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Jeffrey Lionel DAHMER

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 


A.K.A.: "The Milwaukee Cannibal"
 
Classification: Serial killer
Characteristics: Rape - Dismemberment - Necrophilia - Cannibalism
Number of victims: 17
Date of murder: 1978 - 1991
Date of arrest: July 22, 1991
Date of birth: May 21, 1960
Victims profile: Stephen Hicks, 19 / Steven Tuomi, 26 / James "Jamie" Doxtator, 14 / Richard Guerrero, 25 / Anthony Sears, 26 / Eddie Smith, 36 / Ricky Beeks, 27 / Ernest Miller, 22 / David Thomas, 23 / Curtis Straughter, 19 / Errol Lindsey, 19 / Tony Hughes, 31 / Konerak Sinthasomphone, 14 / Matt Turner, 20 / Jeremiah Weinberger, 23 / Oliver Lacy, 23 / Joseph Bradehoft, 25
Method of murder: Strangulation - Cutting his throat
Location: Ohio/Wisconsin, USA
Status: Pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. Sentenced to 15 life terms, totaling 957 years in prison, in Wisconsin on February 15, 1992. Sentenced to life in prison in Ohio in May 1992. Murdered in jail by convicted murderer Christopher Scarver on November 28, 1994
 
 
 
 
 
 

Timeline

The life and crimes of Jeffrey Dahmer

May 21, 1960: Jeffrey Lionel Dahmer was born at Evangelical Deaconess Hospital in Milwaukee. According to Jeffrey's father, Lionel, his mother suffered bouts of partial paralysis during the pregnancy. Doctors were unable to find any reason for the paralysis. She was given "injections of barbiturates and morphine, which would finally relax her." Later she was given phenobarbital as well.

1962: The Dahmers moved to Ames, Iowa, so Jeffrey's father could work on his Ph.D in chemistry.

1964: Jeffrey was diagnosed with a double hernia in his scrotum. Surgery corrected it. Extreme pain suffered by the child both before and after the surgery could, conceivably, have influenced later feelings of sexual inadequacy or insecurity. Lionel claimed that it was from this time on that Jeffrey began to become more and more withdrawn and introverted.

November 1966: The Dahmers moved to Doylestown, Ohio. There were several other moves over the next year as they searched for just the right place to bring up Jeffrey and his brother David, who was born on December 18.

The pregnancy was as difficult for Mrs. Dahmer as her first. At this time a teacher (Jeffrey was in the first grade) noticed that Jeffrey seemed to feel neglected. This is, of course, a normal reaction for someone used to being an only child whose family suddenly expands. Most get over it fairly quickly.

Jeffrey's father describes him as being extraordinarily shy and withdrawn during this period, actually terrified of new people and situations.

1968: The family moved to Bath, Ohio.

Jeffrey's father has reported that Jeffrey was sexually abused by a neighbor boy at this time. Jeffrey himself claimed to remember no such thing. Molestation can be a factor in gender confusion and hostility.

Late 1970: Jeffrey's mother was hospitalized twice for psychiatric problems. According to Lionel she had been taking drugs to deal with her extreme nervousness for years, but they didn't work well. Thus, she was not a stabilizing influence in Jeffrey's life.

During his school years Jeffrey built a reputation as a misfit with a penchant for stupid pranks and very heavy drinking. Some of his pranks, such as shouting things out at strange times, bleating like a sheep and faking epileptic fits, sound eerily similar to the childhood behavior of Arthur Shawcross, another serial killer who practiced cannibalism. [See The mask of sanity in the November 1994 issue of Murder Watch for more about Shawcross's odd behavior.] They don't seem to resemble each other in very many other ways.

June 4, 1978: Jeffrey graduated from high school. By this point he was living alone. His parents were going through an extremely bitter divorce and had each moved out. Because Jeffrey at 18, was legally an adult, the law did not allow for anyone to have custody of him. Therefore, no one took custody. Instability and a lack of emotional support continued.

June 18, 1978: Dahmer picked up nineteen year old Steven Mark Hicks hitchhiking. They went back to the house for a few beers. When Hicks tried to leave, Dahmer clubbed him with a barbell and strangled him with it. Over the next couple of weeks he methodically stripped the flesh from the bones, smashed the bones and disposed of the few remains in the back yard.

