Jeffrey Lionel Dahmer (May 21, 1960 – November 28, 1994), AKA the Milwaukee Cannibal, was a serial killer and sex offender, who raped, murdered, and dismembered seventeen men and boys between 1978 and 1991. Many of his later murders involved necrophilia, cannibalism, and the permanent preservation of body parts.
Although diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and schizophrenia, Dahmer was found to be legally sane at his trial. On Feb. 15, 1992 Dahmer was sentenced to sixteenth term of life imprisonment.
On November 28, 1994, Dahmer was beaten to death by Christopher Scarver, a fellow inmate at the Columbia Correctional Institution.
Jeffrey Dahmer was born on May 21, 1960 to Joyce Annette and Lionel Herbert Dahmer. His father was of German ancestry, and his mother was of Welsh ancestry.
Dahmer has been described as being an “energetic and happy child” until shortly before his fourth birthday. He himself recalled his family life as being of “extreme tension.” At elementary school, he was regarded as both quiet and timid by his peers.
From an early age, Dahmer manifested an interest in animals. Later, Dahmer would collect animal carcasses from the roadside and dismember them. He would dismember these animals and store the parts in jars in the family’s wooden tool-shed, always explaining that he was curious as to how each animal “fitted together”. In one instance, he is known to have impaled a dog’s head upon a stake behind his house. With live animals, he would explore their bodies to discover where their bones were located.
In 1968, the family relocated to Bath, Ohio. Over a family meal of chicken, Dahmer asked his father what would happen if the bones of the chicken were to be placed in a bleach solution. His father was concerned as to his elder son’s placid and solitary existence; therefore, he was delighted at the initiative displayed by his son towards what he believed to be scientific curiosity. He willingly demonstrated to his son how to safely bleach and preserve animal bones.
Adolescence and high school
From his freshman year in High School, Dahmer was seen by his peers as an outcast with few friends. Many of Dahmer’s classmates later recollected the fact that he was known to drink alcohol. This alcohol abuse was first noted when Dahmer was 14. Nonetheless, in his freshman year at Revere High School, Dahmer, although largely uncommunicative, was observed by staff to be a polite student who was known to be highly intelligent.
When he reached puberty, Dahmer discovered that he was homosexual. By his own later admission, as he began to fantasize sexually, issues of dominance and control over a partner were prevalent in his thoughts. These thoughts gradually became intertwined with dissection. On one occasion, when he was 16 years old, Dahmer conceived a rape fantasy of rendering a particular male jogger unconscious and then making sexual use of his body. To render the man unconscious, Dahmer concealed himself in bushes on the route he had noted the jogger took, baseball bat in hand, and lay in wait for the jogger. On this particular day, the jogger did not pass him, he later stated this was his first attempt to attack another individual.
By 1977, Dahmer’s grades had declined, owing to his alcohol abuse. The same year, Dahmer’s parents divorced and in May 1978, Dahmer graduated from high school.
Dahmer committed his first murder in the summer of 1978 at the age of 18, just three weeks after his graduation. At the time, he was living alone in the family home. Due to divorce, Dahmer’s father temporarily lived in a nearby motel and his mother had relocated to Wisconsin. On June 18, Dahmer picked up an 18-year-old hitchhiker and lured the boy to his house. According to Dahmer, after several hours of drinking, the boy “wanted to leave and [I] didn’t want him to.” In response, Dahmer bludgeoned him with a 10 lb. dumbbell. When he became unconscious, Dahmer strangled him to death with the bar of the dumbbell, then stripped the clothes from the body before masturbating as he stood above the corpse. The following day, Dahmer dissected the body in his crawl space; he later buried the remains in a shallow grave in his backyard. Several weeks later, unearthing the remains and paring 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. With Dahmer’s later killings, he was know to take several photos of, his soon to be, victims in sexually suggestive poses and later, while ‘dissecting’ his victims
Return to Ohio, relocation to West Allis
Dahmer returned to Ohio, Dahmer initially resided with his father and stepmother, he continued to drink heavily and, just two weeks after his return, Dahmer was arrested for drunk and disorderly conduct. In December 1981, Dahmer’s father and stepmother sent him to live with his grandmother in West Allis. Dahmer’s grandmother was the only family member to whom he displayed any affection. Initially, Dahmer’s living arrangements with his grandmother were harmonious (although he did continue to drink). This new influence in his life initially brought results and, 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. He remained unemployed for over two years, during which he lived upon whatever money his grandmother gave him.
