WTF Wisconsin

The W in WTF Stands for Wisconsin

We’re only half way through October, and I’ve already filled my Halloween season quota of weirdness over on the front lines of Wisconsin Frights.

Visitors tend to use the contact form there with the idea that they are reaching the actual haunted attraction they have a question for. I try to make it as clear as possible that Wisconsin Frights is not affiliated with the haunted houses featured there, so that hopefully they can get the help they need much sooner than waiting for me to respond. Still, if I catch an email in time, I’ll try to direct people to the right place.

Part of the problem is likely that many of these haunted attractions aren’t digital strategists or designers, leaving their websites and social media profiles devoid of important details such as contact info and location, or they’re just incredibly hard to find. This is the why I’ve started writing helpful marketing guides for haunt owners that I’ll be posting on Wisconsin Frights soon.

Anyway, these types of interactions are common, and I’m always happy to point someone in the right direction if I can.

But here are a few examples of the somewhat less than ordinary issues that have come up so far this month.

Scary Billboards

I received an email from a grandmother scolding me for putting up billboards in Sheboygan with imagery that scared her young grandson.

Wisconsin Frights doesn’t have any billboards.

She was upset about Dominion of Terror billboards. Which makes me wonder if sites like Trip Advisor or Yelp get yelled as much as I do about the business listed in their directories?

By the way, we visited Dominion of Terror on opening night, had a great time, and shot this video for them:


DOMINION OF TERROR haunted house in Sheboygan, WI #wisconsin #hauntedhouse #halloween #hauntedattraction #sheboygan #sheboyganwisconsin #travelwisconsin #thingstodoinwisconsin #travelwi #explorewi #discoverwi #wisco #spookyseason #spookyszn #weirdwisconsin #visitwisconsin #wisconsincheck

♬ original sound – Wisconsin Frights

Grave of Gein’s Unidentified Victims

Psycho: The Lost Tapes of Ed Gein

Poster art for Psycho: The Lost Tapes of Ed Gein

The MGM+ docuseries Psycho: The Lost Tapes of Ed Gein has given a small boost to the interest in Ed Gein this month. It’s been much less than I anticipated, actually, but I’m guessing MGM+ probably just doesn’t have the big pull that another streaming service would. Still, Gein-related search queries rose a bit, and I’ve been resharing Gein content from all of my sites across social media because ad revenue is how I pay my bills.

On one of these posts on Facebook, a Wisconsin Frights follower shared a link in the comments to a video revealing the location of the grave in Plainfield Cemetery where all the unidentifiable remains found in Gein’s house  were buried – things like his human skin suit, the lamp shade, the chair, etc.

That’s an interesting part of the story that’s been missing.

In his book about Gein, Judge Robert H. Gollmar says only, “The grisly relics were duly photographed at the crime lab and then decently disposed of.”

The video was livestreamed by a paranormal investigator who gives the name of a local “author” who showed her where the grave was, and, as she says, gave her exclusivity to show it for the first time ever.

I wrote something up from that angle and shared the video on the site in September. The details that were important to those involved were included right there in the video.

A couple weeks later, I got an email from the woman who originally shared the video link (not to be confused with the paranormal investigator who livestreamed the video), saying my post was misleading and demanding I give proper to credit to the man who found it.

Later that day, the man in question posted a comment on my article, calling it “bullshit.”

Then, the lady who emailed me also posted a comment on the article with the same accusations from her email.

The next morning, another comment came in from this guy, saying that I could use his newly uploaded video now that the previous one I had embedded in the article “don’t work anymore.”

Sure enough, the original video had been deleted, and this guy took a drive to film his own so he could get credit for the grave filled with the body parts of Ed Gein’s victims.

This man is a local Gein enthusiast who, for reasons unknown, is featured prominently in The Lost Tapes of Ed Gein, showing the documentary crew around various Gein-related locations such as Plainfield Cemetery, and the courtroom where he was tried. In the final episode of the series, they even film him chipping away ice in the cemetery to reveal the gravestone of the unidentified remains.

Ed Gein book by Scott Bowser with a photo by Charlie Hintz

Why is my photo on the cover of this book?

The irony in all this is that I first learned about this guy in early 2022 while working on a Cult of Weird post about strange Gein collectibles available online. I discovered his self-published Ed Gein travel guide was for sale on Amazon with an unlicensed use of my photo on the cover – a photo I specifically took for commercial purposes, as I get frequent requests for the use of my work, such as in the latest release by true crime author Harold Schechter.

The only time I ever licensed this particular photo was for a Gein-related episode of Ghost Adventures. To the best of my knowledge, they ultimately didn’t even use it in the final edit. So this photo was only ever published cropped, and with a watermark, for my 2015 post on Cult of Weird.

Plainfield, Wisconsin, the home of Ed Gein

A Secret Gein Victim

Over the years, I’ve talked to numerous people with Gein stories. It’s part of the reason I continue to research and write about the legacy of Gein’s crimes. Everyone has a story, knows a thing that no one else knows, has an unlikely connection, knows someone who ate Gein’s “venison,” saw lights out in the cemetery at night, etc.

Of course, there are Plainfield area residents who really do have legitimate stories. Some want to share them, some threaten your life just because you write about Gein online or visited Plainfield.

Those are interesting facets of Gein’s lasting effect on the world that I like to document.

But equally fascinating are the ones that are dubious at best.

For example, I posed the question in one Cult of Weird article that maybe, somewhere on Gein’s property, the missing hunters suspected to possibly have been victims of Gein, along with their vehicle that seemingly vanished, are buried on his land somewhere, still waiting to be discovered.

Some time after writing that, someone told me they knew exactly where on Gein’s property the vehicle was buried.

I didn’t follow up.

A new piece of this bizarre legacy came in yesterday.

I received this message:

Have respect please to Gein’s victims. He killed my grandmother’s sister. Glorify the criminal and its upsetting to the families.

I began several responses attempting to explain why I write about Gein, and why I generally choose to focus on him and his crimes rather than his victims because I don’t want to continue associating him with the people he hurt.

But I deleted each one, knowing as usual that it wouldn’t solve anything, and would likely be misunderstood no matter how I approached it.

But I would like to tell the stories of how families have coped with this thing in their lives for over 60 years, if they were ever interested in talking about it.

So after staring at a blank screen for a while, I simply wrote, “Who was your grandmother’s sister?” and hit send.

I received a response soon after:

“Her name has never been released to the public. And I do not want her name being forever connected to the sickos who think gein is a fan club. She was a mother to two young children in our family who still have to deal with the loss.”

Gein murdered two women, whose names are known and are public record. The rest of his victims were already dead and buried when he got to them. There has always been speculation that he may murdered others, but their names have also always been public.

So, now there’s a third murder victim who has never been mentioned in the case files, and whose name has never been released to the public?

I’ll leave you to ponder the veracity of that claim for yourself.