Dahmer said he killed Hicks because he didn't want him to leave. At least one survivor of a Dahmer attack reported that after he had been at Dahmer's apartment for a while (voluntarily), he mentioned that he wanted to leave, and Jeffrey's attitude changed; his voice became panicky, and then the attack began. However, Dahmer's fascination with death and the dead was already pronounced by the time he picked up Steven Hicks. Friends said he liked to pick up roadkill and take it to a shed behind his house, to skin the bodies. He also had a small animal cemetery. There were rumors that he killed neighborhood dogs and cats and even mounted a dog's head on a stake.

This bizarre behavior must have influenced Jeffrey's decision to kill Hicks. After all, if he just wanted to keep Hicks from leaving, he could have tied him up. Corpses are poor company, generally.

Another explanation for the killer's panicky tone when the prospective victim wanted to leave could simply be the stress of realizing that, if he was going to kill the target, he'd better do it soon. Dahmer did indicate that he never liked the killing much; he only did it to acquire dead bodies.

After his high school graduation Dahmer enrolled in Ohio State University. He stayed only one semester before dropping out. He was now creating his own instability.

December 24, 1978: Lionel remarried.

December 29, 1978: Jeffrey was sworn into the Army. After failing to become an MP he was trained as a medic and assigned to Baumholder, Germany. This was far from a plum assignment. It was also a very few years after the humiliation of Vietnam, when morale and discipline in the armed forces were poor and drug and alcohol abuse wide spread.

In the Army, Dahmer no longer stood out as a clown and prankster. He was noticed, however, for being not only a very heavy drinker, but as an unpleasant, even violent, drunk.

After his arrest in Milwaukee became known around the world, authorities in Germany looked to see if they could connect Dahmer to murders that took place there. Though information is sketchy, it seems likely that a serial killer was active in the area at the time, but that it was not Dahmer. (The victims in Germany were young women. Dahmer killed only men.)

March 26, 1981: Dahmer was discharged from the Army before his enlistment was up because his drinking had reached the point where he simply didn't function any more. Back in the U.S., he went to Florida where he slept on the beach for a few months before returning to Ohio.

October 7, 1981: Dahmer was arrested for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest and paid a small fine. He was drunk.

August 7, 1982: Dahmer was arrested again for disorderly conduct. He dropped his pants in public. By this time Dahmer was living with his grandmother, in part because she seemed to be the only person he responded to with anything like affection.

September 8, 1986: Jeffrey was arrested when he deliberately exposed himself while urinating in front of a group of children in Milwaukee. Another version of the story has it that he was masturbating.

By this time Dahmer was a frequent visitor to gay bars and bath houses. He was barred from one bath house because of allegations that on at least four separate occasions he took someone to a private booth and drugged them. No charges were filed, though one of the victims was hospitalized for a week or so.

September 15, 1987: The murder of Steven W. Tuomi, age 24. Dahmer claimed he woke up in a hotel room and found the victim dead, with no memory of doing anything to him. He bought a big suitcase, transported the body back to his grandmother's house, and proceeded to dispose of it much as he had the body of Steven Hicks.

Nine years passed between the first and second murders. In a sense, the time was so long that the second murder could be treated, mentally, as another first murder. He spent years working up to it, learning how to approach other men, how to drug them, how much to drug them. He may have been too drunk to remember the murder or he may have avoided the memory because it was unpleasant - he wasn't very skilled at killing yet.

1988

January 1988: James Doxtator, 14, killed. Dahmer offered him money to pose nude for photos, took him back to his grandmother's house. After sex Dahmer drugged and strangled him. By now his pattern of using acid and crushing force to destroy the remains was practiced.

March 24, 1988: Richard Guerrero, 25, came back to Dahmer's grandmother's house for nude photos. Again, after sex, Dahmer drugged and strangled the victim.

September 25, 1988: Dahmer moved into his own place. He offered $50 to a 13-year-old to pose nude, gave him drugged coffee and fondled him. The boy escaped. Dahmer was arrested.

From here on the pace of the murders picked up significantly. Once he had his own place, Dahmer seems to have lost most of what little control he had.

1989

January 1989: Jeffrey was convicted of 2nd degree sexual assault and enticing a child for immoral purposes. (See above) Sentenced on May 23 to five years and three years, sentences to be served concurrently. Actually served ten months, then began five years probation.

