Jeffrey Dahmer

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Jeffrey Dahmer

Dahmer's mugshot taken by the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Department
Background information
Birth name: Jeffrey Lionel Dahmer
Born: May 21, 1960(1960-05-21)
West Allis, Wisconsin
Died: November 28, 1994 (aged 34)
Cause of death: Beaten to death by fellow Columbia Correctional Institution inmate Christopher Scarver
Penalty: Life imprisonment
Number of victims: 17
Span of killings: 1978–1991
Country: United States
State(s): Ohio, Wisconsin
Date apprehended: July 22, 1991

Jeffrey Lionel Dahmer (May 21, 1960 – November 28, 1994) was an American serial killer and sex offender. Dahmer murdered 17 men and boys – most of whom were of African or Asian descent – between 1978 and 1991, with the majority of the murders occurring between 1987 and 1991. His murders were particularly gruesome, involving rape, torture, dismemberment, necrophilia and cannibalism. On November 28, 1994, Dahmer was beaten to death by fellow Columbia Correctional Institution inmate Christopher Scarver with a bar from a weight machine while on work detail in the prison gym.



Dahmer was born in West Allis, Wisconsin, to Lionel, an analytical chemist, and Joyce Dahmer. Seven years later his brother David was born.[1]. When he was eight years old, he moved with his family to Bath, Ohio, where he attended Revere High School. Dahmer's early childhood was normal, but between the ages of ten and fifteen he grew more and more withdrawn and uncommunative, showing little interests in any hobbies or social interactions.[2]. Instead of normal activities Dahmer became more and more interested in dead things. He biked around his neighborhood looking for dead animals, which he dissected at home, going so far as to put a dog's head on a stake.[3] Dahmer began drinking in his teens and was a full-blown alcoholic by the time of his high-school graduation.[4]

In 1977 Lionel and Joyce Dahmer divorced.[5] Dahmer attended Ohio State University, but dropped out after one quarter, having failed to attend most of his classes.[6] He spent most of his time there drunk.[7] Dahmer's father then forced him to enlist in the Army.[8] His son did well at first,[9] but after only two years Jeff Dahmer was discharged due to his alcoholism.[10] When the Army discharged Dahmer in 1981, it provided him with a plane ticket to anywhere in the country. Dahmer told police he couldn't go home to face his father, so he headed to Miami Beach, Florida, because he was "tired of the cold".[11] He spent most of his time there at a hospital but was kicked out shortly after for drinking.[11] After coming home he continued to drink heavily, and he was arrested for drunk and disorderly conduct later in 1981.[12]

In 1982 Dahmer moved in with his grandmother in West Allis, Wisconsin,[13] where he lived for six years.[14] During this time his behavior grew stranger and stranger. Once his grandmother found a fully dressed male mannequin in his closet; Dahmer had stolen it from a store.[15] On another occasion she found a .357 Magnum under his bed.[16] Terrible smells came from the basement; Dahmer told his father that he'd brought home a dead squirrel and dissolved it with chemicals.[17] He was arrested twice for indecent exposure, in 1982 and 1986;[18] the second time came after he masturbated in front of two boys.[19]

In the summer of 1988 Dahmer's grandmother asked him to move out because of his late nights, his strange behavior, and the foul smells from the basement. He then found an apartment on Milwaukee's West side, closer to his job at the Ambrosia Chocolate Factory.[20] On September 26, 1988, one day after moving into his apartment, he was arrested for drugging and sexually fondling a 13-year-old boy in Milwaukee named Somsack Sinthasomphone.[21]. He was sentenced to five years probation and one year in a work release camp. He was required to register as a sex offender.[22] Dahmer was paroled from the work release camp two months early, and he soon moved into a new apartment.[23] Shortly thereafter he began a string of murders that would end with his arrest in 1991.


Jeffrey Dahmer's first murder was in the summer of 1978. While still living in his father's house, Dahmer picked up a hitchhiker named Steven Hicks, took him home, and bludgeoned him to death with a barbell after sex. Dahmer buried the body in the backyard.[24] Nine years would pass until Dahmer claimed his next victim, Steven Tuomi.[25] After the Tuomi murder, Dahmer would continue to kill sporadically; two more murders in 1988, another in early 1989, usually picking up his victims in gay bars and having sex with them before killing them.[26] He kept the skull of that victim, Anthony Sears, until he was caught.[27]

In May of 1990, he moved out of his grandmother's house for the last time and into the apartment that would later become infamous: Apartment 213, 924 North 25th Street, Milwaukee. Dahmer picked up the pace of his killing: four more murders before the end of 1990, two more in February and April of 1991, another in May 1991,[28], and then the Sinthasomphone incident.

