When you think of small town America, images of friendly faces, close-knit communities and caring neighbors immediately pop up. But movies like Ed Gein show us that the even the smallest towns can hide the biggest evils...
Throughout the last century, some very disturbed and sadistic individuals have lurked in small towns all over the country. As breeding grounds for gruesome acts of torture, mutilation, rape, cannibalism and horrific murder, don't be surprised if your local town has also borne witness to some heinous crimes.
Take a look at some of the worst acts committed in small town America. If this doesn't make you question if you REALLY know your neighbors, I don't know what will:
1. Dana Sue Gray
Location: Canyon Lake, California
The Case: In 1994, Dana Sue Gray murdered three elderly women, one of which was her 86-year-old step-grandma, who she stabbed in the chest and neck, leaving her to lie undiscovered for two days. Next on the list was June Roberts, who she strangled with a phone cord while hammering in her face with a wine bottle. Finally, knocking on the door of 87-year-old Dora Beebe to ask for directions, she beat the poor woman to death with a clothes iron.
She took all three women's credit cards and went on a shopping spree, buying luxury items such as $500 jackets, an $1,000 mountain bike, expensive perfumes and tons of jewelry. Gray even indulged in a meal of crab cakes and scampi and bought a $5.99 toy helicopter for her stepson.
Fortunately, Dorinda Hawkins, a woman she also attempted to strangle, managed to get away and ran to the police. The serial shopaholic was arrested and charged for the murders, all the while claiming that her impulse to murder was simply based on her shopping addiction. She told detectives, “I got desperate to buy things” and that “shopping puts me at rest.” Oh, that makes it okay then...
2. Scott Williams
Location: Monroe, North Carolina
The Case: Scott Williams lived a tranquil life as a road crew worker for the Department of Transportation in Monroe, North Carolina. He was actually pretty normal apart from his penchant for brutally raping and murdering local women, the last one being 46-year old Sharon Tucker Stone in 2006. The unfortunate ladies were all middle-aged and as well as being sexually assaulted, they were also shot in the head, mutilated and dismembered.
In attempts to then cannibalize their bodies, Williams could not go through with the gruesome act because he was too disgusted with the smell of their boiled flesh. Killing, on the other hand, he was totally okay with.
In 2008, he was given three life sentences for his horrendous crimes. Apparently, the evidence was so overwhelming his attorney admitted that the defense simply "did not have any grounds on which to dispute the statements."
3. Ed Gein
Victims: 2 (known)
Location: Plainfield, Wisconsin
The Case: Having experienced a traumatizing childhood under his control-freak mother in the small community of Plainfield, Wisconsin, Ed Gein was a very solitary and troubled individual. The locals referred to him as "Weird Old Eddie" and with time, he developed a rather unhealthy interest in the anatomy of the female body. He was particularly fascinated by the horrors the Nazis inflicted on Jews in concentration camps and began digging up female corpses from local cemeteries to feed his obsession.
He found intense gratification in flaying skin, dissecting organs, playing with female genitalia, draping their bodies over his own and prancing around his house. Exhausting his fascination with the local graveyards, his gruesome obsession soon led him to source more fresh samples, mostly targeting female victims of his mother's age.
When Gein was suspected of a local robbery, police entered his dilapidated farmhouse to discover a naked, headless body of Bernice Worden, hanging from a meat hook. The smell of rotting flesh and filth was unbearable, her severed head and intestines were discovered in a box near-by and her heart lay on a plate in the dining room. The police also discovered gruesome trophies such as a belt of carved-off nipples, a chair made of human skin, numerous skulls carved into soup bowls and a refrigerator full of organs. The list of the atrocities is endless...
After a decade in a mental institution, Gein was found to be criminally insane. He died in a mental asylum aged 77-years-old, having been repeatedly called a "model prisoner" for being gentle, polite and charming. How ironic.
Often referred to as the 'real' American Psycho, Ed Gein has definitely reshaped the way the horror is viewed today. Many of our most ghastly villains, such as Buffalo Bill from Silence of the Lambs and Norman Bates from Psycho, are modeled on his horrific criminal acts. His farm also inspired the putrid house in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Take a look at the 1974 trailer below if you need a macabre reminder of what that was like:
4. David Parker Ray
Victims: none confirmed, 14 - 60 suspected
Location: Truth or Consequences, New Mexico
The Case: David Parker Ray, also known as the "Toy Box Killer," kidnapped women with his girlfriend Cindy Lea Hendy. Locking them in a storage trailer that he had turned into a torture chamber, he abused his victims by strapping them into a gynecological chair and torturing them with S&M sex toys and surgical tools. Parker Ray would even film the sessions and place them on a video screen so the victims could watch.
Listen to this spine-chilling transcript of what he made the poor women listen to before he began torturing them:
Discovered when one of the women managed to get away in May 1999, he was arrested alongside his girlfriend, daughter and a friend named Dennis Roy Yancy for the kidnapping and murder of a young woman.
Given a sentence of 223 years, Roy actually only spent three years in prison before he died of a heart attack.
5. Donald Henry Gaskins
Victims: 13 confirmed, he claims the real number lies at over 100
Location: Sumter, South Carolina
The Case: Donald Henry Gaskins had been involved in crimes since he was a young boy. By the age of 18, he had already participated in a gang rape of a friend's sister and had also attacked a woman with an axe. Over the years, he drifted in and out of prison and in 1969, he embarked on a full-scale killing spree. In particular, he abducted hitchhikers to mutilate and rape them and admits to committing acts of cannibalism, sometimes even forcing victims to eat their own flesh.
He also killed his own 15-year-old niece and her friend and is responsible for the murder of a 20-year-old pregnant woman and her young son. Moving to Prospect in 1972, he terrified the locals by driving a hearse, gleefully telling them that he takes dead bodies to his own personal cemetery. Little did they know, he was actually telling the truth...
Eventually, he was arrested after a friend confessed his atrocities to the police. At first he was given a life sentence because South Carolina dropped the death penalty. When it was reinstated again in 1982, Gaskins was one of the first to be sent to the electric chair.
Well, I better get ready for another sleepless night...