March 25: Anthony Sears,24, was last seen alive. Dahmer met him at a club, took him back to his grandmother's house. After sex, he drugged Sears and murdered him. Sears's painted skull was recovered from Dahmer's apartment after his arrest in 1991.

1990

May 29: Ricky Beeks, 33, was last seen alive. Dahmer met him at a club and offered him money to pose for nude pictures. He drugged and strangled him and had sex with the body. The victim's painted skull was recovered from Dahmer's apartment after his arrest in 1991.

June 1990: Edward W. Smith, 28, killed. Dahmer met him at a bar and offered him money for sex and pictures. After sex, Smith was drugged and strangled. Dahmer took some pictures during the process of dismembering the body.

September 2: Ernest Miller, 24, was last seen alive. He met Dahmer in front of a book store. Dahmer offered him money to come home with him. After sex, Dahmer drugged him and cut his throat. He took pictures of the body and dismembered it, putting the biceps in the freezer. He bleached the skeleton and painted the skull, which was in his apartment when he was arrested in 1991.

September 24: David C. Thomas last seen alive. Dahmer met him on the street and offered him money to come home with him. Dahmer drugged Thomas and murdered him without sex, taking pictures as he dismembered the body.

1991

March 7: Curtis Straughter, 18, last seen alive. Dahmer picked him up at a bus stop, offering him money to come home with him. He drugged Straughter and strangled him after sex, taking pictures of the dismembered body. The skull, unpainted, was recovered from Dahmer's apartment after his 1991 arrest. This is at least the third sequence of events Dahmer experimented with. Earlier, it had been sex, drugging then murder. At least once he tried drugs, murder, sex. This is drugs, sex and murder.

April 7: Errol Lindsey, 19, last seen alive. Dahmer met him on the street and offered him money to come home with him. He drugged Lindsey, strangled him and had sex with the body. The unpainted skull was recovered from Dahmer's apartment.

May 17: Dahmer met 14-year-old Konerak Sinthasomphone in front of a mall and offered him money to pose for nude pictures. After the pictures he drugged Konerak, then went out for beer. The boy escaped, naked into the street. Neighbors called police, but Dahmer convinced them that he and the boy were lovers who had merely had a little quarrel. Police, aparently unconcerned that Sinthasomphone was still too drugged to confirm or deny the story, returned him to Dahmer, who strangled him as soon as the police were gone. Dahmer had sex with his body, took pictures and dismembered him. His skull was recovered from Dahmer's apartment.

When the full details of this incident became known, mild disciplinary action was taken against the officers involved. The department was also sued for a large amount of money.

May 24: Tony Hughes, 31, last seen alive. Reportedly, Hughes and Dahmer had known each other for two years. By writing (Hughes was deaf and mute) Dahmer offered him $50.00 to come home with him and pose for nude pictures. Hughes was drugged and murdered without sex. His unpainted skull was recovered from Dahmer's apartment.

June 30: Matt Turner, 20, last seen alive. They met in Chicago at the bus station after a Gay Pride parade. Dahmer offered him money to pose nude, drugged him and strangled him with a strap. After cutting the body up, Dahmer put the head in the freezer and the rest in a barrel of acid he had obtained.

July 6: Jeremiah Weinberger, 23, last seen alive. They met in Chicago at a gay bar, where Dahmer offered him money to come back to Milwaukee. This murder is very unusual in that the victim was not murdered until the day after he came home with Dahmer. When he indicated that he wanted to leave, Dahmer drugged him, strangled him, and dismembered him, taking pictures of the process. Like the last victim, his head went into the freezer, his body into the acid.

July 15: Jeffrey was fired from the Ambrosia Chocolate Co. for bad attendance.

The same day, Oliver Lacy, 23, was last seen alive. They met on the street and went back to Dahmer's apartment for body rubs. Lacy was then drugged and strangled. Dahmer had sex with the body before dismembering it. He put the head in the refrigerator and the heart in the freezer, "to eat later."

July 16: Joseph Bradehoft, 25, last seen alive. They met at a bus stop, where Dahmer offered him money to pose for nude pictures. After sex, Dahmer drugged him and strangled him with a strap. He dismembered the body and, as before, put the head in the freezer and the body in the acid barrel.

July 22, 1991: Shortly after midnight, Tracy Edwards, 32, escaped from Dahmer with one hand in a handcuff and flagged down a police car. He lead the cops back to Dahmer's apartment. They found photos of dismembered victims and body parts in the refrigerator and freezer. Shortly, the sight of crews in biohazard protection suits taking evidence out of Dahmer's apartment was televised all over the world. The suits were necessary because of the smell of decay in the apartment and because of the acid in the barrel.

