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Jeffrey Lionel Dahmer (/ˈdɑːmər/; May 21, 1960 – November 28, 1994), also known as the Milwaukee Cannibal or the Milwaukee Monster, was an American serial killer and sex offender who committed the murder and dismemberment of seventeen men and boys between 1978 and 1991. Many of his later murders involved necrophilia,cannibalism, and the permanent preservation of body parts—typically all or part of the skeleton.
Dahmer was born May 21, 1960, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the first of two sons of Joyce Annette (née Flint), a teletype machine instructor, and Lionel Herbert Dahmer, a Marquette University chemistry student and later a research chemist. Lionel Dahmer was of German and Welsh ancestry, and Joyce Dahmer was of Norwegian and Irish ancestry.
Some sources report Dahmer was deprived of attention as an infant. Other sources, however, suggest that Dahmer was generally doted on as an infant and toddler by both parents, although his mother was known to be tense, greedy for both attention and pity, and argumentative with her husband and their neighbors.
As Dahmer entered first grade, Lionel's university studies kept him away from home much of the time; when he was home, his wife—a hypochondriac who had depression—demanded constant attention and spent an increasing amount of time in bed. On one occasion, she is known to have attempted suicide with Equanil. Consequently, neither parent devoted much time to their son, who later recollected that, from an early age, he felt "unsure of the solidity of the family", recalling extreme tension and numerous arguments between his parents during his early years.
Dahmer had been an "energetic and happy child" but became notably subdued after double hernia surgery shortly before his fourth birthday. At elementary school, Dahmer was regarded as quiet and timid; one teacher later recollected she detected early signs of abandonment in Dahmer due to his father's absence and mother's illnesses, the symptoms of which increased when she became pregnant with her second child. Nonetheless, in elementary school, Dahmer did have a small number of friends.
In October 1966, the family moved to Doylestown, Ohio. When Joyce gave birth in December, Jeffrey was allowed to choose the name of his new baby brother; he chose the name David. The same year, Lionel earned his degree and started work as an analytical chemist in nearby Akron, Ohio.
From an early age, Dahmer manifested an interest in dead animals. His fascination with dead animals may have begun when, at the age of four, he saw his father 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 animal bones, which he initially called his "fiddlesticks". He occasionally searched beneath and around the family home for additional bones, and explored the bodies of live animals to discover where their bones were located.
In 1968, the family moved to Bath Township, Summit County, Ohio. This address was their third in two years, and the Dahmers' sixth address since marriage.[n 2] The home stood in one and a half acres of woodland, with a small hut being only a short walk from the house where Dahmer began collecting large insects such as dragonflies and moths and the skeletons of small animals such as chipmunks and squirrels. Some of these remains were preserved in jars of formaldehyde and stowed within the hut.
Two years later, during a chicken dinner, Dahmer asked Lionel what would happen if the chicken bones were placed in bleach. Lionel, pleased by what he believed to be his son's scientific curiosity, demonstrated how to safely bleach and preserve animal bones. Dahmer incorporated these preserving techniques into his bone collecting, and also began collecting dead animals—including roadkill—which he would dissect and bury beside the hut, with the skulls occasionally placed atop makeshift crosses. According to one friend, Dahmer explained to him that he was curious as to how animals "fitted together". In one instance in 1975, Dahmer decapitated the carcass of a dog before nailing the body to a tree and impaling the skull upon a stick in the woodland behind his house. As "a prank", he later invited a friend to view the display, claiming he had discovered the remains by chance.
The same year Lionel taught his son how to preserve animal bones, Joyce began increasing her daily consumption of Equanil, laxatives, and sleeping pills, further minimizing her tangible contact with her husband and children.
Adolescence and high school
From his freshman year at Revere High School, Dahmer was seen as an outcast.[n 3] By the age of 14, he had begun drinking beer and hard alcohol in daylight hours, frequently concealing his liquor inside the jacket he wore to school. He is known to have mentioned to one classmate who inquired why he was drinking Scotch in a morning history class that the alcohol he consumed was "my medicine". Although largely uncommunicative, in his freshman year, Dahmer was seen by staff as polite and highly intelligent but with average grades. He was a keen tennis player and played briefly in the high school band.
When he reached puberty, Dahmer discovered he was gay; he did not tell his parents. In his early teens, he had a brief relationship with another teenage boy, although they never had intercourse. By Dahmer's later admission, he began fantasizing about dominating and controlling a completely submissive male partner in his early to mid-teens, and his masturbatory fantasies gradually evolved to his focusing upon the chests and torsos of the focus of his fantasies. These fantasies gradually became intertwined with dissection. When he was about 16, Dahmer conceived a fantasy of rendering unconscious a particular male jogger he found attractive, and then making sexual use of his body. On one occasion Dahmer concealed himself in bushes with a baseball bat to lie in wait for this man; however, he did not pass by on that particular day. Dahmer later admitted this was his first attempt to attack and render an individual submissive to him.
Among his peers at RHS, Dahmer became something of a class clown who often staged pranks, which became known as "Doing a Dahmer"; these included bleating and simulating epileptic seizures or cerebral palsy at school and local stores. On occasion, Dahmer would perform these antics for money to purchase alcohol.
By 1977, Dahmer's grades had declined. His parents hired a private tutor, with limited success. The same year, in an attempt to save their marriage, his parents attended counseling sessions. They continued to quarrel frequently. When Lionel discovered Joyce had engaged in a brief affair in September 1977, they both decided to divorce, telling their sons they wished to do so amicably. Lionel moved out of the house in early 1978, temporarily residing in a motel on North Cleveland Massillon Road.
In May 1978, Dahmer graduated from high school. A few weeks before his graduation, one of his teachers observed Dahmer sitting close to the school parking lot, drinking several cans of beer. When the teacher threatened to report the matter, Dahmer informed him he was experiencing "a lot of problems" at home and that the school's guidance counselor was aware of them. That spring, Joyce and David moved out of the family home to live with relatives in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. Dahmer had just turned 18 and remained in the family home. Dahmer's parents' divorce was finalized on July 24, 1978. Joyce was awarded custody of her younger son and alimony payments.
Late teens and early 20s: first murder
Murder of Steven Hicks
Dahmer committed his first murder in 1978, three weeks after his graduation. On June 18, Dahmer picked up a hitchhiker named Steven Mark Hicks, who was almost 19. Dahmer lured the youth to his house on the pretext of drinking. Hicks, who had been hitchhiking to a rock concert at Chippewa Lake Park, Ohio, agreed to accompany Dahmer to his house upon the promise of "a few beers" with Dahmer as he had the house to himself.
According to Dahmer, the sight of the bare-chested Hicks standing at the roadside stirred his sexual feelings, although when Hicks began talking about girls, he knew any sexual passes he made would be rebuffed. After several hours of talking, drinking and listening to music, Hicks "wanted to leave and didn't want him to." Dahmer bludgeoned Hicks with a 10-pound (4.5 kg) dumbbell. He later stated he struck Hicks twice from behind with the dumbbell as Hicks sat upon a chair. When Hicks fell unconscious, Dahmer strangled him to death with the bar of the dumbbell, then stripped the clothes from Hicks' body before exploring his chest with his hands, then masturbating as he stood above the corpse.
The following day, Dahmer dissected Hicks' body in his basement. He later buried the remains in a shallow grave in his backyard. Several weeks later, he unearthed the remains and pared the flesh from the bones. He dissolved the flesh in acid before flushing the solution down the toilet. He crushed the bones with a sledgehammer and scattered them in the woodland behind the family home.
College and Army service
Six weeks after the murder of Hicks, Dahmer's father and his fiancée returned to his home, where they discovered Jeffrey living alone at the house. That August, Dahmer enrolled at Ohio State University (OSU), hoping to major in business. Dahmer's sole term at OSU was completely unproductive, largely because of his persistent alcohol abuse throughout the majority of the term. He received failing grades in Introduction to Anthropology, Classical Civilizations, and Administrative Science. The only course Dahmer was successful at was Riflery, having received a B− grade. His overall GPA was 0.45/4.0. On one occasion, Lionel paid a surprise visit to his son, only to find his room strewn with empty liquor bottles. Despite his father having paid in advance for the second term, Dahmer dropped out of OSU after just three months.
