein’s premises. The police witness an incredible and grizzly sight when they entered the house. Gein had been using his victims and other corpses body parts and he had adorned his house with them. He had draped flesh over an armchair. The police found a heart on the stove, presumably waiting to be cooked. Some heads had been turned into soup bowls and dishes.

It is widely believed that Gein killed more than two victims, but the real number will never be known. Gein was too confused and deranged to provide any information on the issue. He was only ever charged with two murder. He never stood trial and he was declared insane and was sent to Wisconsin State Hospital, (see image above) where he lived out his days, until he died in 1984. There is still some debate as to what kind of mental illness that Gein suffered from, but it is widely believed that he was schizophrenic.

The crime of Ed Gein have inspired many film makers. He inspired Alfred Hitchcock’s move Psycho, one of the greatest horror movies of all time. This movie in turn had arguably influenced every horror movie director since.