In the early morning hours of May 30, 1991, 14-year-old Konerak Sinthasomphone (by bizarre chance, the younger brother of the boy whom Dahmer had molested) was discovered on the street, wandering naked, heavily under the influence of drugs and bleeding from his rectum. Two young women from the neighborhood found the dazed boy and called 911. Dahmer chased his victim down and tried to take him away, but the women stopped him.[29] Dahmer told police that Sinthasomphone was his 19-year-old boyfriend, and that they had an argument while drinking. Against the protests of the two women who had called 911, police turned him over to Dahmer. They later reported smelling a strange scent while inside Dahmer's apartment but did not investigate it. The smell was the body of Anthony Hughes, Dahmer's previous victim, decomposing in the bedroom. The two policemen failed to run a background check which would have revealed that Dahmer was a convicted sex offender and child molester still under probation.[30] The officers laughed about the incident, one joking that his partner was "going to get deloused."[31] Later that night, Dahmer killed and dismembered Sinthasomphone, keeping his skull as a souvenir.

John Balcerzak and Joseph Gabrish, two of the three police officers who returned Sinthasomphone to Dahmer, were fired from the Milwaukee Police Department after their actions were widely publicized, including an audiotape of the officers making homophobic statements to their dispatcher and cracking jokes about having reunited the "lovers". The two officers appealed their termination and were reinstated with back pay. They were named officers of the year by the police union. Balcerzak would go on to be elected president of the Milwaukee Police Association in May 2005.[32][33]

By the summer of 1991, Dahmer was murdering approximately one person each week. He killed Matt Turner on June 30, Jeremiah Weinberger on July 5, Oliver Lacy on July 12, and finally Joseph Brandehoft on July 18. Dahmer got the idea that he could create "zombies" of his victims, and attempted to do so by drilling holes into their skulls and injecting hydrochloric acid into their brains.[34] Other residents of the Oxford Apartments complex noticed terrible smells coming from Apartment 213, as well as the thumps of falling objects and the occasional buzzing of a power saw.[35]


On July 22, 1991 Dahmer lured another man, Tracy Edwards, into his home. According to the would-be victim, Dahmer struggled with Edwards in order to handcuff him, and ultimately failed to cuff his wrists together.[36] Wielding a large butcher knife, Dahmer forced Edwards into the bedroom, where Edwards saw pictures of mangled bodies on the wall and noticed the terrible smell coming from a large blue barrel.[37] Eventually, when Dahmer took his eyes off of Edwards, Edwards punched him in the face, kicked him in the stomach, ran for the door and escaped Apartment 213.[38] Running through the streets, with the handcuffs still hanging from one hand, Edwards waved for help to a police car driven by Robert Rauth and Rolf Mueller of the Milwaukee police department.[39] Edwards led police back to Dahmer's apartment, where Dahmer at first acted friendly to the officers. However, Edwards remembered that the knife Dahmer had threatened him with was in the bedroom. One of the officers did what officers Balcerzak and Gabrish failed to do, and checked the bedroom. He saw the photographs of mangled bodies, and called for his partner to arrest Dahmer.[40] As one officer subdued Dahmer the other opened the refrigerator and found a human head. Further searching of the apartment revealed three more severed heads, multiple photographs of murdered victims and human remains, severed hands and penises, and photographs of dismembered victims and human remains in his refrigerator.[41]

The story of Dahmer's arrest and the inventory in his apartment quickly gained notoriety: several corpses were stored in acid-filled vats, and implements for the construction of an altar of candles and human skulls were found in his closet. Accusations soon surfaced that Dahmer had practiced necrophilia and cannibalism. Seven skulls were found in the apartment.[42] A human heart was in the freezer.[43]


Jeffrey Dahmer was officially indicted on 17 murder charges, which were reduced to 15. The murder cases were already so notorious that the authorities never bothered to charge him in the attempted murder of Edwards. His trial began on January 30, 1992.[44] With evidence overwhelmingly against him, Dahmer pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.[45] The trial lasted two weeks.[46] The court found Dahmer sane and guilty on 15 counts of murder and sentenced him to 15 life terms,[47] totaling 957 years in prison.[48] At his sentencing hearing Dahmer expressed remorse for his actions, also saying that he wished for his own death. In May of that year, Dahmer was extradited to Ohio, where he entered a plea of guilty for the murder of his first victim, Steven Hicks.[49]

Imprisonment and death

Dahmer served his time at the Columbia Correctional Institution in Portage, Wisconsin, where he ultimately declared himself a born-again Christian. This conversion occurred after viewing evangelical material sent to him by his father.[50] A local preacher from the Churches of Christ, Roy Ratcliff, met with Dahmer and agreed to baptize him.[51]

After attending a church service in the prison chapel an inmate tried to slash Dahmer's throat with a razor blade. Dahmer escaped the incident with superficial wounds.