Dahmer, pictured in West Germany in 1979. His off-duty drinking caused him to be deemed unsuitable for military service in 1981.
In January 1979, on his father's urging, Dahmer enlisted in the United States Army. He underwent basic training at Fort McClellan in Anniston, Alabama before training as a medical specialist at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas. He was occasionally reprimanded for intoxication while stationed at Fort Sam Houston. On one occasion, an instance of insubordination resulted in his entire platoon being punished, earning Dahmer a severe beating from his fellow recruits.
Owing to Dahmer's alcohol abuse, his performance deteriorated and, in March 1981, he was deemed unsuitable for military service and was later discharged from the Army. He received an honorable discharge, as his superiors did not believe that any problems Dahmer had in the Army would be applicable to civilian life.
On March 24, 1981, Dahmer was sent to Fort Jackson, South Carolina for debriefing and provided with a plane ticket to travel anywhere in the country. Dahmer later told police he felt he could not return home to face his father, so he opted to travel to Miami Beach, Florida, both because he was "tired of the cold" and in an attempt to live by his own means. In Florida, Dahmer found a job at a delicatessen and rented a room in a nearby motel. Dahmer spent most of his salary on alcohol, and was soon evicted from the motel for non-payment. He initially spent his evenings on the beach as he continued to work at the sandwich shop until phoning his father and asking to return to Ohio in September of the same year.
Return to Ohio and relocation to West Allis, Wisconsin
After his return to Ohio, Dahmer initially lived with his father and stepmother and insisted on being delegated numerous chores to occupy his time while he looked for work. He continued to drink heavily, and two weeks after his return, Dahmer was arrested for drunk and disorderly conduct. He was fined $60 and given a suspended 10-day jail sentence. Dahmer's father tried unsuccessfully to wean his son off alcohol. In December 1981, he and Dahmer's stepmother sent him to live with his grandmother in West Allis, Wisconsin. Dahmer's grandmother 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.
Initially, Dahmer's living arrangements with his grandmother were harmonious: he accompanied her to church, willingly undertook chores, actively sought work, and abided by most of her house rules (although he continued to drink and smoke). In early 1982, Dahmer found employment as a phlebotomist at the Milwaukee Blood Plasma Center. He held this job for a total of 10 months before being laid off. Dahmer remained unemployed for over two years, during which he lived upon whatever money his grandmother gave him.
Shortly before losing his job, Dahmer was arrested for indecent exposure. On August 7, 1982, at Wisconsin State Fair Park, he was observed to expose himself "on the south side of the Coliseum in which 25 people were present including women and children." For this incident, he was convicted and fined $50 plus court costs.
In January 1985, Dahmer was hired as a mixer at the Milwaukee Ambrosia Chocolate Factory, where he worked from 11 p.m to 7 a.m. six nights per week, with Saturday evenings off. Shortly after Dahmer found this job, an incident occurred in which he was propositioned by another man while sitting reading in the West Allis Public Library. The stranger threw Dahmer a note offering to perform fellatio upon him. Although Dahmer did not respond to this proposition, the incident stirred in his mind the fantasies of control and dominance he had developed as a teenager, and he began to familiarize himself with Milwaukee's gay bars, gay bathhouses and bookstores. He is also known to have stolen a male mannequin from a store, which he briefly used for sexual stimulation, until his grandmother discovered the item stowed in a closet and demanded that he discard it.
By late 1985, Dahmer had begun to regularly frequent the bathhouses, which he later described as being "relaxing places", but during his sexual encounters, he became frustrated at his partners' moving during the act. Following his arrest, he stated: "I trained myself to view people as objects of pleasure instead of people". For this reason, beginning in June 1986, he administered sleeping pills to his partners, giving them liquor laced with sedatives. He then waited for his partner to fall asleep before performing various sexual acts. To maintain an adequate supply of this medication, Dahmer informed doctors he worked nights and required the tablets to adjust to that schedule. After approximately twelve such instances, the bathhouses' administration revoked Dahmer's membership, and he began to use hotel rooms to continue this practice.
Shortly after his bathhouse memberships were revoked, Dahmer read a report in a newspaper regarding the upcoming funeral of an 18-year-old man. He conceived the idea of stealing the freshly interred corpse and taking it home. According to Dahmer, he attempted to dig up the coffin from the ground, but found the soil too hard and abandoned the plan.
On September 8, 1986, Dahmer was arrested upon a charge of lewd and lascivious behavior for masturbating in the presence of two 12-year-old boys as he stood close to the Kinnickinnic River. He initially claimed he had merely been urinating, unaware that there were witnesses, but soon admitted the offense.[n 5] The charge was changed to disorderly conduct and, on March 10, 1987, Dahmer was sentenced to one year of probation, with additional instructions to undergo counseling.
Late 20s and early 30s: subsequent murders
On November 20, 1987, Dahmer—at the time residing with his grandmother in West Allis—encountered a 25-year-old man from Ontonagon, Michigan, Steven Tuomi, at a bar and persuaded him to return to the Ambassador Hotel in Milwaukee, where Dahmer had rented a room for the evening. According to Dahmer, he had no intention of murdering Tuomi, but rather intended to simply drug him and lie beside him as he explored his body. The following morning, however, Dahmer awoke to find Tuomi lying beneath him on the bed, his chest "crushed in" and "black and blue" with bruises. Blood was seeping from the corner of his mouth, and Dahmer's fists and one forearm were extensively bruised. Dahmer stated he had no memory of having killed Tuomi, and later informed investigators that he "could not believe this had happened."
To dispose of Tuomi's body, Dahmer purchased a large suitcase in which he transported the body to his grandmother's residence. There, one week later, he severed the head, arms, and legs from the torso, then filleted the bones from the body before cutting the flesh into pieces small enough to handle. Dahmer then placed the flesh inside plastic garbage bags. He wrapped the bones inside a sheet and pounded them into splinters with a sledgehammer. The entire dismemberment process took Dahmer approximately two hours to complete. He disposed of all of Tuomi's remains—excluding the severed head—in the trash.
For a total of two weeks following Tuomi's murder, Dahmer retained the victim's head wrapped in a blanket. After two weeks, Dahmer boiled the head in a mixture of Soilex (an alkali-based industrial detergent) and bleach in an effort to retain the skull, which he then used as stimulus for masturbation. Eventually, the skull was rendered too brittle by this bleaching process, so Dahmer pulverized and disposed of it.
Following the murder of Tuomi, Dahmer began to actively seek victims, most of whom he encountered in or close to gay bars, and whom he typically lured to his grandmother's home. He would drug his victim with triazolam or temazepam before or shortly after engaging in sexual activity with them. Once he had rendered his victim unconscious with sleeping pills, he killed them by strangulation.
Two months after the Tuomi murder, Dahmer encountered a 14-year-old Native Americanmale prostitute named James Doxtator. Dahmer lured the youth to his home with an offer of $50 to pose for nude pictures. At Dahmer's West Allis residence, the pair engaged in sexual activity before Dahmer drugged Doxtator and strangled him on the floor of the cellar. Dahmer left the body in the cellar for one week before dismembering it in much the same manner as he had with Tuomi. He placed all of Doxtator's remains (excluding the skull) in the trash. The skull was boiled and cleansed in bleach before Dahmer noted it had been rendered too brittle by this process. He pulverized the skull two weeks later.
On March 24, 1988, Dahmer met a 22-year-old bisexual man named Richard Guerrero outside a gay bar called The Phoenix. Dahmer lured Guerrero to his grandmother's residence, although the incentive on this occasion was $50 to simply spend the remainder of the night with him. He then drugged Guerrero with sleeping pills and strangled him with a leather strap, with Dahmer then performing oral sex upon the corpse. Dahmer dismembered Guerrero's body within 24 hours of murdering him, again disposing of the remains in the trash and retaining the skull before pulverizing it several months later.
On April 23, Dahmer lured another young man to his house; however, after giving the victim a drugged coffee, both he and the intended victim heard Dahmer's grandmother call, "Is that you, Jeff?" Although Dahmer replied in a manner that led his grandmother to believe he was alone, she observed that Dahmer was not alone. Because of this, Dahmer opted not to kill this particular victim, instead waiting until he had become unconscious before taking him to the County General Hospital.
