Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Eddie Gein

Perfect Prisoner

Eddie (R) at age 61
Eddie (R) at age 61

After spending ten years in the mental institution where he was recovering, the courts finally decided he was competent to stand trial. The proceedings began on January 22, 1968, to determine whether Eddie was guilty or not by reason of insanity, for the murder of Bernice Worden. The actual trial began on November 7, 1968.

Eddie looked on as seven witnesses took to the stand. Several of those who testified were lab technicians who performed the autopsy on Mrs. Worden, a former deputy sheriff and sheriff. Evidence was heavily stacked against Eddie and after only one week the judge reached his verdict. Eddie was found guilty of first-degree murder. However, because Eddie was found to have been insane at the time of the killing, he was later found not guilty by reason of insanity and acquitted. Soon after the trial he was escorted back to the Central State Hospital for the Criminally Insane. 

The families of Bernice Worden, Mary Hogan and the families of those whose graves were robbed would never feel justice was served. They believed Eddie escaped the punishment that was due to him, but there was nothing more they could do to reverse the court's decision.

Eddie would remain at the mental institution for the rest of his life where he spent his days happily and comfortably. Schechter describes him as the model patient:

Eddie was happy at the hospital — happier, perhaps, than he'd ever been in his life. He got along well enough with the other patients, though for the most part he kept to himself. He was eating three square meals a day (the newsmen were struck by how much heavier Eddie looked since his arrest five years before). He continued to be an avid reader. He like his regular chats with the staff psychologists and enjoyed the handicraft work he was assigned — stone polishing, rug making, and other forms of occupational therapy. He had even developed an interest in ham radios and had been permitted to use the money he had earned to order an inexpensive receiver.

All in all, he was a perfectly amiable, even docile patient, one of the few in the hospital who never required tranquilizing medications to keep his craziness under control. Indeed, apart from certain peculiarities — the disconcerting way he would stare fixedly at nurses or any other female staff members who wandered into his line of vision — it was hard to tell that he was particularly crazy at all...

Superintendent Schubert told reporters that Gein was a model patient. "If all our patients were like him, we'd have no trouble at all."

On July 26, 1984, he died after a long bout with cancer. He was buried in Plainfield cemetery next to his mother, not far from the graves that he had robbed years earlier.

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