Jeffrey Dahmer (1960-1994) was an American serial killer and sex offender who killed and dismembered seventeen men and boys between 1978 and 1991. He is notoriously referred to as the Milwaukee Cannibal and Milwaukee Monster. Amazon Many of his murders involved necrophilia, cannibalism, and the permanent preservation of various body parts. Dahmer was captured in 1991 and sentenced to 16 life terms. Dahmer was imprisoned in Columbia Correctional Institution in Portage, Wisconsin, where he was beaten to death by a fellow inmate named Christopher Scarver on November 28, 1994.
While some sources depict Dahmer was deprived of attention as an infant, others state that he was generally doted upon as an infant and toddler by both parents, Lionel and Joyce. Joyce was hypochondriac and argumentative with Lionel and their neighbors. Google Books- A Father’s Story Dahmer entered first grade at Hazel Harvey Elementary School in Doylestown, Ohio. Soon, Lionel became preoccupied with his university studies, while hypochondriac Joyce, who suffered from depression, demanded constant attention from Lionel and spent an increasing amount of time in bed. Once, Joyce attempted suicide using Equanil, a medication to reduce anxiety. Consequently, neither parent devoted much time to their son, who later recollected that when he was young he felt “unsure of the solidity of the family” and witnessed extreme tension and countless arguments between his parents. In his biographical book A Father’s Story, Lionel claimed that Jeffrey became notably subdued after double hernia surgery shortly before his fourth birthday. In October 1966, the family moved to Doylestown, Ohio, and in May 1968, the family moved to Bath Township, Summit County, Ohio. Visibly low-spirited, Dahmer became increasingly withdrawn following the birth of his younger brother and the family’s frequent moves. In his Bath Township home, which stood in one and a half acres of woodland, Dahmer spent his childhood collecting large insects such as dragonflies and moths and the skeletons of small animals like chipmunks and squirrels. Some of these remains were preserved in jars of formaldehyde. Lionel, who believed that Dahmer had a scientific curiosity, taught his son how to safely bleach and preserve animal bones.
Soon he began collecting dead animals—including roadkill, which he would dissect and bury beside the hut, with the skulls occasionally placed atop makeshift crosses. In Bath Township, he attended Revere High School. Reaching puberty, Dahmer realized that he was gay. Dahmer started consuming alcoholic beverages when he was just 14. He would conceal his liquor inside the jacket he wore to school. In his mid-teens, he began fantasizing about dominating and controlling a completely submissive male partner. These fantasies gradually evolved and became intertwined with his leisure for dissection. A class clown at RHS, he often staged pranks, which came to be known as ‘Doing a Dahmer.’ He used to imitate epileptic seizures or cerebral palsy at school and local stores for money to purchase alcohol. His parents got divorced in 1978. Dahmer graduated from high school in the same year. He enrolled at Ohio State University (OSU) to major in business; however, he dropped out of OSU because of his persistent alcohol abuse and failing grades. After that Dahmer’s father urged him to enlist in the United States Army.
Height: 6′ 1″
Hair Colour: Dark Blonde
Eye Colour: Gray
Parents & Siblings
Jeffrey Dahmer had of German and Welsh ancestry from his father’s side and Norwegian and Irish ancestry from his mother’s side. Jeffrey Dahmer’s father, Lionel Herbert Dahmer, initially worked as a research chemist. After working as an analytical chemist, he became a writer and published the book A Father’s Story in 1994. His mother, Joyce Dahmer (née Joyce Annette Flint), was a teletype machine instructor. His brother, David Dahmer, was six years younger than him.
Lionel discovered Joyce had engaged in a brief affair in September 1977 following which they decided to file for a divorce. In the spring of 1978, Joyce and David moved out of the family home to live with relatives in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, meanwhile, Dahmer, who had just turned 18, remained in the family home. Dahmer’s parents’ divorce was finalized on July 24, 1978, and Joyce was given custody of her younger son, David. In the same year, Lionel got married to Shari. Joyce died of cancer on November 27, 2000.
He was unmarried.
During his sentence at Columbia Correctional Institution, he adopted Christianity and became a born-again Christian. In May 1994, Dahmer was baptized by Roy Ratcliff, a minister in the Church of Christ. The New York Times
He resided in Apartment 213, Oxford Apartments, 924 N. 25th Street, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, US.
