Escape into Maddness
Konerak was only fourteen and he was running for his life. This was his only chance to
escape from the horrible smelling apartment where the creepy blond guy had slipped him
some kind of powerful drug. It seemed that luck was with him that he started to come
around just as the blond man had left the apartment.
jeff dahmer victim
It took all the strength he had to get up and get to the door. He was so disoriented and
panicked that it made no difference that he was naked. This was his only chance to
survive. He was working strictly on instinct. Just get out of there and run away.
It was just before 2 A.M. and Sandra Smith called 911 to report the boy running around
"butt naked.". She didn't know who he was, but she knew he was injured and terrified.
The paramedics got there first and put a blanket around the naked, dazed boy. Two police
officers arrived soon after and tried to understand what was going on with this young
man of Asian descent.
Sandra Smith, eighteen years old and her cousin Nicole Childress, also eighteen, were
standing near the boy when the Milwaukee city police arrived. The tall blond man was
also standing near the boy. The conversation became heated between the girls, the blond
man and the police.
The tall blond man told the police that Konerak was his nineteen-year-old lover who had
been drinking too much. Konerak who was drugged and incoherent wasn't able to
contradict the smooth-talking blond man. Dahmer gave the police a picture ID.
The two young women tried to intervene. They had seen the terrified boy trying to resist
the blond man before the police arrived. They were angry and upset. The police were
ignoring them and listening to the white man instead.
Just to be on the safe side, the two officers went with the boy and the tall blond man to his
apartment. The apartment smelled bad, but it was very neat. Konerak's clothing was
folded and placed on the sofa. There were a couple of photographs of Konerak in black
Konerak sat quietly on the sofa unable to talk intelligently. It's not even clear that he
understood the calm explanation the blond man was giving the police. The blond man was
apologizing that his lover had caused a disturbance and promised it wouldn't happen again.
The police believed the blond man. They had no reason not to -- he was well-spoken,
intelligent and very calm. The Asian was apparently drunk and incoherent. The officers,
not wanting to get in the middle of a domestic argument between homosexual lovers, left
the apartment with Konerak still sitting quietly on the sofa. In that neighborhood, the
officers felt that there were more pressing things for them to do.
What they missed in the apartment bedroom was the body of Tony Hughes, whose
decomposing corpse had lain for three days on the bed.
What they missed was the blond man immediately strangling the Asian boy and having sex
with his corpse.
What they missed were the photos that the blond man took of the dead boy, the
subsequent dismemberment of his body, and the cleaning up of his skull to be kept as a
What they missed was the opportunity to take the name of Jeffrey Dahmer off the ID that
the man gave them and run a background check which would have told them than the
calm, well-spoken man was a convicted child molester who was still on probation.
The story didn't stop there. The two girls who the police ignored went back home to
Sandra Smith's mother, Glenda Cleveland, a 36-year-old woman who lived next to the
Oxford Apartments which Jeffrey Dahmer called home. Later, Cleveland called up the
officers to find out what happened to the Asian boy. She asked how old the child was. "It
wasn't a child. It was an adult," the officer said.
When she continued to ask questions, he told her: "Ma'am, I can't make it any more clear.
It's all taken care of. He's with his boyfriend and in his boyfriend's apartment...It's as
positive as I can be...I can't do anything about somebody's sexual preferences in life."
A couple of days later, Cleveland called the officers back after she read a newspaper
article about the disappearance of a Laotian boy named Konerak Sinthasomphone who
looked like the boy that had been seen trying to escape from Jeff Dahmer. They never
sent anybody to talk with her.
Cleveland even tried contacting the Milwaukee office of the FBI, but nothing came of it.
That is, until a couple of months later on Monday, July 22, 1991 when all hell broke loose.
A couple of months later on July 22, 1991, two Milwaukee police officers were driving
around in the very high crime area around Marquette University. The heat was oppressive
and the humidity almost unbearable. The smell of the neighborhood was all the more
pungent in the heat: the garbage on the streets, the urine and feces left by the homeless,
the rancid stink of cooked grease.
Around midnight, as the two officers sat in their car, they saw a short, wiry black man
with a handcuff dangling from his wrist. Assuming that this man had escaped from
another policeman, they asked him what he was doing. The man started to pour out a tale
about this "weird dude" who put the cuffs on him in his apartment. The man was
thirty-two year old Tracy Edwards.
