Luda May Hewitt is the matriarch of the Hewitt family, the daughter of Grandpa Sawyer, and the mother of Sheriff Hoyt. She found the young baby who would later become Leatherface abandoned in a dumpster, and took him in to raise him as her son, naming him Thomas Brown Hewitt.
Luda May runs a local butcher shop in Texas, selling meat from the people her son Hoyt captures and her adoptive son Thomas kills and cuts up, and is the first member of Leatherface's family that the teenaged protagonists meet in the first film. Unlike in the original 1974 film, in which Leatherface's family was somewhat abusive to him, Luda May is fiercely protective of him. Part of her hatred towards the teenagers is due to the abuse that her deformed, mute, mentally retarded son suffered as a child at the hands of bullies. On the commentary for the DVD release the writers revealed a cut plotline that, prior to the prequel's continuity, involved Leatherface's abusive father locking him in a woodshack for three years. Once her husband dies, Luda May vows that she had stood by long enough and decides to look after her son and take responsibility for his shortcomings. Though Luda May states that she "never had a little girl", she appears very close to the character of Henrietta, leading to the possibility that she is her mother, or at the very least related. She also appears very close to the obese character of the Tea Lady. Like the other members of her clan, Luda May has a deranged sense of family pride.
Marich has commented that "Luda Mae is the matriarch of what I like to call the 'killer brood'. I always make up a personal history of characters I play, so I suspect that Luda Mae was a homeless young woman who had to make her own way during the Depression. When she finds Thomas, she takes him home, even though he's disfigured and hideously ugly, and protects him as much as possible from the cruel people he encounters and the world at large. That's her main purpose, and the only reason Luda Mae sticks around". In the prequel, she, with the rest of the Hewitt family, are discovered to be cannibals, something only implied in the first film. Like the mother of real killer Ed Gein (whom Thomas is based on), Luda Mae appears to have religious fanatic beliefs, which are seen when the Hewitts inform a captive that their murders are redemption for the victims' sins, and when Luda Mae demands that Hoyt say grace before every meal. Luda Mae is also seen still wearing her wedding ring.
Luda May is a prominent character in Wildstorm Comics's continuation of the movies. With the family exposed after the events of the first film, the comics finds the Hewitt family living in a series of tunnels in the sewers of Travis County. In the comics Luda May has become, perhaps in light of Sheriff Hoyt's death, more of a leader figure to the family than she was in the films. She exhibits more depravity as well (at one point snapping a victim's neck to prepare dinner) but still believes what she does is necessary for her family's survival, and that outsiders don't understand what she's been through and have no right to judge her.
Luda May also appears in the one-shot The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: About a Boy. Taking place in Leatherface's teenage years, the story has a concerned teacher named Mr.Hanson meeting with Luda May. Hanson tells her about evidence of Thomas' various problems, such as disturbing drawings in his notebooks and skins made from animals he has caught and killed himself. Throughout the conversation, Luda May remains apathetic, stating that "There's nothing wrong with my boy". When the frustrated teacher threatens to contact the city about Thomas, Luda May retaliates, bashing in the teacher's head with a shovel and killing him, once again proclaiming that there was nothing wrong with her son.