Edward Gein, by Judge Robert H. Gollmar. 1989


Good in-depth look at Gein as a person, and, of course, the legal history of his case. I guess I mean ‘case’ in a double sense; as he’s certainly a head-case as well as having the case that the judge/author relates. Definitely, as one of the presiding judges that Gein faced, the author has a unique perspective.

While thoroughly detailing (in photos as well as text) Gein’s atrocities, Gollmar stays completely objective with the narration. And, far from milking the sensational power of this story, he can find a personality and humanity about Gein that is well-expressed without falling into sympathy. So, in what is obviously a grim subject, there is an unstated, but useful message or, at least, a warning.

Nothing shows the consequences of abuse more than the example that Ed Gein became. An extreme outcome, to be sure. Lethal, creepy, and out-and-out ghoulish. Another way to say this would be that untreated mental disabilities are festering disasters. It’s kind of agonizing to read what psychologists/psychiatrists had to say about him–after he’s done killing, grave-robbing, etc.

Although there’s plenty of courtroom procedural stuff here, as you would expect, that’s balanced by the author’s comprehensive approach, giving a good picture of what went on in Gein’s life, as well as in his community.

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