In September 1988, Dahmer's grandmother asked him to move out, largely because of his drinking, his habit of bringing young men to her house late at night and the foul smells occasionally emanating from both the basement and the garage. Dahmer found a one-bedroom apartment at 808 North 24th Street and moved into his new residence on September 25. Two days later, 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's father hired an attorney named Gerald Boyle to defend his son. At Boyle's request, Dahmer underwent a series of psychological evaluations prior to his upcoming court hearings. These evaluations revealed Dahmer harbored deep feelings of alienation. A second evaluation two months later revealed Dahmer to be an impulsive individual, suspicious of others, and dismayed by his lack of accomplishments in life. His probation officer also referenced a 1987 diagnosis of Dahmer suffering from a schizoid personality disorder for presentation to the court.
On January 30, 1989, Dahmer pleaded guilty to the charges of second-degree sexual assault and of enticing a child for immoral purposes. Sentencing for the assault was suspended until May. On March 20, Dahmer commenced a ten-day Easter absence from work, during which he moved back into his grandmother's home.
Two months after his conviction and two months prior to his sentencing for the sexual assault, Dahmer murdered his fifth victim, a mixed-race 24-year-old aspiring model named Anthony Sears, whom Dahmer met at a gay bar on March 25, 1989. According to Dahmer, on this particular occasion, he was not looking to commit a crime; however, shortly before closing time that evening, Sears "just started talking to me". Dahmer lured Sears to his grandmother's home, where the pair engaged in oral sex before Dahmer drugged and strangled Sears.
The following morning, Dahmer placed the corpse in his grandmother's bathtub, where he decapitated the body before attempting to flay the corpse. He stripped the flesh from the body and pulverized the bones, which he disposed of in the trash. According to Dahmer, he found Sears "exceptionally attractive", and Sears was the first victim from whom he permanently retained any body parts: he preserved Sears' head and genitalia in acetone and stored them in a wooden box, which he later placed in his work locker.[n 6] When he moved to a new address the following year, he took the remains there.
On May 23, 1989, Dahmer was sentenced to five years' probation and one year in the House of Correction, with work release permitted in order that he be able to keep his job. He was also required to register as a sex offender.
Two months before his scheduled release from the work camp, Dahmer was paroled from this regime. His five years' probation imposed in 1989 began at this point. On release, Dahmer temporarily moved back to his grandmother's home in West Allis. In May 1990, he moved into the Oxford Apartments, located on North 25th Street in Milwaukee. Although located in a high-crime area, the apartment was close to his workplace, was furnished and at $300 per month inclusive of all bills excluding electricity, was economical.
924 North 25th Street
The Oxford Apartments. Dahmer moved into Apartment 213 in May 1990, and murdered twelve of his victims at this location.
On May 14, 1990, Dahmer moved out of his grandmother's house and into 924 North 25th Street, Apartment 213, taking Sears' mummified head and genitals with him.[n 7] Within one week of his moving into his new apartment, Dahmer had killed his sixth victim, Raymond Smith. Smith was a 32-year-old male prostitute whom Dahmer lured to Apartment 213 with the promise of $50 for sex. Inside the apartment, he gave Smith a drink laced with seven sleeping pills, then manually strangled him.
The following day, Dahmer purchased a Polaroid camera with which he took several pictures of Smith's body in suggestive positions before dismembering him in the bathroom. He boiled the legs, arms, and pelvis in a steel kettle with Soilex, which allowed him to rinse the bones in his sink. Dahmer dissolved the remainder of Smith's skeleton—excluding the skull—in a container filled with acid. He later spray-painted Smith's skull, which he placed alongside the skull of Sears upon a black towel inside a metal filing-cabinet.
Approximately one week after the murder of Smith, on or about May 27, Dahmer lured another young man to his apartment. On this occasion Dahmer accidentally consumed the drink laden with sedatives intended for consumption by his guest. When he awoke the following day, he discovered his intended victim had stolen several items of his clothing, $300, and a watch. Dahmer never reported this incident to the police, although on May 29, he divulged to his probation officer that he had been robbed.
In June 1990, Dahmer lured a 27-year-old acquaintance named Edward Smith to his apartment. He drugged and strangled Smith. On this occasion, rather than immediately acidifying the skeleton or repeating previous processes of bleaching, which had rendered previous victims' skulls brittle, Dahmer placed Smith's skeleton in his freezer for several months in the hope it would not retain moisture. Freezing the skeleton did not remove moisture, and the skeleton of this victim was acidified several months later. Dahmer accidentally destroyed the skull when he placed it in the oven to dry—a process that caused the skull to explode. Dahmer later informed police he had felt "rotten" about Smith's murder as he had been unable to retain any parts of his body.
It was my way of remembering their appearance, their physical beauty. I also wanted to keep if I couldn't keep them there with me whole, I at least could keep their skeletons.
—Jeffrey Dahmer, recollecting his motivations for both photographing his victims, and retaining sections of their skeletal structure. February 1993.
Less than three months after the murder of Smith, Dahmer encountered a 22-year-old Chicago native named Ernest Miller outside a bookstore on the corner of North 27th Street. Miller agreed to accompany Dahmer to his apartment for $50 and further agreed to allow him to listen to his heart and stomach. When Dahmer attempted to perform oral sex upon Miller, he was informed, "That'll cost you extra," whereupon Dahmer gave his intended victim a drink laced with two sleeping pills.
On this occasion, Dahmer had only two sleeping pills to give his victim. Therefore, he killed Miller by slashing his carotid artery with the same knife he used to dissect his victims' bodies. Miller bled to death within minutes. Dahmer then posed the nude body for various suggestive Polaroid photographs before placing it in his bathtub for dismemberment. Dahmer repeatedly kissed and talked to the severed head while he dismembered the remainder of the body.
Dahmer wrapped Miller's heart, biceps, and portions of flesh from the legs in plastic bags and placed them in the fridge for later consumption. He boiled the remaining flesh and organs into a "jelly-like substance" using Soilex, which enabled him to rinse the flesh off the skeleton, which he intended to retain. To preserve the skeleton, Dahmer placed the bones in a light bleach solution for 24 hours before allowing them to dry upon a cloth for one week. The severed head was initially placed in the refrigerator before being stripped of flesh, then painted and coated with enamel.
Three weeks after the murder of Miller, on September 24, Dahmer encountered a 22-year-old man named David Thomas at the Grand Avenue Mall. He persuaded him to return to his apartment for a few drinks, with additional money on offer if he would pose for photographs. In his statement to police after his arrest, Dahmer stated that, after giving Thomas a drink laden with sedatives, he did not feel attracted to him, but was afraid to allow him to awake in case he would be angry over having been drugged. Therefore, he strangled him and dismembered the body—intentionally retaining no body parts whatsoever. He photographed the dismemberment process and retained these photographs, which later aided in Thomas's identification.
Following the murder of Thomas, Dahmer did not kill anyone for almost five months, although on a minimum of five occasions between October 1990 and February 1991, he unsuccessfully attempted to lure men to his apartment. He is known to have regularly complained of feelings of both anxiety and depression to his probation officer throughout 1990, with frequent references to his sexuality, his solitary lifestyle, and financial difficulties. On several occasions, Dahmer is known to have referred to harboring suicidal thoughts.
In February 1991, Dahmer observed a 17-year-old named Curtis Straughter standing at a bus stop near Marquette University. According to Dahmer, he lured Straughter into his apartment with an offer of money for posing for nude photos, with the added incentive of sexual intercourse. Dahmer drugged Straughter, cuffed his hands behind his back, then strangled him to death with a leather strap. He then dismembered Straughter, retaining the youth's skull, hands, and genitals and photographing each stage of the dismemberment process.
Less than two months later, on April 7, Dahmer encountered a 19-year-old named Errol Lindsey walking to get a key cut. Lindsey was heterosexual. Dahmer lured Lindsey to his apartment, where he drugged him, drilled a hole in his skull and poured hydrochloric acid into it. According to Dahmer, Lindsey awoke after this experiment (which Dahmer had conceived in the hope of inducing a permanent, unresistant, submissive state), saying: "I have a headache. What time is it?" In response to this, Dahmer again drugged Lindsey, then strangled him. He decapitated Lindsey and retained his skull. He then flayed Lindsey's body, placing the skin in a solution of cold water and salt for several weeks in the hope of permanently retaining it. Reluctantly, he disposed of Lindsey's skin when he noted it had become too frayed and brittle.
