Episode 91: Ed Gein–The Butcher of Plainfield

This episode takes a look at the ghastly life of Ed Gein, the Plainfield Butcher. Gein was the inspiration for Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho as well as the serial killer Buffalo Bill in The Silence of the Lambs and Leatherface from Texas Chainsaw Massacre. How can one man be the genesis all of these horrific film characters? Give us a listen to find out.

Gein was born at the turn of the century to a wildly religious zealot of a mother and an alcoholic father who worked tanning animal skins when he wasn’t drunk (spoiler alert, the skin tanning comes in useful later in Gein’s life…). As Gein grew up, he came to idolize his domineering mother and lived with her, never having gone on so much as one a date, until her death when he was 39 years old. Gein’s mother died shortly after she had a stroke thought to be induced by the death of Gein’s older brother Harold (who died under rather mysterious circumstances).

Once alone, Gein earned the reputation as “Weird Eddy” the guy who lived alone in an empty farmhouse. He drifted through town doing odd jobs and even babysitting for people, until in 1957, when he was arrested for the murder of Bernice Warden, the clerk at the general store. She was shot on the first day of hunting season, and when police investigated Gein’s home, they discovered a trove of horrors. Since his mother’s death, Gein had killed several people, robbed dozens of graves, and had a house of trophies. Horrible, horrible trophies. Warden’s body was hanging in a shed, being cut apart like a deer. What the police found in the house itself was even more mind blowing. Noses in a box, masks made from human faces, a “Woman suit” made from the skin of several women, a belt made of nipple, female genetalia tucked in pairs of man-sized panties, you name it. How many people did Gein kill? How many graves did he rob? Why did he do it? What other trophies did he keep? We try to get to the bottom of it in this episode, and you can get the bonus feature of Dave and Brent freaking out on air while Brad shows them pictures of some of Gein’s trophies—pictures they consciously decided not to Google while they were doing their research.

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