First Murder: Steven Hicks
Dahmer committed his first murder in 1978, three weeks after his graduation. On June 18, 1978, Dahmer lured a hitchhiker named Steven Mark Hicks to his house on the pretext of drinking. After several hours of talking, drinking, and listening to music, when Hicks wanted to leave, Dahmer bludgeoned him with a 10-pound (4.5 kg) dumbbell. Thereafter, Dahmer strangled him to death with the bar of the dumbbell, stripped him, and masturbated standing above it. Later, Dahmer dragged the body to the basement and dissected it the following day. He later buried the remains in his backyard. However, several weeks later, he unearthed the remains and pared the flesh from the bones. He dissolved the flesh in acid before and flushed the solution down the toilet, meanwhile crushing the bones with a sledgehammer.
In January 1979, on his father’s urging, Dahmer enlisted in the United States Army. He received basic training at Fort McClellan in Anniston, Alabama. Later, he was trained as a medical specialist at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas. Throughout his service, he was occasionally reprimanded for intoxication. On one such occasion, his entire platoon had to suffer the punishment after which he got a severe beating from his fellow recruits. On July 13, 1979, Dahmer was deployed to Baumholder, West Germany, where he served as a combat medic in the 2nd Battalion, 68th Armored Regiment, 8th Infantry Division. Dahmer’s alcohol abuse led to a deterioration of his performance. Finally, in March 1981, he was deemed unsuitable for military service and was discharged from it receiving an honorable discharge.
After Getting Discharged From Army
Following his debriefing at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, he felt he could not return home to face his father, so he opted to travel to Miami Beach, Florida. There, he started working at a deli and rented a room in a nearby motel. He was soon evicted from the motel for non-payment as he spent most of his salary on alcohol. Soon, he returned to Ohio. Initially, he lived with his father and stepmother running household errands to pass his time while looking for a job. In December 1981, Lionel and Shari sent Jeffrey to live with his grandmother in West Allis, Wisconsin as she was the only family member to whom Dahmer displayed any affection. They hoped that her influence, plus the change of location, might persuade Dahmer to quit drinking, find a job, and live responsibly. Although he had a harmonious stay there, he continued to drink and smoke. Dahmer started working as a phlebotomist at the Milwaukee Blood Plasma Center in 1982. He was terminated from the job after 10 months after which he remained unemployed for over two years. During this time, he lived on whatever money his grandmother gave him. In January 1985, Dahmer secured a job as a mixer at the Milwaukee Ambrosia Chocolate Factory’s night shift.
Dahmer: A Sex Offender
On October 7, 1981, Dahmer was arrested for drunk and disorderly conduct in public; dropping his pants in front of a crowd in Wisconsin. On August 8, 1982, shortly before losing his job at Milwaukee Blood Plasma Center, Dahmer was arrested for indecent exposure. One day in January 1985, when Dahmer was working as a mixer at the Milwaukee Ambrosia Chocolate Factory, he was propositioned by a man while sitting in the West Allis Public Library. Although Dahmer did not respond to it, the incident fueled the sparks of the fantasies of control and dominance he had as a teenager. Then, he started visiting nearby gay bars and gay bathhouses. In his confession following his arrest, he said that he detested when his partner moved during sexual encounters. He said,
I trained myself to view people as objects of pleasure instead of [as] people.”
Hence, he started administering sleeping pills to his partners by giving them liquor laced with sedatives and waited for his partner to fall asleep before performing various sexual acts. Approximately after 12 such incidents, the bathhouses’ administration revoked Dahmer’s membership. Then, he began to use hotel rooms for the same. He used to maintain an adequate supply of this medication by persuading doctors that he needed the tablets to adjust to his night shift at the chocolate factory. On September 8, 1986, Dahmer was arrested for lewd and lascivious behavior as he masturbated in the presence of two 12-year-old boys near Kinnickinnic River. On March 10, 1987, he was sentenced to one year of probation with instructions to undergo counseling.
Series of Murder
The Murder of Steven Tuomi
In 1987, when Dahmer was residing with his grandmother in West Allis, met a 25-year-old man named Steven Tuomi at a bar and persuaded him to return to the Ambassador Hotel in Milwaukee. In his confession, Dahmer revealed that he had no intention of killing Tuomi. He just intended to drug Tuomi and lie beside him to explore his body. However, the following morning Dahmer awoke to find that Tuomi was dead with his chest “crushed in” and “black and blue” with bruises. Dahmer revealed that he had no memory of having killed Tuomi. Dahmer transported the body to his grandmother’s residence in a large suitcase. He dismembered Tuomi’s body into pieces small enough to handle but kept his severed head, which he boiled in a mixture of Soilax to retain the skull. For a while, he used it as a stimulus for masturbation. When the skull was rendered too brittle by the bleaching process, he disposed of it too.
