Most of us are familiar with the movie, “Silence of The Lambs,” and the character, killer Buffalo Bill. Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees and similar horror movie characters, have scared us into a box office frenzy. During the prologue and epilogue of the horror classic, “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” we see the phrase, “based on actual events.” The mere idea that any of these occurrences may have actually taken place is enough to shake the average person to their core. Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on how you look at it; there was not a family of cannibals in Texas that used human meat in their chili recipes. However, all of these stories do have something in common. These as well as most modern slasher flicks were created based loosely on the life and acts of one man, Ed Gein.
Born August 27, 1906, researching Ed Gein was a true excursion into the macabre. Raised on a farm in Plainfield, Wisconsin, Ed experienced a peculiar relationship with his mother Augusta. Augusta Gein taught her two boys, Edward and Henry that all women (except herself) were naturally prostitutes and instruments of the devil; similar to the mother/son relationship depicted in the motion picture franchise, “Psycho.” During their youth, the Gein boys were allowed to leave the farm for the sole purpose of attending school as she demanded their presence, (especially that of Ed) constantly. Augusta, a strict and overbearing woman, openly and regularly belittled her husband George in the presence of Ed and Henry. George Gein was an alcoholic and seldom remained employed for any considerable amount of time. Augusta hated her husband and felt that her children were destined to follow in his footsteps.
In May of 1944, Henry and Ed were burning trash. As the two men worked the fire got out of control and drew the immediate attention of the local fire department. Working feverishly, the firemen soon extinguish the blaze. After all the smoke is cleared, Ed finds that his brother Henry is now missing. With the assistance of several sheriffs’ deputies, a search is begun for the missing Henry Gein. Late that evening his body is found face down in the brush. Initially, due to the lack of any visible injuries, it was thought that Henry died due to heart failure and paperwork was officially documented death from natural causes. However, though it was never publicized, bruises were later found on Henry’s head leading some investigators to believe that Ed had actually killed Henry. This would not be the last time Ed Gein was suspected of murder.
After the passing of Henry, the relationship between Ed and Augusta become more and more strange. Ed also develops an interest in the occult. He began purchasing books, items and relics relating to death cults, cannibalism and Nazis. In 1945 Augusta has a stroke, soon followed by a second; on December 29, 1945, Augusta Gein died. It was at this time that Ed Gein would depart on a one way journey into depravity.
Between 1947 and 1957 several disappearances occurred in and around Plainfield. Witnesses also claim that Ed Gein was seen countless times visiting various cemeteries in the area. The mystery surrounding the activities of Ed Gein would come to light with the 1957 disappearance of Plainfield hardware store owner Bernice Worden. Worden’s son told investigators that Gein was the last person in the store the evening before the disappearance, saying he would return the next morning for a gallon of anti-freeze. A register receipt confirmed that Gein indeed return for the anti-freeze in the morning and Worden had not been seen since.
After obtaining a warrant to search Gein’s property, investigators found Worden’s decapitated body in a shed, hung upside down by ropes at her wrists, with a crossbar at her ankles. She had been gutted like an animal that had been hunted. Officers then searched the home of Ed Gein; below is a list of what was found:
Whole human bones and fragments
Nine masks of human skin
Bowls made from human skulls
Ten female heads with the tops sawn off
Human skin covering several chair seats
Mary Hogan’s head in a paper bag
Bernice Worden’s head in a burlap sack
Nine vulvae in a shoe box
A belt made from female human nipples
Skulls on his bedposts
A pair of lips on a drawstring for a window shade
A lampshade made from the skin of a human face
Shrunken heads human facial skins, carefully peeled from corpses and used by Gein as masks
During questioning Gein told investigators that since his mother’s death, he had decided that he wanted to be a woman. He then struck upon the idea of creating a woman suit out of the skin of female carcasses. He confessed to digging up the graves of recently buried middle-aged women he thought resembled his mother. Gein would rob the graves, take the bodies home, skin and tan the hides to create his suit. Of the disappearances, Gein would admit to the murders of Bernice Worden and Mary Hogan only. Investigators site the reason for his admission to these murders as due to their heads being found in his possession.