By 1991, fellow residents of the Oxford Apartments had repeatedly complained to the building's manager, Sopa Princewill, of the foul smells emanating from Apartment 213, in addition to the sounds of falling objects and the occasional sound of a chainsaw. Princewill contacted Dahmer in response to these complaints on several occasions, although he initially excused the odors emanating from his apartment as being caused by his freezer breaking, causing the contents to become "spoiled". On later occasions, he informed Princewill that the reason for the resurgence of the odor was that several of his tropical fish had recently died, and that he would take care of the matter.
On the afternoon of May 26, 1991, Dahmer encountered a 14-year-old Lao teenager named Konerak Sinthasomphone on Wisconsin Avenue. Unknown to Dahmer, Sinthasomphone was the younger brother of the boy whom he had molested in 1988. He approached the teenager with an offer of money to accompany him to his apartment to pose for Polaroid pictures. According to Dahmer, Sinthasomphone was initially reluctant to the proposal, before changing his mind and accompanying him to his apartment, where he posed for two pictures in his underwear before Dahmer drugged him into unconsciousness and performed oral sex on him. Before Sinthasomphone fell unconscious, Dahmer led the boy into his bedroom, where the body of 31-year-old Tony Hughes, an aspiring model whom Dahmer had killed three days earlier, lay naked on the floor. According to Dahmer, he "believed saw this body", yet did not react to seeing the bloated corpse—likely because of the effects of the sleeping pills he had ingested.
On this occasion, Dahmer drilled a single narrow hole into the crown of Sinthasomphone's skull, through which he injected hydrochloric acid into the frontal lobe. Dahmer then drank several beers while lying alongside Sinthasomphone before briefly falling asleep, then leaving his apartment to drink at a bar and purchase more alcohol.
In the early morning hours of May 27, Dahmer returned toward his apartment to discover 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 told them that Sinthasomphone (whom he referred to by the alias John Hmong) was his friend, and attempted to lead him to his apartment by the arm. The three women dissuaded Dahmer, explaining they had phoned 9-1-1.
Upon the arrival of two Milwaukee police officers, John Balcerzak and Joseph Gabrish, Dahmer's demeanor relaxed: he told the officers that Sinthasomphone was his 19-year-old boyfriend, that he had drunk too much following a quarrel, and that he frequently behaved in this manner when intoxicated. Dahmer added his lover had consumed Jack Daniel's whiskey that evening.
The three women were exasperated, and when one of the trio attempted to indicate to one of the officers—both of whom had observed no injuries beyond a scrape to Sinthasomphone's knee and believed him to be intoxicated—that Sinthasomphone had blood upon his testicles, was bleeding from his rectum and that he had seemingly struggled against Dahmer's attempts to walk him to his apartment prior to their arrival,[n 8] the officer harshly informed her to "butt out", "shut the hell up" and to not interfere.
Shortly after the arrival of the Milwaukee police officers, three members of the Milwaukee Fire Department arrived at the scene. These individuals also examined Sinthasomphone for injuries and provided a yellow blanket for the police officers to cover Sinthasomphone. One of the three believed Sinthasomphone needed treatment, but the police officers directed the fire department personnel to leave. Shortly thereafter, officer Richard Porubcan arrived at the scene.[n 9] He and Gabrish—followed by Balcerzak—escorted Dahmer and Sinthasomphone to Dahmer's apartment as Dahmer repeatedly commented on the general crime in the neighborhood and of his appreciation of the police.
Inside his apartment and in an effort to verify his claim that he and Sinthasomphone were lovers, Dahmer showed the officers the two semi-nude Polaroid pictures he had taken of the youth the previous evening. Though Balcerzak said he smelled nothing unusual, Gabrish later stated he noted a strange scent reminiscent of excrement inside the apartment. This odor emanated from the decomposing body of Hughes. Dahmer stated that to investigate this odor, one officer simply "peeked his head around the bedroom but really didn't take a good look." The officers then left, with a departing remark that Dahmer "take good care" of Sinthasomphone. This incident was listed by the officers as a "domestic dispute."[n 10]
Upon the departure of the three officers from his apartment, Dahmer again injected hydrochloric acid into Sinthasomphone's brain. On this second occasion, the injection proved fatal. The following day, May 28, Dahmer took a day's leave from work to devote himself to the dismemberment of the bodies of Sinthasomphone and Hughes. He retained both victims' skulls.[n 11]
On June 30, Dahmer traveled to Chicago, where he encountered a 20-year-old named Matt Turner at a bus station. Turner accepted Dahmer's offer to travel to Milwaukee for a professional photo shoot. At the apartment, Dahmer drugged, strangled and dismembered Turner and placed his head and internal organs in separate plastic bags in the freezer. Turner was not reported missing. Five days later, on July 5, Dahmer lured 23-year-old Jeremiah Weinberger from a Chicago bar to his apartment on the promise of spending the weekend with him. He drugged Weinberger and twice injected boiling water through his skull, sending him into a coma from which he died two days later.[n 12]
On July 15, Dahmer encountered 24-year-old Oliver Lacy at the corner of 27th and Kilbourn. Lacy agreed to Dahmer's ruse of posing nude for photographs and accompanied him to his apartment, where the pair engaged in tentative sexual activity before Dahmer drugged Lacy. On this occasion, Dahmer intended to prolong the time he spent with Lacy while alive. After unsuccessfully attempting to render Lacy unconscious with chloroform, he phoned his workplace to request a day's absence; this was granted, although the next day, he was suspended.
After strangling Lacy, Dahmer had sex with the corpse before dismembering him. He placed Lacy's head and heart in the refrigerator and his skeleton in the freezer. Four days later, on July 19, Dahmer received word that he was fired. Upon receipt of this news, Dahmer lured 25-year-old Joseph Bradehoft to his apartment. Bradehoft was strangled and left lying on Dahmer's bed covered with a sheet for two days. On July 21, Dahmer removed these sheets to find the head covered in maggots. He decapitated the body, cleaned the head and placed it in the refrigerator. He later acidified Bradehoft's torso along with those of two other victims killed within the previous month.
On July 22, 1991, Dahmer approached three men with an offer of $100 to accompany him to his apartment to pose for nude photographs, drink beer and simply keep him company. One of the trio, 32-year-old Tracy Edwards, agreed to accompany him to his apartment. Upon entering Dahmer's apartment, Edwards noted a foul odor and several boxes of hydrochloric acid on the floor, which Dahmer claimed to use for cleaning bricks. After some minor conversation, Edwards responded to Dahmer's request to turn his head and view his tropical fish, whereupon Dahmer placed a handcuff upon his wrist. When Edwards asked, "What's happening?" Dahmer unsuccessfully attempted to cuff his wrists together, then told Edwards to accompany him to the bedroom to pose for nude pictures. While inside the bedroom, Edwards noted nude male posters on the wall and that a videotape of The Exorcist III was playing. He also noted a blue 57-gallon drum in the corner, from which a strong odor emanated.
Dahmer then brandished a knife and informed Edwards he intended to take nude pictures of him. In an attempt to appease Dahmer, Edwards unbuttoned his shirt, saying he would allow him to do so if he would remove the handcuffs and put the knife away. In response to this promise, Dahmer simply turned his attention towards the TV. Edwards observed Dahmer rocking back and forth and chanting before turning his attention back to him. He placed his head on Edwards' chest, listened to his heartbeat and, with the knife pressed against his intended victim, informed Edwards he intended to eat his heart.
In continuous attempts to prevent Dahmer from attacking him, Edwards repeated that he was Dahmer's friend and that he was not going to run away. Edwards had decided he was going to either jump from a window or run through the unlocked front door upon the next available opportunity. When Edwards next stated he needed to use the bathroom, he asked if they could sit with a beer in the living room, where there was air conditioning. Dahmer consented, and the pair walked to the living room when Edwards exited the bathroom. Inside the living room, Edwards waited until he observed Dahmer have a momentary lapse of concentration before requesting to use the bathroom again. When Edwards rose from the couch, he noted Dahmer was not holding the handcuffs, whereupon Edwards punched him in the face, knocking Dahmer off balance, and ran out the front door.