Caught red-handed, with overwhelming physical evidence against him, it's not surprising that Jeffrey confessed. His dry, unemotional descriptions of murdering a dozen and a half young men belied the reality of brutality and sadism that was revealed in Tracy Edwards' testimony.

It's possible that the sameness of the descriptions (Offers of money to pose, drugs to knock them out) was not entirely accurate. Tracy Edwards claimed he was not offered money, that he only went to Dahmer's apartment for some beers before going out again. He may have been covering up his own indiscretion, or Dahmer may have lied about the ways he lured people back to his apartment in order to make them seem less like innocent victims.

Edwards was drugged, but did not lose consciousness. This raises the possibility that the sedatives Dahmer gave victims were intended only to weaken them, while leaving them aware of what was being done to them. Dahmer had certainly had enough practice by then to have a good idea what dose was needed to knock a man out. Dahmer may have enjoyed taunting the victims about their fate and killing them, slowly, much more than he let on later.

Dahmer also claimed that he needed to drink heavily in order to be able to face killing people, but we know that he was a hard-core alcoholic for much of his life. For him, making excuses for drinking was normal and can not be regarded as likely to be honest.

1992

January 14: Dahmer entered a plea of guilty but insane in 15 of the 17 murders he claimed to have committed.

February 15: By 10-2 majority vote, a jury found Dahmer to be sane in each murder. Testimony from defense and prosecution experts took weeks and was extremely gruesome. One expert testified that Dahmer periodically removed body parts of his victims from the freezer and ate them. Another testified that this was a lie Dahmer told to make himself seem insane. The jury deliberated slightly more than ten hours.

February 17: Dahmer was sentenced to 15 consecutive life terms. At the sentencing, Dahmer read a prepared statement in which he expressed sorrow for the pain he had caused.

"I knew I was sick or evil or both. Now I believe I was sick. The doctors have told me about my sickness and now I have some peace. I know now how much harm I have caused. I tried to do the best I could after the arrest to make amends."

"I now know I will be in prison the rest of my life. I know that I will have to turn to God to help me get through each day. I should have stayed with God. I tried and failed and created a holocaust. Thank God there will be no more harm that I can do. I believe that only the Lord Jesus Christ can save me from my sins."

He later pled guilty to aggravated murder in Ohio, in the death of his first victim, Steven Hicks. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

November 28, 1994: Dahmer murdered in prison.

Dahmer and two other inmates were assigned to clean the staff bathroom of the Columbia Correctional Institute gymnasium in Portage, Wisconsin. Guards left them alone to do their work for about twenty minutes, starting at around 7:50 a.m. When Dahmer was discovered, he was unconscious and his head and face were bloody. He died on the way to the hospital from multiple skull fractures and brain trauma.

A bloody broom handle was found near Dahmer, but a broom is probably not sturdy enough to inflict the damage that killed him. Reports in December indicated that he was struck with a steel bar stolen from the prison weight room.

One of the other two inmates in the area with Dahmer was also attacked. Jesse Anderson, 37, was pronounced dead in the hospital at 10:04 a.m. on November 30. Anderson was convicted of stabbing and beating his wife to death in 1992. He was serving a life term.

The third inmate in the work party is twenty-five-year-old Christopher Scarver, a convicted murderer reportedly taking anti-psychotic medication. Scarver murdered a coworker when he was angry at his boss. The boss got away. Scarver claimed his boss was a racist and there has been speculation that Scarver, who is black, wanted revenge for the wrongs Dahmer and Anderson (both white) had done to black people. The majority of Dahmer's victims were black. Anderson tried to blame two fictitious black men for murdering his wife during a mugging. It's been pointed out that a desire for publicity or status may have also been a motive.

Dahmer was attacked last July, also. A convicted drug dealer tried to cut his throat with a razor blade attached to a toothbrush handle, making a crude straight razor, but the weapon fell apart. Dahmer received minimal injuries.

Scarver is said to have delusions that he is Christ. He has been in psychiatrict observation and treatment several times, with diagnoses of bi-polar disorder and schizophrenia. He was found guilty of the murder, though, and sent to prison. A jury apparently did not believe he was insane.

 

 

 
 
 
 
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