Jeffrey Dahmer, also dubbed the Milwaukee Monster, was a rapist, cannibal, necrophiliac and serial killer who confessed to murdering 17 young men from 1978-1991.
Dahmer, an Army medic and college dropout, confessed to seeking out 17 men, luring them to his home, drugging them with sleeping pills and murdering them, FBI interview records show. Records show that Dahmer mainly preyed on prostitutes, drifters and party-goers. Before he was identified as a serial killer, he was arrested and convicted on charges of disorderly conduct and put on five years probation for the sexual exploitation of a child involving enticement.
Dahmer told police he was motivated by powerful fantasies of having a programmable sex slave, and he escalated from rape to murder, eating parts of his victims (cannibalism) and having sex with them after death (necrophilia). Dahmer was ultimately convicted of his crimes and sentenced to 16 life sentences; however, he was beaten to death by Christopher Scarver, a fellow inmate at Wisconsin’s Columbia Correctional Institution, in 1994.
Dahmer is the first to be featured in Investigation Discovery’s Nine at 9 Series.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Dahmer, Who Worked at a Chocolate Factory, Trolled Gay Bars for His Victims
Dahmer confessed to killing 17 men as part of his attempt to fulfill his fantasies of having a completely obedient sex slave that would never leave him. Dahmer started out trolling gay bars where he would drug young men and rape them, which eventually led to him being banned.
Dahmer killed his first victim in 1978, right after graduating high school, according to Biography. He picked up Steven Hicks, a hitchhiker, got him drunk and when Hicks tried to leave, Dahmer hit him over the head with a barbell. Dahmer’s second victim, Steven Tuomi, was murdered in 1987 when Dahmer said they got drunk and he woke up to find Tuomi dead, Biography reported. Dahmer killed his third and fourth victims, 14-year-old James Doxtator and 22-year-old Richard Guerrero, in 1988 while he was still at his grandmother’s home in West Allis before she kicked him out.
Dahmer drugged, raped and murdered his fifth victim, Anthony Sears, in 1989. Dahmer preserved Sears’ head and genitals in acetone and stored them in his locker while he was working there at Ambrosia Chocolate Factory, Thought Catalog reported. Dahmer killed his next four victims in 1990. Dahmer killed his sixth victim, 28-year-old Eddie Smith, likely after meeting him at a gay bar, according to Don Davis’ book about Dahmer. Raymond Smith, 32, was killed after he returned home to visit family, the Associated Press reported.
Dahmer killed his eighth victim, 23-year-old Ernest Miller, over Labor Day weekend. Dahmer met Miller in front of a bookstore, the Washington Post reported. Dahmer offered him money where the two had sex before Dahmer cut Miller’s throat, dismembered him, placed his biceps in the freezer and painted his skull. Dahmer’s ninth victim was 22-year-old David Thomas, who he killed in 1990; Dahmer didn’t find Thomas very attractive, Thought Catalog reported, and Dahmer quickly dismembered and disposed of his body after the murder.
Dahmer killed eight victims in 1991 before his arrest.
Dahmer murdered his 10th victim, 17-year-old Curtis Straughter after he saw him waiting for a bus; he drugged and strangled Straughter and kept the skull, an archived Washington Post story reported. Dahmer killed his 11th victim after he lured Errol Lindsey to his apartment and drugged him. At this point, Dahmer attempted to turn him into a zombie by drilling a hole in Lindsey’s skull and pouring hydrochloric acid into it; when the experiment failed, Dahmer strangled him.
Dahmer told FBI interviewers that he created this method because he was tired of dismembering people:
I was getting tired of killing them and … having to deflesh them so I … wanted to see if it was possible to make, again it sounds really gross, uh zombies. People that would not have a will of their own but would follow … my instructions without resistance. So after I started using the drilling technique … and inject some muriatic acid into the frontal lobes but it never worked.
Dahmer’s twelfth victim was a deaf and mute 31-year-old man named Tony Hughes. Dahmer met Hughes in front of a bar and offered Hughes $50 to take photos, according to the Washington Post. Dahmer drugged, killed and dismembered Hughes once he was there. Dahmer’s killed his thirteenth victim, 14-year-old Konerak Sinthasomphone while Hughes’ body was still in his bedroom. Despite escaping once, Sinthasomphone was returned to Dahmer’s apartment when police brought him back, Dahmer noted in his interview.
Dahmer killed his 1th victim, Matt Turner, after meeting him in Chicago, during a gay pride parade, according to police records. Turner joined Dahmer on Greyhound bus back to Milwaukee where he was killed. Dahmer lured his fifteenth victim, 23-year-old Jeremiah Weinberger, into his apartment and killed him in 1991, the Washington Post reported. Dahmer drilled a hole in his skull while he was still alive and injected boiling water into his brain twice, putting Weinberger in a coma until he died two days later.
