A face that needs no introduction, one of the most infamous serial killers in the world, here’s the case of “The Milwaukee Cannibal” aka Jeffrey Dahmer.
Jeffrey Lionel Dahmer was born on 21st May 1960 at the Evangelical Deaconess Hospital in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. When he was born his father, Lionel Dahmer was working toward his chemistry degree at Marquette University and his mother Joyce Annette Dahmer worked as a teletype machine instructor. The marriage was described as tense with Joyce being known to be greedy for both attention and pity, as well as tense and argumentative with both her husband and neighbours.
Dahmer’s early childhood seems uneventful with him being described as a “happy and energetic child”, however a change in behaviour came at the age of four when Dahmer was sent to hospital with a double hernia, this event reportedly changed him, and he became much more withdrawn.
By the time he was entering first grade things were worse at home within his parent’s marriage as his mother began to spend an increased amount of time in bed recovering from weakness, as she lay in bed Dahmer’s father was working more intensely in his studies and spent much more time away from the family home, it was clear that Joyce Dahmer had slipped into a deep depression along with behaviours indicating she suffered from hypochondria so when Lionel was home she would demand constant attention, leaving little time spent on their child. Reportedly Joyce would work herself into a state of anxiety over trivial matters and once attempted suicide taking an overdose of Equanil (a mild tranquilizer).
In October 1966, the family moved to Doylestown, Ohio, there Joyce gave birth to Dahmer’s younger brother David, the name chosen by Dahmer although the brothers were never close, at this point Lionel had earned his degree and had started working as an analytical chemist in Akron, Ohio.
The Dahmer family moved again in 1968 to Bath Township, Ohio. While there Lionel Dahmer alleged that a boy in their neighbourhood had molested 8-year-old Dahmer, this claim went unreported to the police, but in his time living here Dahmer started to have violent curiosities, it is alleged that at the age of 10, he started to experiment with dead animals, it started with collecting large insects such as dragonflies and butterflies and keeping them in jars, to then decapitating small animals such as rats and mice, and collecting carcasses from the roadside. He would sometimes take friends with him to find carcasses, once he collected one, he would either take it home to dismember or to a nearby woodland. One friend spoke about this recalling how Dahmer had started keeping parts from the carcasses in jars in the family’s tool shed, telling friends he was “curious of how animals fitted together” while doing this he would also use chemicals to bleach the bones. This escalated further when in one incident he decapitated the carcass of a dog, nailed the body to a tree and impaled the skull on a stake beside a woodland.
His parents were somewhat aware of his fascination with dead animals and although concerned they just assumed it was part of adolescent curiosity, while recalling this time his father remembered that during a chicken dinner with the family Dahmer asked what would happen if chicken bones were placed in bleach, his father was pleased in his interest in chemistry in this question and showed him how to safely bleach and preserve animal bones. It was also claimed by Lionel Dahmer that the fascination with animal carcasses and bones may have started much sooner when at 4-years-old Dahmer witnessed his father remove the bones of an animal that had died under the family home, he said Dahmer was “oddly thrilled” by the bones and seemed to love the sound they made, he became preoccupied with the bones and often returned to the area under the house to see if there were any more.
Dahmer did not thrive too much through high school, he attended Revere High School and was seen as an outcast with few friends, with people keeping their distance as he could be short tempered and intimidating. Teachers recalled that Dahmer was a polite and intelligent student and that his grades were average due to his apathy toward his studies, while in school he did take part in some extra-curricular activities including playing tennis and briefly joining the high school band.
By the age of 14 Dahmer was also drinking heavily, he would smuggle hard alcohol to school in a Styrofoam cup telling classmates it was his “medicine”. Despite the faculty’s knowledge of this claiming that he would often “reek of Scotch” they never questioned him about this.
Most surprising about his time in high school is even though classmates tried to keep their distance for the most part they were still amused by Dahmer as he was dubbed “the class clown”, his peers would enjoy his performances of stumbling through the mall drunk, his prank of pretending to have a seizure in front of strangers, and his habit of drawing chalk outlines of bodies on the ground in the school halls, many said they thought he was fun to watch, but reiterated that they thought Dahmer was intimidating due to his size and temper.
When he reached puberty, Dahmer realised he was gay, he did not tell his parents or anyone at the time but did have a brief relationship with another boy his age, but the relationship never progressed to a sexual level. Dahmer said in later interviews that it was this point in his life that he began fantasising about dominating a completely submissive partner, it was not long before these fantasies overlapped with his fantasies about mutilation and dissection. He admitted that his first attempted attack was at 16-years-old when he started having violent fantasies about a male jogger he was attracted to, he imagined dominating and making sexual use of the man’s body, so much so that on one occasion Dahmer hid in a bush with a baseball bat on the jogger’s route, but the jogger did not pass that day.
At 17-years-old heading into his final year of high school his grades started to suffer, his parents noticed and hired a private tutor this did not seem to help Dahmer much. Around this time also, his parent’s marriage was coming to its end, they attended counselling, but it came out that Joyce had a brief affair in September 1977, so Lionel decided to divorce Joyce telling Dahmer and his brother that it was amicable when he left the family home in 1978.
As Dahmer had turned 18 the courts could not tell him which parent he had to live with, neither parent seemed too concerned which one he would live with either, but with now 12-year-old David Joyce got full custody and moved to Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, the divorce was then finalised on 24th July 1978. Dahmer continued to live in the family house in Bath Township, he lived there alone after his father left leaving Dahmer with no money or food just a broken refrigerator. While alone in the once family home while everyone else had moved on Dahmer was isolated with his violent fantasies used as an escape for the family turmoil around him at the time, they eventually boiled over until he could not contain it anymore and committed the first of the 16 murders.