On November 21, 1957 the trial of Ed Gein began. He was found at the time to be legally insane and unfit to stand trial. Gein was sent to the Central State Hospital for the Criminally Insane until 1968 when was determined he was sane enough to stand trial. He was found guilty of one count of first degree murder but also diagnosed as legally insane due to schizophrenia and spent the rest of his life in a mental hospital. On July 26, 1984, Gein died of respiratory failure at the Mendota Mental Health Institute.
As a son, a father, a brother and a husband; I know and respect the value of family. With my last contributions we took a look at women evil enough to hurt innocent children. Now we will take a look at familicide. Familicide is a type of murder or murder-suicide in which at least one spouse and one or more children are killed. Imagine a home on your block; on Wednesday the family unit is seen participating in normal family activities. However, on Thursday morning the same house is taped off by the police and body bags are being loaded into vans as neighbors look on in disbelief. Such is the post familicide setting.
The most publicized incident of familicide in recent years was that of the June 25, 2007; murder/ suicide of professional wrestler Chris Benoit and the Benoit family. Over a three-day period, Benoit had killed his wife and son before hanging himself. Ironically, I was headed to Georgia to see my family during that time and as a ChrisBenoit fan the incident truly hit home.
As I researched more cases under this topic, I came across one of the most disturbing men that I have ever read about. I was not familiar with Marcus Wesson or his exploits but at the end of my investigation, I knew that the world needed to know about this individual.
Marcus Deion Wesson was born in Kansas on August 22, 1946. In the early 60’s, after a normal childhood, Wesson dropped out of high school and joined the Army. Upon his return from his Europeanbased military service, Wesson began having an affair with a married Rosemary Solorio in San Jose. Solorio eventually left her husband to begin a life with Wesson who moved in with her and her children.
In 1971, Solorio gave birth to Wesson’s first son; Wesson at the time was attempting to have a relationship with Solorio’s daughter Elizabeth. Wesson told Elizabeth that God had chosen her to be his “new wife,” and in 1974 Wesson performed a mock wedding between him and the 9 year old Elizabeth. The thirty-something Wesson began abusing Elizabeth sexually when she turned 12. The two legally married after her 15th birthday and she went on to bear 10 children for Wesson.
The abusive Wesson did not allow Elizabeth to participate in the upbringing of their children. Elizabeth’s sister left her seven children in the care of Wesson and Elizabeth, citing that she could no longer care for them. Wesson home schooled the children, teaching them out of a bible that he had written himself. Within the pages of this bible Wesson taught his children that Jesus Christ was a vampire as well as other embellishments that he used to lay the foundation of his wicked intentions. He demanded that the children refer to him as “Lord” or “Master” and taught them that he was God.
Wesson never held a job for any considerable amount of time, therefore he and the children often lived in run-down shacks, boats, and vacant houses while relying heavily upon welfare as the primary source of income. Wesson continued his blasphemous teachings; instructing the children to be prepared for the upcoming Armageddon. As he had done to Elizabeth, Wesson would teach the girls that they were to become his wives. Fearing that his authority may one day be undermined and to quell any sexual feelings that they may develop for each other, he separated the boys from the girls. For several months the boys stay in a shack in a heavily wooded area and the girls on a rundown boat. Wesson sexually abused at least three of his nieces and two of his own daughters. Each of them forced to participate in a mock wedding around their seventh through ninth birthdays. All of the five girls would become pregnant by Wesson; frightened by Wesson with threats of harm against them and their children if they were to admit the paternity of their children, these girls would endure the abuse in silence. In total Wesson fathered up to 18 children with 7 women including the 5 girls.
On March 12, 2004, several members of Wesson’s non-immediate family insisted upon the release of the children/grandchildren and the end of his incestuous relations with his children. The outside demands initiated a coup of sorts within the Wesson family compound in Fresno. As the disturbance escalated, police were called to the scene and the incident was initially handled as a domestic disturbance. During the confusion Wesson disappeared into the house for approximately 80 minutes. Afterwards Wesson reappeared with blood soaked clothing and officers stampeded through the door.
The officers ran into a pitch dark room. Feeling along the walls for a light switch, other officers cast their flashlights onto a mass in the middle of the room floor. Finally, a light switch was flipped and what was next seen looked like something from a horror movie. There was a pile of bodies on the floor, babies, kids, young women. Nine total. Blood pooled around them on the ground. As the officers searched for any signs of life they made notice that each victim had been shot through the eye. Also found in the room were several antique coffins.