At 11:30 p.m. on July 22, Edwards flagged down two Milwaukee police officers, Robert Rauth and Rolf Mueller, at the corner of North 25th Street. The officers noted Edwards had a handcuff attached to his wrist, whereupon he explained to the officers that a "freak" had placed the handcuffs upon him and asked if the police could remove them. When the officers' handcuff keys failed to fit the brand of handcuffs, Edwards agreed to accompany the officers to the apartment where, Edwards stated, he had spent the previous five hours before escaping.
When the officers and Edwards arrived at Apartment 213, Dahmer invited the trio inside and acknowledged he had placed the handcuffs upon Edwards, although he offered no explanation as to why he had done so. At this point, Edwards divulged to the officers that Dahmer had also brandished a large knife upon him and that this had happened in the bedroom. Dahmer made no comment to this revelation, indicating to one of the officers, Mueller, that the key to the handcuffs was in his bedside dresser. As Mueller entered the bedroom, Dahmer attempted to pass Mueller to retrieve the key himself, whereupon the second officer present, Rauth, informed him to "back off".
In the bedroom, Mueller noted there was a large knife beneath the bed. He saw an open drawer which, upon closer inspection, contained scores of Polaroid pictures—many of which were of human bodies in various stages of dismemberment. Mueller noted the decor indicated they had been taken in the same apartment in which they were standing. Mueller walked into the living room to show them to his partner, uttering the words, "These are for real."
When Dahmer saw that Mueller was holding several of his Polaroids, he fought with the officers in an effort to resist arrest. The officers quickly overpowered him, cuffed his hands behind his back, and called a second squad car for backup. At this point, Mueller opened the refrigerator to reveal the freshly severed head of a Black male on the bottom shelf. As Dahmer lay pinned on the floor beneath Rauth, he turned his head towards the officers and muttered the words: "For what I did I should be dead."
A more detailed search of the apartment, conducted by the Milwaukee police's Criminal Investigation Bureau, revealed a total of four severed heads in Dahmer's kitchen. A total of seven skulls—some painted, some bleached—were found in Dahmer's bedroom and inside a closet. Investigators discovered collected blood drippings upon a tray at the bottom of Dahmer's refrigerator, plus two human hearts and a portion of arm muscle, each wrapped inside plastic bags upon the shelves. In Dahmer's freezer, investigators discovered an entire torso, plus a bag of human organs and flesh stuck to the ice at the bottom.
Private contractors from the Fire Department's Hazardous Materials Unit remove the 57-gallon drum from Dahmer's apartment, July 23, 1991.
Elsewhere in Apartment 213, investigators discovered two entire skeletons, a pair of severed hands, two severed and preserved penises, a mummified scalp and, in the 57-gallon drum, three further dismembered torsos dissolving in the acid solution. A total of 74 Polaroid pictures detailing the dismemberment of Dahmer's victims were found. In reference to the recovery of body parts and artifacts at 924 North 25th Street, the chief medical examiner later stated: "It was more like dismantling someone's museum than an actual crime scene."
Beginning in the early hours of July 23, 1991, Dahmer was questioned by Detective Patrick Kennedy as to the murders he had committed and the evidence found at his apartment. Over the following two weeks, Kennedy and, later, Detective Dennis Murphy conducted numerous interviews with Dahmer which, when combined, totalled over 60 hours. Dahmer waived his right to have a lawyer present throughout his interrogations, adding he wished to confess all as he had "created this horror and it only makes sense I do everything to put an end to it." He readily admitted to having murdered sixteen young men in Wisconsin since 1987, with one further victim—Steven Hicks—killed in Ohio back in 1978.
Most of Dahmer's victims had been rendered unconscious prior to their murder, although some had died as a result of having acid or boiling water injected into their brain. As he had no memory of the murder of his second victim, Steven Tuomi, he was unsure whether he was unconscious when beaten to death, although he did concede it was possible that his viewing the exposed chest of Tuomi while in a drunken stupor may have led him to unsuccessfully attempt to tear Tuomi's heart from his chest. Almost all the murders Dahmer committed after moving into the Oxford Apartments had involved a ritual of posing the victims' bodies in suggestive positions—typically with the chest thrust outwards—prior to dismemberment.
Dahmer readily admitted to engaging in necrophilia with several of his victims' bodies, including performing sexual acts with their viscera as he dismembered their bodies in his bathtub. Having noted that much of the blood pooled inside his victims' chest after death, Dahmer first removed their internal organs, then suspended the torso so the blood drained into his bathtub, before dicing any organs he did not wish to retain and paring the flesh from the body. The bones he wished to dispose of were pulverized or acidified, with Soilex and bleach solutions used to aid in the preservation of the skeletons and skulls he wished to keep. Dahmer confessed to having consumed the hearts, livers, biceps, and portions of thighs of several victims he had killed within the previous year, often tenderizing the flesh and organs prior to consuming them in meals flavored with various condiments.
Describing the increase in his rate of killing in the two months prior to his arrest, Dahmer stated he had been "completely swept along" with his compulsion to kill, adding: "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." When asked as to why he had preserved a total of seven skulls and the entire skeletons of two victims, Dahmer stated he had been in the process of constructing a private altar of victims' skulls which he had intended to display on the black table located in his living room and upon which he had photographed the bodies of many of his victims.
An illustration provided by Dahmer depicting the private altar he had been planning to create at the time of his July 1991 arrest.
This display of skulls was to be adorned at each side with the complete skeletons of Miller and Lacy. The four severed heads found in his kitchen were to be removed of all flesh and used in this altar, as was the skull of at least one future victim. Incense sticks were to be placed at each end of the black table, above which Dahmer intended to place a large blue lamp with extending blue globe lights. The entire construction was to be placed before a window covered with a black, opaque shower curtain, in front of which Dahmer intended to sit in a black leather chair.
When asked in a November 18, 1991, interview whom the altar was dedicated to, Dahmer replied: "Myself ... It was a place where I could feel at home." He further described his intended altar as a "place for meditation," from where he believed he could draw a sense of power, adding: "If this had happened six months later, that's what they would have found."
On July 25, 1991, Dahmer was charged with four counts of first-degree murder. By August 22, he had been charged with a further eleven murders committed in Wisconsin. On September 14, investigators in Ohio, having uncovered hundreds of bone fragments in woodland behind the address in which Dahmer had confessed to killing his first victim, formally identified two molars and a vertebra with X-ray records of Hicks. Three days later, Dahmer was charged by authorities in Ohio with Hicks's murder.
Dahmer's trial began on January 30, 1992. He was tried in Milwaukee for the 15 counts of first-degree murder before Judge Laurence Gram. By pleading guilty on January 13 to the charges brought against him, Dahmer had waived his rights to an initial trial to establish guilt, as defined in Wisconsin law. Attorneys at Dahmer's trial debated whether he suffered from either a mental or a personality disorder. The prosecution claimed that any disorders did not deprive Dahmer of the ability to appreciate the criminality of his conduct or to deprive him of the ability to resist his impulses. The defense argued that Dahmer suffered from a mental disease and was driven by obsessions and impulses he was unable to control.
Defense experts argued that Dahmer was insane due to his necrophilic drive – his compulsion to have sexual encounters with corpses. Defense expert Dr. Fred Berlin testified that Dahmer was unable to conform his conduct at the time that he committed the crimes due to his paraphilia or, more specifically, necrophilia. Dr. Judith Becker, a professor of psychiatry and psychology, was the second expert witness for the defense. Becker diagnosed Dahmer as a necrophiliac, although she added Dahmer had informed her he preferred comatose sexual partners to deceased ones "75 percent" of the time. The final defense expert to testify, forensic psychiatrist Dr. Carl Wahlstrom, diagnosed Dahmer with necrophilia, borderline personality disorder, schizotypal personality disorder, alcohol dependence, and a psychotic disorder.
On February 8, Dr. Fred Fosdel testified on behalf of the prosecution. Fosdel testified to his belief that Dahmer was without mental disease or defect at the time he committed the murders. He described Dahmer as a calculating and cunning individual, able to differentiate between right and wrong, with the ability to control his actions, and whose lust overpowered his morals. Although Fosdel did state his belief that Dahmer was a paraphiliac, his conclusion was that Dahmer was not a sadist.