On 18th June 1978 just a few days after his high school graduation Dahmer picked up Steven Hicks, an 18-year-old hitchhiker who was making his way to Chippewa Lake for a rock concert. Dahmer lured Hicks to his house for drinks, Hicks agreed to accompany Dahmer. Dahmer claimed the two drank and listened to music for several hours, but when Hicks said he wanted to leave Dahmer turned violent and bludgeoned Hicks with a 10lb dumbbell. Dahmer stated that he struck Hicks twice from behind as he sat on a chair, when Hicks was unconscious Dahmer began strangling him with the bar of the dumbbell, he said he then took off Hicks’ clothes and stood above the corpse to masturbate. The following day he started to dissect Hicks’ body in the basement before burying the remains in the backyard of the property. Several weeks later Dahmer dug the remains up and removed the flesh from the bones, he dissolved it in acid and flushed the dissolved flesh down the toilet then crushed the bones with a sledgehammer and finally scattered the chunks of bone in the woodland by the house where he left animal remains years before. Dahmer was very nearly caught in the first murder as he moved Hicks’ body to the woodland, as he transported the remains in the trunk of his car he was pulled over by police, he was drunk at the wheel also, but police let him go.
Just weeks after the divorce Lionel Dahmer returned with a new wife Shari, they found Dahmer living alone in the basically abandoned property and decided to help him by paying a semester in advance at Ohio State University (OSU), he enrolled that August hoping to major in business. He did one semester at OSU and it was described as unproductive because of his heavy drinking throughout the semester. His GPA was 0.45/4.0 with failing grades in Introduction to Anthropology, Classical Civilization and Administrative Science, he did however excel in the Riflery class with a B- grade, Lionel would visit Dahmer, surprising him with visits only to be met by his son living in a room with empty liquor bottles strewn everywhere.
In January 1979 Lionel urged Dahmer to find some direction in the new year and suggested he enlist in the US Army, he trained as a medical specialist at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas. He was then station in Baumholder, West Germany serving as a combat medic in the 2nd Battalion, 68th Armoured Regiment, 8th infantry division, records show reports about Dahmer’s first year of service describing him as an “average or slightly above average soldier”. Despite such average reports it was reported that Dahmer had some problems being around blood, probably due to the fact it would excite him and trigger distracting urges, as well as spending most of his weekends partying and drinking heavily.
Dahmer’s violent urges could not be quashed from the discipline of the army either as he attacked two young men while they served alongside him, he did not kill the men, but still tortured and raped them. 20-year-old Preston Davis met Dahmer while they were stationed in Germany, he said “I didn’t care for him because of his racial overtures, he was a very racist individual and once he started drinking, he became a very obnoxious individual” he recalled Dahmer’s heavy drinking and that he would boast about Steven Hicks’ murder while drunk he would say “I killed the guy in Ohio” while the other soldiers did not believe him and would simply scoff “you didn’t kill nobody!”. Davis and Dahmer were taking part in a field exercise in Belgium in October 1979 and their vehicle broke down early in the exercise, while they made their way back Davis was drugged and assaulted by Dahmer, he stated “The reason he didn’t kill me was that we were out in the middle of Belgium and he had no idea how to get back to Germany”. Davis blocked the incident for 30 years after saying “My mind had shut down that whole time”, Davis underwent therapy for military sexual trauma after coming across Dahmer’s name online years after his death he said about his death “The only thing I can say is karma…I don’t consider myself a victim. I’m a survivor”.
Dahmer struck again in the military, his roommate Billy Capshaw was subjected to torture and abuse between 1979 and 1981 when he served with Dahmer, Capshaw said “Jeff Dahmer was a sociopath, a psychopath, a narcissist – he was insane” according to an account of what happened to Billy Capshaw published on the website Surviving Dahmer, he manipulated Capshaw coming across as a likeable and charismatic person for few days then he started his process of controlling Capshaw by beating him, Capshaw did reportedly speak to higher ups and was told he was a “Pussy” and nothing more was said or done about the situation, after this the abuse worsened as Dahmer started to use an iron bar from the bed frame to hit Capshaw across the joints, Capshaw recalled this time saying “It was Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, I was in a room I was scared to come out of. I would steal Jeff’s money thinking that if he didn’t have any money, that he wouldn’t drink anymore and therefore wouldn’t hurt me anymore. He beat me so badly for that, and to stop me from screaming, he hit me harder.” In one incident Capshaw tried to escape through the window, things got so bad he said “I thought about killing myself. And I thought about killing him”. The ordeal for Capshaw ended when Dahmer left the military, but like Davis he too buried the trauma until many years later saying “It took me a long time to cope with what happened, and I only came out with my experience after my father died. It was too horrible, too embarrassing, and I didn’t want my dad to know.”
In March 1981 Dahmer was discharged from the military due to his alcohol abuse he was deemed unsuitable for service it was an honourable discharge as his superiors did not believe that the problems he had would be applicable to civilian life. On 24th March 1981 Dahmer was sent to Fort Jackson, South Carolina for debriefing. He was provided a plane ticket to travel anywhere in the country after the debriefing, he chose to go to Miami Beach, Florida he said later that he chose to do this because he was “tired of the cold” and he did not want to return home and face his father now that he had left the military.
In Florida Dahmer rented a room in a motel and worked at a delicatessen, he soon lost his room when he did not keep up with payments spending his salary on alcohol, for a time he slept on the beach and continued to work in the delicatessen until he phoned his father asking to return home to Ohio, he left in September of 1981.