During the investigation Wesson told officers of the suicide pact that had been made long before this date. Shortly after they moved into the Fresno home, Wesson purchased 12 mahogany coffins at an antique store. He had instructed his older children that in the event of authorities attempting to remove the children, they were to first murder their offspring before killing themselves. He would stay alive to explain their decision to the public, according to the plan. When Wesson disappeared into the house, he was terminating the lives of the children that the others couldn’t bring themselves to kill.
Wesson’s trial began in June of 2005. During this time the exact nature of Wesson’s incestuous behavior came to light. According to Wesson’s defense, it was Sebhrenah Wesson that held the .22-caliber Ruger Mark II pistol to the eye of each child and squeezed the trigger before killing her sister Elizabeth and her herself. The defense used this in an attempt to cast doubt concerning the guilt of Marcus Wesson. The prosecution argued that Wesson was ultimately guilty of the massacre, because he’d primed his children to kill and be killed. The jury concurred and on June 17, 2005, Wesson was found guilty of nine counts of first-degree murder as well as 14 counts of forcible sexual assault and the sexual molestation of seven of his daughters and nieces. Marcus Deion Wesson was sentenced to death on June 27, 2005.
As I close this post, the normal question of why doesn’t come to mind. The question that does come to mind is how. How can one be so wicked as to sexually abuse anyone, much less his own child? I look down upon my own children, as they sleep, with an immeasurable amount of love. However, I look upon the world in which I live with a sense of disdain; knowing that I share the planet with monsters such as Marcus Deion Wesson.
While enjoying bagels and coffee, serial killer, Israel Keyes would tell a sordid tale of crime that range from bank robbery to rape and murder. On July 10, 2012, the serial killer sat in an Alaskan police interview room and told a twisted story of an army veteran who idolized Ted Bundy and killed for the sheer thrill of it. Most importantly, Keyes enlightened law enforcement as to exactly how he chose then stalked and killed his victims, and how he was able to get away with murder for so long.
Born in Richmond, Utah in 1978, Keyes enlisted into the U.S. Army in 1998 and served until 2001. It was during this period that Keyes began his career in murder. Keyes’ first victims were in Washington State in the late 1990s. During the interrogation, Keyes admitted to investigators that he killed four people in Washington State. The claims made are the subject of an active investigation by the FBI as well as police in that state.
Keyes noted that those murders were not his first violent crime. The earliest crime to which Keyes admitted was the violent sexual assault of a teenage girl in Oregon, sometime between 1996 and 1998. He did not elaborate on the details of this incident, he did mention, however, that he did, “let her live.” He began his interview with the line, “When I was smart,” and told officers of the existence of “two” Israel Keyes. The first being the man that people thought that they knew, the likeable easy-going Keyes. The Israel Keyes that was an army veteran, carpenter and father of a 10 year old daughter, is the man that most would claim to know. Then there was the Keyes that was an alcoholic and loner. The Israel Keyes obsessed with the exploits of Ted Bundy; and has claimed to have stalked and murdered at least 12 people in his life time.
Unlike most serial killers, Keyes planned murders long ahead of time and took extraordinary action to avoid detection. He would travel the country; logging tens of thousands of miles to find and stalk potential victims. Keyes viewed America as one big killing field. A carpenter by trade, Keyes admitted that his hobby of murder brought him a rush like nothing else he had ever experienced.
To finance his murderous endeavors, Keyes took to robbing banks. During the interview Keyes admitted to robbing several banks throughout New York State. He confessed to committing at least one murder during his time in New York, though he could not recall the identity, age, or gender of the victim, or when and where the murder may have occurred. Even without the “specifics,” of the case law enforcement consider the admission to be credible. FBI later confirmed that Keyes robbed the Community Bank branch in Tupper Lake, New York in April 2009, giving credence to the possibility of the rest of his story.