Oliver Lacy, a 24-year-old Dahmer met on a street corner, was Dahmer’s 16th murder victim; he drugged and strangled him, engaged in necrophilia and put his head, heart and body in a freezer, the Washington Post reported. Dahmer’s 17th and final murder victim, 25-year-old Joseph Bradehaft, was killed after Dahmer invited him to his apartment from the bus stop; Dahmer strangled and dismembered him soon after the two had sex.
Dahmer was finally caught when one of his victims, Tracy Edwards, knocked him unconscious and escaped. Here is the initial description of how Dahmer was caught, according to FBI records:
On 7/22/91, at approximately 11:30 p.m., patrol units of the Milwaukee, Wisconsin police department encountered a black male partially clothed with a handcuff on one wrist and reported that he had been threatened with a knife at an apartment … Officers responded to the apartment and arrested Jeffrey L. Dahmer for assault and at that time discovered in the apartment were numerous body parts, decapitated heads, both in the sink and in the refrigerator, body torsos, approximately 10 pairs of hands, and other body parts displayed. At this time, it appears all victims are adult males.
At his sentencing, relatives of Dahmer’s victims read impact statements in an emotional scene.
Some said they hoped Dahmer would go to hell and called him Satan.
2. Dahmer’s Mother Was an AIDs Case Manager & His Father Wrote a Book About Dahmer’s Childhood, Which Included Animal Abuse & Playing With Bones
Joyce “Rocky” Flint, Dahmer’s mother, died of breast cancer in California in 2000. She was 64.
According to her obituary in the Deseret News, Flint was an AIDs case manager and founded an HIV community center in Fresno. “Everybody loved her. She would do anything for her clients and for anybody really. She was just this wonderful person,” said Julio Mastro, the Living Room’s executive director, to Deseret News.
Flint was divorced from Dahmer’s dad, Lionel. In 1993, Flint spoke to a newspaper about her pain over being Dahmer’s mother, saying, according to Deseret News, “I wake up every morning and for a split second I don’t know I’m Jeffrey Dahmer’s mother, and then it all floods in.”
Dahmer’s father, Lionel, wrote a book called A Father’s Story in 1994, which describes how he started out in complete denial but then, during Dahmer’s trial, he “placed himself in his son’s shoes,” according to the Amazon blurb for the book.
Lionel was born in West Allis, Wisconsin and has been married to his second wife, Shari Dahmer, since 1978. According to Meaww.com, Lionel worked as a senior research and chemist at Ohio’s PPG Industries, as a writer, and as a “research supervisor in analytical chemistry.”
His book analyzed his son’s childhood, saying that Jeffrey turned from “enthusiastic” to “sullen” after a hernia operation as a child, eventually playing with bones and abusing animals, Meaww reported. He was murdering a person by age 18. “By the fall of 1988, there were far, far more things that I did not know about my son than I did know about him. I didn’t know that he had already killed four human beings, two of them in the basement of my mother’s house,” Lionel wrote in his book.
In 1994, according to an article by UPI, Dahmer’s mother unsuccessfully tried to commit suicide at her home in Fresno, California by “turning on her gas oven and leaving its door open.” She had left a note that read, ‘’It’s been a lonely life, especially today. Please cremate me. I love my sons, Jeff and David.”
After an unsuccessful stint at Ohio State University, Dahmer joined the U.S. Army when he was 19 and served for four years, the New York Times reported. He spent six weeks training as a medic in San Antonio before he was assigned to the 2d Battalion, 68th Armored Regiment, 8th Infantry Division in Baumholder, West Germany.
Preston Davis and Billy Joe Capshaw have accused Dahmer of raping them during his years of military service in Germany.
According to Davis, who was 20 at the time, Dahmer had bragged about killing someone in Ohio, was a known alcoholic and regularly made racist comments. When he and Dahmer were conducting a field exercise and their car broke down, Davis said he was drugged and assaulted. He said that Dahmer later said, “I should have killed that (n-word) when I had the chance.”
