Horror Hotspot: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Grossing over $235 million dollars in the span of just a few decades, the Texas Chainsaw Massacre films have easily become one of the most successful horror film series. The movies contain riveting plots and jump scares that’ll spook you out of your socks. While their plot line may be mostly fictional, the original films are based off a true serial killer known as Ed Gein, whose gruesome crimes even scarier than the films.

Edward Theodore Gein was born on August 27, 1906 in Plainfield, Wisconsin. He lived on a farm in his young life, but found many struggles throughout life as his father was an alcoholic and his mother was verbally abusive toward him. Nonetheless, he idolized his mother as his prominent role model. In 1944, Gein’s older brother, Henry died in a mysterious fire outside the family farm.

Although Gein was the one who reported his brother missing to the police, he was able to lead them directly to his brother’s dead body when they arrived. The police identified bruises discovered on the victim’s head, yet the death was ruled an accident. The horrible incident was followed up by another tragedy just a year later, when Gein’s mother died due to natural causes. In the following years, Gein blocked off the areas of the house that his mother had most frequently used, preserving them in his mother’s honor.

Gein’s first interaction with the law came in 1957, when a hardware store owner named Bernice Worden was reported missing. Gein had been seen with her shortly before her disappearance. After investigating his farm, the police found Worden’s body, dug in a grave but missing many body parts. Medical examinations showed that she had been shot and decapitated.

Follow up investigations into Gein history continued. It was then revealed that Gein robbed graves, and collected body parts of women who resembled his mother. In addition to Worden, this list included Mary Hogan, a bartender who had been reported missing since 1954. 

After several interrogations, Gein plead not guilty by reason of insanity and was declared unfit to stand trial. He was sent to the Central State Hospital for the Criminally Insane, where he was diagnosed with schizophrenia. He was tried later, but the previous ruling of mental insanity stood through; as a result Gein was confined to spend the rest of his life in a mental hospital. His death was claimed official at the Mendota Mental Health Institute at the age of 77 on July 26, 1984.

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