Edward's story smacked of some homosexual encounter that normally the police would
avoid, but the two policemen thought they ought to check out this man that had cuffed
Edwards who lived at the Oxford Apartments at 924 North 25th Street. The door to
Apartment 213 was opened by a nice looking thirty-one-year-old blond man.
Dahmer was very calm and rational. He offered to get the key to the handcuffs in the
bedroom. Edwards remembered that the knife that Dahmer had threatened him with was
also in the bedroom.
Once of the officers decided to go into the bedroom himself and take a look. He noticed
photographs lying around that shocked him: dismembered human bodies, skulls in the
refrigerator. When he collected his wits, he yelled to his partner to cuff Dahmer and place
him under arrest.
The placid, rational blond man suddenly turned on them and fought as the other cop tried
to cuff him. While the one officer subdued Dahmer, the other one went to the refrigerator
and opened it. He shrieked loudly at the face that stared out at him and slammed the door.
"There's a fucking head in the refrigerator!"
A closer examination of the apartment revealed an intimate juxtaposition of the tidy and
the unspeakable. While the small one-bedroom flat was neat and clean, especially for a
bachelor, and his pet fish well cared for, the smell of decomposition was overwhelming.
The box of baking soda in the refrigerator hardly absorbed the odors of a decomposing
severed head. The freezer had three more heads, stored neatly in plastic bags and tied
with plastic twisties.
There was a door that led to the bedroom, bedroom closet and bath which had been
outfitted with a dead-bolt lock. Anne E. Schwartz, the reporter who was first on the
scene describes what she saw in her book The Man Who Could Not Kill Enough: "...in
the back of the closet was a metal stockpot that contained decomposed hands and a penis.
On the shelf above the kettle were 2 skulls.
Also in the closet were containers of ethyl alcohol, chloroform, and formaldehyde, along
with some glass jars holding male genitalia preserved in formaldehyde...Polaroid photos
taken by Dahmer at various stages of his victims' deaths. One showed a man's head, with
the flesh still intact, lying in a sink. Another displayed a victim cut open from the neck to
the groin, like a deer gutted after the kill, the cuts so clean I could see the pelvic bone
clearly." Some of the photos were his victims before he murdered them in various erotic
and bondage poses.
The police, the county medical examiner, the media, families of missing young men, Jeff
Dahmer's family, the entire city of Milwaukee and the whole world tried to understand
what had really happened in Apartment 213. Eventually the story began to tumble out.
The first person to plumb the depths of Jeffrey Dahmer's depravity was Detective Patrick
Kennedy. A huge bear of a man with dramatic handlebar mustache, he engaged Dahmer's
confidence and was the person to whom he confessed the details of his 13-year killing
While Dahmer had fantasies about killing men and having sex with their corpses as early as
age fourteen, he didn't do anything about it until just after he graduated high school in
June of 1978. He picked up a hitchhiker named Steven Hicks when he was living with his
parents in the upscale community of Bath, Ohio. They drank some beer together, but then
Hicks wanted to leave. Dahmer couldn't stand the idea of Hicks leaving, so he struck him
in the head with a barbell and killed him.
He needed to get rid of the body so he cut it up, packaged it up in plastic garbage bags
and buried the bags in the woods behind his house. That fall, he attended Ohio State
University for a semester but flunked out. At the end of 1978, he left to join the Army and
was stationed in Germany. Apparently he didn't kill anyone when he was in the Army
which was corroborated by an exhaustive investigation by the German police. After a
couple of years, the Army discharged him for alcoholism and he went to live in Florida
before returning to Ohio. Once back home, he dug up Hick's body, pounded the
decomposing corpse with a sledgehammer and scattered the remains in the woods.
A few months after his arrest in October of 1981 for drunken and disorderly conduct, his
father thought it best that Jeffrey go live with his grandmother in West Allis, Wisconsin.
Things were calm for a few months until he dropped his trousers in the company of a
group of people. He had apparently had a bit too much to drink. He kept things under
control for another four years until he was again arrested in September of 1986 for
masturbating in front of two boys. He was put on probation for a year.
