Serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer

Serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer

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From 1987 to 1991, Jeffrey Dahmer reign terror over the gay community. He was a social incompetent, homosexual man. His spent his entire life feeling as an outcast in this giant world and struggled to find his voice and his sense of self. He resorted to dead rodents and mannequins to bring him entertainment and companionship. Eventually, Dahmer thirst for more and when his abuse of alcohol could no longer medicate him he allowed his gruesome fantasies and needs to take control.
Childhood and Adolescence
Lionel and Joyce Dahmer gave birth to their first born, Jeffrey Dahmer, on May 21, 1960 in Milwaukee. Despite Joyce experiencing a difficult pregnancy, Dahmer was a healthy child who was wanted and adored by both his parents. However, his mother did start to become distant to him as she refused to breast feed him and started demonstrating unstable behavior along with substance abuse. Meanwhile, his father was pursuing his doctoral for chemistry in Iowa which limited the time Lionel had with his family. At age five, Dahmer’s little brother was born and that was when the feeling of neglect set in him. For the first time, the little attention provided from his parents had to be shared with his brother David. Dahmer began displaying extreme shyness but also severe tantrums. During the ages of six and seven, Dahmer “was regarded by other children as odd and bizarre (Martens, 2005).” Even though he did not show any interest in developing genuine social relations, Dahmer did demonstrate a fascination with bug and animal dissections. When Dahmer was six he had “undergone hernia surgery, when he woke up from the anesthesia he was worried someone could have cut his genitals, the pain lasted for one week and after a long recovery period his parents remember he turned to be very loner (Giannetakis, n.d.).” It is believed that at age eight Dahmer had been sexually abused by a boy in his neighborhood (Hickey, 2013). If this event did occur, it could explain why he developed destructive sexual fantasies at the young age of twelve. Despite him being aloof, it has been reported that he would seek attention by faking epileptic seizures at school and local shops. By his adolescent years, he developed compulsive masturbation which would eventually lead to legal trouble (Silva, 2002). At the age of fourteen, Dahmer turned to alcohol abuse in order to overcome his feeling of despair and compulsive thoughts of sexual violent acts.

