Ed Gein: The Butcher of Plainfield

WARNING: The following post contains slightly graphic content. Proceed with caution if you are squeamish.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre is known as one of the most iconic films of all time. When the first film hit theaters in 1974 and it made almost $31 million dollars on a $140,000 thousand budget. Since then the film series has grossed over $235 million worldwide, and has even inspired video games and comics. The story line in the films mainly focuses on Leatherface and his psychopathic family, which leads many people to believe it is based on a true story. They wouldn’t be entirely wrong, although not everything that happens in the films is true, as they are only loosely based off real events.

Ed Gein was born on August 27, 1906 in La Crosse, Wisconsin and died on July 26, 1984 of lung cancer. Growing up, his mother Augusta was controlling and a very religious woman who isolated Ed and would tell him that all women were evil. He also suffered psychological and physical abuse from his parents. Classmates remember that one of Ed’s most unnerving habits was to randomly laugh out loud as though someone had told a joke that only he could hear.

It wasn’t until his mother passed away that Ed suddenly started to act on his morbid fascination with the female body. He started to study anatomy texts and accounts of the terrible experiments performed at concentration camps before eventually moving on to grave robbing. He would dig up female bodies who were buried recently in cemeteries near him, always choosing ones that were roughly the age of his mother when she passed. He would dissect their bodies and keep their sexual organs so he could make suits out of the skins.

In the Texas Chainsaw Massacre movies the character, Leatherface wore a mask out of human skin. Ed also wore the same mask but for different reasons than Leatherface, who wore it due to a skin disease. Ed Gein actually wore the mask because he desired to be a woman as well as a vest of skin complete with breasts and female private parts that he strapped above his own.

While Leatherface is definitely the most well-known fictional serial killer that was inspired by Ed, he has also inspired a few others such as Norman Bates from Alfred Hitchcock's 1960 movie Psycho, and Buffalo Bill from the 1991 film The Silence of the Lambs. Leatherface, however, would be the most accurate portrayal of the original man, Ed Gein.

For more information on Leatherface, the Texas Chainsaw franchise and/or Ed Gein, check out these links:

http://www.chasingthefrog.com/reelfaces/texaschainsaw.php

https://serialkillershop.com/blogs/true-crime/texas-chainsaw-massacre-true-story

http://www.the13thfloor.tv/2016/07/06/the-real-story-behind-the-texas-chainsaw-massacre-the-notorious-killer-ed-gein/

Or, checkout this video for even more information:

https://youtu.be/3Ih-GoaoFwA


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Kaitlin Franks

Kaitlin is in her second year of the Professional Writing program at Algonquin. She has a deep love for all things horror, paranormal, and is also a huge fan of slasher films. If these things interest you, follow Kaitlin’s blog posts!

The Shadowed Figure

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Before I begin I’d like to start by saying: that this is a personal story and that I am a skeptic and I don’t believe in supernatural beings or anything related to the subject. I just enjoy the creative stories that come out of such beliefs. 

Several years ago I was working part-time, that was when my first encounter with the “Shadowed Figure” occurred. I was walking down the street, listening to music when suddenly in front of me stood a tall shadowed figure. I waved and called out to it, then blinked. In the half-second, my eyes were closed the shadowed figure had vanished. I ignored it went about my day. I never expected to see the figure again.

A few months after the sighting I was in the car with my brother driving down the road of our small town. As we pulled up to a stoplight I saw what looked like a large hand, four times the larger than a normal man’s hand reach out from behind a hydro pole and stretch out to point at me. Then my brother called my name, making me turn my head away from the eerie sight. I turned back to see the hand and arm were gone.

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I had several more encounters over the next year and a half. I would see things out of the corner of my eye, or a flicker of movement coming from a spot with no moving objects. I believed that I was just seeing things and that it was just my eyes playing tricks on me. Still, the figure followed me. It felt like with each sighting it inched closer to me, slowly reaching out towards me. It was around this point that I had decided that I’d had enough. I had a friend who was more spiritual so, I explained my situation and asked for their advice on what I should do. They offered the idea that it was likely to be a loved one reaching out to me, checking up on me. I would’ve liked that to be true, but unfortunately, the feeling I had in the pit of my stomach disagreed with their explanation. The second piece of advice they offered was that I should tell it to leave me alone and that if it made me uncomfortable then confronting it would resolve the situation. I did as they suggested and to my surprise, it worked… for about two years. 