He killed his second victim, Steven Toumi, a hotel room in September of 1987. The two
of them had been drinking heavily in one of the popular gay bars. Dahmer didn't know
how he killed him, but when he awoke, Toumi was dead and blood was on his mouth. He
bought a large suitcase and stuffed the body inside. After he took Toumi's corpse to his
grandmother's basement, he had sex with it, masturbated over it, dismembered it and
threw it in the garbage.
Several months later, he selected his third victim, a 14-year-old boy named Jamie Doxtator
who hung around outside the gay bars, looking for relationships. Dahmer's methods
became established by that time. Generally, he would meet and select his prey at gay bars
or bathhouses. He would lure his victims by offering them money for posing for
photographs or simply to enjoy some beer and videos. Then he would drug them, strangle
them, masturbate over the body or have sex with the corpse, dismember the body and
dispose of it. Sometimes he would keep the skull or other body parts as souvenirs.
He practiced this ritual on Richard Guerrero, a handsome young man of Mexican origin in
late March of 1988. Dahmer said he met him a gay bar in Milwaukee, but the young man's
family disputed that their son was anything but heterosexual. By the summer of that year,
Dahmer had killed four men. While Dahmer's grandmother was completely ignorant of the
awful things that were happening in her basement, she was fully aware of the noise and
drunkenness of Jeff and his male friends. Something had to be done.
So, on September 25, 1988, Jeffrey moved into an apartment on North 24th Street in
Milwaukee. The very next day, he got into serious trouble. He offered a 13-year-old
Laotian boy $50 to pose for some pictures. He drugged the boy and fondled him, but did
not get violent or have intercourse with him. By incredible coincidence, the boy's name
was Sinthasomphone, the older brother of the boy that Dahmer would kill in May of 1991.
The boy's parents realized there was something wrong with their child and took him to the
hospital where it was confirmed that he had been drugged. The police picked up Dahmer
at his job as the mixer at Ambrosia Chocolate. He was arrested for sexual exploitation of
a child and second-degree sexual assault. On January 30, 1989, he pled guilty, although
he claimed that he thought that the boy was much older than he was.
While Dahmer awaited sentencing and was living again at his grandmother's house, he met
Anthony Sears at a gay bar. Like the others, he offered the 24-year-old aspiring model
some money to pose for photos. When they reached Dahmer's grandmother's house,
Sears was drugged and strangled. Dahmer had sex with his corpse and then dismembered
Anne Schwartz in The Man Who Could Not Kill Enough describes what happened next:
"...he kept the head and boiled it to remove the skin, later painting it gray, so that in case
of discovery, the skull would look like a plastic model used by medical students. Dahmer
saved the trophy for two years, until it was recovered from Apartment 213 on July 23,
1991. Later he explained that he masturbated in front of the skulls for gratification."
On May 23, 1989, Dahmer's lawyer, Gerald Boyle, and Assistant D.A. Gale Shelton
presented their arguments to Judge William Gardner. Shelton wanted a prison sentence of
at least five years. "In my judgment it is absolutely crystal clear that the prognosis for
treatment of Mr. Dahmer within the community is extremely bleak... His perception that
what he did wrong here was choosing too young a victim, -- and that that's all he did
wrong, -- is a part of the problem... He appeared to be cooperative and receptive, but
anything that goes below the surface indicates that the deep-seated anger and deep-seated
psychological problems that he is unwilling or incapable of dealing with."
Three psychologists examined him and concurred that Dahmer was manipulative, resistant
and evasive. Hospitalization and intensive treatment was recommended.
Boyle, the defense attorney, argued that Dahmer was sick and needed treatment, not
prison. He praised the fact that he had held a job. "We don't have a multiple offender
here. I believe that he was caught before it got to the point where it would have gotten
worse, which means that it is a blessing in disguise."
Dahmer himself spoke in his own defense, blaming his behavior on alcoholism. He was
articulate and convincing, for someone who had secretly murdered several men by that
"What I have done is very serious. I've never been in this position before. Nothing this
awful. This is a nightmare come true for me. If anything would shock me out of my past
behavior patterns, it's this.
"The one thing I have in my mind that is stable and that gives me some source of pride is
my job. I've come very close to losing it because of my actions, which I take full
responsibility for... All I can do is beg you, please spare my job. Please give me a chance
to show that I can, that I can tread the straight and narrow and not get involved in any
situation like this ever again... This enticing a child was the climax of my idiocy... I do
want help. I do want to turn my life around."
