Jeffrey Dahmer
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Dahmer killed 17 men and boys between 1978 and 1991

Dahmer was born Jeffrey Lionel Dahmer was born on May 21, 1960 to a fundamentalist family in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. At age eight, his family moved to Bath, Ohio, near Akron. He was always painfully shy and suffered from low self-esteem. As a child he was molested by a neighbor. First his father left the home. Then after a bitter divorce, his mother took his brother, and left Dahmer with his father. His parents weren’t speaking and Dahmer didn’t even know how to contact his mother and brother. Dahmer’s history of abandonment left him with feelings of loss and rejection.

When young, impaled the heads of animals he killed on stakes in his yard. He collected dead animals and had necrophilia desires. His stepmother Shari Dahmer said, "When he was young, he liked to use acid to scrape the meat off dead animals." She recalled during the late 1980s, an odor emanated from the basement and garage prompting Lionel, Jeffrey's father, a chemist, to investigate. He found "bones and the residue in the containers." Jeffrey told him he stripped flesh from an animal he found. "

As a teen, he had fantasies of killing and mutilating men. After graduating from high school at age 17 he was left alone at home, without money, or food and a broken refrigerator. It is believed by some that this experience, abandonment, and mental illness, gave him the justification he needed to commit crimes. However his own history shows that he had serious problems long before this event.

His stepmother Shari Dahmer said he was a gentle person until he got drunk, then it took four policemen to hold him down.

In 1978, he committed his first murder in Bath Township, Ohio, at age 18. He killed a young hitchhiker, Stephen Hicks, he invited to his house, where he killed him with a barbell, then smashed his bones with a hammer because he "didn't want him to leave." He wouldn't kill again for another nine years. He did not do well in college. Encouraged by his father, he joined the military where he became an army medic. He was discharged for drunkenness. Jeffrey lived in West Allis, Wisconsin with his grandmother for six years. Eventually he got a factory job in Milwaukee. He discovered gay bars and picked up Steven Toumi, 24, his second victim in 1987.

In 1988, he was arrested for sexually fondling a 13-year old boy. He served 10 months incarcerated and was required to register as a sex offender. His father would later write that when Jeffrey was convicted of child molestation, it him that he would "never be more than a liar, an alcoholic, a thief, an exhibitionist, a molester of children."

"I could not imagine how he had become such a ruined soul. For the first time I no longer believed that my efforts and resources alone would be enough to save my son. There was something missing in Jeff. We call it a 'conscience.' That had either died or had never been alive in the first place."

While Dahmer was on probation he checked in every month as required. His corrections officer never visited his home. A Wisconsin Department of Corrections spokesperson said the requirement was waived due to a work overload.

Dahmer killed another 15 young men; by July 1991 he was claiming one victim a week. His fantasy was for a compliant sexual partner, and necrophilia. Most of Dahmer's all male victims were minorities, usually African Americans. Dahmer was not really a racist, he chose predominantly black and other minority victims because he lived in a predominantly ethnic area.

In gay bars, he offered young homosexual and bisexual males money to pose for photos or to watch videos and drink beer at his place. He drugged victims into a deep sleep with spiked drinks before strangling or stabbing them to death, having anal sex with the cadaver, and then dismembering them with a hacksaw. Their heads and genitalia were kept as trophies, biceps and other muscles were frozen for future consumption. Dahmer said human flesh "tasted like beef." The remainder was boiled with chemicals and acids before being washed down the drains. He conducted lobotomies some victims. Most died instantly, he poured acid into a hole drilled in his victim's skull; the victim lived and functioned in zombie state for several days, according to Dahmer.

