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Infamous Criminals from Wisconsin: A Look into the State’s Dark History

Wisconsin, known for its picturesque landscapes and rich cultural heritage, has also been home to some of America’s most notorious criminals. The state’s history is marred by a series of heinous crimes that have shocked the nation. Here, we delve into the lives and crimes of some of the most infamous criminals who have roots in Wisconsin.

1 Ed Gein: The Butcher of Plainfield

By http://www.allserialkillers.com/ed_gein.htm Allserialkillers.com., Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5618251

Perhaps the most infamous criminal to come out of Wisconsin, Edward Theodore Gein’s crimes in the 1950s sent shockwaves across the country. Gein, from the small town of Plainfield, was a reclusive farmer who lived a double life as a grave robber and murderer. His gruesome activities included exhuming corpses from local graveyards to create macabre trophies and keepsakes. Gein’s deranged acts inspired several iconic horror characters, including Norman Bates from Psycho and Leatherface from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. In 1957, Gein was arrested after the disappearance of a local woman led police to discover his horrific collection of human remains. He was later declared insane and spent the rest of his life in mental institutions.

2 Jeffrey Dahmer: The Milwaukee Cannibal

By Immediate source: [1][failed verification], Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46566512

Another name synonymous with horror is Jeffrey Dahmer, whose crimes shocked the world in the late 20th century. Known as the Milwaukee Cannibal, Dahmer’s spree of murders between 1978 and 1991 involved the rape, murder, and dismemberment of 17 young men and boys. Dahmer’s gruesome acts also included necrophilia and cannibalism. His arrest in 1991 revealed a horrifying collection of body parts in his apartment, including severed heads and preserved remains. Dahmer was convicted and sentenced to multiple life terms in prison, where he was killed by a fellow inmate in 1994.

3 David Spanbauer: The Terror of the Fox Valley

David Spanbauer’s reign of terror in the Fox Valley area during the early 1990s left a lasting impact on the community. Spanbauer was a career criminal with a history of violent offenses. His most notorious crimes involved the abduction, sexual assault, and murder of young girls. Spanbauer’s arrest in 1994 brought to light his extensive criminal history and the brutal nature of his recent offenses. He was sentenced to life in prison, where he died of heart disease in 2002.

4 Walter E. Ellis: The Milwaukee North Side Strangler

By Wisconsin Department of Corrections – Original publication: Wisconsin Department of CorrectionsImmediate source: http://murderpedia.org/male.E/e/ellis-walter-photos.htm, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=42346038

Walter E. Ellis, also known as the Milwaukee North Side Strangler, was responsible for a series of murders spanning over two decades. From 1986 to 2007, Ellis strangled at least seven women, many of whom were involved in prostitution or had a history of drug abuse. The breakthrough in the case came in 2009, when DNA evidence linked Ellis to the murders. He was arrested, convicted, and sentenced to life in prison without parole. Ellis died in prison in 2013.

5 Laurie Bembenek: The Runaway Bride

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Laurie Bembenek, a former Milwaukee police officer, became a national sensation in the early 1980s. Bembenek was convicted of murdering her husband’s ex-wife, Christine Schultz, in 1981. Her conviction was controversial, with many believing she was wrongfully accused. Bembenek’s dramatic escape from prison in 1990 and subsequent capture in Canada fueled media frenzy and public fascination. Her case highlighted issues within the justice system and continues to be a subject of debate. Bembenek’s conviction was eventually overturned, and she was released in 1992 after pleading no contest to second-degree murder.

Wisconsin’s history includes some of America’s most chilling criminal cases, from Ed Gein’s ghastly activities to Jeffrey Dahmer’s horrifying spree of murders. These criminals have left an indelible mark on the state’s legacy, serving as grim reminders of the darkest corners of human nature. The stories of these notorious individuals continue to fascinate and horrify, ensuring that their names remain etched in the annals of criminal history.



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