Wisconsin has been home to a handful of notorious serial killers throughout history, but perhaps none more have been more depraved than Jeffrey Dahmer.
Often known as the Milwaukee Cannibal, Jeffrey Dahmer was responsible for the murder and dismemberment of 17 young men between 1978 and 1991. While the murders alone are horrific enough, Dahmer went a step further by keeping various body parts as trophies, including severed limbs and human skulls, and in some cases even eating and making love to them.
In this article, we’re going to take a look into the bizarre world of this fiendish man-eater. Here’s everything you need to know about Jeffrey Dahmer.
An Ordinary Childhood
Unlike a lot of serial killers, Dahmer’s wasn’t rife with abuse and discipline. He was born May 21st, 1960 to Lionel and Joyce Dahmer, his father a medical student and his mother a teletype machine instructor. As a young boy, he was a happy and lively child with good social skills. He had a deep interest in animals, often collecting insects in jars and taking them home.
Things took a downturn when Dahmer started first grade. His mother, Joyce, had an argumentative nature and the young Dahmer was sometimes privy to her outbursts. Joyce suffered from several ailments leaving her weak and bedbound, and with her husband spending a lot of his time studying, this kept him away from home long stretches at a time.
Just before his fourth birthday, Dahmer underwent an operation to remove a double hernia, and it was after this that Dahmer became a different boy. Gone was the happy, energetic child and in his place was a shy, timid kid who spent all of his time alone.
A Fascination With The Dead
Dahmer’s interest in animals took a strange turn not long afterward. But instead of collecting insects in jars, he would pick up dead animals from the roadside, take them home and cut them up. What few friends Dahmer had at this point became unnerved by his strange interests, and soon Dahmer was left with no friends at all.
At eight years of age, Dahmer asked his father what might happen if he submerged leftover chicken bones in bleach. His father, now a professional chemist, simply assumed that his son was taking an interest in scientific experimentation. However, Dahmer’s reasons for asking were much more sinister. This grim fascination would later echo in his adult life.
Sexual Fantasies And Alcoholism
Despite his introverted nature, Dahmer was well-liked in school and was considered to be a polite boy. Teachers liked him and he achieved good grades. While he involved himself in numerous activities, including sports and music, he remained a lonely boy, still collecting and dismembering roadkill once school was over.
This obsession with mutilation bled over into another part of Dahmer’s life. Around age 16, his sexual fantasies began to develop, with Dahmer realizing that he had a desire for dominance and submission. This bled over into his obsession with mutilation, and together they created a series of twisted, disturbing fantasies that Dahmer would eventually act upon. He also realized that he was a homosexual, which at the time was still considered shameful.
Dahmer knew that his fantasies weren’t ‘normal’, and combined with his sexual orientation, made for one confused and ashamed young boy. To combat these feelings of disgrace, Dahmer turned to alcohol. He would often show up to school drinking scotch out of plastic cups, sometimes even being completely drunk during class.
Dahmer's First Victim
Dahmer didn’t know what was happening. He spent the majority of his time drunk, his sexual fantasies were beginning to consume him, and his parents were now separated. He’d lost what little friends he had, and dismembering roadkill was no longer appeasing his twisted desires. He wanted something bigger.
Dahmer committed his first murder when he was only 18, less than three weeks after his graduation from high school. Steven Hicks, an 18-year-old who had hitchhiked to Lockwood Corners for a concert, was approached by Dahmer as he was heading home. Dahmer invited Hicks to his home to drink, and after several hours, Hicks told Dahmer he had to leave.
Dahmer, desperate for company, attacked Hicks with a dumbbell then strangled the life out of him. When he passed out, Dahmer took Hicks’ corpse down to his basement, then mutilated the body the same way he’d done with so many animals over the years. He extracted the bones, crushed them to powder, then used acid to dissolve anything which remained.
More Of Jeffrey's Victims
“Nothing's really been normal ever since then. It taints your whole life. And I thought that I'd just try to live as normally as possible and just bury it, the memory of it and everything. But things like that don't stay buried forever. Like a festering sore, it doesn't get better, it just gets worse until finally, it ruptures.” – Jeffrey Dahmer on his first murder.
Two brief stints at Ohio University the US Army followed, but Dahmer was cut loose from both due to his excessive drinking. His next kill came nine years after his first, appeasing his fantasies during this period by masturbating in front of children in public and sexually assaulting men in bathhouses. In November 1987, Dahmer met 25-year-old Steven Tuomi in a bar and the two checked into a hotel together.
The next morning, after a drunken binge, Dahmer woke up to find he’d killed Tuomi in a violent rage. Dahmer later claimed no memory of this murder.
An Appetite For Killing
Dahmer’s murder of Tuomi kickstarted his murderous impulses again, and from this point he began to purposely seek out people to kill. He frequented gay bars, where he’d befriend young black men (his preferred type) and lure them home where he would ply them with drinks until he found an opportunity to drug them. Then, he’d rape and strangle them until they passed out.