Dahmer moved back in with his father and stepmother on his return, he did chores for them to be occupied while he looked for work, he continued to drink heavily and two weeks after his return he was arrested for drunk and disorderly conduct being handed a $60 fine and a 10-day jail sentence. Following this Dahmer’s father tried to wean his son off the alcohol, but by December 1981 he and Dahmer’s stepmother decided it was best he moved to live with his grandmother in West Allis, Wisconsin, believing that the change in scenery would help as well as she was the only family member that Dahmer seemed to have any affection for.
Living with his grandmother seemed to be working out for Dahmer, he would go to church with her, run errands and undertake chores, actively looked for a job and respected the rules she set for the house. By early 1982 he found a job as a phlebotomist at the Milwaukee Blood Plasma Centre, the job lasted 10 months until he was laid off.
On 7th August 1982 he was arrested for indecent exposure for an incident at Wisconsin State Fair Park, he reportedly exposed himself to a crowd of 25 women and children he was fined $50 plus court costs for this conviction.
Dahmer eventually found another job as a mixer at the Milwaukee Ambrosia Chocolate Factory in January 1985, he worked night from 11pm to 7am six night a week, giving him Saturday nights off. Around this time Dahmer was propositioned by a young man while he sat in West Allis public library, a young man handed him a note offering him oral sex, Dahmer did not respond to the note, but the incident is said to have triggered his fantasies of control and dominance making him want to attack and kill once again. Also, around this time he was known to have stolen a male mannequin from a store which he would use for sexual stimulation until his grandmother found it and demanded that he get rid of it.
By late 1985 Dahmer was regularly frequenting bathhouses he described them as “relaxing places” for him, but he would become frustrated when he had encounters with men when they would move and interact during the sex acts, he said following his arrest about these encounters “I trained myself to view people as objects of pleasure instead of people”, he showed this by June 1986 when he started administering sleeping pills to his partners in their drinks and then raping them while they were unconscious, after 12 incidents the bathhouse administration decided to permanently revoke Dahmer’s membership, he moved on to meeting men in hotel rooms after this.
Dahmer admitted that after being banned from the bathhouse he conceived an idea to feed his dark urges further when he read a report in a newspaper about the upcoming funeral of a local 18-year-old man, he decided he was going to dig the body up and stealing it for it himself, he claimed to have attempted to dig up the coffin but found the soil was too hard so abandoned the plan.
Dahmer got into trouble with the law once again in August 1986 as he was reported for masturbating in front of two 12-year-old boys as he was stood close to the Kinnickinnic River, he admitted the offence initially and was charged with indecent exposure but changed his story and claimed he had just been urinating unaware that the boys were there. The charge was dropped to disorderly conduct and he was sentenced to one-year probation and instructions that he was to undergo counselling on 10th March 1987.
On 20th November 1987 Dahmer took his second victim, he had booked a suite at the Ambassador hotel in Milwaukee for the evening, he then encountered 25-year-old Steven Tuomi from Ontonagon, Michigan at a bar and persuaded him to return to his room for the night. When recalling this murder Dahmer claimed that he had no intention of killing Tuomi, he only wanted to drug and rape him. Dahmer woke the next morning and claimed that Tuomi was lying beneath him on the bed with his chest “crushed in”, blood seeping from the corner of his mouth with Dahmer’s fists and forearms extensively bruised, he also claimed that he “could not believe this had happened” and had no recollection of physically doing it. In a panic to dispose of Tuomi’s body Dahmer purchased a large suitcase to transport the remains to his grandmother’s house. He kept the body for a week then severed the head, arms, and legs from the torso, he cut the flesh into to small enough pieces to handle then placed the pieces into garbage bags and wrapped the bones inside a sheet to pound them into splinters with a sledgehammer. It took Dahmer two hours to complete this process before he disposed of everything except the severed head in the trash. He kept the severed head for a further two weeks keeping it wrapped in a blanket, he eventually boiled the head in an industrial detergent mixed with bleach for two hours in an attempt to keep the skull, he would use this as a stimulus for masturbation, but the bleaching process had left the skull too brittle so he smashed it up and disposed of it.
On 16th January 1988 Dahmer struck again, when he found 14-year-old James Doxtator, he lured Doxtator to his home with an offer of $50 in exchange for the youth to pose for nude photos. The pair engaged in sexual activity before Dahmer drugged Doxtator and strangled him on the floor of the cellar. He left Doxtator’s body in the cellar for a week before beginning the same disposal process as he did in Steven Tuomi’s murder, he once again kept the skull for a while after until he smashed it up and disposed of it. On 24th March 1988 Dahmer encountered 22-year-old Richard Guerrero outside The Phoenix a gay bar local to Dahmer. Guerrero was lured back to Dahmer’s grandmother’s residence with the understanding that Dahmer would pay him $50 to simply spend the night with him. Dahmer drugged Guerrero with sleeping pills and strangled him with a leather strap, this time however he performed oral sex on Guerrero’s body before dismembering him within 24 hours, despite dismembering the body sooner than the other victims, Dahmer stuck to his pattern again by disposing of the remains in the trash and keeping the skull several months before smashing it up.
On 24th March 1988 Dahmer encountered 22-year-old Richard Guerrero outside The Phoenix a gay bar local to Dahmer. Guerrero was lured back to Dahmer’s grandmother’s residence with the understanding that Dahmer would pay him $50 to simply spend the night with him. Dahmer drugged Guerrero with sleeping pills and strangled him with a leather strap, this time however he performed oral sex on Guerrero’s body before dismembering him within 24 hours, despite dismembering the body sooner than the other victims, Dahmer stuck to his pattern again by disposing of the remains in the trash and keeping the skull several months before smashing it up.
Just shy of a month later on 23rd April 1988 he lured another young man back to the house, he started his process of drugging the man, but then his grandmother returned home and called out “is that you, Jeff?” he replied implying he has alone, but his grandmother worked out that he did have someone in the house and because of this knowledge the man was spared, once the drugs kicked in and he became unconscious Dahmer drove him County General Hospital and left him there.
