Jeffrey Dahmer, an American serial killer and sex offender, was born on May 21, 1960. Between the years of 1978 and 1991, Dahmer murdered 17 males in truly horrific fashion. Rape, dismemberment, necrophilia, and cannibalism were all parts of his modus operandi.
By most accounts Dahmer had a normal childhood; however he became withdrawn and uncommunicative as he got older. He began showing little to no interest in hobbies or social interaction as he entered adolescence, turning instead to examining animal carcasses and heavy drinking for entertainment. His drinking continued throughout high school but did not stop him from graduating in 1978. It was just three weeks later that the 18-year-old committed his first murder. Due to his parents’ unfolding divorce that summer, Jeffrey was left in the family home alone. He seized the opportunity to act on the dark thoughts that had been growing in his mind. He picked up a hitchhiker named Steven Hicks and offered to take him back to his father’s house to drink beer. But when Hicks decided to leave, Dahmer hit him in the back of the head with a 10 lb. dumbbell. Dahmer then dissected, dissolved, pulverized, and scattered the now imperceptible remains throughout his back yard, and later admitted to killing him simply because he wanted Hicks to stay. Nine years would pass before he killed again.
Dahmer attended college that fall but dropped out due to his alcoholism. After that his father forced him to enlist in the army, where he served as a combat medic in Germany from 1979 to 1981. However, he never kicked the habit and was discharged that spring, moving back home to Ohio. After his drinking continued to cause problems, his father sent him to live with his grandmother in West Allis, Wisconsin. By 1985 he was frequenting gay bathhouses, where he would drug men and rape them as they lay unconscious. Although he was arrested twice for incidents of indecent exposure in 1982 and 1986, he only faced probation and was not charged for the rapes.
Steven Tuomi was his second victim, killed in September of 1987. Dahmer picked him up from a bar and took him back to a hotel room, where he woke up the next morning to Tuomi’s beaten dead body. He later stated that he had no memory of actually murdering Tuomi, implying that he had committed the crime on some sort of blacked out impulse. The killings occurred sporadically after Tuomi, with two victims in 1988, one in 1989, and four in 1990. He continued to lure unsuspecting men from bars or solicited prostitutes, whom he then drugged, raped, and strangled. At this point though, Dahmer also began carrying out particularly disturbing acts with their corpses, continuing to use the bodies for intercourse, taking photographs of the dismemberment process, preserving with scientific precision his victims’ skulls and genitals for display, and even retaining parts for consumption.
During this period, Dahmer was arrested for an incident at his job at the Ambrosia Chocolate Factory, where he drugged and sexually fondled a 13-year-old boy. For this he was given a sentence of five years’ probation, one year at a work release camp, and was required to register as a sex offender. He was released two months early from the work program and subsequently moved into a Milwaukee apartment in May of 1990. There, despite regular appointments with his probation officer, he would remain free to commit four murders that year and eight more in 1991.
Dahmer began killing around one person each week by the summer of 1991. He became infatuated with the idea that he could turn his victims into “zombies” to act as youthful and submissive sexual partners. He used many different techniques, such as drilling holes into their skull and injecting hydrochloric acid or boiling water into their brains. Soon, neighbors began to complain about strange noises and awful smells coming from Dahmer’s apartment. On one occasion, a lobotomized victim left unattended even made it out onto the street to ask several bystanders for help. When Dahmer returned, however, he successfully convinced the police that the irrational young man was simply his extremely intoxicated boyfriend. The officers failed to run a background check that would have revealed Dahmer’s sex offender status, allowing him to narrowly escape his fate for a little while longer.
On July 22, 1991, Dahmer lured Tracy Edwards into his home with the promise of cash in exchange for his company. While inside, Edwards was then forced into the bedroom by Dahmer with a butcher knife. During the struggle, Edwards was able to get free and escape out into the streets where he flagged down a police car. When the police arrived at Dahmer’s apartment, Edwards alerted them to the knife that was in the bedroom. Upon entering the bedroom, the officers found the pictures of dead bodies and dismembered limbs that allowed them to finally place Dahmer under arrest. Further investigation of the home led them to find a severed head in the refrigerator, three more severed heads throughout the apartment, multiple photographs of the victims, and more human remains in his refrigerator. A total of seven skulls were found in his apartment as well as a human heart in the freezer. An altar was also constructed with candles and human skulls in his closet. After being taken into custody, Dahmer confessed and began divulging the gruesome details of his crimes to the authorities.
Dahmer was indicted on 15 murder charges and the trial began on January 30, 1992. Even though the evidence against him was overwhelming, Dahmer pled insanity as his defense due to the nature of his incredibly disturbing and uncontrollable impulses. Following two weeks of trial, the court declared him sane and guilty on 15 counts of murder. He was sentenced to 15 life terms, for a total of 957 years in prison. In May of the same year, he entered a guilty plea for the murder of his first victim, Stephen Hicks, and received an additional life sentence.
Dahmer served his time at the Columbia Correctional Institution in Portage, Wisconsin. During his time in prison, Dahmer expressed remorse for his actions and wished for his own death. He also read the Bible and declared himself a born-again Christian, ready for his final judgment. He was attacked twice by fellow inmates, with the first attempt to slice his neck open leaving him with only superficial wounds. However, he was attacked a second time on November 28, 1994, by an inmate as they cleaned one of the prison showers. Dahmer was found still alive, but died on the way to the hospital from severe head trauma.
Oxygen’s Dahmer on Dahmer: A Serial Killer Speaks