This week (November 10 – 16) in crime history – British au pair Louise Woodward’s murder sentence was reduced to involuntary manslaughter in death of Mathew Eappen (November 10, 1997); Police find first of six bodies buried in the yard of elder care home owner Dorthea Puente in Sacramento, California (November 11, 1988); Scott Peterson was convicted of murdering his wife and unborn child (November 12, 2004); Police search home of airline bombing suspect John Graham (November 13, 1955); Ivan Boesky pleaded guilty to insider trading (November 14, 1986); Serial killer Ed Gein claimed final victim (November 16, 1957).
Highlighted Crime of the Week -
On November 16, 1957, infamous serial killer Edward Gein claimed his final victim, Bernice Worden of Plainfield, Wisconsin. His grave robbing, necrophilia, and cannibalism gained national attention, and may have provided inspiration for the characters of Norman Bates in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho and serial killer Buffalo Bill in The Silence of the Lambs. Gein was a quiet farmer who lived in rural Wisconsin with an extremely domineering mother. After she died in 1945, he began studying anatomy, and started stealing women's corpses from local cemeteries. In 1954, Gein shot and killed tavern owner Mary Hogan, piled the body onto a sled, and dragged it home.
On November 16, Gein robbed Bernice Worden at the local hardware store she owned and killed her. Her son, a deputy sheriff, discovered his mother's body and became suspicious of Gein, who was believed to be somewhat odd. When authorities searched Gein's farmhouse, they found a horrifying scene: organs were in the refrigerator, a heart sat on the stove, and heads had been made into soup bowls. Apparently, Gein had kept various organs from his grave digging and murders as keepsakes and for decoration. He had also used human skin to upholster chairs. Though it is believed that he killed others during this time, Gein only admitted to the murders of Worden and Hogan. In 1958, Gein was declared insane and sent to the Wisconsin State Hospital in Mendota, where he remained until his death in 1984.
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Michael Thomas Barry is the author of six nonfiction books that includes the award winning Murder and Mayhem 52 Crimes that Shocked Early California (2012). Visit Michael’s website www.michaelthomasbarry.com for more information. His book can be purchased from Amazon through the following link: