|Jame "Buffalo Bill" Gumb|
|Alias(es)||Buffalo Bill ,Billy ,Bill ,Jack Gordon ,John Grant ,Louis Friend|
|Occupation(s)|| Baltimore Curio Store clerk (formerly)|
Clothes Maker (formerly)
|First appearance||The Silence Of The Lambs|
|Last appearance||The Silence Of The Lambs|
|Portrayed by||Ted Levine|
|Jame Gumb gallery|
He was portrayed by actor Ted Levine in the film adaption. Gumb was a former client of the book and film's supporting antagonist, Dr. Hannibal Lecter, during the time when he was a renowned psychiatrist.
Jame Gumb had long felt he was born the wrong sex and desired sexual reassignment surgery. However his history of violence and mental instability prevented this, as psychiatric evaluation is needed, and Gumb was disapproved. As such, Gumb started his career as "Buffalo Bill" whereupon he would kidnap overweight women, then starve them before murdering them, which he would fashion their skin into a "woman suit" for him to wear.
He was killed ultimately by FBI Agent Clarice Starling, who was aided in finding him by his former psychiatrist Hannibal Lecter.
Early Life Edit
Jame Gumb was born somewhere in California of 1948, and was abandoned at birth by his mother, an alcoholic prostitute who originally named her son James, but upon signing his birth certificate incorrectly, spelled the name Jame, and was left unchanged. Although many people referred to him as James as that is a more common man's name, he insisted on Jame, or as he said "rhymes with name". He became furious if he was called James. He was abandoned at age two and placed into foster care. Hannibal Lecter believed "Billy was not born a killer, but he was made one over years of systematic abuse". He lived in an unsatisfactory foster home until the age of 10, after which he was adopted by his grandparents, who became his first victims, when he murdered them impulsively at age 12. He was then sent to Tulare Vocational Rehabilitation, a psychiatric hospital, where he was taught how to be a tailor.
After Prison Edit
After checking out of Tulare, he worked in at least two restaurants and a few clothing stores. It is likely he had killed more people in this period. Soon after he began working in a Baltimore Curio store, Gumb met and began a questionable romantic relationship with Benjamin Raspail. During this time, according to Raspail, Gumb had killed a bag lady. He had been fired from the curio store and stole a suitcase from an employer. While in his room, he opened the case to find hundreds of moths and butterflies. Raspail then ended his relationship with Gumb, in favor of a Norwegian sailor named Klaus. Gumb later murdered Klaus out of envy, and created an apron from his skin. He took Klaus' decapitated head and inserted a moth in his throat, then placed it within a jar, which he stashed within a car in an impound warehouse owned by Raspail.
Believing himself to be transsexual, Gumb began applications for gender reassignment surgery and applied to schools such as Johns Hopkins. However, all of his applications were declined. The hospitals' vetting process deemed Gumb too psychologically disturbed and not fitting the profile of a true transgender person. Their background checks also uncovered his real name and his criminal record, which he had lied about. Gumb violently assaulted a doctor at Johns Hopkins after being rejected. His failed application for gender reassignment surgery at Johns Hopkins would ultimately lead to him being identified as "Buffalo Bill" by the FBI.
In early 1975 he was introduced to Dr. Hannibal Lecter through Raspail and had just one session. According to Raspail, Gumb would attack gay men. Lecter himself would end up being placed under arrest for his own killing spree including Raspail as his ninth victim. Despite only meeting Gumb in person once, Lecter had been told a lot about him by Raspail in their therapy sessions ("everything but his shoe size", Jack Crawford would later comment).
