Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Eddie Gein

The Beginning

How does a child evolve into an Eddie Gein? A close look at his childhood and home life provides a number of clues.

Eddie Gein
Eddie Gein

Edward Theodore was born on August 27, 1906, to Augusta and George Gein in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Eddie was the second of two boys born to the couple. The first born was Henry, who was seven years older than Eddie.

Augusta, a fanatically religious woman, was determined to raise the boys according to her strict moral code. Sinners inhabited Augusta's world and she instilled in her boys the teachings of the Bible on a daily basis. She repeatedly warned her sons of the immorality and looseness of women, hoping to discourage any sexual desires the boys might have had, for fear of them being cast down into hell.

Augusta was a domineering and hard woman who believed her views of the world were absolute and true. She had no difficulty forcefully imposing her beliefs on her sons and husband.

George, a weak man and an alcoholic, had no say in the raising of the boys. In fact, Augusta despised him and saw him as a worthless creature not fit to hold down a job, let alone care for their children. She took it upon herself to not only raise the children according to her beliefs but also to provide for the family financially.

She began a grocery business in La Crosse the year Eddie was born, and it brought in a fair amount of money to support the family in a comfortable fashion. She worked hard and saved money so that the family could move to a more rural area away from the immorality of the city and the sinners that inhabited it. In 1914 they moved to Plainfield, Wisconsin to a one-hundred-ninety-five-acre farm, isolated from any evil influences that could disrupt her family. The closest neighbors were almost a quarter of a mile away.

Although Augusta tried diligently to keep her sons away from the outside world, she was not entirely successful because it was necessary for the boys to attend school. Eddie's performance in school was average, although he excelled in reading. It was the reading of adventure books and magazines that stimulated Eddie's imagination and allowed him to momentarily escape into his own world.

His schoolmates shunned Eddie because he was effeminate and shy. He had no friends and when he attempted to make them his mother scolded him. Although his mother's opposition to making friends saddened Eddie, he saw her as the epitome of goodness and followed her rigid orders the best he could.

However, Augusta was rarely pleased with her boys and she often verbally abused them, believing that they were destined to become failures like their father. During their teens and throughout their early adulthood the boys remained detached from people outside of their farmstead and had only the company of each other.

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