Entrepreneur Sells Soil From Serial Killer's Home For $25 A Gram
People are getting creative during the recession. One entrepreneur is making a profit off dirt, a commodity that doesn't usually fetch so high a price. Unless, that is, if it's from the home of a famed serial killer.
Eric Gein of Jackson, Fla., had an associate fill two sandwich bags with soil from Anthony Sowell's house two weeks ago, and peddled it for $25 a gram on the website Serial Killers Ink, the Plain Dealer reports. That's almost five times the average price of low grade marijuana.
Gein and his wife Jessika run the crime memorabilia website, and maintain a correspondence with numerous killers, cannibals, supremacists and satanists to keep their stock replenished.
Gein isn't the couple's real name; Mr. Gein claims his mother, who is suffering from stage 3 cancer, would disown him if he revealed his real identity. It would cause a small scandal at their church, reported Folio Weekly.
So instead, when the press came calling, Erik and Jessika adopted the surname of murderer and body-snatcher Ed Gein. The real Gein's refashioning of exhumed corpses into trophies made him the inspiration for some of cinema's most chilling villains, from "Psycho's" Norman Bates to "The Silence of the Lamb's" Buffalo Bill to Leatherface from "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre."
Some of the other souvenirs on sale on their website include a handwritten letter from Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber ($250), Polaroids of the founding members of the Aryan Brotherhood ($350), and a small abstract painting by the deceased Canadian cult leader, Roch Theriault ($250).
The website claims that it is interested in "education, knowledge and enlightenment."
"If you do not agree with this website," it says, "you are politely encouraged to simply leave."
Gein's morbid merchandise is branded as soil from the "House of Horrors," an apt description for the duplex where Sowell, otherwise known as the "Cleveland Strangler," buried his 11 female victims over two years.
In October 2009, Sowell was arrested on 85 charges of murder, rape and kidnapping. Sowell was found guilty on all but two counts, and now awaits his fate on death row.
Some family members of the victims are outraged over Eric Gein's business profiting off their loved ones' tragic deaths.
"You're talking about human beings, about lives that were misfortunately and horribly taken away," Denise Hunter, the sister of one victim, told Fox 8. "You want a piece of that?"
"I do have sympathy for them," responded Gein, "on the other hand, I'm running a business and it is a legal business."
Gein doesn't seem to think he's to blame for the families' upset.
In the website's "About Us" section, it used to state: "We also find it sickening that while the media condemns this business, they are the ones who bring us to the attention of the families of victims, which causes more heartache and pain to the families -- All in the name of ratings."
That section was recently removed.
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Claire Gordon has contributed to Slate's DoubleX, the Huffington Post, and the book Prisons: Current Controversies. While an undergraduate at Yale University and a research fellow at Yale graduate school, she spoke on panels at Yale and Cornell, and reported from Cairo, Tokyo, and Berlin.
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