The second and final witness to appear for the prosecution, forensic psychiatrist Park Dietz, began his testimony on February 12. Dietz testified that he did not believe Dahmer had any form of mental disease or defect at the time that he committed the crimes, stating that "Dahmer went to great lengths to be alone with his victim and to have no witnesses." He explained that there was ample evidence that Dahmer prepared in advance for each murder, therefore, his crimes were not impulsive. Although Dietz did concede any acquisition of a paraphilia was not a matter of personal choice, he stated his belief that Dahmer's habit of becoming intoxicated prior to committing each of the murders was significant; "If he had an impulse to kill or a compulsion to kill," Dietz testified, "he wouldn't have to drink alcohol to overcome it. He only has to drink alcohol to overcome it because he is inhibited against killing."
Dietz noted that Dahmer strongly identified with the villains of The Exorcist III and Return of the Jedi, particularly the level of power held by these characters. Expounding on the significance of these movies on Dahmer's psyche and many of the murders committed at the Oxford Apartments, Dietz explained that Dahmer occasionally viewed scenes from these films before searching for a victim. Dietz diagnosed Dahmer with substance use disorder, paraphilia, and schizotypal personality disorder.
Two court-appointed mental health professionals—testifying independently of either prosecution or defense—were forensic psychiatrist George Palermo and clinical psychologist Samuel Friedman. Palermo stated that the murders were the result of a "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." Palermo concluded that Dahmer had a severe mixed personality disorder, with antisocial, obsessive-compulsive, sadistic, fetishistic, borderline and necrophilic features, but otherwise legally sane.
Friedman testified that it was a longing for companionship that caused Dahmer to kill and testified that Dahmer was not psychotic. He described Dahmer as "amiable, pleasant to be with, courteous, with a sense of humor, conventionally handsome, and charming in manner. He was, and still is, a bright young man." He diagnosed Dahmer with a personality disorder not otherwise specified featuring borderline, obsessive-compulsive, and sadistic traits.
The trial lasted two weeks. On February 14, both attorneys delivered their closing arguments to the jury. Each attorney was allowed to speak for two hours. Defense attorney Gerald Boyle argued first. Repeatedly referring to the testimony of the mental health professionals—almost all of whom had agreed Dahmer was afflicted with a mental disease—Boyle argued that Dahmer's compulsive killings had been a result of "a sickness he discovered, not chose." Boyle portrayed Dahmer as a desperately lonely and profoundly sick individual "so out of control he could not conform his conduct any more."
Following the defense counsel's 75-minute closing argument, Michael McCann delivered his closing argument for the prosecution, describing Dahmer as a sane man, in full control of his actions, who simply strove to avoid detection. McCann described Dahmer as a calculating individual who killed to control his victims and retained their bodies "merely to afford" himself a prolonged period of sexual pleasure. McCann argued that by pleading guilty but insane to the charges, Dahmer was seeking to escape responsibility for his crimes.
On February 15, the court reconvened to hear the verdict: Dahmer was ruled to be sane and not suffering from a mental disorder at the time of each of the 15 murders for which he was tried, although in each count, two of the twelve jurors signified their dissent. Formal sentencing was postponed until February 17. On this date, Dahmer's attorney announced his client wished to address the court. Dahmer then approached a lectern and read from a statement prepared by himself and his defense as he faced the judge.
In this statement, Dahmer emphasized that he had never desired freedom following his arrest, and that he "frankly" wished for his own death. He further stressed that none of his murders had been motivated by hatred, that he understood that nothing he either said or did could "undo the terrible harm" he had caused to the families of his victims and the city of Milwaukee, and that he and his doctors believed his criminal behavior had been motivated by mental disorders. Dahmer added that this medical knowledge had given him "some peace", and that although he understood that society would never forgive him, he hoped God would.
Dahmer closed his statement with the following: "I know my time in prison will be terrible, but I deserve whatever I get because of what I have done. Thank you, your honor, and I am prepared for your sentence, which I know will be the maximum. I ask for no consideration." He then returned to his seat to await formal sentencing.
Dahmer was then sentenced to life imprisonment plus ten years upon the first two counts. The remaining thirteen counts carried a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment plus seventy years. The death penalty was not an option for Judge Gram to consider at the penalty phase, as Wisconsin had abolished capital punishment in 1853.
Upon hearing of Dahmer's sentencing, his father Lionel and stepmother Shari requested to be allowed a ten-minute private meeting with their son before he was transferred to the Columbia Correctional Institution in Portage, to begin his sentence. This request was granted and the trio exchanged hugs and well-wishes before Dahmer was escorted away.
Three months after his conviction in Milwaukee, Dahmer was extradited to Ohio to be tried for the murder of his first victim, Steven Hicks. In a court hearing lasting just 45 minutes, Dahmer again pleaded guilty to the charges and was sentenced to a 16th term of life imprisonment on May 1, 1992.
Upon sentencing, Dahmer was transferred to the Columbia Correctional Institution. For the first year of his incarceration, Dahmer was placed in solitary confinement due to concerns for his physical safety should he come into contact with fellow inmates. With Dahmer's consent, after one year in solitary confinement, he was transferred to a less secure unit, where he was assigned a two-hour daily work detail cleaning the toilet block.
Following his baptism, Ratcliff visited Dahmer on a weekly basis up until November 1994. Dahmer and Ratcliff regularly discussed the prospect of death, and Dahmer questioned whether he was sinning against God by continuing to live. Referring to his crimes in a 1994 interview with Stone Phillips on Dateline NBC, Dahmer had stated: "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 behavior to keep it within acceptable ranges? That's how I thought anyway."
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 and was not seriously hurt in this incident. According to Dahmer's family, he had long been ready to die, and accepted any punishment which he might endure in prison. In addition to his father and stepmother maintaining regular contact, Dahmer's mother, Joyce, also maintained regular contact with her son. Prior to his arrest, the two had not seen each other since Christmas 1983. Joyce related that in her weekly phone calls, whenever she expressed concerns for her son's physical well-being, Dahmer responded with comments to the effect of: "It doesn't matter, Mom. I don't care if something happens to me."
On the morning of November 28, 1994, Dahmer left his cell to conduct his assigned work detail. Accompanying him were two fellow inmates, Jesse Anderson and Christopher Scarver. The trio were left unsupervised in the showers of the prison gym for approximately 20 minutes. At approximately 8:10 a.m. Dahmer was discovered on the floor of the bathrooms of the gym suffering from extreme head wounds; he had been severely bludgeoned about the head and face with a 20-inch (51-centimeter) metal bar. His head had also been repeatedly struck against the wall in the assault. Although Dahmer was still alive and was rushed to a nearby hospital, he was pronounced dead one hour later. Anderson had been beaten with the same instrument, and died two days later from his wounds.
Scarver, who was serving a life sentence for a murder committed in 1990, informed authorities he had first attacked Dahmer with the metal bar as Dahmer was cleaning a staff locker room, before attacking Anderson as Anderson cleaned an inmate locker room. According to Scarver, Dahmer did not yell or make any noise as he was attacked. 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." Scarver was adamant he had not planned the attacks in advance, although he later divulged to investigators he had concealed the 20-inch iron bar used to kill both men in his clothing shortly before the killings.[n 13]
Upon learning of his death, Dahmer's mother Joyce responded angrily to the media: "Now is everybody happy? Now that he's bludgeoned to death, is that good enough for everyone?" The response of the families of Dahmer's victims was mixed: some celebrated the news, while others were saddened. Catherine Lacy, the mother of victim Oliver Lacy, remarked: "The hurt is worse now, because he's not suffering like we are." The district attorney who prosecuted Dahmer cautioned against turning Scarver into a folk hero, noting that Dahmer's death was still murder. On May 15, 1995, Scarver was sentenced to two additional terms of life imprisonment for the murders of Dahmer and Anderson.
Dahmer had stated in his will that he wished for no services to be conducted and that he wished to be cremated. In September 1995, Dahmer's body was cremated, and his ashes divided between his parents.
On August 5, 1991, as the nature and scale of Dahmer's crimes initially came to light, a candlelight vigil to celebrate and heal the Milwaukee community was attended by more than 400 people. Present at the vigil were community leaders, gay rights activists, and family members of several of Dahmer's victims. Organizers stated the purpose of the vigil was to enable Milwaukeeans to "share their feelings of pain and anger over what happened".