By September 1988 Dahmer’s grandmother had enough and asked him to move out, sick of him bringing young men home and the foul smells that would come from the basement and the garage. Dahmer soon found an apartment on North 25th Street and moved in on 25th September.
A day after he moved in Dahmer was arrested for drugging and molesting a 13-year-old Anouke Sinthasomphone, he had lured the Sinthasomphone to his home on the pretext of posing for nude photographs. He was convicted in January 1989 of second-degree sexual assault and of enticing a child for immoral purposes, the sentencing was suspended until May 1989, in the meantime Dahmer moved back into his grandmother’s house on 20th March 1989.
While he awaited sentencing Dahmer continued to kill, he took his fifth victim 24-year-old aspiring model Anthony Sears when he encountered him at a gay bar on 25th March 1989. Dahmer claimed on this occasion he was not looking for a victim, but as closing time approached, he said Sears “just started talking to me” he got Sears back to his grandmother’s house where they engaged in sexual activity before Dahmer drugged and strangled Sears. The next morning, he began dismembering the body in the bathtub, he decapitated and attempted to flay Sears’ body, once he had stripped the flesh from the body, he pulverised the bones, then disposed of them in the trash. When discussing Sears Dahmer said he found him “exceptionally attractive” thus driving him to retain body parts, he kept Sears’ head painting the skull grey and genitalia in acetone, he stored these in his work locker until he eventually found a new address the following year.
On 23rd May 1989 Dahmer’s trial began, Dahmer spoke in relation to the sexual exploitation and second-degree assault charges, he told the courts he believed the boy looked a lot older, that he was sorry and had seen the error of his ways with the arrest being a turning point in his life, his defence attorney further argued that Dahmer needed treatment not imprisonment, the judge agreed and made Dahmer register as a sex offender and gave a sentence of five years’ probation with one year in the House of Correction permitting work release so that he was able to keep his job at the chocolate factory.
Dahmer was paroled after serving ten months, his five years’ probation began, he would check in with a probation worker once a month with the officer being required to also visit Dahmer at home, however these home visits would not happen, when investigated after his arrest for the murders the Department of Corrections said that they had waived this right due to probation workers being overloaded with cases and simply being unable to visit everybody. After release he moved back in with his grandmother temporarily but moved again on 14th May 1990 to live in Apartment 213 on 924 North 25th Street, this was described as a high crime area, but as the apartment was close to his workplace and was priced at $300 per month inclusive of all bills except electricity, he found it cheap for his lifestyle.
On 20th May 1990, a week after moving into his new apartment Dahmer lured 32-year-old Raymond Smith back with the promise of $50 for sex, once inside Dahmer gave Smith a drink spiked with sleeping pills and strangled him once he had passed out, after this murder Dahmer purchased a Polaroid camera in order to take photos of Smith’s body in suggestive positions, then dismembered him in the bathroom. He once again started the process of breaking the body down by boiling the legs, arms and pelvis in a steel kettle with Soilex (a strong detergent) then rinsed the bones in the sink, he used acid to dissolve the rest of the body but kept the skull and placed it alongside the skull of previous victim Anthony Sears in a filing cabinet.
Just four days after this murder Dahmer struck again when he encountered his acquaintance 27-year-old Edward Smith he was lured back to Dahmer’s apartment drugged then strangled, on this occasion Dahmer decided to change his method in order to try and preserve the bones, this time he placed Smith’s skeleton in the freezer for several months in the hope it would not retain any moisture, this did not work so he returned to using acid. Once he was done acidifying the bones, he tried to dry the skull in the oven and accidentally destroyed it as it exploded. When speaking about this Dahmer told police that he felt “rotten” about this murder simply because he was unable to keep any of the body parts.
Dahmer had a failed attempt around a week after the murder of Raymond Smith, around 27th May 1990 Dahmer lured a young man back to the apartment, but when it came to drugging the man, he had accidentally taken the drink containing the drugs, he passed out for the night and woke to find that the young man had left and taken with him $300, several items of clothing and a watch. This incident went unreported by Dahmer, but he did mention to his probation worker at the time that he had been robbed.
Around three months after the robbery Dahmer took another victim, 22-year-old Ernest Miller who was originally from Chicago was on the corner of North 27th Street when Dahmer saw him and offered him $50 to accompany Dahmer back to the apartment agreeing to allow Dahmer to listen to his heart and stomach, when performing this act Daher attempted to have oral sex with Miller to which Miller reportedly said “that’ll cost you extra” this is when Dahmer offered Miller a drink laced with sleeping pills. As Dahmer did not have many sleeping pills left Miller had a lower dose, as he fought Dahmer’s advances semi-conscious Dahmer ended up killing him by slashing his carotid artery with the knife, he would normally use to dissect bodies, he bled out within minutes. Dahmer began his new ritual of posing the body in suggestive positions and took Polaroids before dismembering, as he dismembered Miller’s body he would repeatedly kiss and talk to his severed head he wrapped his heart, biceps and portions of flesh from the legs into plastic bags and stored them in the fridge, he boiled the flesh and organs into a “jelly-like” substance using Soilex again, this stripped the skeleton of flesh for Dahmer to retain. He kept head stored in the fridge until he was ready to also strip it of flesh then painted and coated it with enamel.
Dahmer did not commit any murders between October 1990 and February 1991, this was not through lack of trying as there were reportedly five occasions where he failed to lure men back to his apartment, it was also around this time his mental health had started to deteriorate further as he began to experience feelings of anxiety and depression leading to suicidal thoughts, his probation worker in 1990 said he had spoken of these issues, but attributed them to his sexuality (which would not have been as accepted when he grew up), his solitary lifestyle and financial difficulties due to his drinking.