After Gumb had finished consulting with Dr. Lecter, he started up as a tailor in Belvedere, Ohio. Sometime in 1982 he met an overweight woman, Fredrica Bimmel, whose skin struck his attention. Gumb had then conceived the idea that if he could not become female by legal means, he could make himself into a woman through fashioning together a woman suit made from the skins of real women. He had then set up to take over a property in the town with a large under basement area, where he could hold his victims, starting with Bimmel. Fortunately, in stalking Bimmel, Gumb came to discover that Bimmel's employer, Mrs. Lippman, who was a local, appropriated a house with an old basement that contained many rooms and a large dry well. Sometime during this period he acquired a poodle who he named Precious. Mrs. Lippman died on a holiday in Florida whilst with Gumb. Gumb inherited everything from Mrs Lippman. Using the alias John Grant he took over the house. He then abducted Bimmel and kept her prisoner in the well. Despite this, they had a strong friendship, even sending notes to each other. Bimmel eventually became the first excoriated victim of Gumb as well as his first "Buffalo Bill" murder.
The Buffalo Bill murders Edit
After Bimmel's murder, he abducted another four women. He targeted larger women, as he needed a suit big enough to fit his bigger male body. He would keep them entrapped in the large dry well in the basement of Mrs. Lippman's home, starving them to loosen their skins and making them clean their skin with lotion before killing them a few days later. He hanged the first two women, luring them to the top of the stairs with the promise of a shower before pushing them off at the top. He shot his subsequent victims with his Colt Python handgun. He then skinned them and added them to his woman suit and disposed of their bodies in lakes. As Bimmel was weighed down, she was actually found third. During this series of killings, Gumb received the nickname "Buffalo Bill", as officers at Kansas City Homicide made a tasteless joke that "this one likes to skin his humps".
A sixth woman was found, with her scalp and two diamond shape pieces of skin form her back removed. Soon after, Gumb abducted Senator Ruth Martin's daughter, Catherine. He had posed as a man with a broken arm who needed help moving a sofa into the back of his van outside her apartment building. Catherine had come to assist him. She was backing into the van with the sofa, when she was asked whether she was a size 14 and was rendered unconscious by Gumb. Her abduction became national news, and her mother made a national televised plea to him to return her daughter and repeatedly used her name in sentences, so as to ensure he would not deem her a mere object, like the other victims, but, rather, see her as a human being. Gumb's plans to kill Martin hit a snag when she managed to lure Precious into the well using a bucket and scraps of food. Martin demanded he hand her down a phone. This threw Gumb into a rage, as he was unwilling to risk harming his beloved Precious whilst killing Martin.
Meeting Clarice Starling Edit
Starling spoke with Lecter and entered into a quid pro quo of information for information, whereby she would tell him details about her past in return for his insights into the Buffalo Bill case. Starling revealed the memory of her father's murder. Lecter's hints led Starling to discover Klaus' decapitated head in the vehicle stationed in the storage shed, belonging to Raspail, whom Lecter had killed. Lecter informed Clarice that "Bill" was not a real transsexual and said he may have applied for sex reassignment surgery and been rejected, on the grounds of mental instability.
Lecter suggested that the locations of the victims' bodies were "desperately random" and that "Bill" would have begun by coveting someone he knew. This helped Starling determine that Fredrica Bimmel was his first victim and her body was deliberately weighted down, so she would not to be the first one to be found, thus making it harder for the FBI to deduce that she was from his home town and that he knew her personally. In Bimmel's mouth, a Death's-Head Hawkmoth was uncovered, which was one among the many moths bred by Gumb.
Lecter subsequently escaped from custody, and the FBI feared their last chance of catching Bill before Catherine Martin was killed had passed. Clarice decided to visit Belvedere, Ohio, home of Bill's first victim. Upon coming to the Bimmel house and speaking to her father, she learned about her employer Mrs. Lippman. While looking in Fredrica's room, she found a dress and, while examining it, found markings matching Gumb's latest victim. Meanwhile, Johns Hopkins hospital had finally given the FBI the names of would-be patients whose applications for sex reassignment surgery had been turned down: one of the names was Jame Gumb.
