Edward Theodore Gein was born on August 27, 1906 in La Crosse, Wisconsin. The son of a timid alcoholic father and a fanatically religious mother, Gein grew up alongside his older brother, Henry, in a household ruled by his mother’s puritanical preachings about the sins of lust and carnal desire.
Obsessively devoted to his mother until her death in 1945, Gein never left home or dated women. After she died, he became increasingly deranged and eventually began prowling cemeteries to unearth recently buried female corpses. He would cut off body parts and keep them as trophies, returning the corpses seemingly undisturbed to their graves. In 1954, Ed Gein turned from grave robbing to murder, a task he was less meticulous about. Police implicated him in the murders of two women in 1957. During the investigations, police learned that he had practiced necrophilia and experimented with human taxidermy.
Gein was ultimately found guilty of murder by reason of insanity. He was confined in various criminal psychiatric institutions, including the Central State Hospital in Wisconsin and the Mendota Mental Health Institute, where he died of respiratory failure on July 26, 1984, at age 77. His killings live on as the inspiration for such film characters as Norman Bates (Psycho), Jame Gumb (The Silence of the Lambs) and Leatherface (Texas Chainsaw Massacre).