On 18th February 1991 Dahmer saw 17-year-old Curtis Straughter standing at a bus stop near Marquette University, Dahmer claimed that he lured Straughter back to the apartment by offering money to pose for nude photos and offering sex. Dahmer strangled Straughter with a leather strap and began to dismember him, he retained Straughter’s skull, hands and genitals while photographing every stage of dismemberment for later enjoyment.
On 7th April 1991 19-year-old Errol Lindsey ran into Dahmer when he was walking to get a key cut, Lindsey was described as a heterosexual, but Dahmer was still able to lure him back to the apartment, he drugged Lindsey, but started to experiment with a new idea for his victims, he drilled a hole into Lindsey’s skull and poured hydrochloric acid in the hole, he reportedly did this as he was trying to create a permanently submissive partner. Dahmer claimed that Lindsey did wake up from the “procedure” saying “I have a headache, what time is it?”. As the experiment had failed Dahmer drugged Lindsey a second time and strangled him. He then started to dismember Lindsey, decapitating him and keeping the skull, this time he tried to flay the body in order to start keeping skin, he attempted to preserve it in a solution of cold water and salt for several weeks, this rendered the skin frayed and brittle, so Dahmer reluctantly disposed of it.
As the murders in Apartment 213 started to accelerate again residents began to complain to the building manager at Oxford Apartments Sopa Princewell that foul smells were emanating from Dahmer’s apartment and that the sounds of falling objects (noises of his victims being attacked/moved) and that the sound of a chainsaw could also be heard at strange times. When confronted the first time about this Dahmer managed to convince Princewell that the smell had been from rotten food as his freezer had broken, when confronted on another occasion as the smell continued, he this time said it was because his tropical fish had recently died promising to deal with it.
Despite the eyes of neighbours on him for his odd living habits Dahmer continued to kill, on 24th May 1991 Dahmer handed 31-year-old deaf mute Anthony “Tony” Hughes a note with a request asking him to pose nude, Hughes went back to Dahmer’s apartment where he was drugged and strangled, Hughes was left in the apartment for a couple of days prior to dismemberment.
On 26th May 1991 Dahmer struck again with Hughes’ body still on the floor of the apartment bedroom he was able to lure 14-year-old Konerak Sinthasomphone from Wisconsin Avenue to his apartment with an offer to pose for Polaroids in exchange for money, Sinthasomphone was reluctant, but changed his mind and accompanied Dahmer, once at the apartment he posed for two pictures in his underwear before being drugged and losing consciousness, once passed out Dahmer performed oral sex on him and then drilled a hole into his skull and injected hydrochloric acid into the frontal lobe, in a semi-conscious state Sinthasomphone was led into the bedroom where Hughes’ body was decomposing, Dahmer recalled that he may have seen the body, but did not seem to register it due to his incapacitated state, as the boy lost consciousness again Dahmer laid alongside him and drank heavily until he went out to a bar. In a heart-breaking twist Sinthasomphone was the younger brother of the boy that Dahmer had molested in 1988.
Next one of the most controversial events of this case took place, in the early morning of 27th May 1991 Dahmer returned to his apartment to find Sinthasomphone had escaped and was sat on the corner of 25th and State talking in his native language of Lao, he had two distressed young women with him Sandra Smith and Nicole Childress that noticed the injuries of sexual assault on Sinthasomphone, Dahmer approached the women and said that Sinthasomphone was his friend John Hmung and attempted to lead him back to the apartment by the arm, they managed to dissuade Dahmer telling him they had called 9-1-1. Milwaukee police officers John Balcerzak and Joseph Gabrish responded to the call and when they arrived Dahmer calmly told them that Sinthasomphone was his 19-year-old boyfriend and that an argument had broken out between them after too much to drink, saying that this sort of behaviour was normal for him when intoxicated, one of the women quickly pointed out to officers that Sinthasomphone was bleeding from his rectum and had struggled when Dahmer attempted to take him to the apartment, the officers harshly told the women to “butt out” “shut the hell up” and to not interfere in what they were deeming as a “gay domestic”. Had these two officers run a simple background check of Jeffrey Dahmer they would have found the record of the probation he was on for molesting Sinthasomphone’s older brother.
The women protested as officers wrapped Sinthasomphone in a towel and walked him into Dahmer’s apartment, in order to solidify his claim to officers that the pair were lovers he showed officers the Polaroids he had taken the night before. As they were in the apartment, they noted the “strange odour” reminiscent of excrement in the apartment, but Dahmer claimed their investigation of this went no further than one officer “peeking around the door” of the bedroom without really taking any of the surroundings in. As the officers left, they made a departing remark to Dahmer that he should “take good care” of Sinthasomphone. Once the officers left Dahmer once again attempted to lobotomize Sinthasomphone, this second attempt with hydrochloric acid killed him. Dahmer took the next day off work to dismember the bodies of Anthony Hughes and Konerak Sinthasomphone, he left the bodies to dissolve in acid and retained both skulls in storage with the others.
In the aftermath of the Jeffrey Dahmer case both officers Balcerxak and Gabrish had their roles with Milkwaukee Police Department were terminated, due to the high publicization of the case the audio tape from the Sinthasomphone call was played, on the tape the officers could be heard making homophobic statements and cracking jokes about “reuniting the lovers” with childish giggles being heard as they referred to Sinthasonphone as “an intoxicated naked Asian Male” being returned to his “sober boyfriend” adding another derogatory remark when the next call to the squad car came in saying “ten-four. It will be a minute. My partner is going to get deloused at the station”. As well as the not checking Dahmer’s name and already questionable background it was questioned why the officers did not check Sinthasomphone’s Id to verify the identity and age that Dahmer was claiming he was. The city of Milwaukee paid the Sinthasomphone family $850,000 to settle a lawsuit over the police’s handling of the situation. Both officers appealed their termination in and in 1994 Judge Robert J Parins decided the case and ruled in favour of the officers allowing their reinstatement in June 1994.
