I can't think of any worse transgression to be perpetrated upon the human body than being skinned. Of course, murder is the ultimate sin and rape is an unforgivable offense, but removing the organ that holds our body together is an act of unequivocal perversion.
The practice was regularly performed as late as the 1880's, during the Great Plains War, by certain American Indian tribes and European settlers themselves, along with scalping, which was introduced by the Spanish almost 100 years before as an instrument of conquest and terror. That these things were done while the victim was alive is unspeakably brutal.
Fast forward to late 1950's Plainfield, Wisconsin. The city's name was innocuous enough, but the horrifying acts of one individual would eventually burn across the quiet, rural cities and towns, and indeed, the entire nation, like a fire from Hell.
On the afternoon of Saturday, November 16. 1957, a County deputy arrived at a lonely farmhouse after being dispatched to the location to investigate a possible robbery/homicide. What the deputy found there would resonate as one of the most heinous crimes in modern history.
Law enforcement officials scoured the property and discovered what appeared to be a decade's worth of human bones and body parts, all from women. Most shocking was finding numerous tanned human skins, one of which was fashioned into the torso and leggings of a woman that could be worn. Perhaps the only consolable fact was that all the mutilations and skin removable had been done post mortem.
The name of the sick bastard responsible for all of this was Edward Theodore "Ed" Gein, a soft-spoken, timid man whose only reply after being repeatedly asked if he committed the crimes was, "If you say so."
Gein's atrocities were soon woven into the bloody fabric of legend and pop culture, and they became an inspiration for Robert Bloch when he wrote the character of Norman Bates in PSYCHO, Tobe Hooper's weird family of cannibals in THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, and the "Buffalo Bill" murderer and skinner, James Gumb in SILENCE OF THE LAMBS.
The following article by Dave Shreiner appeared in the October 1986 (Vol. 2 No.7) issue of DEATH RATTLE comics. Published by Kitchen Sink Press, it was one of the longer running underground comics. To find a text article like this among undergound comic stories is a hidden gem. It is well informed, gripping and captures the full horror of the human monster that is always at work among us.
(Coming tomorrow: WEIRD TRIPS!)