Intermediate murders and other sexual offenses
Although Tuomi’s killing was unplanned, his death was a pivotal incident following which Dahmer stopped controlling his compulsions. Thereafter, he actively began seeking victims, most of whom he met in or close to gay bars. Dahmer’s next victim was a 14-year-old Native American male prostitute named James Doxtator. Dahmer lured him to his home with an offer of $50 to pose for nude pictures. Then he found a 22-year-old bisexual man named Richard Guerrero outside a gay bar called The Phoenix. In September 1988, he moved out of his grandmother’s home and rented a one-bedroom apartment at 808 North 24th Street. After two days, he was arrested for drugging and sexually fondling a 13-year-old boy whom he had lured to his home on the pretext of posing nude for photographs. Dahmer murdered his fifth victim, Anthony Sears, a mixed-race 24-year-old model on March 25, 1989. Sears was the first victim whose body parts Jeffrey permanently retained; he preserved Sears’ head and genitalia in acetone. In 1989, he was required to register as a sex offender as he pleaded guilty to the charges of second-degree sexual assault and of enticing a child for immoral purposes. On May 23, 1989, Dahmer was sentenced to five years probation and one year in the House of Correction.
Oxford Apartments Killings
On May 14, 1990, Dahmer moved into 924 North 25th Street, Apartment 213, taking Sears’ mummified head and genitals with him. Within one week of his moving into his new apartment, Dahmer had killed his sixth victim, Raymond Smith, a 32-year-old male prostitute. Later, in 1990, he murdered Edward Smith, Ernest Miller, and David Thomas. After Thomas, Dahmer did not kill anyone for almost five months. Although between October 1990 and February 1991, on a minimum of five occasions, he unsuccessfully attempted to lure men to his apartment. In February 1991, Dahmer met his next victim, a 17-year-old named Curtis Straughter, at a bus stop near Marquette University. On April 7, 1991, Dahmer killed a 19-year-old named Errol Lindsey, who, unlike his other victims, was heterosexual. With Lindsey, Dahmer started a new experiment on victims, he started drilling a hole in his victim’s skulls to inject hydrochloric acid in the hope of inducing a permanent, unresistant, submissive state in them. Although it proved fatal, he continued to practice it. Fellow residents of the Oxford Apartments repeatedly began to complain to the building’s manager, Sopa Princewill, about the foul smells stemming from Apartment 213, in addition to the sounds of falling objects and the occasional sound of a chainsaw. He initially excused the odors saying that his freezer was broken, causing the contents to become “spoiled.” Later, he said that the odor was emanating from his tropical fish which had died and that he would take care of the matter. On May 26, 1991, Dahmer encountered a 14-year-old teenager named Konerak Sinthasomphone on Wisconsin Avenue. Sinthasomphone belonged to the Lao community. After luring him into the apartment for money and nude polaroid pictures, Dahmer drugged him into unconsciousness. Thereafter, Dahmer drilled a narrow hole into Sinthasomphone’s skull, through which he injected hydrochloric acid into the frontal lobe. Dahmer had several beers while lying alongside Sinthasomphone before briefly falling asleep and then leaving his apartment to drink at a bar and buy more alcohol. In the early morning hours of May 27, while returning to his apartment Dahmer discovered Sinthasomphone sitting naked on the corner of 25th and State, talking in Lao, with three distressed young women standing near him. Dahmer approached the women and tried to convince them that he was a friend of Sinthasomphone; however, the women had already called 9-1-1. When police arrived, Dahmer tricked them into believing that Sinthasomphone was his 19-year-old boyfriend and that he had drunk too much following a quarrel. Interestingly, the women attempted to indicate to the police that Sinthasomphone had blood on his testicles and was bleeding from his rectum. They also highlighted that Sinthasomphone had seemingly struggled against Dahmer’s attempts to walk him to his apartment prior to their arrival. However, the police told them to “butt out” and dropped Sinthasomphone at Dahmer’s apartment. There, Dahmer proved that Sinthasomphone was his boyfriend by showing them two semi-nude Polaroid pictures he had taken of Sinthasomphone the previous evening. Upon the departure of the three officers from his apartment, Dahmer again injected hydrochloric acid into Sinthasomphone’s brain, which proved fatal. Jeffrey Dahmer killed seventeen young men between 1978 and 1991. Apart from the above-mentioned victims, the list also includes Tony Anthony Hughes, Jeremiah Benjamin Weinberger, Matt Turner, Oliver Lacy, and Joseph Bradehoft. Twelve of his victims were killed in his North 25th Street apartment. Three of the total were murdered and dismembered at his grandmother’s West Allis residence, while the first and the second victim were murdered at his parents’ home in Ohio and at the Ambassador Hotel in Milwaukee respectively.