On 30th June 1991 Dahmer travelled to Chicago, there he found 20-year-old Matt Turner at a bus station, Turner agreed to travel to Milwaukee with Dahmer for what he believed was a professional photo shoot, once at the apartment Turner was drugged and strangled. Dahmer dismembered the body and placed his head and internal organs in the freezer wrapped in plastic bags, Turner’s disappearance from Chicago went unreported.
On 5th July 1991 just five days later Dahmer returned to Chicago and lured 23-year-old Jeremiah Weinberger from a bar back to his apartment on the promise of spending the weekend together. Weinberger was drugged once alone with Dahmer and he continued his experiments with lobotomizing by injecting boiling water through his skull twice, this sent him into a coma, and died two days after meeting Dahmer.
Ten days later, on 15th July 1991 24-year-old Oliver Lacy was next to fall victim to Dahmer when he spotted Lacy at the corner of 27th and Kilbourn. He agreed to accompany Dahmer under the ruse of posing for nude photographs at his apartment, once back the men did reportedly engage in consensual sexual activity before Lacy was drugged. This time Dahmer tried to prolong his time with Lacy by unsuccessfully trying to render him unconscious with chloroform. Dahmer eventually strangled Lacy and proceeded to have sex with the body before dismembering him, Lacy’s head and heart were retained in the freezer with his flayed skeleton placed in the freezer.
While holding Lacy captive Dahmer called his workplace requesting a day of absence in order to spend time dismembering his victim. This request was granted, but the following day he received word that he had been suspended, four days later, on 19th July 1991 Dahmer was officially fired from his job, on receipt of this news Dahmer searched for another victim.
25-year-old Joseph Bradehoft was lured back to the apartment, he was strangled, and Dahmer left his body on the bed covered with a sheet for two days. When he returned and lifted the sheet, he recalled that maggots had started to cover the head, so he decapitated and cleaned it to place in the refrigerator, he then acidified the torso with another two victims from the previous month.
On 22nd July 1991 Dahmer attempted to take his final victim when he approached three men and offered $100 to accompany him back to the apartment to take nude photos, drink beer and keep him company. Only one of the men agreed, 32-year-old Tracy Edwards arrived at the apartment and immediately noted the foul smell and the strangely high amount of hydrochloric acid owned by Dahmer, he claimed when asked that he used it to clean bricks. Conversation continued between the two men until Dahmer convinced Edwards to turn his head and look at the tropical fish, he then tried to place handcuffs on his wrist failing to cuff both wrists together, he then told Edwards to go to the bedroom to take the photographs. When he entered the bedroom, he noted several nude male posters on the wall, that a videotape of The Exorcist III (1990) was playing on the TV and that in the corner of the room was a blue 57—gallon drum emitting a strong odour. Soon things turned when Dahmer brandished a knife and informed Edwards that he intended to take nude pictures of him, Edwards told Dahmer he would allow him to do so in a bid to appease him and de-escalate the situation, he told Dahmer that he must put the knife away in order to continue, he put the knife away and reportedly turned his attention to the tv that was still playing the movie, as he focused on the screen Edwards observed him rocking back and forth and chanting before turning back to Edwards. He placed his head on Edward’s chest and listened to his heartbeat informing him while pressing the knife against him that he was planning to eat his heart.
As Edward’s started to fear for his safety, he told Dahmer that he was his friend and was not going to run away, he planned to either jump from a window or run through the unlocked front door at the next opportunity. Edwards stated that he needed to use the bathroom and asked Dahmer if the two could sit in the living room with a beer as that room had air conditioning, Dahmer agreed, and he took Edwards to the living room once he exited the bathroom he waited for Dahmer to lose concentration and requested the bathroom again, as he rose from the couch eh noticed that Dahmer had let go of the loose handcuff so he punched him in the face hard enough to knock him off balance and run for the front door.
At 11:30 pm that night Edwards managed to flag down two Milwaukee police officers Robert Rauth and Rolf Mueller at the corner of North 25th Street. Upon seeing Edwards, the officers noted the handcuff on his wrists, and he began to explain that a “freak” had placed the handcuffs upon him and asked if the officers would be able to remove them, the keys the officers had did not fit the handcuffs, so the officers accompanied Edwards to the apartment he told them he had been held captive in for the last five hours. The officers arrived at Apartment 213 to Dahmer inviting both officers and Edwards into the apartment and acknowledged to the officers that he had indeed placed the cuffs on him but offered no reason for why he had done this. Edwards also told officers at the point that he had also held a knife to him in the bedroom of the apartment, Dahmer had nothing to say about this claim and simply told officer Mueller that the key to the cuffs was in his bedside dresser, he followed Mueller into the bedroom to retrieve the key when Rauth stopped him and told him to “back off”. As he walked around the bed Mueller saw the knife beneath the bed and then noticed an open drawer, in the drawer was Dahmer’s Polaroid collection containing photos of his victims in various stages of dismemberment. As he looked at the photos, he saw that the background in the photos matched Dahmer’s apartment, he took the photos out to show Rauth telling him “These are for real”.
Dahmer noticed that Mueller had the Polaroids and started fighting with officers in a bid to resist arrest, he was quickly overpowered by the two officers and cuffed with his hands behind his back. They called for back up and Mueller opened the refrigerator and found a freshly severed head, at this point Dahmer noticed that they had found the head and told the officers “For what I did I should be dead”.