Beginning with his fifth victim, Anthony Sears, Dahmer began preserving various body parts instead of dissolving them in acid. He decapitated Sears and cut off his hands and genitals, then placed them in a jar filled with acetone.
A Downward Spiral
Between January 1988 and July 1991, Dahmer killed a further twelve people, bringing his total victim count up to 17.
Luring men back to his apartment became easy once he perfected his modus operandi. After meeting men in gay bars, he would offer them money to pose for nude photographs. Once he had them isolated, he would pump them with drugs and alcohol until they were vulnerable enough for him to blitz-attack.
As he became a more confident killer, his depravity rapidly escalated. With one victim, Konerak Sinthasomphone, Dahmer drilled a hole into his skull and injected it with hydrochloric acid while he was still alive. He then dragged Sinthasomphone to his bedroom, where one of his previous victims still lay. Dahmer believed that injecting acid into his victims’ brains would place them in a constant submissive state, but it did nothing of the sort.
Post-death, Dahmer’s perversions also progressed. He took photos of his victims, both before and after dismemberment. He stored various body parts in his fridge and gradually consumed them. He began engaging in necrophilia, with full bodies and severed organs.
Jeffrey Dahmer Is Arrested
On July 22, 1991, Dahmer befriended 32-year-old Tracy Edwards. Edwards was meant to be a victim like all the rest, but things didn’t go as Dahmer planned.
Edwards ended up back at Dahmer’s apartment, but he quickly noticed a number of things that seemed out of the ordinary. Pungent odors, cans of hydrochloric acid, and a videotape of the Exorcist III playing in Dahmer’s bedroom.
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Dahmer tried to handcuff Edwards’ hands together, but Edwards resisted. Dahmer then pulled out a knife and told Edwards to undress so he could take pictures of him. Edwards obliged just long enough to keep Dahmer happy. Eventually, Dahmer withdrew his weapon and the two sat on the sofa. As Dahmer lay his head on Edwards’ chest, he told him he was going to eat his heart.
Edwards waitd until Dahmer was distracted, then punched him in the face and ran for his life. Outside the apartment, Edwards flagged down two police officers and led them to Dahmer’s apartment.
A Horrific Discovery
Dahmer greeted the two officers with smiles when they arrived at his door. They forced themselves inside and scoured the premises, first discovering a number of photographs of corpses in various stages of decay in Dahmer’s bedroom drawer. The officers noted that the pictures had been taken in the same room they were standing in.
Dahmer realized his game was up and began fighting with the officers, but he was soon overpowered and cuffed on the ground. Following a more thorough search of the infamous Apartment #213, police found four severed heads, seven human skulls, two human hearts, one bicep muscle, a mixed bag of human organs, two whole skeletons, one pair of hands, two mutilated penises, a scalp and three whole torsos dissolving in a vat of acid.
Dahmer's Sentencing And Death
Although he tried to plead not guilty by reason of insanity, psychologists determined that Jeffrey Dahmer was sane enough to stand trial. He was diagnosed with a myriad of mental illnesses, including borderline personality disorder, schizotypal personality disorder, and a psychotic disorder.
After confessing to the 17 murders of which he was charged, Dahmer was sentenced to life imprisonment in May 1992.
However, Dahmer wouldn’t last this long behind bars. In fact, he only lasted two and a half years. On November 28th, 1994, Dahmer was left alone in the prison showers with two other inmates, one of whom was a man named Christopher Scarver who was serving a life sentence for murder.
Guards arrived to find Dahmer lying on the bathroom floor with blood leaking from his forehead. Scarver had attacked him with a metal bar which he stole from the prison gym. Dahmer was rushed to hospital, but died hours later from his wounds.
Jeffrey Dahmer Movies
Dahmer’s story has been chronicled many times, most notably in the biopic Dahmer (2002). More recently is the film My Friend Dahmer (2017) which follows Dahmer’s life up until the point of his first murder. The film is based on a graphic novel written by cartoonist John Backderf, a childhood friend of Dahmer’s.
There have also been a number of documentaries dedicated to Jeffrey’s life, including an episode of Most Evil, and Dahmer on Dahmer: A Serial Killer Speaks. The latter features footage of a famous interview with Jeffrey Dahmer conducting by Stone Phillips in which Dahmer discusses his crimes and motivations in detail.
“The killing was a means to an end. That was the least satisfactory part. I didn't enjoy doing that. That's why I tried to create living zombies with uric acid in the drill, but it never worked.”
- “For what I did, I should be dead.” – said by Dahmer as police first arrested him.
- “The first killing was not planned. I had had fantasies about picking up a hitchhiker and taking him back to the house and having complete control and dominance over him.”
- “I could completely control a person—a person that I found physically attractive, and keep them with me as long as possible, even if it meant just keeping a part of them.”
- “Looking back on my life, I know I have made others suffer as much as I have suffered.”
- “The person to blame is sitting right across from you. It’s the only person. Not parents, not society, not pornography. I mean, those are just excuses.” – Dahmer subtly addressing Ted Bundy’s claims that pornography drove him to murder.
- “If I was killed in prison. That would be a blessing right now.”
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