They're immortalized in pop culture and ingrained in film fans’ minds as the ultimate, terrifying villains: Norman Bates in Psycho, Leatherface in Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Buffalo Bill in The Silence of the Lambs have been triggering nightmares for decades.The evil characters perpetrated the most abhorrent of crimes, from skinning victims and making suits to eating human flesh.The kids loved him and he seemed to have a real rapport with them, more so than he’d ever had with people of his own age.He was particularly skilled as a story teller and would enthrall his young charges with creepy tales of South Sea cannibals and headhunters.Had Augusta discovered his taste in reading material and forbade him from it, his life might well have taken a different trajectory.’Sadly, however, that was not to be.Augusta discouraged her sons from having friends and warned against ‘other people,’ and Ed worked on the family farm and at odd jobs after school, increasing his work load following the 1937 death of his father. Perhaps unexpectedly for a killer, Keller writes: ‘Ed was good with kids and he was popular with their parents, always polite, always diffident.The household was dominated by Augusta Wilhelmine Gein, who bullied her husband George and instilled Ed and his older brother, Henry, with fire-and-brimstone religious lectures, warning them especially against the lasciviousness of women.
The amount of human trophies found in Gein’s home seemed to indicate that he had killed far more people than just Worden and Hogan, and he admitted to both of these murders, though he claimed each was accidental.
It appeared that Gein had skinned one of his victims, tanned the hide and then constructed this hideous ensemble.’Gein’s collection also included a box full of human noses – and, perhaps most horrifically, a number of death masks, four of which were mounted on the wall.
Others, stored in bags, would end up solving the mystery of Mary Hogan’s disappearance; one of the masks was recognizable as the missing innkeeper.
‘There were other skulls, too, including some that were hung from the posts of Gein’s bed as decoration.’ Gein had been hanging around Worden's general store in the days before killing her; her son discovered the store empty, noticed blood and realized receipts showed Gein as the last customer on the day she disappeared - prompting authorities to search Gein's house Police investigators move a car as they search for evidence in a garage on the Gein property in November 1957; Gein had joked about transporting victim Mary Hogan in his truck but no one took him seriously Other human trophies collected by Gein and kept in his house included a box full of noses, a belt made from female nipples, a shade pull made out of a pair of lips and a 'skin suit' made of a pair of leggings and a top piece that included a woman’s sagging breasts In the kitchen, one officer ‘found a chair with oddly colored strips of leather forming the seat,’ Keller writes.
‘Closer inspection proved that the “leather” was in fact made from strips of human skin, the underside still lumpy with chunks of fat.‘Four such chairs were found in the house.