Milwaukee police’s Criminal Investigation Bureau conducted the full search on Apartment 213 and found a total of four severed heads in the kitchen, seven skulls some painted some bleached in the bedroom closet, blood drippings in a tray at the bottom of the refrigerator and two human hearts and some arm muscle wrapped in plastic on the shelves. They continued in the freezer and found an entire torso, a bag of human organs and some flesh stuck to the ice at the bottom, with two entire skeletons, a pair of severed hands, two severed penises, a mummified scalp in the 57- gallon drum, three further torsos dissolving in acid and 74 Polaroids detailing various dismemberments of the victims. The chief medical examiner overseeing the recovered remains stated “It was more like dismantling someone’s museum than an actual crime scene”.
Dahmer’s questioning began in the early hours of 23rd July 1991, Detective Patrick Kennedy and Detective Patrick Murphy questioned him over a two-week period about the murders and the evidence in his apartment totalling 60 hours in numerous interviews. Waiving the right to have a lawyer present Dahmer said he had “created this horror and it only makes sense I do everything to put an end to it” he admitted to having murdered 16 young men in Wisconsin since 1987 and one in Ohio in 1978. He further admitted to committing acts of necrophilia with several of the bodies as he dismembered them in the bathtub, to consuming the hearts, livers, biceps and portions of thighs from several of the victims killed in 1990 and that he preserved skulls and skeletons as he was in the process of constructing a private altar he was planning to display on the black table located in the living room of the apartment, some victims were also posed on this table to take photos post mortem, on 18th November 1991 in one of the interviews detectives asked him who he was dedicating this altar to, he said “Myself, it was a place where I could feel at home, a place for meditation” he believed that he would draw a sense of power from this telling police “if this [his arrest] had happened six months later, that’s what they would have found”. He went on to describe when asked about the increased rate he was killing in the two months prior to arrest, he stated he had been “completely swept along” with his compulsion to kill saying “it was an incessant and never-ending desire to be with someone at whatever cost. Someone good looking, really nice looking. It just filled my thoughts all day long”.
On 25th July 1991 Dahmer was charges with four counts of first-degree murder, raised to 11 further counts on 22nd August 1991 for the murders in Wisconsin. Investigators in Ohio had uncovered hundreds of bone fragments in woodland behind his old house where he had killed his first victim, two molars and a vertebra identified the body as Steven Hicks, so on 17th September 1991 Dahmer was charged with Hick’s murder by Ohio authorities.
Dahmer did not face charges for the attempt on Tracy Edwards or the murder of Steven Tuomi. He was not charged with Tuomi’s murder as he could not remember anything about committing the murder, and no physical evidence of the murder was found, so because of this Milwaukee County District Attorney only brought charges on murders they could prove beyond all reasonable doubt.
A preliminary hearing was scheduled for 13th January 1992 where Dahmer pleaded guilty but insane to 15 counts of murder.
The trial began on 30th January 1992, he was tried for 15 counts of first-degree murder before Judge Laurence Gram. Under Wisconsin law as he pleaded guilty on 13th January, he had waived his right to an initial trial to establish guilt. This trial was to determine whether he was suffered a mental disorder or a personality, the prosecution claimed that any disorder that he may suffer from did not deprive him of the ability to understand or appreciate the criminality of his conduct, or the ability to resist any impulses, the defence argued that he suffered from a mental disease, driven by obsession and impulses he was unable to control. The defence argued that Dahmer should be considered insane due to his interest in necrophilia, defence expert Dr Fred Berlin testified that he was unable to conform his conduct at the time he committed the crimes. Dr Judith Becker a professor of psychiatry and psychology was the second expert called to the stand, she also diagnosed necrophilia, with a third expert Dr Carl Wahlstrom diagnosing Dahmer with necrophilia, borderline personality disorder, schizotypal personality disorder, alcohol dependence and a psychotic disorder.
The argument that Dahmer was insane was rejected by the prosecution with forensic psychiatrist Dr Phillip Resnick testifying that Dahmer did not suffer from primary necrophilia as he did prefer a live victim seen in his efforts to create totally submissive and unresistant partners. Dr Fred Fosdel testified for the prosecution next sharing his belief that Dahmer was calculating and cunning individual that was able to differentiate between right and wrong and control his actions.
On 12th February 1991, the prosecution called their final expert, forensic psychiatrist Park Dietz testifying that he did not believe Dahmer to be suffering any mental disease or defect at the time of the crimes stating: “Dahmer went to great lengths to be alone with his victims and to have no witnesses” further explaining the evidence showing how Dahmer had prepared for each murder making his crimes not ones of impulse. Dietz also stated that Dahmer’s habit of drinking prior to the murders was significant stating: “If he had a compulsion to kill, he would not have to drink alcohol. He had to drink to overcome his inhibition, to do the crime which he would rather not do”.
Dietz also noted that Dahmer identified strongly with evil or corrupt characters from movies such as The Exorcist III and Return of the Jedi, enjoying the level of power the characters held. Dietz diagnosed Dahmer with substance use disorder, paraphilia and schizotypal personality disorder.
Another two court-appointed mental health professionals testified independently of the prosecution or defence, forensic psychiatrist George Palermo and clinical psychologist Samuel Friedman gave their diagnoses with Palermo stating that the murders were a result of “pent up aggression within himself. He killed those men because he wanted to kill the source of his homosexual attraction to them. In killing them he killed what he hated in himself”, concluding with the diagnosis of anti-social personality disorder and that he was a sexual sadist, but legally sane. Friedman testified that Dahmer had a longing for companionship that caused him to kill, stating “Mr. Dahmer is not psychotic” he spoke kindly of Dahmer describing him as “amiable, pleasant to be with, courteous, with a sense of humour, conventionally handsome, and charming in manner. He was, and still is, a bright young man” he diagnosed Dahmer with an unspecified personality disorder featuring borderline, obsessive-compulsive and sadistic traits.