Tracy Edwards: The Survivor Who Led To Dahmer’s Arrest
On July 22, 1991, Dahmer approached three men with an offer of $100 to accompany him to his apartment to pose for nude pictures. One of the trio, 32-year-old Tracy Edwards, agreed to accompany Dahmer. At the apartment, following a brief conversation, Dahmer requested Edwards to turn his head and view his tropical fish, whereupon Dahmer placed a handcuff upon his wrist, but couldn’t cuff his wrists together. Then, the two moved into the bedroom to pose for nude pictures, where Dahmer brandished a knife to intimidate Edwards. While The Exorcist III played on TV, Edwards unbuttoned his shirt in an attempt to appease Dahmer and convince him to remove the handcuffs and put the knife away. Dahmer placed his head on Edwards’ chest, listened to his heartbeat while pressing the knife against him, and informed Edwards he intended to eat his heart. Edwards continuously prevented Dahmer from attacking him by saying that he was Dahmer’s friend and that he was not going to run away. Edwards made up his mind that he was either going to jump from the window or run through the unlocked front door upon the next available opportunity. Then, Edwards persuaded Dahmer to hang out in the living room as there was air conditioning there. Reportedly, Edwards spent five hours waiting until he observed Dahmer have a momentary lapse of concentration. When Edwards rose from the couch to use the bathroom, he noted that Dahmer was not holding the handcuffs, whereupon he punched Dahmer in the face, knocking him off balance, and ran out the front door.
At 11:30 pm, Edwards flagged down two Milwaukee police officers, Robert Rauth and Rolf Mueller, at the corner of North 25th Street and explained that a “freak” had placed the handcuffs upon him and requested them to remove it. When the officers’ keys failed to unlock the handcuffs, Edwards agreed to accompany the officers to the Dahmer’s apartment. When the police and Edwards arrived at the apartment, Dahmer invited the trio inside and gave them the key to the handcuffs which he retrieved from a dresser in the bedroom. In the bedroom, officer Mueller saw an open drawer in which he discovered many Polaroid pictures of human bodies in various stages of dismemberment. When Dahmer saw that Mueller was holding several of his Polaroids, he fought with the officers to resist arrest, but the officers quickly overpowered and arrested him.
Upon a detailed search of the apartment, the police discovered a freshly severed head of a black male on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator, a total of seven skulls—some painted, some bleached— inside a closet in Dahmer’s bedroom, two human hearts, a pair of severed hands, two severed and preserved penises, a mummified scalp, etc.
In the 57-gallon drum, three further dismembered torsos were found dissolving in the acid solution. A total of 74 Polaroid pictures detailing the dismemberment of Dahmer’s victims were found.
Dahmer was interrogated by Detective Patrick Kennedy and Detective Dennis Murphy. Dahmer waived his right to have a lawyer present throughout his interrogations and wished to confess it all. He admitted murdering sixteen young men in Wisconsin since 1987, with one further victim, Steven Hicks, in Ohio in 1978. Most of his victims were strangled to death, although some had died as a result of having acid or boiling water injected into their brains. He confessed he engaged in necrophilia with the bodies of his victims. He dismembered the victims’ bodies in his bathtub. The bones he wished to dispose of were pulverized or acidified, while he preserved the skeletons and skulls he wished to keep with Soilax and bleach solutions. Dahmer confessed to having consumed the hearts, liver, biceps, and portions of the thigh of three victims. While explaining the reason behind his cannibalism, he said,
I suppose, in an odd way, it made me feel they were even more a permanent part of me.”
When he was asked about preserving a total of seven skulls and the entire skeletons of two victims, Dahmer revealed that he wanted to construct a private altar of victims’ skulls and intended to display it on the black table located in his living room. When asked to whom was the altar dedicated, Dahmer replied,
Myself … It was a place where I could feel at home.”
Trial & Conviction
Dahmer pleaded guilty but insane to 15 counts of first-degree murder of the sixteen homicides he had committed in Wisconsin. His trial began on January 30, 1992.