In January 1985, Dahmer began to fantasies of control and dominance he had developed as a teenager, and he began to familiarize himself with Milwaukee’s gay bathhouses.
By late 1985, he 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 sexual act. He began to administer sleeping pills to his partners, to whom he would give liquor laced with the sedatives, then raped their unconscious bodies.
Late twenties: subsequent murders
In November 1987, Dahmer met a 25-year-old named Steven Tuomi at a bar and persuaded him to return to a Hotel, where According to Dahmer, he had no intention of murdering Tuomi, but simply intended to drug and rape him. The following morning, however, he awoke to find Tuomi lying beneath him on the bed, his chest “crushed in” with bruises on Dahmer’s own fists and one forearm. Dahmer stated he had absolutely no memory of having killed Tuomi. To dispose of Tuomi’s body, he purchased a large suitcase in which he transported the body to his grandmother’s residence. 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 small pieces. He then placed the flesh inside plastic garbage bags. He pounded the bones into splinters with a sledgehammer. The entire dismemberment process took Dahmer approximately two hours to complete, and all of Tuomi’s remains—excluding the severed head—were disposed of 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 an effort to retain the skull, which he then used as stimulus for masturbation.
In September 1988, Dahmer’s grandmother asked him to move out of her house because of his habit of bringing young men to her house late at night. Dahmer found a one-bedroom apartment and moved into his new residence.
In March 1989, Dahmer murdered his fifth victim. He was a 24-year-old named Anthony Sears, whom Dahmer met at a gay bar on 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 then stripped the flesh from the body and pulverized the bones, which were again 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 his work locker. When he moved to a new address the following year, he took the remains there. On May 1989, he moved into the Oxford Apartments, located on North 25th Street in Milwaukee.
924 North 25th Street – 1990 killings
Within one week of moving, 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. At Dahmer’s apartment, he gave Smith a drink laced with sleeping pills and 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, to then rinse the bones in his sink; he dissolved the remainder of Smith’s skeleton—excluding the skull—in a container he filled with acid. He spray-painted Smith’s skull and placed it alongside the skull of Anthony Sears.
On September 24, Dahmer encountered a 22-year-old father of one named David Thomas at the Grand Avenue Mall and persuaded him to return to his apartment for a few drinks, with additional money on offer if he would pose for photographs. He strangled him and dismembered the body—intentionally retaining no body parts whatsoever. Nonetheless, he did photograph the dismemberment process and retained these photographs, which would aid in Thomas’ subsequent identification.
By 1991, residents of the Oxford Apartments had complained of the smells emanating from Apartment 213, in addition to the occasional sound of a chainsaw. The manager of the Apartments, contacted Dahmer about these complaints, to which Dahmer excused the odors from his apartment as being caused by his freezer breaking. On another occasion, he informed the manager that the reason for the odor was that several of his tropical fish had recently died.
On the afternoon of May 26, 1991, Dahmer encountered a 14-year-old named Konerak Sinthasomphone; he approached the youth with an offer of money to accompany him to his apartment to pose for Polaroid pictures. The youth accompanying Dahmer to his apartment, where he posed for pictures before Dahmer drugged him. On this occasion, Dahmer drilled a single hole into Sinthasomphone’s skull, through which he injected muriatic acid into the frontal lobe. Before Sinthasomphone fell unconscious, Dahmer led the boy into his bedroom, whereupon Dahmer drank several beers while lying alongside Sinthasomphone before leaving to drink at a bar.