A marvelous performance by a true psychopath! The judge fell for it, stayed his sentence,
and put Dahmer on probation for five years. He was ordered to spend one year in the
House of Correction under "work release," which allowed him to go to work during the
day and return to the jail at night.
After 10 months, the judge granted him early release despite a letter from Dahmer's father
urging him not to release him until he received treatment. He went to stay with his
grandmother in early March of 1990, but his stay there was conditional upon him finding
his own place to live.
On May 14, 1990, Dahmer moved to 924 North 25th Street, Apartment 213 and the
killing began in earnest.
During the next 15 months, Dahmer went on a killing binge that cost 12 men their lives.
The pace of Dahmer's murders accelerated to a frenzy in May-July of 1991 when he was
killing almost at a rate of one man a week. All but three were black; one was white, one
was Laotian and one was Hispanic. Most, but not all, were homosexual or bisexual. The
youngest was Konerak,14, and the oldest was thirty-one. Many of the victims lived what
police call "high-risk" lifestyles. Most of the men had arrest records, often for very serious
crimes, like arson, sexual assault, rape, battery, etc. The listing below appears in Anne
Schwartz's The Man Who Could Not Kill Enough:
* Edward Smith June, 1990
* Ricky Lee Beeks July, 1990
* Ernest Miller Sept., 1990
* David Thomas Sept., 1990
* Curtis Straughter Feb., 1991
* Errol Lindsey April, 1991
* Anthony Hughes May 24, 1991
* Konerak Sinthasomphone May 27, 1991
* Matt Turner June 30, 1991
* Jeremiah Weinberger July 5, 1991
* Oliver Lacey July 12, 1991
* Joseph Bradehoft July 19, 1991
His ritual for luring, murdering and disposing of his victims was usually the same. He
invited the men to his apartment to watch sexually-explicit videos or to pose for photos.
He crushed up his prescribed sedatives and served them in a drink. Once drugged,
Dahmer strangled them with his bare hands or with a leather strap. He frequently had sex
with the corpse and later masturbated over it.
Before any clean-up began, Dahmer reached for his Polaroid to capture the entire
experience so that he could remember each and every murder. Then he cut open their
torsos. He was fascinated by the color of the viscera and sexually aroused by the heat
that the freshly-killed body would give off. Finally, he would dismember the man,
photographing each stage of the process for future viewing pleasure.
He disposed of most of the bodies, experimenting with various chemicals and acids that
would reduce the flesh and bone to a black, evil-smelling sludge, which could be poured
down a drain or toilet.
Some parts of the bodies he chose to keep as trophies, frequently the genitals and head.
The genitals were preserved in formaldehyde. The heads were boiled until the flesh came
off. Once the skull was bare, he painted it with gray paint to look like plastic.
Not unusual with necrophiliacs is cannibalism. Dahmer claimed that he ate the flesh of his
victims because he believed that the people would come alive again in him. He tried
various seasonings and meat tenderizers to make the human flesh more tasty. Eating
human flesh gave him an erection. His famous freezer contained strips of frozen flesh.
He had tried human blood too, but it did not appeal to his taste buds.
Like Eddie Gein, he tried to perfect the art of preservation and taxidermy so that he could
practice the state-of-the-art on his victims.
Control was an all important issue for Dahmer. He could not tolerate rejection or
abandonment. Even in his sexual relationships, he did not want to please his partner, he
just wanted to have his own fantasies fulfilled. Pleasure to Dahmer meant performing oral
or anal sex on his partner, whether alive or dead.
This absolute need for control led him down some pretty weird roads. One of them was a
kind of lobotomy that he performed on several of his victims. Once they were drugged, he
drilled a hole in their skulls and injected some muriatic acid into their brains. Needless to
say, it caused death right away in a few victims, but one supposedly functioned minimally
for a few days before dying.
Not surprisingly, his need for control led him to dabble with Satanism. In fact, just having
the bodies of his victims around him made him feel "thoroughly evil." "I have to
question," Dahmer said, "whether or not there is an evil force in the world and whether or
not I have been influenced by it. Although I am not sure if there is a God, or if there is a
devil, I know that as of lately I've been doing a lot of thinking about both." He had plans
to create a shrine in his apartment, featuring all of his trophies, his statue of a griffin, and
incense burned in the skulls of his victims, so that he could receive "special powers and
energies to help him socially and financially."