After I had confronted the shadowed figure that had haunted me, it decided to creep back into my memory. I had honestly forgotten any of the events until midday in the summer of 2019 when everything came flooding back. I had an immediate feeling of discomfort in my stomach, followed by an urge to look up. Despite my best efforts, I looked up and behind the head of my coworker, I saw the shadow come to form before turning into a woman. She had long brown hair, a beige dress, closed eyes and a devilish grin. Once again, I blinked and she was gone. I looked around but there was no one in the empty parking lot except for my coworker and myself. That was also the closest I had ever seen the figure before, and it left me feeling unsettled.

That was two months ago and it was the last time I saw the figure. I fear the day I see it again, as I’m not sure how much closer to me it can get before it turns into something more.

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Andy Tworek is a second-year professional writing student with a passion for all things scary, abnormal and strange. Despite being a skeptic of most conspiracies and paranormal phenomena, his curiosity of the unexplained always outweighs his disbelief. Andy is an avid fan of fictional horror content. While he may not be the most investigative when it comes to real-life conspiracies, you can always be sure he’ll find the truth behind your favourite fictional monsters.


The Apollo 11 Conspiracy Theory

There’s nothing more interesting than a good conspiracy theory, because what right minded person doesn’t want to know the truth? Yeah, sure, lies can be convenient, but as the Latin saying goes, Veritas Vincit. It means truth conquers, and as much as I’ll admit that I agree with that saying, I also have to admit that the truth is not always an easy thing to know. In this case, it’s not an easy thing to find out.

Did NASA Really Send Men to The Moon in 1969?

The three American Astronauts of the Apollo 11 Mission: (LEFT TO RIGHT) Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, Buzz Aldrin. -Taken from Public Domain

The three American Astronauts of the Apollo 11 Mission: (LEFT TO RIGHT) Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, Buzz Aldrin. -Taken from Public Domain

The NASA Apollo 11 mission of July 1969 saw three American astronauts blast off from Earth and travel towards the moon in a spacecraft. Approximately three days later two of them, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin actually landed part of that spacecraft on the moon, and then got out and walked around. They planted a flag, collected some moon rocks, spoke some very well-chosen words, and then eventually rocketed off the moon. They then joined their friend, Michael Collins, who was waiting in orbit and all three safely returned to Earth and lived happily ever after as heroes of all mankind. Does it seem like I’m understating this? Are you picking up on a hint of sarcasm, perhaps? That is because the whole thing stinks. That’s right, it stinks like a big fat lie; and why is that? Well, the idea that NASA faked the Apollo 11 Moon Landing is a well established and well supported conspiracy theory.

A picture of a NASA astronaut taken on the moon shows the differing vectors of shadows. Provided by “Aulis online".”

A picture of a NASA astronaut taken on the moon shows the differing vectors of shadows. Provided by “Aulis online".”

There are many reasons to believe that the Apollo 11 mission may have been one big conspiracy to fool the entire world into believing that American astronauts landed on the moon. For instance, one interesting tenant of the theory is that many of the photographs that were taken on the Moon and then provided to the public by NASA feature a very strange occurrence. Upon taking a close look, you can notice that the shadows being cast by various objects are pointing in different directions. This is strange because on the Moon there is only one source of light, the Sun. Thus, the shadows should all be cast in the exact same direction; but they are not. You may be wondering what that means. It means that there had to have been another light source… when the only light source should have been the sun. In trying to explain that peculiarity, some conspiracy theorists have proposed that the astronauts were not on the Moon, but in an elaborate studio set that mimicked the Moon’s surface. Of course, this is just one example of the pile of evidence supporting the conspiracy theory that NASA faked the Moon Landing. There’s actually lots more out there, it’s easy to find and a lot of it is very reasonable.

Check out Wikipedia’s article, “Moon landing conspiracy theories,” for a starting point; then, go and watch this 2001 documentary: “Conspiracy Theory: Did We Land on the Moon,” and that should give you enough reason to pick a side in this argument. If you need to do more research after that, which might mean that you aren’t satisfied in believing the legitimacy of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing, then I really feel like we’ve all accomplished something. The truth is out there, somewhere. Go find it!

