The arrest of Ed Gein in Plainfield, Wisconsin, in 1957 became a media event and established the modern American image of the serial killer. Coverage of Gein emphasized the bizarre nature of his crimes (he mutilated his victims and engaged in perverse sexually-tinged rituals with them), as well as the fact that Gein was able to murder an unknown number of women and steal corpses from local cemeteries while living an apparently unremarkable life in a small middle-American community.

Gein at the time of his arrest. Gein in 1969 after more than a decade of institutionalization. He was never released and died in 1984.

Gein's farmhouse in Plainfield, Wisconsin.
Click for the Psycho house & its sources.

Police searching Gein's house, where they made many grotesque discoveries involving body parts.
Robert Bloch and Psycho
Robert Bloch's novel Psycho, featured the character Norman Bates based on Ed Gein. Bloch's initial interest in the story was that "the man next door may be a monster." The novel was published in 1959, and became the basis for Hitchcock's 1960 movie Psycho. The movie featured Anthony Perkins as a decidedly un-Geinlike Norman Bates.

Bloch predicted that when he died the first sentence of his obituary would identify him with Psycho. He was right.

The first edition of Bloch's novel, featuring the distinctive title graphic by Tony Palladino.

Poster for Hitchcock's Psycho, which retained the Palladino title design. Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates.
Ed Gein: Cultural Icon
Following Bloch's novel and Hitchcock's movie, Ed Gein became a perverse cultural icon, and continues to be fifty years after his crimes.

Ed Gein page 2
Ed Gein comics
Movies inspired by Ed Gein & Psycho

Jack the Ripper, Crippen, & Christie

notes page
main course page