Why does a Jeffrey Dahmer happen? How does a man become a serial killer, necrophiliac,
cannibal and psychopath? Very few convincing answers are forthcoming, despite a spate
of books that propose to the understand the problem.
Many of the theories would have you believe that the answers can always be found in
childhood abuse, bad parenting, head trauma, fetal alcoholism and drug addiction.
Perhaps in some cases, these are contributing factors, but not for Jeffrey Dahmer.
His father, Lionel Dahmer, wrote a very sad and poignant book called A Father's Story
which explores the very common phenomenon of a parents trying desperately to give their
child a good upbringing and discovering to their horror that their child has built a high wall
around himself from which their influence is progressively shut out. While fortunately,
most parents do not have a Jeffrey Dahmer to raise, too many have seen their children
succumb to drugs, alcohol, crime despite their very best and often frantic efforts to
"It is a portrayal of parental dread... the terrible sense that your child has slipped beyond
your grasp, that your little boy is spinning in the void, swirling in the maelstrom, lost, lost,
Lionel seems to be fairly straightforward in recognizing the negative influences in Jeff's
life. No family is perfect. Jeff's mother had various physical ailments and appeared to be
high strung, coming from a background in which her father's alcoholism deeply affected
Lionel, a chemist who went on to get his Ph.D., stayed at work more often than he should
to avoid turmoil on the home front. Eventually, the marriage dissolved in divorce when
Jeff was eighteen. However, none of this commonplace domestic discord accounts for
serial murder, necrophilia, etc.
Jeff Dahmer was born in Milwaukee on May 21, 1960, to Lionel and Joyce Dahmer. He
was a child who was wanted and adored, in spite of the difficulties of Joyce's pregnancy.
He was a normal, healthy child whose birth was the occasion of great joy. As a tot, he
was a happy bubbly youngster who loved stuffed bunnies, wooden blocks, etc. He also
had a dog named Frisky, his much loved childhood pet.
Despite a greater number than usual of ear and throat infections, Jeff developed into a
happy little boy. His father recalled the day that they released back into the wild a bird
that the three of them had nursed back to health from an injury: "I cradled the bird in my
cupped hand, lifted it into the air, then opened my hand and let it go. All of us felt a
wonderful delight. Jeff's eyes were wide and gleaming. It may have been the single,
happiest moment of his life." The family had moved to Iowa where Lionel was working
on his Ph.D. at Iowa State University.
When Jeff was four, his father swept out from under their house the remains of some small
animals that had been killed by civets. As his father gathered the tiny animal bones, Jeff
seemed "oddly thrilled by the sound they made. His small hands dug deep into the pile of
bones. I can no longer view it simply as a childish episode, a passing fascination. This
same sense of something dark and shadowy, of a malicious force growing in my son, now
colors almost every memory."
At the age of six, he was found to be suffering from a double hernia and needed surgery to
correct the problem. He never seemed to recover his ebullience and buoyancy. "He
seemed smaller, somehow more vulnerable... he grew more inward, sitting quietly for long
periods, hardly stirring, his face oddly motionless."
In 1966, Lionel had completed his graduate work in Iowa and got a job as a research
chemist in Akron, Ohio. Joyce was pregnant with their second son David By that time
Jeff was in the first grade and "a strange fear had begun to creep into his personality, a
dread of others that was combined with a general lack of self-confidence. He was
developing a reluctance to change, a need to feel the assurance of familiar places. The
prospect of going to school frightened him. The little boy who'd once seemed so happy
and self-assured had been replaced by a different person, now deeply shy, distant, nearly
Lionel suspected that the move from Iowa to Ohio was the causative factor and Jeff's
behavior was a normal reaction to being uprooted from familiar settings and placed into
entirely new ones. Lionel, too, had suffered from shyness, introversion and insecurity as a
child and had learned to overcome these problems. He figured his son would learn to
overcome them too. What he didn't realize was that Jeff's boyhood condition was far
graver than his and that "Jeff had begun to suffer from a near isolation."