Evidence links Keyes to the murders of Bill and Lorraine Currier of Essex, Vermont. The Vermont couple was last seen after leaving work in June, 2011. Keyes reportedly broke into the Curriers’ home on the night of June 8th and tied them up before driving to an abandoned farmhouse, where he shot Bill Currier before sexually assaulting and strangling Lorraine Currier. He then put the Curriers in separate garbage bags; facts are unclear from that point as their bodies have never been found. Keyes actually had identified the couple as potential victims two years earlier. It was during this time that he had hidden a “murder kit,” near their home. When he was ready to kill the Curriers, Keyes, in order to avoid any manner of detection, flew into Chicago and rented a car to drive some 1000 miles to Vermont, retrieved the kit consisting of a hand gun and various supplies and murdered the couple.
Keyes admitted to the investigators that he never had a particular victim type or profile. He would never kill close to his residence. He always killed far from home, and maintained that he had no prior connection to any of his victims. Keyes was adamant about never killing in the same area twice. He giddily told the officers of the thrill he derived by blending into the landscapes of faraway towns and watching potential victims.
Keyes’ last known murder was the kidnapping and murder of 18-year-old Samantha Koenig. A barista in Anchorage, Alaska, Keyes kidnapped Koenig on February 1, 2012, from her place of employment. After the kidnapping Keyes demanded $30,000 in ransom for her return. With no intention of permitting her to live, Keyes sexually assaulted Koenig then murdered her. Leaving Koenig’s body in a shed Keyes departed from his home. When he returned home, Keyes proceeded to dismember Koenig and disposed of her body in Matanuska Lake north of Anchorage. Abandoning hope of the ransom being met, Keyes stole her debit card and other property and left on a cruise out of New Orleans. Police tracked withdrawals from the account as Keyes moved throughout the American Southwest. Ironically, Koenig was not reported missing until February 2 after snow had covered any traces of the abduction.
Law enforcement traced the use of Samantha Koenig’s debit and credit cards through New Mexico, Arizona and into Texas. Keyes was subsequently apprehended in Lufkin, Texas on the morning of March 13, 2012. On April 2, 2012, two months after her disappearance, the body of Samantha Koenig was pulled from the lake. Later that month, Keyes was extradited to Alaska to await trial, scheduled to begin in March, 2013.
During this interview with law enforcement Keyes confessed to the murder of Koenig and other crimes that he’d committed across the country. Facing possible execution, Keyes may have hoped to plea-bargain a life sentence in return for his confessions, though he never requested such an arrangement. He admitted that there was no voice within him that compelled him to kill. He did so out of the sheer thrill of committing the act of murder. Throughout the interrogation, Keyes admitted to at least 12 murders; all of which carry a level of credibility. As he spoke, major cold-case investigations were quietly launched in Seattle and elsewhere. Investigators calculate that within his 15 year “active,” span, he may be the key to solving many more unsolved murders. The truth depths of Israel Keyes’ depravity will never be known. While being held in jail at the Anchorage Correctional Complex on suspicion of murder, Keyes committed suicide on December 2, 2012, via self-inflicted wrist cuts and strangulation.
During my periods of incarceration, I’ve found myself, on several occasions, in the company of individuals that I thought were the embodiment of pure evil. As I sat in the dining halls and day rooms, I listened to men tell stories of street life and give graphic accounts of murderous events that have taken place on the underbelly of society. Regardless of how vile and disturbing the stories passed around behind prison walls were, they pale in comparison to the horror I discovered during the research for this post.
Until recently, I had never heard the term, “baby farm,” before. Also, until recently that is, I had always considered infants exempt from violent crime. True, periodically you would have an isolated case of violence of some sort toward a baby, but it wasn’t commonplace. The truth is; you don’t realize how much you don’t know until you learn something.
During the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, baby farming was a popular form of income in Europe, Great Britain and the United States. Baby farming meant the taking in of an infant or child for payment. Women would advertise themselves as a child care provider and take in as many infants and children as they could. baby farmers were paid in the understanding that care would be provided. Some baby farmers “adopted” children for lump-sum payments, while others cared for infants for periodic payments. In the case of lump-sum adoptions, it was more profitable for the baby farmer if the infant or child she adopted died, since the small payment could not cover the care of the child for long.