Dahmer's murders were committed at a time of heightened racial tension in Milwaukee. A professor of community studies at the University of Wisconsin, Walter Farrell, later stated race relations in the city had been "in a state of disrepair for nearly a decade" at the time of Dahmer's arrest.[n 14] In an August 1991 interview given to the Christian Science Monitor, Farrell stated that news of the murders, as well as the conduct of Milwaukee police officers John Balcerzak and Joseph Gabrish with regards to victim Konerak Sinthasomphone, exacerbated and highlighted racial tensions within the city.
Milwaukee's gay scene was generally underground and transient in nature at the time of Dahmer's murders, with many sexually active gay men using aliases. Many in the city's gay community were nervous of the intentions of others after the extent of Dahmer's murders became known, although the fear and distrust generated by Dahmer's crimes was shortlived. As the 1990s progressed, the usage of aliases became less common among members of Milwaukee's gay community.
The Oxford Apartments at 924 North 25th Street, where Dahmer had killed twelve of his victims, were demolished in November 1992. The site is now a vacant lot. Alternate plans to convert the site into either a memorial garden, a playground, or to reconstruct new housing have failed to materialize.
Dahmer's estate was awarded to the families of eleven of his victims who had sued for damages. In 1996, Thomas Jacobson, a lawyer representing eight of the families, announced a planned auction of Dahmer's estate. Although victims' relatives stated the motivation was not greed, the announcement sparked controversy. A civic group, Milwaukee Civic Pride, was quickly established in an effort to raise the funds to purchase and destroy Dahmer's possessions. The group pledged $407,225, including a $100,000 gift by Milwaukee real estate developer Joseph Zilber, for purchase of Dahmer's estate; five of the eight families represented by Jacobson agreed to the terms, and Dahmer's possessions were subsequently destroyed and buried in an undisclosed Illinois landfill.
Lionel Dahmer is retired and now lives with his second wife, Shari. Both have refused to change their surname and have professed their love of Dahmer in spite of his crimes. In 1994, Lionel published a book, A Father's Story, and donated a portion of the proceeds from his book to the victims' families. Most of the families showed support for Lionel and Shari, although three families subsequently sued Lionel: two for using their names in the book without obtaining prior consent, and a third family—that of Steven Hicks—filing a wrongful deathsuit against Lionel, Shari, and former wife Joyce, citing parental negligence as the cause for the claim.
Joyce Flint died of cancer in November 2000. Prior to her death, she had attempted suicide on at least one occasion. Dahmer's younger brother, David, changed his surname and lives in anonymity.
Jeffrey Dahmer killed seventeen young men between 1978 and 1991. Twelve were killed in his North 25th Street apartment. Three victims were murdered and dismembered at his grandmother's West Allis residence. His first and second victims were murdered at his parents' home in Ohio and at the Ambassador Hotel in Milwaukee, respectively. A total of fourteen of Dahmer's victims were from various ethnic minority backgrounds, with nine victims being Black. Dahmer was adamant that the race of his victims was incidental to him and that it was the body form of a potential victim that attracted his attention.[n 15] These contentions have been supported via an independent forensic specialists' study of Dahmer's victim selection, the anthropological analysis of which revealed his victims shared a "morphological similarity" and suggesting Dahmer was "psychologically attracted to a certain anthropometric body type."
Most of Dahmer's victims were killed by strangulation after being drugged with sedatives. His first victim was killed by a combination of bludgeoning and strangulation and his second victim was battered to death, with one further victim killed in 1990, Ernest Miller, dying of a combination of shock and blood loss due to his carotid artery being cut. Four of Dahmer's victims killed in 1991 had holes bored into their skulls through which Dahmer injected hydrochloric acid or, later, boiling water, into the frontal lobes in an attempt to induce a permanent, submissive, unresistant state. This proved fatal, although on each occasion this was not Dahmer's intention.
Steven Mark Hicks
June 18: Steven Mark Hicks, 18. Last seen hitchhiking to a rock concert in Chippewa Lake Park in Bath, Ohio. By Dahmer's admission, what caught his attention to Hicks hitchhiking was the fact that the youth was bare-chested. He was bludgeoned with a dumbbell and strangled to death with this instrument before being dismembered. Remains pulverized and scattered in woodland behind Dahmer's childhood home.
November 20: Steven Walter Tuomi, 25. Killed in a rented room at the Ambassador Hotel in Milwaukee. Dahmer claimed to have no memory of murdering Tuomi, yet stated he must have battered him to death in a drunken stupor. His body was dismembered in the basement of Dahmer's grandmother's house and the remains discarded in the trash. No remains were ever found.
January 16: James Edward Doxtator, 14. Met Dahmer outside a gay bar in Wisconsin. Doxtator was lured to West Allis on the pretext of earning $50 for posing for nude pictures. Dahmer strangled Doxtator and kept his body in the basement for a week before dismembering him and discarding the remains in the trash. No remains were ever found.
March 24: Richard Guerrero, 22. Drugged and strangled in Dahmer's bedroom at West Allis. Dahmer dismembered Guerrero's corpse in the basement, dissolved the flesh in acid and disposed of the bones in the trash. He bleached and retained the skull for several months before disposing of it. No remains were ever found.
March 25: Anthony Lee Sears, 24. Sears was the last victim to be drugged and strangled at Dahmer's grandmother's residence; he was also the first victim from whom Dahmer permanently retained any body parts. His preserved skull and genitals were found in a filing cabinet at 924 North 25th Street following Dahmer's arrest in 1991.
May 20: Raymond Lamont Smith (also known as Ricky Beeks), 32. The first victim to be killed at Dahmer's North 25th Street apartment. Smith was a male sex worker whom Dahmer encountered at a tavern. Dahmer gave Smith a drink laced with sleeping pills, then strangled him on his kitchen floor. His skull was spray-painted and retained.
June 14: Edward Warren Smith, 27. A known acquaintance of Dahmer who was last seen in his company at a party. Dahmer acidified Smith's skeleton; his skull was destroyed unintentionally when placed in the oven in an effort to remove moisture. No remains were ever found.
Ernest Marquez Miller
September 2: Ernest Marquez Miller, 22. Miller was a dance student whom Dahmer encountered outside a bookstore. According to Dahmer, he was especially attracted to Miller's physique. He was killed by having his carotid artery severed before being dismembered in the bathtub, with Dahmer storing his entire skeleton in the bottom drawer of a filing cabinet and his heart, biceps, and portions of his legs in the freezer for later consumption.
September 24: David Courtney Thomas, 22. Encountered Dahmer near the Grand Avenue Mall; he was lured to Dahmer's apartment on the promise of money for posing nude. Once a laced drink had rendered Thomas unconscious, Dahmer decided he "wasn't my type." Nonetheless, Dahmer strangled Thomas, taking Polaroid photos of the dismemberment process. No remains were ever found.
February 18: Curtis Durrell Straughter, 17. Approached by Dahmer as he waited at a bus stop near Marquette University. Dahmer lured Straughter to his apartment, where the youth was drugged, and then handcuffed and strangled before being dismembered in the bathtub. His skull, hands, and genitals were retained.
April 7: Errol Lindsey, 19. The first victim upon whom Dahmer practiced what he later described to investigators as his "drilling technique," a procedure in which he drilled holes into the victim's skull, through which he injected hydrochloric acid into the brain. According to Dahmer, Lindsey awoke after this practice, after which he was again rendered unconscious with a drink laced with sedatives, then strangled to death. Dahmer flayed Lindsey's body and retained the skin for several weeks. His skull was found following Dahmer's arrest.
May 24: Tony Anthony Hughes, 31. Hughes was lured by Dahmer to his apartment upon the promise of posing nude for photographs. As Hughes was deaf, he and Dahmer communicated using handwritten notes.[n 16] He was strangled and his body left on Dahmer's bedroom floor for three days before being dismembered, with Dahmer photographing the dismemberment process. His skull was retained and identified from dental records.
