Jeffrey Dahmer, one of America's most notorious serial killers, murdered 17 men between 1978 and 1991. Not until his capture was his taste for cannibalism and necrophilia discovered.
Jeffrey Lionel Dahmer was born on May 21, 1960, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Jeffrey's father, Lionel, was a hard-working lab technician who held ultraconservative views. Joyce Dahmer assembled a scrapbook about her son that contained everything about his early life. Jeffrey's parents were ordinary, loving parents who wanted the best for their child.
When Jeffrey was six years old, his mother gave birth to another son and named him David. The brothers were not close. Jeffrey played alone in a world of make believe.
Shortly after Jeffrey turned eight, the family moved to Bath, Ohio. He was an extremely withdrawn boy, whose apparent vulnerability eventually attracted molestation by a neighbor. Signs of disturbance quickly developed, such as the impaled heads of small animals standing on tall sticks in the Dahmers' yard. As an adolescent, Jeffrey began to have thoughts of killing his first victim.
Following an ugly divorce, Jeffrey's mother took David and moved away, leaving Jeffrey with his father. Unknown to her, he had moved away as well. At 17, Jeffrey suddenly had to fend for himself.
Dahmer committed the first murder at the age of 18. The victim was a young hitchhiker named Steven Hicks, whom Dahmer had taken home for "a drink and some laughs." Dahmer's post-arrest testimony revealed that he "didn't want him to leave." When Hicks tried to leave, Dahmer caved in his skull with a dumbbell, strangled him, and later cut his limbs into pieces and burned the torso.
Dahmer gave college a try shortly after high school, but performed poorly. Acting on an earlier suggestion by his father, he enlisted in the U.S. Army for a six-year stint. He became a medic and was stationed in Germany. After only two years of service, Army officials were fed up with his abusive drinking habits and issued Dahmer a dishonorable discharge. In 1982, he moved to West Allis, Wisconsin, to live with his grandmother.
Later, speculation arose about numerous young German men reported missing at the time that Dahmer had been stationed there. However, there was never any hard evidence to support the supposed connection.
In the military, Dahmer seemed to rise above his appetite for butchery. However, military life had no effect on the disturbance that lived deep inside of him. Soon after leaving the military, Dahmer opted for a life of homosexual liaisons. Meanwhile, young males were reported missing throughout Wisconsin.
Sickness takes over
Nearly all of Dahmer's 17 victims were homosexual African-American men, whom he subjected to torture and various sexual assaults. His main objective for a victim was to gain his total submission, which led to Dahmer's proclivity for necrophilia.
On September 15, 1987, Dahmer murdered Steven Tuomi in Milwaukee. While the case went unsolved, he butchered James Doxtator in 1988, followed by Richard Guerrero in March of the same year. By the time September 1988 rolled around, Jeffrey's grandmother had had enough of his odd hours and the persistently wretched odor from Dahmer's "experiments." He quickly located an apartment near the prime location of North 25th Street in Milwaukee.
After serving 10 months of a 12-month sentence for sexual assault, Dahmer wasted no time in murdering Raymond Smith in July 1990, Ernest Miller, and David Thomas in September, Curtis Straughter in February 1991, Erro Lindsey in April, and Anthony Hughes in May.
Dahmer's next victim was the brother of the boy he had molested in 1988. Konerak Sinthasomphone was tricked into entering Dahmer's apartment on May 16, 1991, and would not be seen until the following day. Sinthasomphone escaped after being heavily drugged. The 14-year-old boy ran naked and bleeding into the street in front of the apartment complex. Dahmer immediately ran outside and acted as if he were trying to comfort Sinthasomphone as the police arrived. A calm and collected Dahmer explained to the officers that he and his 19-year-old lover had been drinking a little too much. Sinthasomphone, not knowing English and in a semi-comatose state, was unable to tip off the officers.
The two police officers escorted Kahmer and Sinthasomphone back inside. After glancing at Dahmer's immaculate apartment, the two officers left — despite a bad odor and wounds that had been inflicted on Sinthasomphone's head. That night, Dahmer murdered and dismembered Sinthasomphone, then kept his skull as a memento.
The officers were later suspended, but reinstated after threatening civil suits to regain their positions.
The murder, rape, and dismemberment continued: Matt Turner was murdered on June 30, 1991; Jeremiah Wenberger on July 7, Oliver Lacy on July 15, and Joseph Brandehoff on July 19.
Arrest and prison
The one who got away was Tracy Edwards. He had escaped from Dahmer's murder lair in the Oxford Apartments on July 22, with handcuffs attached to one wrist. He waved down a police car and directed the officers to Dahmer's apartment.
Dahmer's arrest received national attention following discovery of the remains of 11 corpses, which included several decaying bodies in acid vats in his apartment. Severed heads were found in his refrigerator and an altar of candles and human skulls was found in his closet.
On August 22, 1991, Dahmer was charged with 15 counts of murder. At his trial, which began on January 30, 1992, his attorney entered a plea of insanity. The jury rejected the plea, and two weeks later, found Dahmer guilty on all counts. He began to serve 15 consecutive life sentences at the Columbia Correctional Institute in Portage, Wisconsin. The Hicks murder, which occurred in Ohio, was appended after his imprisonment.
While Dahmer was serving his 936-year sentence, Mary Mott of Arlington, Virginia, sent him a Bible correspondence course. When Dahmer completed his studies, he requested baptism. After some security issues were attended to, Dahmer was baptized by minister Roy Ratcliff of Madison.
The sickness ends
While in prison, Dahmer refused various offers of protective custody. On July 3, 1994, an inmate attempted to cut Dahmer's throat in the prison chapel, but the attack resulted in minor scratches.
On November 28 of that year, Dahmer's life suddenly ended. While cleaning a bathroom across the hall from the prison gym, 25-year-old inmate Christopher Scarver detached an iron bar from an exercise machine and cracked Dahmer's skull with it, instantly killing him. (Directly after bludgeoning Dahmer, Scarver beat 37-year-old inmate Jesse Anderson to death.)
Scarver's murderous attack on Dahmer was first thought to have been racially motivated because Scarver was a black man. Most of Dahmer's victims had been African American; however, after further investigation, Scarver was diagnosed as insane. He believed that he was "the son of God" and was acting on his "Father's" commands to kill Dahmer and the other inmate during cleaning duties.
A memorial service was held for Dahmer, which was attended by his family, several Christians, and two sisters of one of his victims who had grown close to the Dahmer family since their brother's death.
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