Capshaw said he was 17 when he met Dahmer and became his roommate as a fellow medic; he also said that he was abused by Dahmer for two years. Capshaw told The Wrap that Dahmer seemed nice at first, but became terrifying. On the website Surviving Jeffrey Dahmer, Capshaw’s therapist, Dr. Eugene Watermann, gave an account of what Capshaw accused Dahmer of doing:
He physically beat him. When Billy complained to those in authority, he was told that he was a p**** and was not taken seriously. The severity of the physical abuse increased, and Dahmer used an iron bar, which was part of the apparatus for the bed, to hit Billy across the joints … Somehow Dahmer arranged it so that Billy did not have regular assignments, and Dahmer controlled the only key to the room. When he left, he would lock Billy in the room … When Dahmer injured Billy, he went with Billy to the doctor and convinced them that he was taking care of him. He also convinced them that he was not the one who had injured him, even though Billy said otherwise.
Billy thinks that Dahmer drugged him. On several occasions, he was choked unconscious. Dahmer had anal intercourse with him while he was tied up. Billy felt ashamed and guilty about this, and for years he didn’t tell anyone. He had plans to kill Dahmer and make it look like an accident … However, Billy doubted that he could get away with it, and he knew that if convicted, he would be in jail in Europe and never get to see his family again. He has since felt guilty that he didn’t kill Dahmer.
There is no evidence that Dahmer has admitted to either rape. By the time Dahmer was in the military, he had already committed his first murder, and he told the FBI that his “fantasies” had already begun.
He was transferred from Germany to South Carolina in March of 1981 and honorably discharged two days later, according to FBI files. The New York Times reported that “the scuttlebutt around the barracks was that he was discharged for drinking.”
When he returned to Milwaukee to live with his grandmother, he murdered three more men.
3. He Was Suspected Of Being An Alcoholic And Having Mental Illnesses
Dahmer told FBI interviewers that he began drinking in high school, and others recalled that he would describe alcohol as his “medicine,” according to an article in the Tuscaloosa News. Preston Davis said of Dahmer, “alcohol is what turned him into a monster,” The Wrap reported.
However, when interviewers asked Dahmer if he blamed his homicidal nature on alcohol, he said he didn’t think that was the cause:
It’s still a mystery to me, you know; lots of people are big drinkers and they don’t go out and do this, no,” he said. “I don’t know. I have no idea why I started getting the fantasies and thoughts when I was about 16. That’s when it started kicking in.
Dahmer was enrolled in an alcoholic rehabilitation program on February 5, 1981 but never entered it, according to FBI files. Dahmer described himself in post-arrest interviews as obsessed with sex; his routine was to go to work and, afterward, he would go to pornographic shops or go to Chicago to watch striptease acts.
Dahmer’s father, Lionel Dahmer, said Dahmer was sexually assaulted by someone in the neighborhood as a boy, which Dahmer denied, according to New York Times article. He killed Hicks while his parents were finalizing their divorced settlement.
Dahmer, who attempted to defend himself with an insanity plea, was eventually given 16 life sentences and declared sane. Since then, psychologists assessing him have said he likely suffered from multiple cluster-B personality disorders, according to reporting from the New York Times:
They say Mr. Dahmer’s personality, as drawn from the Milwaukee police records and from news reports, shows signs of a particularly dangerous chemistry: an antisocial trait, so that he flouted the law with impunity; a “borderline” personality that makes him vulnerable to explosive rage when he feels he is being abandoned, and a bizarre sexual deviation that culminated in necrophilia.
Dahmer told FBI interviewers that he had a great deal of remorse, and he gave people sleeping pills because he was conscious of causing his victims pain. He also said that he didn’t feel very much emotion and believed that he never would have been able to stop killing.
I mean, one thing that I’ve … that’s puzzled me is why I can’t seem to generate more feeling … I mean if I had been able to feel more emotion, this may not have happened. But it just seems like emotion, my emotional side has been deadened.
Intellectually I know this is the best thing that could of [sic.] happened for me and everybody else involved because I could not stop myself.
4. He Described His Murders in a Series of Disturbing Interviews
Dahmer spent dozens of hours in interviews, helping identify his victims and describing the thought process behind his murder methods as part of the FBI’s attempt to collect information for its behavioral analysis of serial killers. Two unnamed law enforcement officers, an FBI special agent and someone from the Florida Police Department interviewed Dahmer on August 13, 1992, where he went into great detail about his crimes.
From the interviews, investigators learned that Dahmer took polaroids of his victims before and after he killed them so he could relive the crimes later. Dahmer told FBI interviewers that he initially tried to subdue his victims with ether and chloroform, but they didn’t work and he found Halcium sleeping pills more effective. He also admitted to dabbling in satanic rituals to see if he could give him even more control over his victims.
Dahmer told interviewers that he would dismember bodies using a large hunting knife with a rubber grip that he purchased at a mall. He would eat the hearts, livers, thighs and biceps of his victim and told FBI interviewers that his cannibalism started as experimentation, but eventually became part of his sexual deviance. “(It) made me feel like they were more a part of me,” he said.