Oxford Apartments

924 North 25th Street

Apartment 213

Milwaukee Wisconsin

In the early morning hours of May 27, 1991, three police officers were routed to a 911 call from a rundown Milwaukee suburb. Sandra Smith, 18, and Nicole Childress, 18 her cousin witnessed an incoherent Asian boy running around naked, and bleeding. Even though he couldn't speak English it was obvious that he was frightened of the white man following him out into the street trying to get him to return to the apartment. Dahmer, 31, told police the boy was his 19 year old lover, and they having had a lover’s quarrel. After police escorted the child to Dahmer's apartment, they left him to die, despite the concerns of the two women who reported the incident. His calm demeanor hid the mind of a psychopath. Dahmer strangled Konerak, abused his body before dismembering it, to keeping some parts to eat and his skull as a trophy. If the police had run an identity check on Dahmer they would have learned he was on probation for a child molestation conviction. Instead Konerak and four more young males had to die.

Police transcripts show the officers joked and laughed about the incident with the dispatcher. "Intoxicated Asian, naked male was returned to his sober boyfriend," the cop reported adding his partner "is going to get deloused." Glenda Cleveland, whose daughter and niece reported Sinthasomphone to the police, later called the police asking repeatedly what was done with the "child." An officer from the scene responded, "It wasn't a child, it was an adult . . . It is all taken care of . . . It's a boyfriend-boyfriend thing."

They didn't check the boy's ID. They didn't note the drill holes in his head. They didn't notice the stench of the decaying bodies at the apartment, and hey made discriminatory jokes about "homosexual lovers" and about "getting deloused."

The 13th of Dahmer's 17 victims was 14-year-old Konerak Sinthasomphone, a Laotian teenager, the older brother of the boy he was convicted of molesting in 1988.

Two cops were driving through Dahmer's neighborhood late on July 22, 1991, when they saw a dazed black man with a single handcuff on his wrist. Tracy Edwards, 32, told them about watching a video with a "weird dude," and being drugged, handcuffed, and threatened with a knife. He had fought back and escaped from the apartment. The cops had him take them to the apartment.


Dahmer answered the door and explained that he lost his job at a chocolate factory, (true), got drunk and lost his temper. When he went to get the handcuff key to from his bedroom, a cop followed him in. The stench of death and rotting flesh was overwhelming. He spotted Polaroid photos of dismembered bodies and skulls in a refrigerator. He went into the kitchen and the refrigerator covered with Polaroids of mutilated men. He screamed when he opened the door. A human head sat on a refrigerator shelf.

"There's a goddam head in here," he screaend to his partner.

Dahmer's fought back hard as they handcuffed him. Edwards recalled Dahmer’s threats to "cut out your heart and eat it." Three more heads and human meat were in the freezer, were in the freezer. Hands from several victims and a penis were in a stockpot in a close. Two boiled skulls painted grey were on a bedroom closet shelf. Male genitalia were also found preserved in formaldehyde. A bottle of chloroform was found that which had been used to drug the victims. There were hundreds of photos of victims before, during the murders, and after death.

There was an altar of candles and human skulls in his closet. He planned to create a shrine using skulls, human trophies and a statue of a griffin he owned to honor evil. He said it would give him "special powers and energies to help him socially and financially."

Dahmer told Detective Patrick Kennedy during questioning:

"I have to question whether there is an evil force in the world and whether or not I have been influenced by it. Although I am not sure if there is a God or if there is a Devil, I know that as of lately I've been doing a lot of thinking about both."

He was held for trial on a $1 million bond.

Dahmer admitted to his crimes. He made no excuses and blamed nobody but himself. Wisconsin does not have capital punishment. After being charged with fifteen counts of murder, he entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity. Beyond the sheer horror of his killings and gruesome evidence found in his house, the public were stunned by the well-spoken seemingly intelligent man. On February 17, 1992, the court rejected his insanity plea and sentenced Dahmer to fifteen consecutive life sentences, a minimum of 936 years. May 16, 1992, a consecutive life sentence was added for a 1978 murder.