In the early morning hours of May 27, Dahmer returned towards his apartment to discover Sinthasomphone sitting naked on the corner, with three hysterical women standing near him. Dahmer approached the trio and explained to the women that Sinthasomphone was his lover, and attempted to lead him to his apartment. The three women dissuaded Dahmer, explaining they had called 911. Upon the arrival of two officers named John Balcerzak and Joseph Gabrish, Dahmer’s demeanor relaxed: he informed the officers that Sinthasomphone was his 19-year-old boyfriend, that he had drank too much following a quarrel, and that he frequently behaved in this manner when intoxicated. The three women were exasperated and when one of the trio attempted to indicate to the officers that Sinthasomphone was bleeding from his buttocks and that he had seemingly struggled against Dahmer’s attempts to walk him to his apartment, the officer harshly informed her to “butt out,” “shut the hell up” and to not interfere.
Against the protests of the three women, the officers simply walked Sinthasomphone to Dahmer’s apartment where, in an effort to verify his claim that he and Sinthasomphone were lovers, Dahmer showed the officers the semi-nude Polaroid pictures he had taken of the youth. The officers later reported having noted a strange scent reminiscent of excrement inside the apartment (this odor emanated from a decomposing body). Dahmer stated that 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. Upon the departure of the two police officers from his apartment, Dahmer again injected muriatic acid into Sinthasomphone’s brain; on this second occasion, the injection proved fatal.
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 muriatic 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. 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 next asked if they could sit with a beer in the living room, where there was air conditioning, to which Dahmer consented. Inside the living room, Edwards waited until he observed Dahmer have a momentary lapse of concentration before requesting to use the bathroom. 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 at the corner of North 25th Street. The officers noted Edwards had a handcuff attached to his wrist, whereupon Edwards explained to the officers that a “freak” had placed the handcuffs upon him. Edwards accompanied 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 indeed 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, Rolf Mueller, that the key to the handcuffs was in his bedside dresser in the bedroom. As Mueller entered the bedroom, Dahmer attempted to pass Mueller to himself retrieve the key, whereupon the second officer present, Robert Rauth, informed him to “back off”.
In the bedroom, Mueller noted there was indeed a large knife beneath the bed; he also 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. He 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 Criminal Investigation Bureau, revealed a total of four severed heads in Dahmer’s kitchen. A total of seven skulls were found in Dahmer’s bedroom and inside a closet. In addition, investigators also discovered at the bottom of Dahmer’s refrigerator, human hearts and a portion of arm muscle, each wrapped inside plastic bags. In Dahmer’s freezer, investigators discovered an entire torso, plus a bag of human organs and flesh stuck to the ice at the bottom. 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. The chief medical examiner later stated: “It was more like dismantling someone’s museum than an actual crime scene.”
Jeffrey Dahmer’s July 25, 1991 mug shot, taken after he had been formally charged with four counts of murder
In July of 1991, Dahmer was charged with five counts of murder. By August 22, he would be charged with a further 11 murders committed in the state of Wisconsin. At a scheduled preliminary hearing on January 13, 1992, Dahmer pleaded guilty but insane to 15 counts of murder.
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 12 jurors signified their dissent. On the first two counts, Dahmer was sentenced to life imprisonment plus ten years, with the remaining 13 counts carrying a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment plus 70 years. The death penalty was not an option for the Judge to consider at the penalty phase as the State of Wisconsin had abolished capital punishment.
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 was 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 and facial wounds; he had been severely bludgeoned about the head and face with a 20-inch metal bar. Although Dahmer was still alive and was rushed to a nearby hospital, he was pronounced dead one hour later.
Dahmer had stated in his will 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.
Jeffrey Dahmer is known to have killed 17 young men between 1978 and 1991. Of these victims, 12 were killed in his North 25th Street apartment. Three further victims were murdered and dismembered at his grandmother’s West Allis residence, with his first and second victims being murdered at his parents’ home in Bath, Ohio and at the Ambassador Hotel in Wisconsin respectively. A total of 14 of Dahmer’s victims were from various ethnic minority backgrounds, with nine victims being black, although Dahmer was adamant the race of his victims was incidental to him and that it was the body form of a potential victim which attracted his attention.