|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 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 in California in 1948, and was abandoned at birth by his mother. His mother was an alcoholic prostitute, who had named him 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 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. He also attacked gay men. Soon after he began working in a Baltimore Curio store, where he met and began a relationship with Benjamin Raspail, despite the fact that Gumb wasn't gay. 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 jealously, 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. Gumb had then, over a period of time following the murder of his ex-lover's boyfriend, began applications for gender reassignment surgery. He applied to schools such as Johns Hopkins. However, all of his applications were declined by, as he was deemed too psychologically disturbed. He roughed up a doctor due to being turned down. In early 1975 he was introduced to Dr Hannibal Lecter through Raspail and had just one session. Lecter would end up being arrested for a series of murders himself, Raspail being his ninth victim.
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 by legal means acquire being female, he could make himself into a woman through fashioning together a woman suit. 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. He eventually killed her and for the first time, removed her skin. This was the first in the "Buffalo Bill" murders.
Buffalo Bill Edit
After Bimmel's murder, he proceeded to abduct four other women and, like Bimmel, kept them entrapped in the large dry well in the basement of Mrs. Lippman's home, making them clean their skin with lotion before he would eventually come to kill them. He hanged the first two victims, then decided to shoot any other victims. 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 was made national, 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. While in captivity, Martin managed to lure Precious into the well using a bucket and scraps of food. When Gumb learnt of this, this caused him great distress.
Meeting Clarice Starling Edit
FBI Agent Jack Crawford assigned rookie Agent Clarice Starling to speak to Dr Hannibal Lecter, an insane cannibalistic serial killer, in the hopes he may assist in catching Buffalo Bill (at this point had killed at least five girls). Starling spoke with Lecter and entered into a quid pro quo of information for information, would relinquish what she needed to catch him before Catherine loses her life. Starling revealed the memory of her father's murder in exchange for clues that would lead to him. Starling discovered Klaus' decapitated head in the vehicle stationed in the storage shed, belonging to Benjamin Raspail, whom Lecter had killed. Starling came to determine that Fredrica Bimmel was Bill's first victim and was weighed, so she would be found as a later victim, so the authorities and FBI could not deduce 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. Clarice then eventually came to Belvedere, Ohio, and upon coming to the Bimmel house and speaking to her father, 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. During this time, Lecter escaped from a temporary prison cell while in Memphis, killing five people.
Final Showdown and Death Edit
Starling goes to the Lippman house where she is greeted by Gumb, now calling himself Jack Gordon. After a seemingly polite exchange, she notices a moth fly past. Realising that Gumb is the killer she is after, orders him to surrender. Gumb merely smirks and runs through into the house. Starling follows him, when he suddenly turns out the lights. Starling, in great distress, tries to feel her way through the darkness, while Gumb watches her using his goggles. As he cocks his gun, Starling turns around and frantically fires her own gun, shooting Gumb several times in the chest, killing him. Catherine Martin was rescued and returned to normal life. 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 transgendered and desired to transition. However, due to his early murders, attacks on gay men, and personality tests, he did not meet the requirements as transsexual. 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. 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, in order to make it 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.