In April of 1967, they bought a new house. Jeff seemed to adjust better to this move and
developed a close friendship with a boy named Lee. He was also very fond of one of his
teachers and took her a bowl of tadpoles he had caught. Later, Jeff found out that the
teacher had given the tadpole to his friend Lee. Jeff sneaked into Lee's garage and killed
all the tadpoles will motor oil.
Things did not get better with time. "His posture, and the general way in which he carried
himself, changed radically between his tenth and fifteenth years. The loose-limbed boy
disappeared, and was replaced by a strangely rigid and inflexible figure.
He looked tense, his body very straight. He grew increasingly shy during this time and
when approached by other people, he would become very tense. More and more, he
remained at home, alone in his room or staring at television. His face was often blank, and
he gave the more or less permanent impression of someone who could do nothing but
mope around, purposeless and disengaged.
He had one friend, who drifted apart from him at age fifteen. Lionel found out at Jeff's
trial that during this period, Jeff would ride around with plastic garbage bags and collect
the remains of animals for his own private cemetery. "He would strip the flesh from the
bodies of these putrescent road kills and even mount a dog's head on a stake." There has
been the suggestion that Jeff tortured animals, but that is unlikely. He enjoyed a dog and
cat as pets in his childhood and kept pet fish as an adult. His fascination was with dead
Jeff grew more passive and isolated. " His conversation narrowing to the practice of
answering questions with barely audible one-word responses. He was drifting into a
nightmare world of unimaginable fantasies. In coming years those fantasies would begin
to overwhelm him. The dead in their stillness would become the primary objects of his
growing sexual desire. His inability to speak about such strange and unsetting notions
would sever his connections to the world outside himself."
While other boys pursued careers, education, the creation of homes and families, Jeff was
completely unmotivated. "He must have come to view himself as utterly outside the
human community, outside all that was normal and acceptable, outside all that could be
admitted to another human being." One would expect that a person harboring the
fantasies of death and dismemberment that swirled around in Jeffrey Dahmer's head as a
teenager would show some outer signs of mental illness. But Jeff just became more
isolated and uncommunicative. Far from rebelling, he never argued with his parents
because nothing seemed to matter to him.
In high school, Jeff had average grades and participated in a few activities: he played
tennis and worked on the school newspaper. However, his classmates considered him a
loner and an alcoholic, who brought liquor into the classroom. He actually had a prom
date, who he later invited to his parents' house for a seance.
His classmates remember a stunt he pulled when he got himself included in the yearbook
photo of the members of the National Honor Society. The yearbook staff caught the
prank in time and blacked out Jeff's picture.
As Jeff became more passive, the passions between Lionel and Joyce increased. It
culminated in divorce when Jeff was almost eighteen. A custody battle began over David.
Some months later, Lionel remarried. Whatever Lionel missed about Jeff's alcoholism, his
new wife Shari did not.
Lionel and Shari convinced him to try the idea of college. In the fall of 1978, they drove
him to Ohio State University, but he stayed drunk the whole semester and flunked out. By
this time, his drinking problem was well understood, but he would not seek help for it.
Lionel read him the rules: either Jeff had to get a job or join the Army. When Jeff refused
to get a job and stayed drunk most of the time, his father drove him down to the recruiting
office to join the armed forces in January of 1979.
From that time until Jeff's final arrest in 1991, life was a rollercoaster for Lionel and his
wife. Jeff would appear to be doing well and then it was clear that he wasn't. He seemed
to enjoy the Army, but then he was discharged early for habitual drunkenness. He then
moved in with his grandmother and got a job, but then he was arrested for drunkenness
and disorderly conduct. The offenses got worse as his alcoholism and emotional problems
intensified. Indecent exposure, then child molesting and finally, the most horrible
discovery of all when the police arrested him for multiple murders. Each time, Lionel
stood by him, paid for the lawyer, urged him to seek treatment and crossed his fingers that
Jeff would improve. Each time, his hopes were dashed by some fresh and more serious
difficulty. Lionel began to understand that his son was completely beyond his reach.
As early as 1989 when Jeff was facing sentencing for child molestation, Lionel felt that the
his "son would never be more than he seemed to be -- a liar, an alcoholic, a thief, an
exhibitionist, a molester of children. I could not imagine how he had become such a
ruined soul... For the first time, I no longer believed that my efforts and resources alone
would be enough to save my son. There was something missing in Jeff.... We call it a
"conscience"... that had either died or had never been alive in the first place."