Dahmer also described how he had installed a $400 security system, bathroom lock, bedroom lock and video cameras that were real and fake. Dahmer also recounted many of the close calls he had with police.
Early on in his killings, he was stopped by police officers at around 3 a.m. in Bath, Ohio while he had body parts in the back seat that Dahmer said they could smell. However, he passed their sobriety test and when they asked about the bags, he told them it was just garbage. Ultimately, they let him go. “I couldn’t believe it, I thought I was dreaming,” Dahmer told FBI interviewers.
Dahmer’s living spaces were also notorious for the smell of rotting body parts they produced, such as his grandmother’s basement and his Milwaukee apartment. Concerned about complaints of the smell coming from his apartment, Dahmer said he bought a 55-gallon blue barrel to eliminate human remains, including four skeletons and the “unboiled heads frozen in the freezer” in it to acidify them, “but never did get the chance.”
At one point, FBI interviewers asked him if he was concerned about being caught because of how many human remains he had accumulated:
Q: Now, as the skeletons started filling up in your apartment there, were you concerned about detection? Or about the police?
A: Not until … it got to the point where I couldn’t even fit them in the freezer and I had to buy that large barrel that had heavier plastic so that I could acidify them without any leakage or smell.
5. One of Dahmer’s Murders Resulted In Police Reforms Around LGBT Victims
Revelations that Milwaukee police sent Konerak Sinthasomphone, the 14-year-old Laotian boy who became Dahmer’s 13th victim, back to Dahmer’s apartment strained relations between police and the minority and LGBT communities of the city and also led to a lawsuit.
At 2 a.m., a 17-year-old named Nicole Childress called 911 to alert police that a naked and bruised young man looked injured and like he was struggling to stand, the Seattle Times reported. The police arrived on the scene, briefly checked out Dahmer’s apartment and discerned that there was no issue. Here are the transcripts of police communications after they left Sinthasomphone with Dahmer, as the Times recounted them:
Officer: “The intoxicated Asian naked male (laughter in background) was returned to his sober boyfriend (more laughter).”
An officer later said the assignment was done and the squad was ready for new duties.
Officer: “Ten-four. It will be a minute. My partner is going to get deloused at the station.” (Laughter on the tape.)
The officers never checked Sinthasomphone for an ID or ran a background check on Dahmer, who would have shown up as being on probation for a 1988 sex offense. Still, when neighbor Glenda Cleveland called to ask what came of the incident, police told her that Sinthasomphone wasn’t a child and was an adult involved in a “boyfriend-boyfriend thing,” the Seattle Times reported.
When she asked whether the officer was certain Sinthasomphone was an adult, the officer said, “It’s as positive as I can be. I can’t do anything about somebody’s sexual preference in life,” and added, “He has very nice pictures of himself and his boyfriend and so forth,” according to the Seattle Times. The “nice pictures” were references to polaroids Dahmer had taken of Sinthasomphone in which he was nearly naked.
Dahmer himself later told law enforcement that he was surprised that the police sent Sinthasomphone back home with him and never suspected anything when they looked around his room.
“The Sinthasomphone time, you know, where the boy was lying in the bedroom and all they would of [sic.] had to do is look in the bedroom and that would have been it,” he said, referring to the fact that Tony Hughes body was still on his bedroom floor. “So there’s been lots of strange close calls.”
The family of Sinthasomphone filed a lawsuit against the city, accusing police officers of violating the family’s constitutional rights as part of a pattern of unprofessional “conduct of several police officers, policies and attitudes of the police department toward minorities and gays.”
One of the officers involved, said that nothing seemed out of place and said, “he had worked in Milwaukee’s inner city for most of his career, sometimes with black officers, and was shocked that he and the other officers were accused of racism and homophobia,” according to New York Times article.
U.S. District Judge Terence Evans dismissed the claim that police should have protected Sinthasomphone, the Associated Press reported.
The two officers, John Balcerzak and Joe Gabrish, were dismissed, but a judge gave them their jobs back.
According to the Wisconsin Gazette, Milwaukee Mayor John O. Norquist appointed a nine-member commission to see if there was truth to the lawsuit’s allegations about the department’s treatment of minorities and members of the LGBT community. The commission, “produced a landmark report condemning Milwaukee police for dismissing citizens’ complaints, mistreating minorities and discriminating by selective enforcement of the law.”
The Gazette noted that as a result of the commission, sensitivity training was introduced and liaisons who joined the department and civilian oversight boards helped remove the stigma regarding LGBT people and improved overall relations with that community and police.