Final Showdown and Death Edit
Starling went to the Lippman house where she was greeted by Gumb, who identified himself as "Jack Gordon". After a seemingly polite exchange in which he offered to look for a contact number for Mrs Lippman's relatives, she noticed a moth fly past her and it dawned on her that Gumb was Buffalo Bill. Their eyes met, and Gumb realised he had just been identified. Ignoring her order to surrender, he disappeared into the house.
Starling pursued him into the basement and found the well where Catherine Martin was imprisoned. She was still alive. Suddenly, Gumb deactivated the power, including the lights. Wearing his night vision goggles, he watched Starling struggling through the darkness, even getting a thrill from it as "he'd never hunted one that was armed before". He mused to himself that she was too slender to be of any use to him, but was mesmerised by her "glorious" hair. He considered scalping her and wearing the hair as a wig.
He silently approached Starling and cocked his gun. Starling reacted instantly and turned and fired in the direction of the click, hitting Gumb several times in the chest. He died moments later from blood loss. He spluttered his final words to her: "How... does... it... feel... to be... so... beautiful?" Catherine Martin was rescued, carrying Precious in her arms, and returned to normal life. It was said that a fireman who had been ordered to take the dog to a nearby pound instead took it home with him. After Gumb's burial, the tabloids ran stories on him, changing his nickname to "Mr. Hide."
Jame Gumb, although intelligent, showed signs of violence at a young age when he murdered his grandparents at age 12. Due to being abandoned by his mother and other unpleasant experiences during childhood, he realized that he was transgender and desired to transition. However, due to his early murders, attacks on gay men, and personality tests, he did not meet the requirements for transgender surgery. Benjamin Raspail, his former lover, described Gumb as neither being gay or transsexual, but as an extremely disturbed man who had no sense of self and took on any identity that he felt suited him at the time. He also greatly feared rejection, shown in his reaction in killing Klaus. This suggests an extreme form of borderline personality disorder.
One of his more disturbing personality traits is that he did not view people as beings with feelings. He referred to his victims as things or creatures, using the pronoun "it", in order to make them easier to kill. He showed sadistic delight in hunting his victims in his basements, enjoying the distress he was causing as they wandered aimlessly in the dark. However, Gumb was not averse to feelings. He loved his mother, despite his awful upbringing. He did enter relationships with Raspail and later on Frederica Bimmel, the first in the "Buffalo Bill" killings. He also adored his poodle called Precious, and would have her close by him at all times. When Precious was kidnapped by Catherine Martin, he was distraught and was brought to tears, and threatened to kill Martin should she harm Precious. He also harbored obsessions, such as his desire to be a woman and a keen interest in moths and butterflies, their transformations inspiring him to commit murder. Lecter summed Gumb's pathology as he wasn't born a monster, but made one through years of systematic abuse.
Despite his delusional and psychotic episodes, he showed to be an intelligent, ruthless man. He was proficient at disguise, using many false aliases to hide his true identity. He often pretended to be injured to lure women into his van, wearing an arm cast with a crow bar hidden in it. He was an excellent tailor, using his experience from his previous employment to gruesome effect as Buffalo Bill. He also had forensic knowledge, knowing that dumping his victims into water removed any trace of him.
- Buffalo Bill was inspired by real-life serial killers, such as:
- Jerry Brudos, who dressed up in his victims' clothing and kept their shoes.
- Edward Gein, who fashioned trophies and keepsakes from the bones and skin of corpses he dug up at cemeteries. He also made a female skin suit and skin masks.
- Ted Bundy, who pretended to be injured (using an arm-brace or crutches) as a ploy to ask his victims for help. When they helped him, he incapacitated and killed them, dumping their bodies far away.
- Gary M. Heidnik, who kidnapped and tortured six women and held them prisoner as sex slaves.
- Edmund Kemper, who, like Gumb, killed his grandparents as a teenager "just to see what it felt like."
- Gary Ridgway, the Green River Killer (still unidentified at the time of the novel's writing), who, like Gumb, dumped women's bodies in rivers and inserted foreign objects into their corpses.