Dr. James Fox, dean of the College of Criminal Justice at Northeastern University in
Boston and recognized expert on serial killer claims that "There was nothing we could do
to predict this [tragedy] ahead of time, no matter how bizarre the behavior. He also noted
that while Jeffrey was devastated when his mother left him, it would be wrong to blame
his parents for what he had become. "Ever since Sigmund Freud, we blame everything
bad that kids do on their parents... The culprit is Dahmer. Not his father, not his family,
not the police."
Fox believes that Dahmer is an unusual serial killer. "He fits the stereotype of someone
who really is out of control and being controlled by his fantasies. The difference is that
most serial killers stop once the victim dies. Everything is leading up to that. They tie
them up; they like to her them scream and beg for their lives. It makes the killer feel great,
superior, powerful, dominant... In Dahmer's case, everything is post-mortem... all of his
'fun' began after the victims died... He led a rich fantasy life that focused on having
complete control over people... That fantasy life, mixed with hatred, perhaps hatred of
himself which is being projected into his victims. If he at all felt uncomfortable about his
own sexual orientation, it is very easy to see it projected into these victims and punishing
them indirectly to punish himself."
Serial murder, psychopathology, necrophilia, cannibalism -- none of these phenomena is
unique to modern times. The answers to explain these phenomena go in and out of
fashion. Today, genetics is gaining ground over behaviorism in explaining why people
become criminals. In the case of Jeffrey Dahmer it may be the only explanation.
The security surrounding the trial of Jeff Dahmer was unique in Milwaukee's history:
"The courtroom was swept for bombs by a dog trained to sniff for explosives, and
everyone allowed into the courtroom was searched and checked with a metal detector... In
the courtroom, an eight-foot-high barrier was constructed from bullet-resistant glass and
steel, designed to isolate Dahmer from the gallery." (Schwartz)
Of the 100 seats that were available, 23 were for reporters, 34 for the families of Dahmer's
victims and the remaining 43 for public spectators.
The key players in this legal drama, besides Jeff Dahmer himself, were Judge Laurence C.
Gram, Jr., District Attorney Michael McCann, and defense lawyer Gerald Boyle, who had
defended Dahmer in the past. Lionel and Shari Dahmer attended every day.
On July 13, 1992, Dahmer ignored his lawyer's advice and changed his plea to guilty, but
that he was insane. According to Don Davis in The Milwaukee Murders, " the declaration
turned the case on its head. Now, instead of having to prove his man did not commit the
murders, defense attorney Gerald Boyle would unroll one of the goriest tapestries ever
seen in an American courtroom. His task was to convince the jury that Dahmer was
crazy, because only an insane person would do the things he did."
Mike McCann, on the other hand, needed to prove that Dahmer was not legally insane --
that he knew what he was doing was wrong, but did it anyway. In others words, Dahmer
was an evil psychopath who lured his victims and murdered them in cold blood..
The pool of prospective jurors were warned "You're going to hear about things you
probably didn't know existed in the real world. In this case," Boyle told them, " you're
going to hear about sexual conduct before death, during death, and after death. Will you
be so disgusted by that you won't be able to listen?" Together, Boyle and McCann
discarded potential jurors who were prejudiced against homosexuals or who didn't have
any use for psychiatrists.
Anne Schwartz remembers the second day of jury selection before the prospective jurors
were called into the room. Boyle held up a tabloid newspaper that read "Milwaukee
Cannibal Killer Eats His Cellmate. "We all laughed," Schwartz recalled, "especially Jeffrey
Dahmer... He was an attractive man when he laughed...I could see how so many were
taken in by him."
On January 29, 1992, the jury and two alternates were selected. Only one black person
was selected, which caused a protest among the family members. The entire case had
seriously polarized the community along racial lines from the moment the public heard
Glenda Cleveland's story through the discovery that most of his victims were black. Now,
it seemed as though this jury of six white men and seven white women was just another
example of racial injustice.
Boyle's defense consisted of some forty-five witnesses that would attest to various aspects
of Dahmer's bizarre behavior and to try to show that Dahmer's sexual and mental disorders
prevented him from understanding the nature of his crime. Every hideous detail of what
Dahmer allegedly did with his victims and every nightmarish thing that ever entered his
head was fair game. The goal was to convince the jury that such alleged actions and such
alleged thoughts did not happen with a man that was sane.