On November 28, 1994, Dahmer and another inmate named Jesse Anderson were severely beaten by fellow inmate Christopher Scarver with a bar from a weight machine while on work detail in the prison gym. Dahmer died of severe head trauma while on his way to the hospital, in an ambulance.[52]


After the murders the Oxford Apartments at 924 North 25th Street were demolished; the site is now a vacant lot. Plans to convert the site into a memorial garden failed to materialize.

In 1994, Lionel Dahmer published a book, A Father's Story, and donated a portion of the proceeds from his book to the victims and their families. Most of the families showed support for Lionel Dahmer and his wife, Shari. He has retired and resides with his wife in Medina County, Ohio. Lionel Dahmer is an advocate for creationism, and his wife was a member of the board of the Medina County Ohio Horseman's Council.[53] Both continue to carry the name Dahmer and say they love Jeffrey despite his crimes. Lionel Dahmer's first wife, Joyce (Flint), died of cancer in 2000 at the age of 64. She was later buried in Atlanta, Georgia. Dahmer's younger brother David changed his last name and lives in anonymity.

Dahmer's estate was awarded to the families of 11 of Dahmer's victims who had sued for damages. In 1996 Thomas Jacobson, the lawyer representing eight of the families, announced a planned auction of Dahmer's estate to raise up to $1 million, sparking controversy.[54][55] 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 destroyed.[56][57]

In January 2007, evidence surfaced potentially linking Dahmer to Adam Walsh's 1981 abduction and murder in Florida.[11] However Adam's father, John Walsh, believed that another serial killer, Ottis Toole, committed the crime.[58] When interviewed about Adam Walsh in the early 1990s Dahmer repeatedly denied involvement in the crime.[11] In 2008 Florida police declared the Walsh case closed, naming Toole, who died in prison in 1996, as the killer.[59]

Known victims

Name Age[60] Date of death
Stephen Hicks 19 1978-06-18June 6, 1978
Steven Tuomi 26 1987-09-15Sept. 15, 1987
James "Jamie" Doxtator 14 1988-01Jan. 1988
Richard Guerrero 25 1988-03-24March 24, 1988
Anthony Sears 24 1989-03-25March 25, 1989
Eddie Smith 36 1990-06June 1990
Ricky Beeks 27 1990-7-15July 1990
Ernest Miller 22 1990-09September 1990
David Thomas 23 1990-09September 1990
Curtis Straughter 19 1991-02February 1991
Errol Lindsey 19 1991-04April 1991
Tony Hughes 31 1991-05-24May 24, 1991
Konerak Sinthasomphone 14 1991-05-27May 27, 1991
Matt Turner 20 1991-06-30June 30, 1991
Jeremiah Weinberger 23 1991-07-05July 5, 1991
Oliver Lacy 23 1991-07-12July 12, 1991
Joseph Bradehoft 25 1991-07-18July 19, 1991

