this day in crime history: november 16, 1957


On this day in 1957, hardware store owner Bernice Worden went missing. Worden’s son contacted police and relayed his suspicions that a local man named Ed Gein may have had something to do with it. Gein had been in the store the previous evening and promised to return the following day to purchase some antifreeze. The last receipt made out by Bernice Worden before she had disappeared was for antifreeze.

Police searched Gein’s property, where they found Worden’s decapitated body hung upside down in a shed. One witness described it as “dressed out like a deer.” A search of Gein’s house turned up human noses, human female heads, masks made from human skin, a belt made of female human nipples and various other grisly accessories. They also found the head of Mary Hogan, a tavern owner who had been missing since 1954.

Police arrested Gein. He eventually confessed to killing Hogan and Worden. He claimed the other body parts were obtained through grave robbery. There was evidence at local cemeteries to back up Gein’s claim that he had robbed nine graves. He told police that he specifically targeted recently deceased women who bore a resemblance to his late mother.

Gein’s bizarre behavior apparently began after the death of his domineering mother (sound familiar?) when he decided that he wanted to become a woman. He had used the corpses to create a “woman suit” so he could pretend to be female (that one rings a bell too, doesn’t it?).

At his arraignment, Gein pled not guilty by reason of insanity. He was found not competent to stand trial and was committed to a maximum security hospital for the criminally insane. In 1968, Gein’s doctors declared him competent to stand trial. He was tried and convicted of the murder of Bernice Worden, the only murder for which he was ever convicted. He was returned to a secure mental hospital, where he died in 1984 at the age of 77.

Further reading:

Crime Library – Eddie Gein Crime/Punishment – Ed Gein

Wikipedia – Ed Gein


9 thoughts on “this day in crime history: november 16, 1957

  1. The novel “Psycho” by Robert Bloch was the first time Gein was used as creative inspiration, of course a short while later, Hitchcock turned it into one of the most famous and best films the horror genre has to offer. Tobe Hooper did use many of the aspects of Gein’s story for the original “Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” For example: The face masks that Leatherface wore, as well as the complete disarray of the house, but gone was any part of the story pertaining to the domineering mother or the grave robbing. Leatherface unlike Norman Bates, doesn’t speak once during the movie.


  2. I know a guy who was a nurse (he’s retired now) and once worked at a WI mental hospital that held Gein. He was instructed about topics to not discuss with Gein. If I remember correctly my friend was told to not speak to Gein about food.


  3. John D.:
    That one gruesome-ass story…and some very good information from one of your commentors.
    Amazing that the “insanity” plea comes out even when such people pursue such high levels of premeditation.
    And yes, pop culture DOES like a psychos like this one.

    Very good post.

    Stay safe out there.


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