Would You Buy Murderabilia From Eric Gein?

03/27/2012 10:57 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Eric Gein runs a controversial website known for selling items crafted by serial predators and some of the nation's most notorious murderers. Serial Killers Ink is much more than a dark market targeting fans of the macabre, however. It's the premier source for "true crime collectibles" and "murderabilia." To clarify, the items "crafted" by inmates, handwritten letters, artwork and personal trinkets are just some of the things this website offers.

That's why Gein is frequently under scrutiny by victim advocate groups and the families of these victims of horrendous, and historical, crimes. Those who oppose this man's particular business feel that he is cashing-in on the pain and heartbreak of victims and their families. Unfortunately, these same types tend to smear his name and falsely accuse him of activities that he doesn't even do. Most recently, the mother of a girl slain by Christa Pike in 1995 has spread through the media that the notorious death row inmate is somehow profiting off of her deeds.


This simply isn't true. Eric Gein stated in an email that he has never given his profits to inmates who send him items. That means, for one thing, that Christa Pike hasn't "won" anything. Furthermore, Gein asserts that his website isn't the lucrative business that it's being made to be. It's a business and it certainly has its customer base, but it isn't like this man is "laughing all the way to the bank" off of the misfortune of others.

Here's the thing: What Eric Gein does is not only his legal right, but it's useful. While it's easy to understand the pain and suffering that victims' families go through, there is a level of irrationality behind those who rally against Serial Killers Ink.

"These Items are in fact world history,"said Eric Gein in an email before adding, "I have a few criminal law professors that use the letters to help teach their classes. A psychologist buys from me to get a better understanding of their minds. I would like to think that these men and women are using these items in a way with hopes of one day preventing a crime such as the Pike story."

It's a valid point to be made that destroying the items belonging to inmates may destroy hopes of preventing similar crimes in the future. These items, such as handwritten letters and artwork, are useful to experts, educators and profilers for their educational values. For instance, letters written by murderess Christa Pike that are featured on the site show some of her off-the-wall desires. While it may seem like nothing more than murderotica to some, to analysts and those who study criminal behavior these letters are veritable gold mines of information.

Gein also brings up a point in his email about these advocates failing to go after "crime writers" and others who appear to capitalize off of the misfortune of others. He's right that he's being unfairly targeted for offering an obviously beneficial service, but he's also wrong about advocates and families of victims not going after crime writers or others who "profit" off crime. Believe it or not, nobody in this industry is spared by the wrath of advocate groups who seem to just want the dark and dirty crime history of the world to be swept under the proverbial carpet. And there are families whose wounds will never heal, so it's certainly difficult for them to see that people actually want to purchase items belonging to the persons responsible for their agony. It's also understandable when the families of victims lash out at writers when they do, over the most trivial of things sometimes, because they are in pain. Nonetheless, these individuals must realize that from these situations come learning experiences. They must realize that sometimes others make money off of their devotion to the criminal justice industry, because they dedicate so much time, energy, knowledge and drive to it.