May 27: Konerak Sinthasomphone, 14. The younger brother of the boy Dahmer had assaulted in 1988. Sinthasomphone was drugged and had hydrochloric acid injected into his brain before Dahmer left the youth unattended as he left the apartment to purchase beer. When he returned, he discovered Sinthasomphone naked and disoriented in the street, with three distressed young women attempting to assist him. When police arrived, Dahmer persuaded them he and Sinthasomphone were lovers and that the youth was simply intoxicated. When police left Sinthasomphone with Dahmer in his apartment, Dahmer again injected hydrochloric acid into Sinthasomphone's brain, and this proved fatal. His head was retained in the freezer and his body dismembered.
June 30: Matt Cleveland Turner, 20. On June 30, Dahmer attended the Chicago Pride Parade. At a bus stop, he encountered a 20-year-old named Matt Turner and persuaded him to accompany him to Milwaukee to pose for a photo shoot. Turner was drugged, strangled, and then dismembered in the bathtub. His head and internal organs were put in the freezer and his torso subsequently placed in the 57-gallon drum Dahmer purchased on July 12.
July 5: Jeremiah Benjamin Weinberger, 23. Met Dahmer at a gay bar in Chicago and agreed to accompany him to Milwaukee for the weekend. Dahmer drilled through Weinberger's skull and injected boiling water into the cavity. He later recalled Weinberger's death to be exceptional, as he was the only victim who died with his eyes open. Weinberger's decapitated body was kept in the bathtub for a week before being dismembered; his torso was placed in the 57-gallon drum.
July 15: Oliver Joseph Lacy, 24. A bodybuilding enthusiast whom Dahmer enticed to his apartment on the promise of money for posing for photographs. Lacy was drugged and strangled with a leather strap before being decapitated, with his head and heart being placed in the refrigerator. His skeleton was retained to adorn one side of the private shrine of skulls and skeletons Dahmer was in the process of creating when arrested one week later.
July 19: Joseph Arthur Bradehoft, 25. Dahmer's last victim. Bradehoft was a father of three children from Minnesota who was looking for work in Milwaukee at the time of his murder. He was left on Dahmer's bed for two days following his murder before, on July 21, being decapitated. His head was placed in the refrigerator and his torso in the 57-gallon drum.
The Trial of Jeffrey Dahmer was released in 1992. Directed by Elkan Allan, this documentary largely focuses upon testimony delivered at Dahmer's first trial. The documentary concludes with Dahmer's addressing Judge Laurence Gram following his conviction.
Dahmer: Mystery of a Serial Killer. Directed by Michael Husain and released in November 1993, this 50-minute A&E Networks documentary contains archive footage of Dahmer's trial in addition to interviews with individuals such as forensic psychiatrist Park Dietz.
Inside Edition conducted an interview with Dahmer in January 1993. Conducted by reporter Nancy Glass, this 30-minute interview was broadcast in February 1993.
ABC News has commissioned a one-hour episode focusing upon Dahmer's crimes as part of their television news magazine series Day One. This episode features interviews with forensic psychiatrist Park Dietz and psychiatrist Fred Berlin and was first broadcast in April 1993.
Channel 4 has commissioned a documentary focusing on the murders committed by Jeffrey Dahmer. Titled To Kill and Kill Again, this 50-minute documentary was first broadcast on December 12, 1993.
Dateline NBC has also broadcast an interview with Dahmer. Conducted by Stone Phillips and first broadcast on March 8, 1994, this 90-minute episode—titled Confessions of a Serial Killer—features interviews with Dahmer and his father conducted at Columbia Correctional Institution. Dahmer's mother is also interviewed for this program.
The BBC has broadcast a documentary focusing on the life and crimes of Jeffrey Dahmer. Titled Everyman: Profile of a Serial Killer and directed by Nikki Stockley, this 50-minute documentary was first broadcast in November 1994.
A&E Networks has commissioned a second documentary focusing upon the murders committed by Jeffrey Dahmer. Titled Jeffrey Dahmer: The Monster Within, this 50-minute episode was first broadcast in June 1996 and contains interviews with Detective Patrick Kennedy and Prosecutor Michael McCann.
The Investigation Discovery channel has also broadcast a documentary focusing upon Dahmer within its documentary series, Most Evil. This documentary features excerpts of Dahmer's 1994 Dateline NBC interview with Stone Phillips and was first broadcast in August 2006.
The British true crime series Born to Kill? has broadcast an episode focusing upon Jeffrey Dahmer. This 45-minute episode features interviews with FBI criminal profilerRobert Ressler and Detective Patrick Kennedy and was first broadcast in October 2005.
HLN has broadcast an episode focusing upon Dahmer's crimes as part of its investigative series, How it Really Happened. This episode, titled The Strange Case of Jeffrey Dahmer, was originally aired on March 31, 2017.
The digital cable and satellite television channel Oxygen broadcast the two-part documentary Dahmer on Dahmer: A Serial Killer Speaks in November 2017. Produced and directed by Matthew Watts, the program features interviews with, among others, Dahmer's father, stepmother, former classmates, psychiatrists who testified at his trial, and a homicide detective involved in the investigation.
Poster for the theatrical play Jeffrey Dahmer: Guilty but Insane
The Netflixdark tourism documentary series Dark Tourist has broadcast an episode which features Dahmer's crimes. This 40-minute documentary was first broadcast on July 20, 2018.
Jeffrey Dahmer: Mind of a Monster was commissioned by the Investigation Discovery channel. This documentary was first broadcast in May 2020 and includes interviews with Dahmer's father, former neighbors and eyewitnesses in addition to investigators and forensic psychiatrists.
^Two soldiers have since claimed to have been raped by Dahmer while in the Army. In 2010, one stated that Dahmer had repeatedly raped him over a 17-month period while they were both stationed at Baumholder, while another soldier believes Dahmer drugged and raped him inside an armored personnel carrier in 1979. However, in numerous interviews following his 1991 arrest, Dahmer stated to both police and psychiatrists he did not sexually assault or engage in willing homosexual relations while stationed in West Germany.
^Dahmer also confessed to having committed the same offense on "four or five" previous occasions.
^On one occasion, Dahmer's father observed this box at Dahmer's grandmother's house. When he asked Dahmer to open the box, Dahmer became defensive and angry, claiming the box contained pornographic magazines and stating: "Can't I have just one square foot of privacy?" He then promised to open the box the following day, indicating to his father the box contained pornography. His father acceded to his request.
^Shortly after moving into 924 North 25th Street, Dahmer purchased granite spray-paint from an art store. Having removed all flesh from Sears' head, he used this substance to spray-paint the skull and Sears' genitals. Dahmer also retained Sears' scalp.
^The witnesses' observations regarding blood upon Sinthasomphone's testicles and rectum were not corroborated by either the Milwaukee police officers or members of the Milwaukee Fire Department who also arrived at the scene.
^Had Balcerzak and Gabrish conducted a background check pertaining to this incident, the check would have revealed Dahmer was on probation for the September 1988 sexual assault of a thirteen-year-old boy—incidentally Sinthasomphone's older brother.
^Having left Sinthasomphone in the company of Dahmer, the patrol unit which had responded to the women's 911 call then radioed their dispatch unit. Above evident laughter from one or more of his colleagues, one officer informed his dispatch unit: "Intoxicated, Asian, naked male was returned to his sober boyfriend My partner going to get deloused at the station."
^Dahmer chose to inject boiling water as opposed to hydrochloric acid into Weinberger's skull as three previous attempts to render victims unresistant and submissive via acid injections had been unsuccessful.
^Prior to murdering Dahmer and Anderson, Scarver is known to have expressed extreme racism towards white people. As the majority of Dahmer's victims were black and Anderson had attempted to frame two black men for his wife's murder, a possibility exists the attacks on both men were racially motivated.
^A 1989 study conducted at the University of Chicago had listed Milwaukee as one of five "hypersegregated" cities in the United States.
^Despite Dahmer's insistence the race of his victims was incidental to him, some theorize the majority of his murders may have held a racial motive. Alternatively, his victim selection may have simply been a result of his living in an ethnically mixed area, and the demographics of the districts of Milwaukee and Chicago where he typically selected his victims.
^Purcell, Catherine E.; A. Arrigo, Bruce (2006). "5". The Psychology of Lust Murder: Paraphilia, Sexual Killing, and Serial Homicide. New York City: Academic Press. p. 77. ISBN978-0-12-370510-5. Archived from the original on July 15, 2022. Retrieved October 22, 2020.