The closing arguments began on 14th February 1991 with both counsels delivering their closing arguments to the jury, both the defence and prosecution were allowed to speak for two hours. Defence attorney Gerald Boyle argued first, discussing the testimony of mental health professionals who agreed that Dahmer was suffering from mental disease describing the killings and compulsive as a result of “a sickness he discovered, not chose” portraying Dahmer as a desperately lonely and sick man that was “so out of control he could not conform his conduct anymore”. The prosecution attorney Michael McCann argued that Dahmer was a sane man, in full control of his actions who strove to avoid detection, he argued that the murders were committed in anger, resentment, frustration or hatred and that the 15 victims he was being tried for currently “died merely to afford Dahmer a period of sexual pleasure”, further arguing the guilty but insane plea was Dahmer’s attempt to escape responsibility for his crimes.
On 15th February 1991, the verdict was heard, Dahmer was ruled to be sane and not suffering from any mental disease at the time of each of the 15 murders he was being tried for. On the first two counts Dahmer was sentenced to life imprisonment plus 10 years with the other 13 carrying a mandatory life sentence of life plus 70 years. The death penalty was abolished in Wisconsin in 1853 so the option of a death sentence was not available to Judge Gram.
Dahmer’s father Lionel and stepmother Shari requested a ten-minute private meeting with their son before he was transported to the Columbia Correctional Institution in Portage to start his long sentence, the request was granted and the reportedly the three shared well wishes and hugs until he was escorted away.
There was still the matter of the charge he faced in Ohio for the murder of Steven Hicks, on 1st May 1992, a hearing was held lasting just 45 minutes as Dahmer once again pleaded guilty and was handed another life term making this the 16th.
Dahmer set off to start serving his sentence as a notorious sex offender and serial killer spending his first year in solitary confinement due to concerns for his safety if he should interact other inmates. After a year he consented to be sent to a less secure unit and landed a prison job cleaning the toilet block for two hours a day.
It was revealed that shortly after his confession in 1991 Dahmer had requested that the detectives get him a copy of the bible from that point on into his incarceration, he claimed to be devoting himself to Christianity and eventually became a born-again Christian. His father supported this change and encouraged Dahmer to read creationist books from the Institute for Creation Research, leading to his baptism in May 1994 by minister Roy Ratcliff from the Church of Christ, they performed this in the prison whirlpool.
Ratcliff visited Dahmer once a week after the baptism until November 1994, they reportedly would discuss the prospect of death and Dahmer would question whether he was sinning against God by continuing to live. About his faith Dahmer spoke to Dateline NBS in 1994 stating: “If a person doesn’t think that there is a God to be accountable to, then what’s the point of trying to modify your behaviour to keep it within acceptable ranges? That’s how I thought anyway”.
Despite the dedication to his faith Dahmer’s notoriety made him unpopular among the prison population, in July 1994 an inmate Osvaldo Durruthy attempted to murder Dahmer when he slashed his through with a razor melted into a toothbrush when Dahmer was returning to his cell after a church service in the prison chapel. Dahmer was not seriously hurt in this incident and only suffered superficial wounds, when asked about the incident his family state that he had been ready to die for a long time and accepted any punishment he might endure in prison. Dahmer’s mother was also in contact around the time he was imprisoned and spoke of phone conversations she had with him on a weekly basis where she spoke about her concern for his physical well being and she said he would reply with “It doesn’t matter Mom I don’t care if something happens to me”.
Dahmer left his cell for his work detail on the morning of 28th November 1994 with two other inmates Jesse Anderson and Christopher Scarver both also serving life sentences for murder. The three were tasked to clean the gymnasium toilets when they were left unsupervised for 20 minutes once alone Scarver beat both Dahmer and Anderson to death with a 20-inch preacher bar he had taken off some exercise equipment in the weight room. Scarver was found back at his cell by an officer and asked why he was not at work, to which he replied “God told me to do it. Jesse Anderson and Jeffrey Dahmer ate dead”. They were found bludgeoned severely, both initially survived the attack, but Dahmer died in hospital an hour later with Anderson dying two days later from his injuries.
Scarver was adamant that these murders were not planned but did admit that he had concealed the metal bar in his clothing prior to the killing and although the two had never interacted prior he shared his dislike and disgust for Dahmer and spoke of several incidents where Dahmer’s behaviour unnerved both inmates and staff, one in particular was Dahmer’s habit of playing with his food, he would arrange his meals into the shape of severed limbs and drizzle them in ketchup to symbolise blood then show it to people. However, in 2015 Scarver state that the murders of Dahmer and Anderson had been the result of a confrontation that had happened that morning where either Dahmer or Anderson had jokingly poked him in the back, he claimed the two had laughed when he turned around in response, they both then separated to do their assigned jobs when he started to follow Dahmer in order to attack him.
The news of his death reached his mother Joyce Flint and she spoke to the media angrily asking the world “Now is everybody happy? Now that he’s bludgeoned to death, is that good enough for everyone?”. Despite the monster that Dahmer was being slain the reaction seemed to be mixed with victim’s families obviously pleased Dahmer was now gone in such a vicious way while the district attorney overlooking the murder case noted to the public that what happened was still a vicious murder and that Scarver should not be turned into a folk hero for his actions. The courts agreed with this sentiment and Scarver was given an additional two life terms on top of his current life sentence for the murders of Dahmer and Anderson.