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His development of necrophilia fantasies and awareness of homosexual desire were brought to light when he was fifteen and stole a store mannequin that he would lay with when his parents were away from home (Martens, 2005). Dahmer would continue this fight to suppress his tormented emotions and thoughts until he finally decides to entertain them at the age of eighteen.
Family Dynamics
Focusing on Dahmer’s family history, it becomes quickly evident it was an environment filled with risk factors that could leave someone vulnerable to developing loneliness and associated violent antisocial behavior. Starting with his father, Lionel Dahmer reportedly suffered from psychological difficulties similar to his son Jeffrey with the only difference that his father’s obsession was with fire which eventually led to a fascination in bombs. However, Lionel was able to cope with his obsessional patterns in a healthy way by directing his energy towards the study of chemistry (Silva, 2002). For this reason, Lionel believed that Jeffrey would overcome being introverted and insecure as he once did as a child. He was relatively absent throughout a majority of Jeffrey Dahmer’s childhood and adolescent years. This was mainly due to him pursuing his doctoral in chemistry and then work to provide for his family. Jeffrey’s mother, Joyce Dahmer, would “continuously [be] lamenting for the neighbor’s noises, and needing to be reinsured from her husband (Giannetakis, n.d.).” She demonstrated erratic episodes of depression along with anxiety and unstable mood changes which led her to self-medicate with antidepressants and psychotropic drugs. Similar to his mother, Jeffrey had little tolerance towards the feeling of frustration but turned to alcohol for relief from all his held in thoughts and feelings. His family moved several times over a short period of time. As each move occurred, the more socially isolated Jeffrey Dahmer would become in the world. Along with Jeffrey’s increase of detachment, the arguments between his parents increased. Eventually, the stress from family tension and her sickness took its toll on Joyce Dahmer and she was admitted to a neuropsychiatric institution for one month (Giannetakis, n.d.). Jeffrey took blame for his mother’s disease and believed he was the factor causing the family conflicts which led to him furthering his alienation from his family. At the age of eighteen, Jeffrey’s parents divorced splitting the family in half by his mother having custody of David and Jeffrey was left with his dad. This was the beginning of Jeffrey’s downfall as he increased his abuse of alcohol and his feeling of depression and emptiness were becoming overwhelming.
Dahmer had trouble trying to survive in the real world and be successful. He attempted to pursue his education at Ohio State University but due to his destructive behavior with alcohol he flunked out after his first semester. Jeffrey was then forced to enlist into the military by his father. However, his alcohol abuse led to his discharge just after two years. Shortly after his return home, Dahmer arrested for disorderly conduct and being drunk in public. This led to the tension between his father and himself to intensify so Dahmer later moved into his grandmother’s basement. In 1986, Dahmer was arrested and received one year probation for indecent exposure in front of young boys (Hickey, 2013). Later, he moved into his own apartment after his grandmother’s wishes for him to move out because of his strange behavior and all-nighters. This new residence was soon to be the famous “lair” which was apartment 213.
Serial Killer
Shortly after his mother’s death, Dahmer succumbs to his violent and sexual urges for the first time. As Dahmer was driving his father’s car, he comes across a hitchhiker that peaks his interests. Dahmer invited the man to join him at his house for drinks with the ulterior motive of possibly engaging in sexually activity. Unfortunately, when the man rejects Dahmer’s advances and tries to leave, Dahmer not wanting to feel abandoned begins to bludgeon the man to death with a ten pound dumbbell. Once Dahmer completed this task, he buried the hitchhiker in is his backyard. According to Hickey, it is believed that Dahmer visited graveyards with the plan to retrieve a corpse instead of having to kill again for companionship (Hickey, 2013). Dahmer would not kill again until about nine years later. As his longing for companionship grew, Dahmer started frequenting local gay bars in search of someone to take home. Many of his victims saw him as an average person being sociable and generous and did not feel threaten by him. He began his killings again when he lived with his grandmother. He would either take his victims to the basement of his grandmother’s or would rent rooms from various bathhouses to have intercourse with the drugged men and perform his deviant fantasies (Hickey, 2013). When he moved into apartment 213, he only used that for his killing. The victims were usually given laced alcohol at the bars but some would later be drugged at his apartment. He used drugs like Halcion, which is a sleeping pill, to lace the alcohol. Once the victims were at his killing location, Dahmer would have sex with them and then provide them with the laced alcohol. Afterwards, the victims would be handcuffed and taken to his “lair” which was his bedroom. A majority of the victims would die of strangulation and some would be dismembered after they were strangled. Few of his victims had holes drilled in their skulls in hopes they would become zombie like and be his sex slaves that would not abandon him. At this point, it can be concluded that Dahmer is committing necrophile homicide with his victims. In addition, he took part in cannibalism with the belief that his victims would become a part of him which gave him a sense of power and control over them (Hickey, 2013). Dahmer’s fantasies and needs quickly escalated that towards the end of his reign he would already be hunting his next victim before he was done disposing the one prior. This false misconception of invisibility causes Dahmer to be caught when his last victim escapes and successfully finds help. The term “successfully” is used since Dahmer had previous victims escape but were unsuccessful in convincing others of Dhamer’s actions. One of those victims made it to police but Dahmer was able to persuade them the boy was his drunken lover which led to the boy’s death. Dahmer demonstrated several attributes of an organized killer such as hunting and luring victims then concealed evidence; in addition, he illustrated disorganized behaviors by having sex with his victims’ corpses and keeping parts of their bodies as trophies (Ressler, 1992). Since Dahmer exhibited various dynamics, he is considered as a “mixed” offender creating a new type of serial killer (Ressler, 1992).
Method of Operating and Signature
Method of operating plays a vital role in a serial killer’s life. This consists of the techniques a killer relies on to commit their crimes successfully and it usually evolves over time with the increase of killings. Jeffrey Dahmer illustrated a very simple method of operating. He would begin with hunting for a victim at gay bars with the goal to get him to his apartment. His luring tactics would be offering them free booze and at times, money for taking part in a nude photo-shoot or the chance to be an actor in a pornographic film. Once he would return with his victim, he would provide the tainted alcohol and move them to his killing room. When Dahmer would finish with his victim, he then concealed the evidence in his room. In contrast, a signature is not required in the act of committing the crime. Signatures are often used to fulfill a serial killer’s needs and fantasies. One of Dahmer’s signatures was post-mortem dismemberment since he would keep body parts as souvenirs that would were to be used for sexual arousal. Dahmer’s obsession with body parts can be related with the representation of “the victim, just as another man might use a woman’s underwear to represent the woman and then masturbate with the underwear (Silva, 2002).” He would then use the dismembered parts to create his mental image of him sitting in a room with a self behind him filled with victims’ skulls and his two sex slaves one either side of him (Hickey, 2013). This image kept Dahmer motivated in making him feel closer to obtaining supreme power.
Dahmer demonstrated several precursors of becoming a killer at a young age. He showed social incompetence throughout his life. Starting at the age of five, he felt abandonment and out of place in the world. He struggled with building genuine relations with other children and communicating his thoughts and emotions. This led to a fascination of bugs and animals specifically dead ones. Dahmer was known to play with a bucket filled with rodent bones and enjoying the sounds they would make when he crushed or rattled them around. As he got older, he would roam around his neighborhood collecting any dead animal he came across and dissected them. At one time he stuck a dog’s body on a stick and placed its fur on a tree in his deep in his backyard. During this period, Dahmer developed sexual fantasies that were disturbing and caused him to withdraw from reality. He soon became an alcoholic to have some control of his suppressed urges and emotions at a young age. Trying to conceal his desires and needs caused him to live in his own world, without any safe net and not receiving useful emotional and moral criticism from people caused the inability to sufficiently test reality and led to his behavioral disturbances (Martens, 2005). This left him “prone to boredom, stress, and strain [becoming] more and more unbearable for [him]. Only the companionship of other people could have released [him] from the imprisonment of [his] limited self (Martens, 2005).”
The Capture of “The Milwaukee Cannibal”
Dahmer’s killing came to an abrupt end when one of his potential victims managed to flee from his apartment and notify authorities. The police along with the escaped victim, still placed in Dahmer’s handcuffs, went to apartment 213 where a cooperative Jeffrey Dahmer allowed them inside of his home. They were immediately greeted with a horrendous stench of decaying bodies. The police instructed for Dahmer to provide the key to the handcuffs and as he went to retrieve them from his bedroom one of the officers moved ahead of him in there and that is when Jeffrey Dahmer had been exposed. His bedroom consisted of a blue barrel holding the dismemberments of victims in one corner, eleven skulls throughout the room, and a collection of body parts and bones. Some of the items found such as the suspended skeleton, silver and black skulls, and the three skulls with holes drilled into brain tissue were to make-up Dahmer’s imagined shrine (Hickey, 2013). Dahmer was immediately placed under arrest for the murder and dismemberment of seventeen young men. Jeffrey Dahmer had reached the end of acting out his deviant fantasies.
Dahmer immediately confessed to his doings and did not blame anything or anyone for his actions. On January 30, 1992, Jeffrey Dahmer’s trial began. He was originally charged with seventeen murder charges, but it was later reduced to fifteen and did not include the attempted murder of his last victim. He attempted to plead guilty due to the overwhelming evidence, and the court agreed and found him guilty on fifteen counts of murder. His sentencing consisted of fifteen consecutive life sentences equaling to nine hundred fifty-seven years of incarceration at Columbia Facility in Wisconsin (Hickey, 2013). Additionally, the victims’ families filed judgment against Dahmer resulting in more than eighty million dollars in their favor. During incarceration, Dahmer was capable of acknowledging “the extent to which his compulsions and fantasies had taken over his rational mind, driving him on, murder after murder (Ressler, 1992).” Despite this realization, Dahmer still claimed that he should not be given freedom because he still had the desire to kill.
Since the world viewed Jeffrey Dahmer as a monster that killed mostly African American, Hispanic, and Asian young men and boys, his safety was a main concern in his arrival to prison. During his first year of incarceration, he was placed in protective isolation separated from the general inmate population. Afterwards, it was deemed safe for Dahmer to be integrated with the general prison population. Shortly after his integration, an inmate attacked Dahmer with the intent to slit his throat with a homemade shank (Terry, 1994). However, this attempt failed and Dahmer insisted it was an isolated incident which allowed him to remain with the general population. On November 29, 1994, a fellow inmate, Scarver, successfully murdered Jeffrey Dahmer in a bathroom close to the prison gym. Jeffrey Dahmer “died of massive head injuries, suffered sometime between 7:50 and 8:10 A.M.,” and pronounced dead shortly after (Terry, 1994). Despite Jeffrey Dahmer’s brutal death, the world immediately turned its attention to the legal battle over his estate by the victims’ families. Meanwhile, Dahmer’s own family had to experience similar emotions that Dahmer brought on to all the families of his victims.