Further Enquiry:


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John Ryan:

Things aren’t always what they seem. John knows this, and he’s willing to help you figure it out too. Follow this Algonquin College student’s quest to expose the lies, and seek the truth!


Canada’s Cases of “Unsolved” Unidentified Aerial Phenomena, Part 1

If one searches the news for stories of aliens visiting Canada, it quickly becomes apparent that the country is no stranger to unidentified flying objects (UFO), or as officials tend to call them, unidentified aerial phenomena. How true are the stories?

The truth is always subjective when dealing with the unexplained, but for the stories that I will detail I went to a very reliable source: The Canadian Government. In the Library and Archives of Canada, there is a wealth of information about UFO. Several events are listed as “unsolved,” meaning no explanations for the incidents exist.

Front page of the Halifax Paper, image courtesy of the Shag Harbour Incident Society

Front page of the Halifax Paper, image courtesy of the Shag Harbour Incident Society

I chose my first story because I’m a former Nova Scotian. At the southern tip of Nova Scotia, Shag Harbour is a small and quaint fishing village. Before the incident, it was unremarkable and unknown to the larger world. That all changed on October 4, 1967 when four orange lights were spotted in the night sky by locals.

Witnesses, including five teens and an RCMP officer, described lights flashing and then heading at a steep angle towards the ocean surface about a kilometre offshore. The initial consensus was that it was an airplane in distress, and witnesses called the RCMP. Constable Ron Pound, the RCMP witness, said there were four lights, but that all were part of a single object about 60 feet long. After arriving at the shoreline, Pound was joined by two other RCMP officers (dispatched from Barrington Passage), as well as several locals. All saw the lights moving along the water's surface, leaving a yellowish foam in their wake.

A Coast Guard and several local fishing vessels hastened to the spot of the sighting to rescue passengers thought to be on the supposed aircraft, but they found only a glittering yellow foam. Believing the object had sunk, the search continued until the wee hours. The RCMP checked with other authorities but discovered there were no missing aircraft that evening, civilian or military. The next day, a report was filed with the Canadian Forces Headquarters in Ottawa, stating that an object of “unknown origin” had impacted the water off Shag Harbour.

Divers were deployed to search the ocean floor at the site of the incident but found nothing. That could have been the end of the story, except a MUFON (Mutual UFO Network) investigator, Chris Styles, decided to revisit the details of the incident in 1993. He interviewed original witnesses and new ones, and an unofficial story began.

HMCS Granby divers revealed that nothing had been found at the crash location because the object had already left the area, travelling underwater to come to rest about 40 kilometres east of Shag Harbour, near the entrance to Shelburne Harbour. At that time, a top-secret NATO submarine detection facility sat near the harbour. Personnel at the base detected the object off the coast, and others detailed military study of the craft. After a few days, a second object arrived to join the first. After a week of observation, a Russian submarine entered Canadian waters and navy vessels in the vicinity were deployed to investigate. During this lull in observation, the two objects shot off underwater to the Gulf of Maine, before breaking the ocean surface to escape into the skies. All of this was relayed “off the record”.

We may never know for sure what the object was off the coast of southern Nova Scotia, but the Department of National Defence has identified the Shag Harbour sighting as “unsolved.”

For more information on the Shag Harbour Incident, there is a documentary on YouTube about it. The Shag Harbour Incident Society also runs a website devoted to it.


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Sam M.

Sam M. has a love for all forms of speculative fiction across all media. Possessed of natural curiosity, Sam enjoys learning and new experiences. Each new piece of knowledge or endeavour adds to who she is and how she sees the world. She is a firm believer that some of the most amazing experiences and events could even be in your backyard (figuratively, if not literally).

Join Us On The Fringes

Welcome to a place for the questions you are afraid to ask and the answers you may fear to learn. Within The Fringe Files, we delve into mysteries of conspiracy theories, the unexplained, the paranormal and horror.

We are a team of professional writing students who will research and present such topics every month to arouse your curiosity. It will be up to you to decide if we satisfy that thirst for knowledge or leave you even more in the dark…

We aren’t afraid to delve deeper.

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