Serial killers have long held a macabre sort of fascination with people. Writing letters to them in prison, collecting ‘killer’ trading cards and otherwise obsessing over the depravity of these individuals has become big business over the years, and there are plenty of serial killers to study.
One of the most prolific and nausea inducing killers was Jeffrey Lionel Dahmer. Born in 1960 in Wisconsin, into a relatively normal family, Dahmer died in 1994 at the hands of a fellow inmate in Columbia Correctional Institute in Ohio.
What makes Dahmer’s story so thrilling is not necessarily that he was a murderer, or even a murderer of young boys and young men, it was what he did after the execution of his victims.
Also known as the Milwaukee Cannibal or the Milwaukee Monster, Dahmer is most famous for ingesting body parts of his victims. He routinely saved pieces of the bodies for his own satisfaction, retaining parts of muscle and organ for consumption. He was also fond of preserving the skulls of his unwitting prey.
As a student in high school, teachers noted that although he was quiet and introverted, he was a bright student, albeit apathetic. Other students however, noted that he drank heavily, even during school hours.
His first murder occurred in 1978, just 3 months after he graduated high school. But he then took a hiatus, moving to Wisconsin to live with his grandmother after serving some time in the US Army. His father hoped that he would have a change in behavior and want to straighten up while living with her as she was the only person Jeffrey showed any real emotion towards.
He seemed to be on the right path until 1987, when he lured a young man he met in a bar and proceeded to get drunk with the man. Upon waking the next morning, Dahmer found that the man was dead, but in later interviews he admitted that he had no recollection of committing the crime.
Dahmer grew partial to offering young men money to pose for nude photos as a way to lure them to his apartment where he would drug them with sleeping pills, strangle them and then have sex with their bodies before beginning to dismember them.
Between 1987 and 1991, Dahmer was responsible for the deaths of 15 young males. His last attempted victim was the one that ‘got away’, literally. After persuading the man to come to his apartment and keep him company, Dahmer found that this victim wasn’t quite so complacent. Seeing Dahmer lapse into a momentary stupor, the man punched Dahmer, knocking him out.
The man was able to find a police cruiser and told them of his grisly encounter. Upon investigation, the police found a stack of polaroids that Dahmer kept in his nightstand drawer. These pictures were of his victims in various poses, after they were dead, and in the process of being dismembered. This was enough for the police officers and they summarily arrested Dahmer.
Upon his arrest and subsequent interviews, Dahmer fully admitted to his crimes, choosing not to be represented by legal counsel. He was charged and convicted of 15 murders, receiving 15 life sentences for his victims killed in Wisconsin, with another being added for his first victim in Ohio.
Just two years later he was assaulted by a fellow inmate and died of severe head trauma. Some would say a fitting end for such a monster.