On November 28, 1994, Dahmer was murdered in a Portage, Wisconsin by another inmate at the Columbia Correctional Institute. Inmate Christopher Scarver, a double murderer, beat Dahmer and inmate Jesse Anderson to death with a broom while all three were cleaning a bathroom. Scarver said he was the "son of God" acting on his "father's" command to kill. Shortly before death, Dahmer was rebaptized into Christianity. His father would not grant permission for his brain to be studied on religious grounds.

Citizens complained that Dahmer escaped detection because police made investigating disappearances of homosexuals and racial minorities a low priority. The three cops who returned young Sinthasomphone to Dahmer were terminated from the Milwaukee Police Department. After they appealed their termination they were reinstated with back pay. They were honored as "officers of the year" by the police union for a "righteous" battle to reclaim their jobs.

In 1996, the city of Milwaukee raised more than $400,000 to buy Dahmer's tools, photographs, and refrigerator and incinerated it all. The apartment building was torn down.


  • Jun 1978 - Stephen Hicks 
  • Sep 1987 - Steven Toumi
  • Oct 1987 - Jamie Doxtator
  • Mar 1988 - Richard Guerrero
  • Feb 1989 - Anthony Sears
  • Jun 1990 - Eddie Smith
  • Jul 1990 - Ricky Beeks
  • Sep 1990 - Ernest Miller
  • Sep 1990 - David Thomas
  • Feb 1991 - Curtis Straughter
  • Apr 1991 - Errol Lindsey  
  • May 1991 - Tony Hughes
  • May 1991 - Konerak Sinthasomphone
  • Jun 1991 - Matt Turner
  • Jul 1991 - Jeremiah Weinberger
  • Jul 1991 - Oliver Lacy
  • Jul 1991 - Joseph Bradeholt

Jeffrey Dahmer Mugshot

 Dahmer's father Lionel wrote a book, A Father's Story

The movie Jeffrey Dahmer: Secret Life (1993), starred Carl Crew as Dahmer. In 2002, the Dahmer, starring Jeremy Renner, premiered in Dahmer's hometown. The film met with protests from the victims' families.

American heavy metal band Macabre have written a concept album about Jeffrey Dahmer titled Dahmer.

American Justice: Dahmer: Mystery of a Serial Killer -- Jeffrey Dahmer killed 16 young men and boys, committing acts of cannibalism, dismemberment and necrophilia. But as the details of his atrocities emerged, more and more people wondered why the Milwaukee police had not captured him sooner. In this program, the families of Dahmer's victims question why their loved ones were not saved from the killer, while officers explain why the case was handled as it was. FBI expert Robert Ressler details the psychological profile of a serial killer, showing how it applies to this and other cases. It's a unique journey into the dark corners of the human mind and a troubling indictment of law enforcement's inability to recognize clues that can lead to the monsters among us.

Of Men and Monsters: Jeffrey Dahmer and the Construction of the Serial Killer by Richard Tithecott, James R. Kincaid Examines the serial killer as an American cultural icon, one that both attracts and repels. Richard Tithecott suggests that the stories we tell and the images we conjure of serial killers-real and fictional-reveal as much about mainstream culture and its values, desires, and anxieties as they do about the killers themselves.

The Man Who Could Not Kill Enough: The Secret Murders of Milwaukee's Jeffrey Dahmer by Anne E. Schwartz
The life and crimes of Milwaukee serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer discusses the investigation into the killings, the stories of the victims' families, and the criticism faced by police for their handling of the case.

Jeffery Dahmer by Joel Norris How Dahmer was transformed from a seemingly harmless young man into a savage killer who kidnapped, tortured, murdered, and cannibalized his victims.

Massacre in Milwaukee: The MacAbre Case of Jeffrey Dahmer by Richard W. Jaeger, M. William Balousek, Karen Faster

The shrine of Jeffrey Dahmer by Brian MastersA Father's Story by Lionel Dahmer

Works Cited:
"Jeffrey Dahmer."  Encyclopædia Britannica . 2004.  Encyclopædia Britannica Premium Service.
4 Mar. 2004

Copyright Kari Sable 1994-2006