Media portrayals


  1. ^ Dahmer, Lionel. A Father's Story. William Morrow and Co., 1994, ISBN068812156X, p. 61
  2. ^ Dahmer, p. 76-79
  3. ^ Dahmer, p. 80
  4. ^ Dahmer, p. 82
  5. ^ Dahmer, p. 90
  6. ^ Dahmer, p. 103-4
  7. ^ Dahmer, p. 105
  8. ^ Dahmer, p. 107
  9. ^ Dahmer, p. 108-9
  10. ^ Dahmer, p. 110-1
  11. ^ a b c d "Did Dahmer Have One More Victim?". The Milwaukee Channel. February 1, 2007.. Retrieved on 2007-02-05. 
  12. ^ Dahmer, p. 114
  13. ^ Dahmer, p. 115
  14. ^ Dahmer, p. 117
  15. ^ Dahmer, p. 119-20
  16. ^ Dahmer, p. 122-3
  17. ^ Dahmer, p. 124-6
  18. ^ Dahmer, p. 131
  19. ^ Bardsley, Marilyn. "Jeffrey Dahmer". TruTV Crime Library. Retrieved on 2009-2-24. 
  20. ^ Dahmer, p. 132
  21. ^ Dahmer, p. 133-5
  22. ^ Dahmer, p. 138
  23. ^ Dahmer, p. 143-4
  24. ^ Roy, Jody M. Love to Hate NY: Columbia Univ. Press, 2002; pp. 102 et seq.
  25. ^ Bardsley, Marilyn. "Jeffrey Dahmer". TruTV Crime Library. Retrieved on 2009-2-24. 
  26. ^ Roy, Jody M. Love to Hate NY: Columbia Univ. Press, 2002; pp. 103 et seq.
  27. ^ Bardsley, Marilyn. "Jeffrey Dahmer". TruTV Crime Library. Retrieved on 2009-2-24. 
  28. ^ Bardsley, Marilyn. "Jeffrey Dahmer". TruTV Crime Library. Retrieved on 2009-2-24. 
  29. ^ Davis, Donald. The Jeffrey Dahmer Story: An American Nightmare. Macmillan, 1991, ISBN 9780312928407, p. 7
  30. ^ Bardsley, Marilyn. "Jeffrey Dahmer". TruTV Crime Library. Retrieved on 2009-2-24. 
  31. ^ "Milwaukee Murders: Did They All Have to Die?, TIME Magazine, 12 August 1991
  32. ^ "Cop union and cop image." Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. May 13, 2005
  33. ^ Bardsley, Marilyn. "Jeffrey Dahmer". TruTV Crime Library. Retrieved on 2009-2-24. 
  34. ^ Dahmer, p. 211
  35. ^ "The Little Flat of Horrors", TIME Magazine, 5 August 1991
  36. ^ Davis, p. 151
  37. ^ Davis, p. 152
  38. ^ Davis, p. 153-4
  39. ^ Davis, p. 154
  40. ^ Bardsley, Marilyn. "Jeffrey Dahmer". TruTV Crime Library. Retrieved on 2009-2-24. 
  41. ^ Bardsley, Marilyn. "Jeffrey Dahmer". TruTV Crime Library. Retrieved on 2008-09-05. 
  42. ^ Davis, p. 157
  43. ^ Davis, p. 158
  44. ^ Dahmer, p. 207
  45. ^ Dahmer, p. 209-10
  46. ^ Dahmer, p. 211
  47. ^ "Guilty!", TIME Magazine, 18 May 1992
  48. ^ Bardsley, Marilyn. "Jeffrey Dahmer". TruTV Crime Library. Retrieved on 2009-2-24. 
  49. ^ Dahmer, p. 241
  50. ^ "'Creation Science' Makes a Difference." CSE Ministry. October 18, 2007.
  51. ^ Bardsley, Marilyn. "Jeffrey Dahmer". TruTV Crime Library. Retrieved on 2009-2-24. 
  52. ^ "Dahmer Killer Charged", TIME Magazine, 15 December 1994
  53. ^ "Some modern scientists who have accepted the biblical account of creation". Answers in Genesis. 
  54. ^ Serial killer's property set to go on the auction block." May 8, 1996.
  55. ^ Johnson, Dirk. "Bid to Auction Killer's Tools Provokes Disgust." New York Times. May 20, 1996.
  56. ^ "Auction of Dahmer Items Is Apparently Off." New York Times. May 29, 1996.
  57. ^ O'Flaherty, Sean. "Joseph Zilber - A Gift To Milwaukee." Today's TMJ4. December 15, 2007.
  58. ^ "'America's Most Wanted' Host Believes Dahmer is Not Son's Killer." February 7, 2007.
  59. ^ Almanzar, Yolanne. "Police Expected to Close Adam Walsh Case." New York Times. December 17, 2008.
  60. ^ BBC - Jeffrey Dahmer, the Milwaukee Cannibal
  61. ^ Johnson, Greg. Invisible Writer: A Biography of Joyce Carol Oates. New York: Dutton, 1998, p. Ύ201

Further reading

  • Mann, Robert & Williamson, Miryam. Forensic Detective - How I Cracked The World's Toughest Cases. Ballantine Books (March 28, 2006)
  • Masters, Brian. The Shrine of Jeffrey Dahmer. Hodder and Stroughton Limited, London 1993 (Paperback Coronet 1993)
  • Pincus, Jonathan H. Base Instincts - What Makes Killers kill?. W.W. Norton & Company, New York 2001 (Paperback 2002)
  • Ratcliff, Roy with Lindy Adams. Dark Journey, Deep Grace: The Story Behind a Serial Killer's Journey to Faith. Leafwood Publishers, (2006).

External links

NAME Dahmer, Jeffrey Lionel
DATE OF BIRTH May 21, 1960(1960-05-21)
PLACE OF BIRTH Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States
DATE OF DEATH November 28, 1994
PLACE OF DEATH Portage, Wisconsin, United States
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