In search of companionship, Jeffrey Dahmer experienced social isolation and cruel thoughts. He tried self-medicating himself similarly to his mother to suppress his unusual desires and alleviate the feeling of loneliness. Despites his efforts, Dahmer gave into his emotions and fantasies which led him to murder after murder. His carelessness brought about his charm to overcome authorities and lure victims led to his last victim escaping and Dahmer’s arrest. Similarly to his victims, his life came to an abrupt end when a fellow inmate bashed his head in resulting in the death of Jeffrey Dahmer.

Giannetakis, P. (n.d.). Jeffrey Dahmer. Criminal Psychology. Retrieved April 10, 2014, from
Hickey, E. W. (2013). Serial Murderers and Their Victims (6th ed.). Belmont: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.
Martens, W. H., & Palermo, G. B. (2005). Loneliness And Associated Violent Antisocial Behavior: Analysis Of The Case Reports Of Jeffrey Dahmer And Dennis Nilsen. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 49(3), 298- 307.
Ressler, R. K., & Shachtman, T. (1992). Whoever Fights Monsters. New York: St. Martin's Press.
Silva, J. A., Ferrari, M. M., & Leong, G. B. (2002). The case of Jeffrey Dahmer: sexual serial homicide from a neuropsychiatric developmental perspective. Estados Unidos: American Society for Testing and Materials.
Terry, D. (1994, November 28). Jeffrey Dahmer, Multiple Killer, Is Bludgeoned to Death in Prison. The New York Times. Retrieved April 15, 2014, from death-in-prison.html

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