He was sentenced to fifteen terms of life imprisonment on February 17, 1992. Later, he was sentenced to a sixteenth term of life imprisonment for an additional homicide committed in Ohio in 1978. Although Dahmer was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, schizotypal personality disorder, and psychotic disorder, he was declared to be legally sane during his trial. On February 17, 1992, Dahmer was then sentenced to life imprisonment as Wisconsin had abolished the death penalty in 1853. He was imprisoned in the Columbia Correctional Institution in Portage.
For the first year of his imprisonment, Dahmer was placed in solitary confinement due to concerns for his physical safety should he come into contact with fellow inmates. After one year, he was transferred to a less secure unit, where he was assigned a two-hour daily work detail cleaning the toilet block. This work detail later expanded to include cleaning the prison gymnasium. Interestingly, he received ample correspondence from individuals across the world during his imprisonment. According to prison records, he received more than $12,000 from letter-writers around the world. One woman said she wanted to teach serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer about Jesus, so she sent him $350, along with some Bible literature. Another woman sent $50 so that Dahmer could buy cigarettes, stamps, and envelopes. And a 74-year-old nun sent $10 to reimburse Dahmer for postage on two art books that he mailed to her. AP News Besides the donations, Dahmer earned 24 cents an hour as a prison gymnasium janitor. On July 3, 1994, a fellow inmate, Osvaldo Durruthy, attempted to slash Dahmer’s throat with a razor embedded in a toothbrush as Dahmer sat in the prison chapel after the weekly church service was concluded. Dahmer received superficial wounds but wasn’t seriously hurt in this incident.
On the morning of November 28, 1994, Dahmer left his cell to conduct his assigned work detail accompanied by two fellow inmates, Jesse Anderson and Christopher Scarver. The three were left unsupervised in the showers of the prison gym for approximately 20 minutes. At approximately 8:10 am, Dahmer was discovered on the floor of the bathrooms of the gym suffering from extreme head wounds. Although Dahmer was still alive and was rushed to a nearby hospital, he was pronounced dead one hour later. Dahmer was severely hit on the head and face with a 20-inch (51-centimeter) metal bar by Christopher Scarver. Scarver used the same instrument to beat Anderson too, who died two days later. Immediately after attacking both men, Scarver, who was thought to be schizophrenic, returned to his cell and informed a prison guard,
God told me to do it. Jesse Anderson and Jeffrey Dahmer are dead.”
In Popular Media
- Milwaukee Massacre: Jeffrey Dahmer and the Milwaukee Murders (1992)
- A Father’s Story by Lionel Dahmer (1994)
- Dark Journey, Deep Grace: Jeffrey Dahmer’s Story of Faith by Lindy Adams and Roy Ratcliff (2006)
- Jeffrey Dahmer: A Terrifying True Story of Rape, Murder and Cannibalism by Jack Rosewood (2017)
- Inside the Mind of Jeffrey Dahmer: The Cannibal Killer by Christopher Berry-Dee (2022)
- Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story (2022) on Netflix
- Conversations With a Killer: The Jeffrey Dahmer Tapes (2022) on Netflix
- The Law of Remains (1992) by Reza Abdoh
- Jeffrey Dahmer: Guilty but Insane (2013) written by Joshua Hitchens and directed by Ryan Walter
- When Dahmer was four, he manifested an interest in dead animals when he saw Lionel removing animal bones from beneath the family home. According to Lionel, Dahmer was “oddly thrilled” by the sound the bones made, and became preoccupied with them referring to them as “fiddlesticks”. Thereafter, he occasionally started searching for bones beneath and around the family home. He would explore the bodies of live animals to discover where their bones were located.
- Upon Dahmer’s sentencing, his father, Lionel, and stepmother, Shari, requested a ten-minute private meeting with their son before he was transferred to the Columbia Correctional Institution in Portage. This request was granted and the trio exchanged hugs and well-wishes before Dahmer was escorted away.
- During his imprisonment, he lost his job as a gymnasium janitor because he imitated a prison employee on the telephone. The incident kept him in solitary confinement for more than a month.
- The Oxford Apartments at 924 North 25th Street, where Dahmer had killed twelve of his victims, was demolished in November 1992.
- Dahmer’s estate in Ohio was awarded to the families of eleven of his victims who had sued for damages.
- In 1996, a civic group called Milwaukee Civic Pride was established to raise funds to purchase and destroy possessions of Dahmer. The group pledged $407,225, including a $100,000 gift by Milwaukee real estate developer Joseph Zilber, for the purchase of Dahmer’s estate. Subsequently, Dahmer’s possessions were destroyed and buried in an undisclosed Illinois landfill.