Twisted skin suit killer made nipple belts and skull bowls from corpses

A convicted murderer dubbed the "skin suit killer" would make 'trophies' such as nipple belts and skull bowls from the remains of corpses he dug up.

Ed Gein was convicted of the murder of one woman, confessed to the murder of another, but was found legally insane and was remanded to a psychiatric institution until his death.

His gruesome crimes would go on to inspire a number of horror stories, including Psycho, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre's 'Leatherface'.

Gein grew up on a secluded farm in Plainfield, Wisconsin, USA, where his mother took advantage of the isolation by turning away outsiders who could have influenced Gein and his brother, Henry, with the pair only leaving the farm to go to school and were punished if they tried to make friends.

Gein's mother, Augusta, was fervently religious, preaching to her sons about the immorality of the world, the evil of drinking, and her belief that all women (apart from herself) were naturally promiscuous and instruments of the devil.

Classmates and teachers recalled Gein being quite shy and having strange mannerisms, such as seemingly random laughter as if he were laughing at his own personal jokes.

As Gein grew older, he became more and more attached to his mother and was deeply hurt when his brother spoke ill of her.

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In 1944, Gein and his brother were burning away marsh vegetation on their property, with the fire getting out of control and his brother, Henry, being reported missing.

Search parties discovered Henry's dead body but police dismissed the possibility of foul play.

It was later reported, by biographer Harold Schechter, that Henry had bruises on his head.

George W. Arndt, who studied Gein's case, wrote that, in retrospect, it was "possible and likely" that Henry's death was "the 'Cain and Abel' aspect of this case".

Gein and his mother were now alone, as his father had died four years earlier from heart failure, with the now 34-year-old Gein becoming even more attached to his mum.

She died only a year later in 1945, leaving Gein devastated by her death.

Harold Schechter said he had "lost his only friend and one true love. And he was absolutely alone in the world".

He proceeded to board up all the rooms used by his mother and lived in a small room next to the kitchen, during which time he became interested in reading pulp magazines and adventure stories, particularly those involving cannibals or Nazi atrocities.

On November 16, 1957, Gein was arrested in relation to the disappearance of a hardware store owner, Bernice Worden.

The Sheriff's Department searched his farm and discovered Worden's decapitated body, hung upside down by her legs with a crossbar at her ankles and ropes at her wrists, with the torso "dressed out" like a deer.

Investigators concluded that the mutilations had been made after her death.

Upon searching the entirety of Gein's property, authorities discovered a number of paraphernalia made from human remains, such as a wastebasket made from human skin, skull bowls, a corset made from a female torso and leggings made from human leg skin, among others.

When questioned, the depraved man told authorities that between 1947 and 1952 he made as many as 40 nocturnal visits to nearby graveyards to exhume recently buried bodies of middle-aged women he thought resembled his mother, took their remains home and made his paraphernalia.

Soon after his mother's death, Gein began to create a "woman suit" so that "he could become his mother – to literally crawl into her skin".

He denied having sex with the bodies he exhumed as they "smelled too bad".

He also admitted to killing Mary Hogan in 1954, a tavern owner whose head was found in his house.

Gein was also considered a suspect in several other unsolved cases in Wisconsin, including the 1953 disappearance of a babysitter, Evelyn Hartley.

On November 21, 1957, Gein was arraigned on one count of first-degree murder, where he pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

He was diagnosed with schizophrenia and found mentally incompetent, thus unfit for trial.

Over a decade later in 1968, doctors determined Gein was "mentally able to confer with counsel and participate in his defence".

He was only tried for the murder of Worden and not Hogan, due to "prohibitive costs", even though he had admitted the second murder as well.

A second trial dealt with Gein's sanity, in which testimony by doctors, led the judge to rule Gein "not guilty by reason of insanity" and ordered him committed to Central State Hospital for the Criminally Insane.

Gein spent the rest of his life in a psychiatric institution until his death in 1984 at the age of 77.

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