American serial killer (1907-1984).

Gein grew up under the thumb of his tyrannical, hyper-religious mother who detested all other women as harlots and temptresses. He spent much of his life obsessed with his mother. His father died of alcoholism, and his older brother died in a fire in 1944. There is speculation that Gein killed his brother, but there's never been enough evidence to be anything but fairly idle gossip. 

When Gein's mother died in 1945, he was an unwed, middle-aged farmer with no one left in his life. His mother's teachings had left him largely isolated from everyone in nearby Plainfield, Wisconsin, so he rarely ventured there but to buy groceries or tools. He was able to keep the family farm and supported himself doing odd jobs. He boarded up the rooms his mother used and let the rest of the house fall into squalor. He started reading pulp magazines, especially those involving cannibalism, as well as stories about Nazis who turned their victims' skin into lampshades and other furnishings. 

In November of 1957, local police investigating the disappearance of Bernice Worden, the owner of the hardware store, went looking for Gein because a receipt for some antifreeze he'd purchased was found at the store. A deputy found Worden's body in a shed on Gein's property. She'd been shot with a .22 rifle, then decapitated, and her body was, according to police, "dressed out like a deer." Gein was arrested, and his property was searched. 

Some of what authorities found included: a wastebasket and chair seats made of human skin; a lampshade made from a human face; bowls made from human skulls; skulls on Gein's bedposts; a corset made from a skinned female torso; a pair of lips on the drawstring for a window shade; several face masks made from women's faces; the skull and face mask of Mary Hogan, another local missing person; Bernice Worden's head in a burlap sack; Worden's heart in a plastic bag in front of Gein's stove; a belt made from women's nipples; noses, fingernails, bones, skulls, and vulvae. 

Gein had killed Worley and Hogan; all the other body parts had come from bodies he'd dug up at local cemeteries. He had scavenged graves of middle-aged women who resembled his mother, with the intent to build a woman suit so he could wear it and become his mother. 

After his arrest, Gein's neighbors recalled, with some revulsion, that he sometimes brought them portions of venison to share. However, Gein told a psychiatrist that he had never shot a deer in his life.

Sheriff Art Schley beat Gein during questioning, an act that got his initial confession barred from court. He died of heart failure in 1968, before Gein went to trial, with many attributing the sheriff's death to stress and trauma from the investigation

Gein was found not guilty by reason of insanity in 1957, but was judged able to stand trial a little over a decade later. He was found guilty of killing Worley, but again judged insane in relation to his other crimes. He spent the rest of his life in the Central State Hospital for the Criminally Insane in Waupun, Wisconsin

Gein is perhaps the second most influential serial killer in history (after Jack the Ripper) -- numerous films, including "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre," "Psycho," and "The Silence of the Lambs" are loosely based on his exploits.

Research from Wikipedia and "Did You Hear What Eddie Gein Done?" by Harold Schechter and Eric Powell.