Children born out of wedlock, divorced mothers and poverty stricken families often brought unwanted children to these places. Mistresses of married men were forced to place their babies in these farms to conceal their affairs. The black market sale of babies and children was prevalent during this period also. Acquired through baby farms, crooked social services workers or simply kidnapped, infants were regularly sold to wealthy families. If a child could not be sold or pimped out to community pedophiles they were neglected to the point of death or simply murdered outright. Unfortunately, due to the circumstances regarding the child’s conception, the mother could not appeal to authorities concerning the whereabouts of her child. To do so would cause the woman a great deal of shame and ridicule; illegitimate births were frowned upon heavily during that era. If the parent did return to claim the child, the “farmer,” would tell them that the baby died of natural causes or taken by a social services worker. Usually, simply threatening to expose the infidelity of the woman and her lover to the community was enough to quell any investigation
Baby farms, black market adoption houses and child procurers caused the child mortality rate to skyrocket during this period as infants were murdered by the thousands. Of the hundreds of baby murderers of this period, three caught my attention as the most sadistic: Amelia Dyer, (England), Marianne Skoublinska, (Poland) and Enriqueta Martí, (Spain).
Amelia Dyer was born in 1837 and earned the title of the most prolific baby farm murderer of Victorian England. A nurse by trade she began using her home to house infants of young women who had conceived illegitimately. Fathers of illegitimate children had no financial obligation to the child or mothers during this time which left the mothers in desperate need of housing and child care. Dyer portrayed herself to be a kind woman that would provide a safe and loving home for the child. She would advertise to nurse and adopt a baby, in return for a substantial one-off payment and adequate clothing for the child. In reality, Dyer would farm off the babies for adoption while allowing the rest to die of neglect and malnutrition. Eventually Dyer took to murdering each child herself which allowed her to keep most, if not all of the fees. Dyer ran her business unnoticed until a doctor made note of the number of infant deaths in her establishment. The authorities were alerted and Dyer was arrested and convicted; not of murder, but of neglect. Dyer was sentenced to 6 months hard labor.
Upon her release, Dyer resumed her murderous career. Learning from her mistake of involving doctors, Dyer would now dispose of the bodies of murdered infants herself. Over the years, Dyer would attract the attention of the police several times. Each time they would get close, she would fake a nervous breakdown, relocate her business and take up an alias name to work under. After several bodies of infants began to surface, each linking to Dyer in some manner, authorities devised a plan using a decoy mother to set Dyer up. The plan was successful and as Dyer sat, expecting a distraught mother to show up, the police came and searched her premises. As they entered the home, the stench of death overtook many of the officers. No bodies of infants were found, however, authorities did find direct evidence linking Dyer to the murder of at least 20 infants. Estimates conclude that after decades of being in business Dyer was responsible for at least 400 deaths of infants and children. Amelia Dyer was found guilty of murder and on Wednesday, 10 June 1896, she was hanged at Newgate Prison in London, England.
Marianne Skoublinska was a Polish murderess that operated her baby farm in the late nineteenth and centuries. Not much is known about Skoublinska and her baby farming business. What is known is that in the late 1800’s, Madame Skoublinska left the baby farming business to begin a lucrative career in post pregnancy infant disposal, or after birth abortions. It seems that a parent or parents of unwanted infants paid Skoublinska to destroy the baby.
It is unknown exactly how long she operated this business, but in 1890 the public learned of the sinister livelihood of Marianne Skoublinska. Police and firefighters were called to a fire at her place of residence. As the fire was extinguished bodies of five children were found, not in bed but buried in various sections of the home. During the autopsy the physician determined the these children had not perished as a result of the fire but had received life ending injuries previous to the fire being set, one of which bore distinct traces of the skull having been battered in. Skoublinska was immediately placed under arrest.
During the investigation and trial the true horror of this woman’s deeds were exposed. As the police questioned neighbors they found that Skoublinska had only resided in that particular home for four months. As they dug for evidence in rubble of Skoublinska’s home, it is said that fifty bodies of children were found. Neighbors also testified of Skoublinska’s boasts of having the fattest, healthiest hogs in the district on account of the exceptionally good feed she provided for them. The truth was, she often threw the bodies of babies to the hogs to be devoured.
