When authorities started looking into Wisconsin farmer Ed Gein, they weren’t ready for the house of horrors that awaited them.
It was 1957, and the awkward bachelor had amassed in his filthy farmhouse a collection that would have made their worst dreams come true. They discovered lamps made of human flesh and skulls, mugs, chairs, soup bowls, a heart in a frying pan, human face masks, a costume composed of body parts, and jars containing organs.
A few officers entered the dark, run-down building that had no electricity and stank of death before running outside, gasping for air and becoming violently ill. A headless body was inside, hanging up like a hunted deer. It was Bernice Worden, a missing person.
The four-part MGM+ docuseries “Psycho: The Lost Tapes of Ed Gein” is about the case that still shocks the country more than 60 years later. It includes previously unreleased audio recordings of one of history’s most notorious murderers. Additionally, the series includes brand-new interviews with true-crime specialists and academics as well as some of the last townspeople still alive who saw Gein before his passing in 1984 at the age of 77.
“I had no idea these tapes existed,” Harold Schechter, author of “Deviant” who listened to the recordings in the docuseries, told Fox News Digital.
“I have always imagined Ed Gein’s voice sounding as one way, but it was totally different – and it brings you so much closer to the reality of the case,” he explained. “It was quite eye-opening… I think Gein has become such a mythical character that hearing his actual human voice was revelatory in certain ways.”
“I always think of him as a Barney Fife with a chainsaw, this seemingly harmless guy, a bit of a laughingstock,” he said. “Someone you wouldn’t think of digging up corpses, bringing them back to his farmhouse, dismembering them and turning them into furniture.”
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Psycho, and Silence of the Lambs are just a few of the horror films that were influenced by Gein’s atrocities. However, reality was much scarier than fiction.
It everything comes down to the mother.
The documentary claims that Gein was brought up by Augusta Gein, a demanding, puritanical matriarch who taught that sex was wrong. George Philip Gein, his father, was an alcoholic and passed away in 1940. After a suspicious fire, Gein’s brother Henry died in 1944 at the age of 43 from asphyxiation.
Gein’s devoted obsession with his mother was unable to save her. She suffered a stroke in 1945 at the age of 67, leaving Gein alone in their farmhouse. As the rest of the house and his mental state declined, her room consistently stayed unaltered.
“We know from Gein’s confessions that his mother was a fanatically religious woman who regarded the modern world as a sinful, decadent, Sodom and Gomorrah,” Schechter explained. “She instilled in him this deep fear of women, of sexuality. She kept him very tightly bound to her… He was enslaved to his mother, and she made all these efforts to not only keep him tied to her apron strings but to keep him infantilized.”
“Even as a grown man, Gein appeared as this little boy who worshipped this powerful goddess that was his mother,” Schechter continued. “Gein lived alone for many years with his mother in this very isolated place that was cut off from other meaningful human contact. His mother just became the center of his emotional, and at some level, sexual life. Now, I’m not implying that they had sex, but his sexuality was channelled into this slavish relationship with his mother.”
Schechter said Gein tried unsuccessfully to unearth his mother’s body soon after her burial.
“After that, he began digging up other women,” he said. “Their graves were kind of located in a circle around Augusta’s.”
In Gein’s house, investigators later discovered the remains of 10 women. Long-standing rumours contend that there were far more victims within the building.
According to The New York Times, Gein acknowledged to killing two women, including Worden. The source said Gein admitted to killing them and telling police that he did so because they resembled his mother. Tavern owner Mary Hogan was the other casualty.
Schechter declared that Gein was not a serial killer.
“I think he murdered these women because he ran out of corpses of local women who vaguely reminded him of his mother,” he said. “Unlike people like Ted Bundy and Edmund Kemper, he didn’t torture his victims – he executed them very swiftly. He essentially was a necrophiliac. He was in love with dead bodies… He turned them into relics… He got some gratification from being surrounded by the dead.”
When asked if Gein was “taking some horrible revenge” on his late mother, Schechter acknowledged he had this suspicion.
“For all the things inflicted on him, he would always proclaim that he had nothing but love and worship for his mother,” he said. “But it seemed to be a classic case of protesting too much.”
The documentary showed that despite Gein’s reputation as the community “oddball,” nobody thought he was a murderer or tomb robber. He worked as a maintenance worker and occasionally as a babysitter to support himself.
“There were certainly rumours floating around from some neighbourhood kids I interviewed,” said Schechter. “But this wasn’t the kind of thing people would naturally suspect… And he was seen as very simple-minded. His criminal activities were so beyond the pale that no one would possibly suspect what was going on. Even now, decades later, there’s nothing comparable to what he was doing in the history of American crimes.”
After his mother vanished, Worden’s son Frank, a deputy sheriff, started to have doubts about the recluse. When she vanished, a trail of blood was found in the matriarch’s store.
According to reports, detectives were able to capture Gein as a result of Frank’s worries. Authorities made an effort to link Gein to other recent disappearances, but they failed.
Following Gein’s arrest, recordings of the detectives questioning him were created. The tapes, according to the New York Post, were kept in a judge’s safe deposit box. Years after his passing, his family discovered the tapes in 2019.
Schizophrenia was discovered in Gein, who was also deemed mentally incapable. He spent the rest of his life in mental hospitals, where staff members referred to him as a “model patient” because of his demeanour and modest demeanour. According to Schechter’s investigation, Gein never admitted guilt or felt regret for his murders.
Gein’s voice today, according to Schechter, was unsettling. However, it demonstrates to listeners that his account was much more terrifying than any Hollywood production.
“Many of the people who analyzed Gein aren’t around anymore,” he said. “The filmmakers dug up a lot of new material. And scholars interested in the case are certainly going to want to study this. It’s like finding a new letter by Jack the Ripper.”