Lionel Dahmer is the father of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, serial killer and cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer.
Over the years, Lionel, who is still alive, gave several interviews in which he tried to explain what motivated his son. He also wrote a book about Jeffrey Dahmer called “A Father’s Story.”
Dahmer’s killings between 1978 and 1991 are getting renewed attention as a result of a new Netflix docudrama series. “Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story” started streaming on September 21, 2022. “Across more than a decade, 17 teen boys and young men were murdered by convicted killer Jeffrey Dahmer. How did he evade arrest for so long?” the Netflix site for the show asks.
Today, Lionel Herbert Dahmer is 86 years old and lives in Ohio, according to online records.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. In an Interview, Lionel Called Jeffrey a ‘Very Wonderful Little Boy’
Over the years, Lionel has struggled to understand his son.
“The closest I could come to why — to give some type of a causality for all this — I think it was a cumulative thing. I think there were several events in his life,” Lionel Dahmer told “Good Morning America” in the 1990s.
He listed a hernia operation that resulted in Jeffrey’s being concerned “about having his penis cut off,” a blow to the back of his head and “going around and getting road kill.”
Dahmer said he believed Jeffrey’s homosexuality played a role. “I firmly believe it hooked into his sexuality at age 14 or 15,” he said.
“There were really no overt signs. He wasn’t foaming at the mouth or talking to himself in his sleep,” Lionel told host Charles Gibson.
He said he was a “very wonderful little boy — but very shy.”
Eventually, Dahmer started exhibiting disturbing behavior, including saving bones from animals and keeping a mannequin in his closet. But his dad said he found out about those things at the trial. “I did not know any of these things before that point,” he told the program.
2. Lionel Once Almost Caught Jeffrey With a Head in a Box
Lionel told “Good Morning America” that he almost caught Jeffrey with a human head in a box.
“I was concerned that he had pornographic material or something like that in this box. I just didn’t want it in the house. My mother was a very strong Christian woman,” Lionel recalled.
He asked Jeffrey to open the box. He refused and tore up a birthday check. He got very angry. “He put on a little theater for me,” his dad.
Lionel said he was going to open the box, but Jeffrey told him, “Please don’t open it tonight. … Let’s not disturb Grandma.”
The next day when Jeffrey opened it, there was pornographic material in it. He told his dad later that he had actually kept a head in the box.
When the police first called to tell him about the homicides, Lionel thought Jeffrey was the victim at first. He “sat there just stunned in my office” when he realized Dahmer was actually the suspect.
3. Lionel Dahmer Spoke Out Again in a 2020 Documentary, Saying, ‘We Had a Close Relationship’
Lionel has continued speaking out about his son.
“I felt very, very sick about it,” Lionel said in a 2020 interview.
“I’m the father of Jeff Dahmer,” he says in that video.
He said that Jeffrey was born in a house they rented in Milwaukee. “As a very young boy, he was happy. He would run to me and jump into my arms. He liked to ride his little tricycle.”
“When you look at the home movies, you see a happy time. We had a very close relationship. … He just loved to be with me and his mother.”
He met Joyce Flint, Dahmer’s mother, in Milwaukee. She was outgoing and liked to do new things. “A very loving person it seemed to me,” she said.
Lionel revealed that Joyce developed seizure-type symptoms when she became pregnant with Jeffrey. “Her body would become rigid, and she would develop a little bit of foam in the mouth,” he said. The doctors never discovered what caused the episodes.
4. Lionel Dahmer Was Divorced From Jeffrey’s Mother, Joyce Flint
The marriage “started to dissolve. She was advocating for divorce,” Lionel said in the 2020 interview.
Jeffrey Dahmer went out and start slapping trees with a branch when he found out his parents were divorcing. He took it badly, and it made him feel he had lost control, his dad said in the interview.
He would come home drunk from high school. “The drinking got worse and worse.”
According to OnMilwaukee.com, Flint “moved to California after her divorce from Jeffrey Dahmer’s father, Lionel, in the late 1980s.”
According to the Los Angeles Times, the divorce was bitter. “Their divorce was granted on July 24, 1978, after each charged the other with ‘extreme cruelty and gross neglect of duty,'” the newspaper reported.
The couple had two children: Jeffrey and his brother, David.
Police had investigated domestic disputes between the parents, according to The Associated Press.
Dahmer said in his book that prescription drugs Joyce took during pregnancy might have played a role, according to Oxygen.
5. Lionel & His Wife Shari Faced a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Lionel worked as a chemist, Oxygen reported.
“As a scientist, [I] wonder if [the] potential for great evil..resides deep in the blood that some of us … may pass on to our children at birth,” he wrote in his book, according to Oxygen.
Lionel and his second wife, Shari, eventually faced a wrongful death lawsuit.
It was over the 1978 beating death of Steven Hicks in Ohio, according to the Associated Press. Dahmer was 18 when that murder occurred.
Hicks’ mother alleged in the lawsuit that Dahmer “was deviant and destined to cause injury and death to others.″
READ NEXT: Jeffrey Dahmer’s Cause of Death.