Marianne Skoublinska stood accused of the murder of 76 infants and children. She was charged with setting fire to her cottage, containing the bodies of five little children, in order destroy evidence and collect on the insurance on her property. At the trial it was established that not a single child who was entrusted to her care and entered her den ever left her house alive. It was also shown that she charged two different amounts for, “taking care” of children, fifteen roubles for allowing the baby to die in a few weeks, and twenty for killing the baby within a day or two. Despite the overwhelming amount of evidence against her, Marianne Skoublinska could not be convicted of murder and was sentenced to three years in prison.
Enriqueta Martí was never a baby farmer; but she was a prostitute, kidnapper, procuress of children, pedophile, cannibal and child murderer. Born in 1868, Marti
made an attempt at normal domestic life however, the seedier side of Barcelona, Spain attracted her and she became a prostitute. During the day she would dress as a homeless person, begging for hand outs and looking for children that seemed lost or abandoned. When she found a child she wanted she would take them by the hand and lead them where she wanted. The child was normally pimped out to area pedophiles then murdered the child later that evening.
Eventually her dreams of socializing with Spain’s elite came true. Her pimping and prostituting gave her the income necessary to live well and attend all of the gala events where the wealthy of Barcelona gathered. It is probable that in these places she offered her services as procurer of children. It was her connections with the wealthy that enabled her to continually operate a brothel that made whores of children aged 3 to 13. Though she had been arrested for operating such a business, Enriqueta was never tried and the matter of the brothel was lost in the judicial and bureaucratic system.
Marti was also a practitioner of black magic and considered a witch doctor. The ingredients she used to make her remedies were made from the remains of murdered children. Ranging from infants up to children of 9 years, she used everything that she could; the fat, blood, hair, and bones (that normally she turned into powder). For this reason, she did not have problems disposing of the bodies of her victims. Marti sold salves, ointments, filters, cataplasms and potions all of which were supposedly cures for diseases and ailments which had no cure at the time. Wealthy people of Barcelona paid large sums of money for these remedies.
The true number of children taken by Marti is unknown. Over a twenty year span experts theorize that Enriqueta Martí may be the most dangerous serial killer in the history of Spain. During her years of operation in Barcelona the public suspected that someone was kidnapping babies. Throughout this period there were many children who disappeared without a trace and the fear among the population was crippling.
On February 10, 1912 Marti kidnapped her last victim, Teresita Guitart Congost. On February 17th, a neighbor of Marti, Claudia Elías, saw a little girl playing with another child through the window of Marti’s home. Elias, having never seen the children before, asked Marti about them. Marti gave know response and began to keep all curtains to her home closed. A child fitting the little girl’s description had been reported missing; Elias, finding Marti’s behavior peculiar, reported her suspicions to a neighborhood businessman and to the authorities. Under the guise of a chicken inspection, law enforcement gained entry to the house and found the two girls. One in fact was the missing Teresita.
During questioning, the other child; Angelina, gave a frightening testimony. She told of another child, a boy named Pepito. Unbeknownst to Marti, she had witnessed Marti kill Pepito on the kitchen table. She explained how Marti dismembered Pepito, “like a chicken,” the little girl described. The girls further told authorities about how they themselves were lured away from their parents by Marti promising candies to them. After questioning the girls were returned to their homes.
During the investigation, authorities searched Marti’s current home as well as two of her previous places of residence. From their searches they found countless jars containing parts of children. In hidden rooms they found fifty pitchers, jars and washbowls with preserved human remains: greasy lard, coagulated blood, children’s hair, skeletons of hands, powdered bones and pots with the potions, ointments and salves already prepared for sale. Throughout the walls and ceilings of the homes were skeletons of infants and young children. Authorities also recovered blood soaked bags; some containing children’s clothing while others contained small human bones.
Enriqueta was imprisoned in the “Reina Amàlia” jail to await judgement. She tried to commit suicide by slashing her wrists with a knife of wood. Fearing that a successful suicide attempt by Marti would cause a riot among the community who wanted to see Marti tried and executed, she was put on 24 hour watch by other inmates. It would be those inmates that killed Marti while in prison custody. The death of Enriqueta robbed authorities of the opportunity to completely expose all of her secrets. The kidnapper and murderer died the early morning of May 12, 1913.
As a result of these women and murderers like them, laws were put in place around the world to protect children. One thing for certain, when driving through rural areas, I will never look at farms the same again.