Boyle threw the question out to the jury? "Was he evil or was he sick?" Had the jury at
that point in time taken a vote, it's very possible that they would have agreed with Boyle.
However, it was McCann's turn to present his case. Dahmer, he told them, was a "master
manipulator and deceiver who knew exactly what he was doing every step of the way, able
to turn his urges on and off as easily as flipping a light switch. Did he attack other soldiers
while he was in the army? Other students while at Ohio State University? The deaths, he
said were not the acts of a madman, but the result of meticulous planning." (Davis)
Two detectives took turns reading the 160-page confession. It was a catalog of sexual
perversion. Detective Dennis Murphy stated that Dahmer "felt a tremendous amount of
guilt because of his actions. He felt thoroughly evil." Then he quoted from Dahmer's own
confession: "It's hard for me to believe that a human being could have done what I've
done, but I know that I did it." He claimed that his fear of being caught was overwhelmed
by his excitement of being completely in control.
The battle of psychiatrists over whether Dahmer was legally responsible and able to
control his actions seemed to confuse the jury.
Finally, in his summation, Boyle drew a chart for the jury that took the form of a wheel.
The hub of the wheel was Jeff Dahmer and all of the spokes coming out from the wheel
were the elements of his deviance. He read them off quickly:
"Skulls in locker, cannibalism, sexual urges, drilling, making zombies, necrophilia, drinking
alcohol all the time, trying to create a shrine, lobotomies, defleshing, calling taxidermists,
going to grave yards, masturbating.....This is Jeffrey Dahmer, a runaway train on a track
McCann rebutted, "He wasn't a runaway train, he was the engineer!" He was satisfying
his extraordinary sexual cravings. "Ladies and gentlemen, he's fooled a lot of people.
Please don't let this murderous killer fool you."
The jury deliberated for five hours and decided that Jeff Dahmer did not deserve to spend
the rest of his life in a hospital, but in a prison cell. On all fifteen counts, Dahmer was
found guilty and sane.
Anne Schwartz, who covered the Dahmer story for the Milwaukee Journal from its
discovery through the trial, was "astonished at how normal this man looked and
sounded...The day Jeffrey Dahmer was sentenced, I heard him read his statement to the
court calmly and eloquently, and I wondered how easily I could have been conned.
"His apology, covering a thirteen-year bloodbath, ran four typewritten pages:
"'It is now over. this has never been a case of trying to get free. I didn't ever want
freedom. Frankly, I wanted death for myself. This was a case to tell the world that I did
what I did, but not for reasons of hate. I hated no one. I knew I was sick or evil or both.
Now I believe I was sick. The doctors have told me about my sickness, and now I have
some peace.. I know how much harm I have caused... Thank God there will be no more
harm that I can do. I believe that only the Lord Jesus Christ can save me from my sins... I
ask for no consideration."
He was sentenced to fifteen consecutive life terms or a total of 957 years in prison.
Dahmer adjusted very well to prison life at the Columbia Correctional Institute in Portage,
Wisconsin. Initially, he was not part of the general population of the prison, which would
have jeopardized his safety. As it was, he was attacked on July 3, 1994, while attending a
chapel service by a Cuban who he had never seen before.
Dahmer, the model prisoner, convinced the prison authorities to allow him more contact
with other inmates. He was able to eat in communal areas and he was given some
janitorial work to do with other teams of inmates.
For some incredible reason, he was paired up with two highly dangerous men on a work
detail: Jesse Anderson, a white man who had murdered his wife and blamed it on a black
man, and Christopher Scarver, a black delusional schizophrenic who thought he was the
son of God, who was in for first-degree murder. It's not difficult to imagine how Scarver
viewed Jeff Dahmer, who had butchered so many black men, and Anderson. It was a
The morning of November 28, 1994, the guard left these three men alone to do their
work. Twenty minutes later, the guards came back to find Dahmer's head crushed and
Anderson's fatally injured body nearby. A bloody broom handle seemed to represent
Scarver's statement on the subject. Jeffrey Dahmer was pronounced dead at 9:11 A.M.